Mental health counselor opens private practice

Sara Wirkkala

ASTORIA — Sara Wirkkala, MSW, recently set up shop in Astoria, offering a variety of counseling services, including mental health and addiction services.

Wirkkala is a licensed clinical social worker and certified alcohol and drug counselor.

“Mostly I do individual sessions,” she said. “Also I invite families as well or couples.”

She’s been in the field for 12 years, starting her career as a drug and alcohol case manager. She worked at Clatsop Behavioral Health as clinical director for about 2 and a half years.

“I decided I wanted to do more of the direct service rather than the management,” she said. “And I decided to step out on my own and take on a private practice.”

She opened her doors on July 7.

Depression, anxiety, grief over death or transition in life, drugs and alcohol, and gambling are common issues Wirkkala treats.

Gambling in particular is a problem in Oregon, she said.

“Oregon has a very high rate of problem gamblers,” she said. “Although not always very well known, it’s a very hidden disorder.”

People tend to be very private about mental health disorders, she said.

Her office at 555 Bond St. is located in a former residence. The homey atmosphere tends to put people at ease, she said.

“It’s not as though you’re walking into a clinic or that it’s screaming why you’re hear,” she said.

Wirkkala’s office is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and closes for lunch. She has some flexibility on hours; call office manager Laura Wilson at 503-325-8438 for more information.

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