Skills Coaching FAQ

What is Skills Coaching?
Imagine Thriving Skills Coaching will connect specially trained behavioral health coaches with children and adults who need help developing skills that support successful daily living. They will teach and model coping skills and skills that promote mental well-being, including emotional regulation, self-calming techniques, socially appropriate behavior, budget-management, job-interview skills, personal care routines and respect for other’s boundaries.

How does someone access Imagine Thriving Skills Coaching?
To access the service, clients can either be self-referred or referred by a third party such as a social service agency, a school or a clinic. In order to qualify, they must have an official diagnosis from the DSM-V and have completed a functional assessment to establish a baseline from which progress can be measured.

What are the qualifications of the Imagine Thriving Coaches?
Qualifying clients will be assigned to work with behavioral health specialists who do 100 percent of their work in community settings. Every Skills Coach believes in person-centered service; everyone can benefit from a personalized approach to care. They receive intensive training in a variety of mental health interventions, crisis management, de-escalation techniques, and trauma-informed care. These specialists also will receive ongoing group and individual supervision and will be able to consult with the licensed therapists at Abound Counseling for expert advice.

How do the Coaches decide what to work on with their clients?
Guided by personalized treatment plans developed between licensed therapists, the client and their family, the coaches will work closely with each client to identify high priority skills they wnt to work on to promote healing and recovery, and will also figure out the most effective setting to practice those skills in. Skills like emotional regulation (i.e., avoiding a melt-down), self-calming techniques, socially appropriate behavior, budget-management, job-interview skills, personal care and daily living routines and respect for other’s boundaries, to name a few.

How much coaching is available through this service?
A high-needs client could receive services up to four hours per day, although the majority of clients will require significantly less time than that. The service is meant to meet a client at their baseline, which could mean, as an example, two hours a day, multiple days a week, with the goal of reducing the level of service needed as new skills are gained.

How long am I able to access this service?
Treatment plans are drafted for six months at a time. Every six months, the client, coach, and family will review the treatment plan to see if the desired skill has been successfully integrated into the client’s life or if another six-month treatment plan, updated according to collaborative input from all parties involved, is advisable.

How do you pay for Skills Coaching services?
Imagine Thriving Skills services are reimbursed by North Dakota Medicaid (known as a “rehabilitative service” or a “skills integration service”). At this point, many private insurance companies do not cover skills services, but private rates are available and LSSND can work with clients to arrange payment plans.

Do I come to your office to receive this service?
Skills services can be provided wherever the client most benefits from them, whether that be in school, on the job or at home.  The service is not meant to replace outpatient therapy, but to provide the client with another layer of support outside of a therapist’s office. Someone who wishes to use the skills service can continue seeing their primary behavioral-health care providers elsewhere but would now also have the option to work regularly with Imagine Thriving’s skills team to practice the skills they are working hard to learn where they need to learn them – at home, at school, at work – in everyday life.

I thought Imagine Thriving was a student-led effort to promote mental well-being?
That’s correct – and it still is! But Skills Coaching will form a major branch of an expanded Imagine Thriving initiative.

Imagine Thriving will continue the work it has been known for since 2012 – working with kids and young adults to build mental-health literacy and create opportunities for peer mentorship. As of August 2019, LSSND is adding this community behavioral health service to the existing Imagine Thriving initiatives.

The addition of Skills Services to Imagine Thriving is a way we can build on the student-wellness facilitator concept first piloted by Imagine Thriving in the Fargo, West Fargo, and Moorhead School Districts, beginning in 2014. We’ve found connecting kids and their families to a practical skills-development resource guided by mental health professionals can make a huge difference in how they are able to navigate challenges. And we all know that healthy kids need healthy adults, which is why the Skills Coaching services will be available to adults as well.

How do I know if a Skills Coach is something that would help me?
Every day, North Dakotans with mental-health challenges face daily stressors like these – most often without guidance or support. They may not know what kind of help is available or how to ask for it. They maybe don’t think that treatment could help in their situation, aren’t able to afford treatment, or may live in too remote an area to access a mental-health professional. As a result, they struggle alone until their situation reaches a crisis point, such as being expelled from school, losing employment, a family break-up, addiction relapse, interaction with law enforcement, or they may find themselves in a mental health crisis that results in a hospital stay.

  • Henry, a 5-year-old who has already lived in three foster homes, has become so aggressive in school that he is about to be suspended from kindergarten.
  • Single mother Nan has been clean and sober for six months but is overwhelmed by the prospect of returning to work while also working on her recovery, running a household and taking care of her two young children.
  • Roger is 21 and a hard worker but has already lost several good jobs because he has angry outbursts that make it difficult to interact in a healthy way with authority figures.

If you have a mental health diagnosis and are seeing a mental health professional, you can ask them if skills integration services are something that could help support your healing and recovery.

If you are not currently seeing a mental health professional, you can reach out to one of our Abound Counseling therapists. They (or any other qualified mental health professional) can do an assessment and offer advice regarding the next steps.

Chances are you or someone you know and care about will be heading off to school this fall, and whether they’re starting their first year of kindergarten, going into middle school, starting college, or just moving to the next grade; school can be scary at any time!

While starting a new school year can be exciting for all ages, it also can be a really difficult time. Meeting friends can be hard and the stress of schoolwork in any grade is a lot for students to deal with on their own. This video is a reminder to be supportive of your student and remind them that you want them to succeed, you’re their biggest supporter and whatever they need, you’ll help them when they need it. Reminding students that you have an ear to listen with or a shoulder to cry on can help students not feel so alone and stressed out. Let them know that while you may not fully understand what they’re feeling, you care about them and want them to do and feel their best. Be understanding and compassionate, put yourself in their shoes, the fourth grade might seem like a breeze to you now but to a student who is maybe struggling to make friends or has a hard time on a subject in class, it’s really difficult to go each day.

Students carrying all this stress on their shoulders alone can lead to further problems mentally, emotionally, and academically. It did for me! I thought I could handle the stress all on my own, I didn’t want to burden anybody with my problems and felt like I had no one to talk to judgement-free. Be that person for your student! Let them know you care, let them know that they’re not alone and that it’s okay to not feel the best all the time but that there is help available for them!

Let’s work together to give our students the best year possible! If this video was helpful for you or you believe it could be helpful for someone heading off to school this fall, share this video on your page or message it to them! Let them know you’re there for them!

Let’s help all of our students Imagine Thriving this year!

Instagram Page: @imthrivingstudents

Imagine Thriving is thrilled to welcome Baylee Engquist to the team as our Youth Engagement Specialist.

Baylee will be working breakdown the stigma against mental illness and help inform others on mental health and wellness. One way she does that is through sharing my story about her own struggles, reminding others that they’re not alone and that anyone can struggle with anything and there is help!

There will be many different events and presentations that Baylee is excited to share this year. To stay up to date with our student board, events going on in the community and schools, as well as a splash of positivity for your days, give our social media pages a follow/ Help be the change with us and let’s breakdown the stigma

Follow Bayless and our student work on Instagram: @imthrivingstudents
Contact Baylee at:

Fargo, ND, February 14, 2019–Imagine Thriving has merged with Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota (LSSND) which will bolster the combined organization’s youth outreach efforts. The Imagine Thriving brand will serve as the umbrella title for LSSND’s community behavioral health initiatives.

Over the last several months, strategic conversations have taken place between LSSND and Imagine Thriving to find ways to work together to best serve the youth of North Dakota and remove the stigma that can surround mental health. Recently, a pivotal opportunity for Imagine Thriving’s programs to receive continual and sustainable support arose with the opportunity of bringing Imagine Thriving and LSSND together to work as one.

Since 1919, LSSND has recognized that it takes a humble spirit, a burning patience, and a willingness to be nimble and aware of community needs to shift community norms and to move the mountain that is systems change. LSSND has nurtured an organizational culture that services as springboard for all change-makers. Effecting positive change for youth experiencing mental health issues is a complex task that requires an integrated, comprehensive approach. The integrated and comprehensive approach is what the state of North Dakota needs and the opportunity for Imagine Thriving to join LSSND in the fight to save and protect the youth of North Dakota was an easy choice.

The best way for both organizations to help the youth of the community was to come together and respond as one. The two organizations banding together presents an opportunity to expand the core community mental health work of Imagine Thriving in the region and increase the scope exponentially across North Dakota. Together, Imagine Thriving and LSSND will reach more youth and families who need their assistance. Imagine Thriving and LSSND understand that the stigma surrounding mental illness is a social justice issue at the root of so many concerns and crises of young people, their families, and their communities.

Imagine Thriving is excited and proud of what 2019 will bring for the youth and families of North Dakota. The joint service provided by LSSND through Imagine Thriving will be the start of an integrated and comprehensive model for community mental health to help North Dakota truly thrive. It will be possible now for many more families and youth to imagine thriving in ways they may not have thought previously possible.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Jessica Thomasson at 701-271-3272 or email at


Dear Imagine Thriving Supporter,

In less than six years, Imagine Thriving (IT) has successfully helped elevate the level of community conversation around the issue of youth mental health and removal of barriers to kids’ mental well-being. This has been done by creating innovative programs and solutions to help students in the Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo schools, the goal of which has always been to help all kids imagine what it is – what it feels like – to thrive. None of this would have been possible without your support.

IT served the Fargo community first and then reached out to surrounding regions, as capacity would allow.  Over the past six months, Imagine Thriving has been strategically engaging in conversations about how their work should continue to evolve and grow. Recently, a pivotal opportunity that supports IT in ongoing program development and expansion presented itself. As of January 18, 2019, Imagine Thriving will be joining Lutheran Social Service of North Dakota (LSSND).  Imagine Thriving will serve as the umbrella for the LSSND suite of community mental health supports.

LSSND is an excellent partner for Imagine Thriving. Since 1919, LSSND has recognized that it takes a humble spirit, a burning patience and a willingness to be nimble and aware of community needs, to shift community norms and to move the mountain that is systems change. LSSND has nurtured an organizational culture that serves as a springboard for all change-makers. Effecting positive change for youth experiencing mental health issues is a complex task that requires an integrated, comprehensive approach.

LSSND’s suite of existing community mental health supports coupled with Imagine Thriving’s core programs is such an approach. LSSND’s community mental health supports includes mental health education and promotion for kids, peer-to-peer supports, family and student wellness coaching, recovery-oriented, in-community mental health supports, and a continued commitment to supporting access to care. Imagine Thriving’s core programming includes its Student Wellness Facilitator program, mental wellness curriculum and Access to Care Fund.

This joining-together will not only help expand the core community mental health work of Imagine Thriving in the FMWF metro area, but it will also allow us to start replicating Imagine Thriving’s work in communities across North Dakota. Together, they will reach more kids and more families who need it most.

The combination of our two organizations’ community mental health supports will increase the well-being of kids and their families by helping reduce adverse childhood experiences and increase resiliency by promoting protective factors. Simply put, together they can better help kids live and be well in their families, homes and communities, both today and tomorrow.

This transformative partnership will create opportunities to integrate leading edge approaches to mental health literacy with the recovery-focused mental health model that is the foundation of LSSND’s counseling work, the whole-family approach to family strengthening that underlies LSSND’s home visiting and foster care work, and the restorative practices philosophy that is at the core of all of LSSND’s work with schools, teens and their families.

It’s well known that the stigma surrounding mental illness is a social justice issue and at the root of so many concerns and crises that affect young people, their families, and their communities. We are excited about what 2019 and the years ahead will mean for all of the kids and families that will be served with this integrated and comprehensive community mental health model. It is possible for these kids and their families to imagine thriving in ways they may not have thought previously possible.

Thank you for the care and generosity with which you have helped to steward Imagine Thriving’s mission. You have been an integral part of the success and growth of Imagine Thriving – and the thousands of lives that have been helped already and the many more that will be touched in the coming years. We ask for your continued support of this critically needed mission.

Thank you to the Boards of Directors of these two organizations for their courageous leadership in re-imagining the future of this important work.

We look forward to sharing more with you about this transformational work in the coming weeks and months!











Note: You can continue to support the Imagine Thriving mission and help further the work of transformation by giving online at either or (identify “Imagine Thriving” in the designation line).



Saturday night for these high school students isn’t about hanging out with friends or going on a date. Instead, every lap they swim and dive they perform adds up for a local charity.
WHAT:             Davies High School Swim-A-Thon
WHEN:            Saturday, January 12, 2019 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
WHERE:           School Pool, Davies High School, 7150 South 25th Street, Fargo
CONTACT:       Jennifer Johnson, Davies High School Boys Swim Team Head Coach, 701.446.5842 or 218.791.2896 or for more information.
The 48 seventh through twelfth grade athletes and student managers of the Davies High School Boys Swimming and Diving Team will participate in a charity swim-a-thon on Saturday, January 12. The students have been collecting pledges for total yards swum and the challenge level of dives completed. Out of the total monies raised, 60% will be donated to a local charity and the remainder will be used for swim and dive team expenses.
This year, the team has selected Imagine Thriving as the organization to support.
“This year at Davies, us seniors have become aware of many people struggling with mental health issues,” said senior Captain Charley Graf. “Organizations like Imagine Thriving work to help those who struggle with these illnesses feel better and encourage those who need help to actually seek it out, instead of suffering in silence.”
“Involvement in sports can provide so many benefits for the athletes.  It has always been my goal for the program, that the athletes also give back to the community which they benefit so much from.  Additionally, the Swim-A-Thon gives them the opportunity to make and achieve goals both in and out of the pool.” said Davies Boys Swimming Head Coach Jennifer Johnson. She is assisted by Diving Coach Chantelle Mindt, and Assistant Swimming Coaches Matt Stinar and Jarren Fallgatter.
This is the eighth year of the charity event. Over the past seven years, the team has donated a total of $13,075.07 to John and Amy Johanson (to help pay for Amy’s ALS treatments), Special Olympics of North Dakota, FM Humane Society, Ronald McDonald House of Fargo Moorhead, Cat’s Cradle Animal Shelter, and Doug Hansen’s kidney treatments.
Madalyn Pezalla
Marketing and Communications Assistant
Fargo Public Schools

Imagine Thriving Welcomes Six New Board Members


Imagine Thriving is thrilled to welcome six new board members to our board of directors. We’re astounded and grateful for the wealth of talents, skills and knowledge they’re bringing to the table to help us meet our mission of connecting youth with mental health education, resources, programming and services! See their full bios below:

Emily Schubert

Emily currently works as the Communications and Program Coordinator at NDSU Research and Technology Park where her main role is all external communication for the Park and running the Innovation Challenge, an idea competition for NDSU students. She works with students on a regular basis and also mentors a marketing club, the NDSU National Agri-Marketing Association, while serving as the Director of Communication for the professional chapter. She graduated from NDSU with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communication with an emphasis in Marketing/Advertising and a minor in Agricultural Economics. In 2018, she earned her Master’s degree in Organizational Public Relations and Development. During her graduate degree she served as a teaching assistant and course director for the public speaking courses and an introductory level strategic communication course. She’s skilled in public speaking, mentorship training and education, communicative strategic planning, digital marketing basics, event planning and entrepreneurial advising. She’s passionate about mentorship, entrepreneurship, and mental health advocacy.

Juli Munro

Juli currently works as the Director of Corporate Services Projects at Wanzek Construction, where she oversees internal corporate services project management and support for their ERP as well as other systems and tools they implement, communicate and roll out. She earned her BA in Accounting and Political Science from Concordia College in 2000. While there, she played on the Cobber Women’s Golf Team and was involved in student residence life and student government. After graduation, and while working in accounting and finance, she obtained her MBA at NDSU in 2004. She interned at Eide Bailly, LLP, a regional CPA firm, and was subsequently hired at Wanzek Construction, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of MasTec, Inc., a publicly-traded, minority-controlled Fortune 500 company.  Wanzek Construction is a heavy industrial contractor based in West Fargo, ND that works in  Power, Renewable Energy, Oil & Gas, Infrastructure and Agriculture. Over the last 18 years, Juli’s worked in a variety of leadership positions, from Accounting and Finance, to Systems and Information Technology, to Project Management. She has extensive experience in leading teams, lean process improvement, accounting and finance, auditing, information system set up and implementation, technology and project management. She’s passionate about serving Imagine Thriving’s mission.

Martin Avery

Martin currently works as a Pastor where he’s served in both South Dakota and North Dakota since 2012 where he’s worked with youth programs. He has 20-years of experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities, ten of which were spent working with youth.  He’s also has experience in case management and transition work. In addition, he serves on the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition. He received his B.S. Political Science from the University of South Dakota and his Master of Divinity and a certificate in Social Change from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. He is currently getting his Master of Arts in Leadership with an emphasis on Non-Profits from the University of Jamestown, Fargo campus. He has experience in fundraising, event planning, advocacy and policy work as well as creating mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations to help maximize community impact.

Mytch Dorvilier

Mytch is an ordained Lutheran pastor serving both the Lutheran and the Episcopal communities. She currently serves as the Priest-in-charge at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Moorhead where she serves both Anglo and New American communities. In addition, she works as the Multi-Ethnic Mission Developer at the Eastern North Dakota Synod. She received her Master of Divinity from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, a BA in Business Administration from the Business University in Haiti, and an AA in Sociology from Ceritos College in California. She also holds a Community Organizing certificate from the Akademie Klaushenoff in Germany. She also provides anti-racism, anti-biases, micro and macro-aggressions trainings for organizations and groups. She lived and worked in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa for 4 years, where she intimately learned about the faith and culture of the 95% Muslim population, whom she respects enormously. She’s also an ally for LGBTQ+ communities and a social justice and mental health advocate. She believes in supporting and giving all youth a chance to voice their concerns as well as be heard.

Natalie Reiter

Natalie currently works as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in her private practice, Prairieland Counseling Services, LLC, which opened in 2018 and serves the FM community. She has also worked at NDSU and been involved in the mental health field for over 10 years. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of North Dakota in 2006 and her master’s degree in community counseling from North Dakota State University in 2009. In addition to her counseling work, she created and presented curriculum on suicide prevention, stress reduction, general mental health awareness, taught career counseling at the collegiate level for 7 years, and helped to organize community function events in collaboration with Prairie St Johns for their First Episode Psychosis Program. Natalie brings her knowledge of mental health concerns and presentations along with an understanding of how other members in the mental health field can help to support Imagine Thriving’s mission.

Monica Miller

Monica currently works as an Insights Consultant at Sundog Interactive, where she helps clients understand their marketing data and how it relates back to their bottom line investment. She earned her BA in Speech Communications with a Minor in Women and Gender Studies at NDSU in 2002. She’s been working in eCommerce Marketing since graduation. Monica wants to help youth help other youth that may be going through this struggle. In addition, she’d like to help Imagine Thriving be a mental health and wellness resource for LGBTQ youth while they figure out what they are without being labelled or outted. She has strong public speaking skills and is interested in sharing her own coming out story to help others, “to be the person she needed when she was growing up.” In the same way that she can talk about complicated things like data and help people understand it. She can do the same with LGBTQ feelings.