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Student Counseling Services

What is counseling?

Counseling is a confidential, professional relationship that empowers students to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals by overcoming personal obstacles.

Why counseling?

College can be stressful and almost all students experience occasional difficulties that can throw them off track. Montana Western’s licensed counselors are non-judgmental, skilled listeners who help you clarify your own thoughts and feelings, gain insight into your behavior, and develop a plan to reach your goals.

Montana Western takes a progressive approach as more and more UMW students recognize the value of having their own counselor with which to troubleshoot problems. Typical problems include anxiety, depression, relationships, eating disorders, homesickness, sexual/gender identity concerns, sexual trauma, sleep difficulties, career choices, etc.

Who can receive counseling?

Confidential counseling is free to all students. Non-student partners can also be seen as a part of couples or family counseling.

When is counseling offered?

Counseling is offered year-round, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Emergencies will be seen upon walk-in.

How do I make an appointment?

To schedule an appointment please contact:

Student Affairs Associate: Rachel Harris at (406) 683-7388, rachel.harris@umwestern.edu

Director of Student Counseling & Wellness: Heidi Peterson at (406) 683-7180, heidi.peterson@umwestern.edu

Mental Health Therapist: Morgan Bialas at (406) 683-7181, morgan.bialas@umwestern.edu

For an after-hours emergency, please call 911 or go to the hospital emergency room.

What if I’m a distance learning student?

eCounseling services are available for distance learning students or for on-campus students who are off campus for any reason. Contact either Heidi at the information above to make an appointment or to find out more.

Where is campus counseling?

We are located in the Dean of Students Center at 528 Poindexter Street, across from the Student Union Building.

Meet The Counselors

Heidi Peterson, LCPC
Director of Student Counseling & Wellness   

It was a joy and an honor for me when I joined the Montana Western Student Counseling Team in August of 2017.

After receiving my BA in Psychology and Masters in Counseling at the University of Great Falls (now the University of Providence), my initial therapeutic work experience was with survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Later, I worked with students at the College of Great Falls MSU, and in a private practice setting. Trained as a mediator, I also facilitate conflict-resolution and communication workshops.

Engaging in counseling with college students is deeply meaningful, as together we explore opportunities for healing, growth, and self-understanding. When faced with challenges such as trauma, grief, relationships, depression, anxiety, and loneliness, we work on building resilience, self-care, and healthy coping strategies. My therapeutic style is based on Person-Centered, Mindfulness, and Existential models.

When not visiting with Montana Western students, I also serve as a part-time Instructor of Psychology for the University of Providence; volunteer with the Beaverhead County Mental Health Local Advisory Council, helping to coordinate the mental health portion of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training with local law enforcement and first responders; and have a small private practice here in Dillon. And, when not doing all of that, I enjoy spending time with loved ones, reading, cooking, knitting, traveling, and fishing!

Morgan Bialas, MS
Mental Health Therapist

“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.” – Brene Brown

There are times in ALL of our lives when we need some extra support. During those times, it may feel scary and isolating to do our best in staying afloat. I am able to offer a nonjudgmental and compassionate space to work collaboratively with you to weather the storm.

I could be on the shore directing you on where to go or in the lighthouse shining a light on the hazards; however, I choose to be on your boat, with you, working together on the journey towards mental wellness. Together, we’ll identify the right path, manage the hazards, and get you back on shore feeling grounded in life again.

About Me:

I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of South Dakota and my master’s degree in family studies and human services with a specialization in marriage and family therapy at Kansas State University in 2017.

I prefer to provide services within rural communities as I was raised on my family farm in South Dakota. The majority of my hobbies are centered on learning, experiencing other cultures, and being outdoors. I am grateful to be able to call Montana Western my new home because of the rural community, opportunity to work with students with a variety of different cultural backgrounds, AND I get to wake up to the Big Sky every day!