New Life Counseling, Coaching and Consulting Staff

Our professional staff includes clinicians who are trained in the fields of psychology, mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, and social work. Our counselors also hold certifications in addictions counseling, speaking, training, and coaching. The broad extent of our therapists' training and experience allows us to offer a wide range of services to our clients.

Our staff meets with individuals and groups, and holds classes and seminars, at our Ankeny and West Des Moines, Iowa, locations. We are also available to bring our seminars and classes to your group or organization. We invite you to contact us for details or to schedule an event.

Dr. Donald Gilbert, Matt Ness, Katie Blair, Christina Hill, Angie Appelgate, Julie Roche, and Meg Garrison:

Donald Gilbert, PhD, MS, LMHC, APA

Don Gilbert

I began my career as an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church. I was passionate about helping others and gifted in serving and teaching. I soon realized that although I had this passion and gifting, I was not adequately prepared for the depth of need that people presented in dealing with different issues. Upon this recognition, I returned to school and received a Master’s of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Drake University. I continued my education at Oxford Graduate School, in Dayton, Tennessee, where I completed my Doctorate of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology and Religious Studies.

I had the privilege to counsel under the tutelage of Dr. Gary Rosberg, nationally known author, speaker, and founder of America’s Family Coaches. At this time, I began working with Mercy Hospital and Iowa Heart as a team facilitator and consultant doing management and communication training, personality testing and middle-management consulting. As my journey continued, I expanded my areas of expertise to include a broad area of individual, family and marriage counseling, business and organizational consulting, as well as professional and personal coaching.

In the fall of 2002, I had the opportunity to begin a New Life Clinic in Iowa, and New Life Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting was born. After 33,000+ hours of face-to-face counseling, I expanded my professional expertise by becoming certified through the John Maxwell Team. New Life is in the process of extending its reach through leadership training and professional growth in the spheres of both church and business. As a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Teacher, and Speaker, I am excited to offer you workshops, seminars, mastermind groups, lunch-n-learns, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you, and/or your team or organization, in the desired direction to reach your goals.

I continue to rejoice in the gifts of my wonderful and loving wife, the blessings of our four children, their spouses, and our grandchildren. My wife and our children are excited to be a part of this community seeking God’s loving embrace and guidance as we journey with God in the Des Moines area.

Matt Ness, MA, LMHC, LMFT

Matt Ness

Through counseling, my desire is to meet couples and individuals wherever they are at, and walk with them through their own unique healing journey. I believe that in order for healing to occur we must first seek understanding of our self in relationship to others. Scripture explains that we are transformed as our hearts and minds are renewed. This happens best in community as we navigate through life’s difficulties together. My passion involves serving in this process of redemption, whether in relationships or within an individual.

I completed my undergraduate studies at Central College, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Business Management. It was there that I recognized my gifting in the area of compassion and counseling, and was led to Wheaton College where I received a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology. My studies included an emphasis in counseling individuals as well as couples. I now live in Waukee with my wife and three kids, and attend Lutheran Church of Hope.

I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor as well as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Iowa, and am a provider for Wellmark/Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance plans. I am also certified in the “Prepare/Enrich” marital enrichment and premarital counseling program, and am excited about using this tool to help strengthen and equip people in their relationships.

Katie Blair, BS, MS Candidate

Katie Blair

It was during my undergraduate studies in Psychology at Iowa State University that I first discovered my passion and calling for counseling. I am incredibly thankful for God’s provision in allowing me to continue my education and formal training. I am currently a graduate student at Drake University in the master’s program for mental health counseling. I am an active member of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association and the Iowa Association for Play Therapy. During my tenure as a graduate student I am fortunate to have had leadership opportunities, holding a board position and recently presenting at a state conference.

Counseling provides an opportunity for hope and healing through self-exploration. As a professional counselor I aspire to accompany my clients through their life and relationship concerns. I approach counseling from a holistic framework and a strengths-based orientation that values the integration of our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. I have an interest in individual, couples and family therapy focusing on issues of life transitions, stress, depression, anxiety, trauma and loss. Through a collaborative therapeutic relationship, with empathy and understanding, I would be privileged to accompany you on your path to healing and wholeness.

Christina Hill, MA, LMFT

Christina Hill

My goal as a therapist is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for individuals to heal wounds from the past, learn skills and tools to manage in their present situation, and gain hope for the future. The hope and joy that I have found in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work has ignited a passion within me to come alongside those who are hurting, discouraged, and feeling alone. My clinical experience includes working with individuals, couples and families in a private practice setting as well as conducting assessments and leading process groups for children, adolescents and adults in an intensive treatment mental health hospital.

I received my Master of Arts degree in Counseling and Psychotherapy with a Marriage and Family emphasis from Adler Graduate School and my undergraduate degree in Christian Counseling from Northwestern College (now the University of Northwestern). My clinical areas of focus include working with individuals, couples and families dealing with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, abuse recovery, relational conflict, grief and loss, infertility, postpartum depression, eating disorders and life transitions. I have specialized training to provide EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which is beneficial in healing traumatic memories stored in the brain from experiences such as surviving car accidents, natural disasters, military experiences, abuse and can be beneficial in decreasing triggers associated with depression and anxiety symptoms. I am also certified in the Prepare/Enrich tool, which helps me provide growth opportunities for dating, engaged and married couples to understand and better their relationship.

I believe we all have areas where we can grow and work to make improvements in our relationships. Through my marriage and parenting opportunities with my children I continue to be reminded of the responsibility I have to allow God to be at work changing my own heart and life and my need to be obedient to make change and growth a priority. I treat individuals from all theoretical and spiritual backgrounds and enjoy incorporating faith-based interventions for those desiring that approach. I recognize the courage it takes to begin the counseling process and I count it a privilege to be a part of your transforming journey ahead.

Angie Appelgate, MSW, LISW

Angie Applegate

I received my undergraduate degree in Psychology and Religion at Central College and my graduate degree in Clinical Social Work with an emphasis in family therapy at the University of Denver. I am a Licensed Independent Social Worker and utilize a variety of models and techniques in order to provide the best fit for clients, including various Family Systems models, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, while utilizing a Strengths-Based approach. I have received training in Functional Family Therapy which focuses on understanding the underlying meaning behind disruptive behaviors and creating more productive and supportive family dynamics. I am also trained to provide EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy, which focuses on helping individuals process and heal from stressful and adverse life experiences as well as decreasing negative beliefs and symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

As a therapist, I provide a caring and supportive relationship to my clients to help them grow and change in positive ways. My passion is working with families, including parents, couples, children and adolescents to restore hope and wholeness to their lives. My hope is to facilitate reconciliation for individuals and their relationships, just as God reconciled us to Himself. I look forward to working with individuals from all spiritual backgrounds.

My greatest enjoyment is being with my husband and two kids on this life journey, and I look forward to coming alongside you in your journey.

Julie Roche, MA

Julie Roche

I believe wholeheartedly in the therapeutic process. Learning to trust in a loving God and gaining tools to change my thinking, behaviors, and beliefs transformed my daily life. I would count it as a privilege to come along side you in your journey of transformation. I find value in and look forward to working with clients from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs.

I recognized during my previous nine years in full-time children’s and family ministry, that I desired more knowledge and understanding of how to help others holistically; in mind, body, and spirit. It is my desire as a professional counselor to provide individuals, couples, and families with a safe therapeutic environment. I believe that every person’s story is unique and that you can find hope and healing in the midst of any of life’s circumstances.

My educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban & Children’s Ministry from North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. I received my Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University. Liberty’s program emphasized the integration of counseling psychology and Biblical faith. I am a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and am currently pursuing licensure in the state of Iowa as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. My interests as a professional counselor include working with individuals, families, and couples in the areas of anxiety, depression, loss, trauma, and interpersonal relationships.

Family is my greatest joy on this earth. My husband and I feel blessed to be raising our children in the Des Moines area. We recently added a puppy to the mix and are delighted and challenged by her every day.

Meg Garrison, MA, LMHC, NCC

Meg Garrison

Life brings many changes, transitions, loss and frustrations. Dealing with these issues can be difficult because they are so personal to you or to your family. I am passionate about helping people in their journey to navigate through challenging times.

My educational background includes a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Education from the University of Central Florida and a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Iowa and continue to hold licenses in counseling from previous work in Illinois and Florida. I have completed the Level 3 Clinical Training of the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy and incorporate the method in my work. I am also a National Certified Counselor and a member of the American Counseling Association. My past work experiences include inpatient and outpatient care for adults and children in a psychiatric setting, music therapy in a rehabilitation hospital, in-home counseling as part of a hospice team, bereavement counseling/management, and private practice.

I provide therapy for individuals, couples, and adolescents in the areas of anxiety, depression, relationship issues, grief/loss, codependency, couples counseling, and stress management. I have extensive experience in working with the emotional issues of individuals who have suffered from strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and other physical traumas. My counseling with hospital and hospice patients has provided me with the opportunities and interest in interacting with people of different cultures and faiths. My approach to counseling is interpersonal, client-centered, and collaborative. It is one of acceptance, understanding and empathetic connection. I am a trained and experienced music therapist and connect well with adolescents using music and the arts as treatment interventions. I also incorporate relaxation and mindfulness techniques into my practice.

I have experienced the gifts of grace in my life many times over and am blessed to have a loving spouse and close family. Counseling with you will be both an honor and a privilege. I look forward to providing a supportive and confidential place for you to proceed in your life journey. I will meet with clients in the Ankeny office.