Mental Health Counseling and Resources

Transformative Growth Counseling banner

Transformative Growth Counseling is a 501c3 non-profit organization serving people across Illinois, including students here at IVCC.

Located within IVCC's Counseling Center, CTC-202.

Have you seen Merek or our flyers around campus and wondered, who is Transformative Growth Counseling?

 Transformative Growth Counseling is a 501c3 non-profit organization serving people across Illinois, including students here at IVCC. 

Transformative Growth offers

  • Counseling services
  • Diagnostic testing
  • In person and online therapy

The TGC staff here at IVCC can see a variety of clients and address a wide scope of needs. Our staff is here to help students with a variety of needs that range from depression to stress to crisis. Transformative Growth focuses on Attachment and Emotionally Focused Therapy, but a wide variety of other therapy types and various types of expertise are available to help you. We can help people with services that can help with things like:

  • Addictions counseling
  • Anxiety
  • Panic & OCD
  • Attachment Theory
  • Depression & Mood
  • COVID-19 Counseling
  • Clinical Testing
  • Gender + Identity
  • Individual Counseling
  • sexual health
  • Opioid Counseling
  • Personality Disorders
  • PTSD
  • Trauma & Stress

Take our anonymous mental health screening here! It can help give you some insight into what you may need help with.

Mindwise Mental Health Screening

You can access our full site, along with our staff and educational information here. 

Transformative Growth Counseling

IVCC gives students four free sessions with our IVCC-based counselors Merek, Megan or LaShay. 

If you decide to continue care after four sessions,  we offer sliding scale appts and are in network with most major insurance types. 

Often times, students report experiencing anxiety, depression, or trauma. If you want more information, please look at these pages provided for you to learn more.

Meet Our IVCC- based Counselors: 

Merek Poto, LSW. Therapist, Site Director.  

Picture of Merek Poto

Merek Poto is a warm and empathetic trans man who enjoys works with college students and staff across a wide spectrum of challenges and changes. He has experience with advocating for his clients, from transgender individuals, to survivors of sexual assault, and just about everything in between. He is an understanding therapist who strives to uphold a judgment free environment. 

When working with his clients, he aims to provide compassionate counseling. He does so by listening to his clients and understanding their needs as individuals. His goal is to ensure clients feel comfortable, safe, and are able to express themselves. He approaches clients empathetically, meeting them on their level and addressing their personal needs. He utilizes emotionally focused therapy to help his clients get in touch with themselves. He strives to grow relationships with his clients by creating a trusting environment where they can achieve a judgment-free and healing experience. He emphasizes that clients can address personal topics when they’re ready to, he’s here to listen.

Stephanie Castaneda-Arteaga, intern

We go through life trying to make sense of it all; the good, the bad, and the ugly cries in between.  You do not have to do this alone. Whatever life throws at us, it is important that we stay balanced, healthy, and true to ourselves. I believe we all have the ability to find the power within ourselves to overcome any of life’s obstacles ; even if we need some assistance in finding that strength. That is why I am here! You are driving the bus and I can help you navigate through the trenches! 

I graduated from Dominican University with a Clinical Psychology Bachelor’s degree and have worked in the mental health field for six years. I am currently in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master’s degree program at Adler University in Chicago.  I have experience in working in community mental health agencies, hospitals, and school-based case management. 

I have also been trained  in crisis and suicide prevention (Illinois Medicaid Comprehensive Assessment of Needs and Strengths). I have provided services to children as young as 5 years old to 75 years old. 

Let’s tackle life’s obstacles by taking one step at a time. If that first step is to make an appointment to start therapy, just know that I know it takes a lot of courage doing so!  You got this!  

“Meanings are not determined by situations, but we determine ourselves by the meanings we give to situations.” - Alfred Adler 

Areas of Interest:

  • Anxiety Management

  • Addictions Counseling

  • Depression Management

  • Stress Management

  • Family Conflict

  • Self-Esteem 

  • Suicidal Ideation

  • Trauma and PTSD

  • Relationship Issues

  • Identity 

  • Life Transitions

  • Generational Trauma

  • Latinx / Hispanic Community

  • Coping Skills

  • Mental health psychoeducation

  • Career Counseling

Stephanie will be available at the following times:

  • Monday and Tuesday in person from 9 am- 4pm
  • Friday online from 9am- 4pm 


Ready talk? IVCC offers four free sessions to all students! We offer online or in-person calls. 

In person appointments: 

Come see Merek in the Counseling Center in room CTC-202L, the first four sessions are free for short term care. If you’d like to have long term care with Merek, you’ll sign up with our Jane App. If you’d like to reach out to Merek personally to schedule an appointment, email him at


In person Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays… 9 am- 4pm
My door is always open!

Online Tuesdays… 12 pm- 7 pm
Online Fridays… 7 am- 2 pm

Ready to meet online? Pop in for a visit using this zoom link:

  • If you attempt to enter the zoom room and you aren't immediately able to to get in, it is likely because a Mental Health Provider is in another session. Please wait!

Call or text: 630-423-6010. 

Front desk email to book with Megan or LaShay: 

LaShay: TBD, Starting Sept 1. 

TGC butterfly

Important Resources and Immediate Help.

Sometimes, you aren’t ready to take the plunge for therapy or you need further resources outside of our talks together. I have gathered some important resources here for you.

  • St. Margaret’s Hospital
    • Health provider with patient-centered care, walk-in availability for minor emergencies, and emergency care.
    • Website:
    • Locations:
      • 925 West St, Peru, IL 61354
        • Phone: (815) 223-3300
      • 600 E 1st St, Spring Valley, IL 61362
        • Phone: (815) 664-5311
  • The Trevor Project
    • 24 hour hotline: (866) 488-7386 
    • The Trevor Project offers support to the LGBTQ young adult community. It is a 24/7 suicide hotline.
    • Website:
  • YWCA
    • 24 hour hotlines: (815) 626-7577 or (815) 288-1011
    • Website:
    • The YWCA is an organization dedicated to empowering women, eliminating racism, standing up for social justice, and strengthening communities. They provide crisis intervention by going into hospitals to advocate for survivors of sexual assault and staying there with them. Call their 24 hour hotline if you want to talk to them about someone you know who was sexually assaulted and you don’t know what to do, or if you yourself are a survivor of sexual assault.
    • Locations:
      • 412 1st Ave, Sterling, IL 61081
        • Phone: (815) 624-0333
      • 98 South Galena Avenue, Dixon, IL. 61021
        • Phone: (815) 288-1232