Owner and President
You can grab a cup of tea and sit down for the long version or click this link Curriculum Vitae and cut to the chase.)
I was born in Minneapolis and raised in St. Paul, the eldest child of five in a working class neighborhood.
I married my husband right out of high school in 1975 and starting having children (it’s what you did). In 1985, we took a leap of faith and moved our then-small family of four children to rural Willow River. We added three more children (yes, that’s a total of seven children by birth and adoption) to our large owner-built home where I spent many years raising children, gardens and various critters. Once all our kids were in school we then began doing therapeutic foster care supporting the needs of 36 additional children over sixteen years. Since then we have added six new adult members to our family and thirteen adorable, amazing and above average grandchildren.
Foster care work, along with the the loss of my grandmother (see MCS Story), inspired me to return to school and begin working toward a degree in counseling therapy. After graduating from UMD with a BAS in psychology and a BA in communications I did my first graduate work at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado where I earned a masters in transpersonal psychology. Transpersonal Psychology is the intersection of psychology and spirituality; going beyond thoughts and feelings to the spirit and soul of the individual; with four semesters of meditation and self-reflection as core curriculum, I learned and experienced first hand the gift of self-care and self-reflection. My understanding, empathy, compassion and role of curious witness was born and matured during my years at Naropa.
After Naropa I began work at the Rural AIDS Action Network as the case manager for east central Minnesota serving people infected with HIV/AIDS in my community. This was incredibly rewarding and humbling work connecting me with neighbors who were not only struggling with a terminal illness but mostly the overwhelming stigma and shame attached to their disease. Much of my work with clients revolved around the levels of grief and loss they were experiencing.
Working with foster youth for so many years I also saw a consistent sense of grief and loss within each of these children regardless of their mental health diagnosis. Following my own profound loss and impact of grief after my grandmother died it seemed working with grief and loss was my path and it brought me to the Association of Death Educators and Counselors to study and become certified as a thanatologist (CT), a grief counselor, consultant and teacher. I began work as a grief counselor and educator in my community in 2004.
It became clear early on that my community and my clients needed more than what my current scope of practice as a grief counselor allowed so I returned to graduate school at St. Catherine University/University of St. Thomas’ for a Masters in Social Work and a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker.
As a life-long learner, along the way I have been trained as a therapeutic foster parent, an Emergency Medical Technician, bereavement facilitator, a hospital and sheriff chaplain and a trauma and loss clinical specialist. I have training in and utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Gottman Method (Couples Counseling), Play Therapy, Sandtray Therapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Motivational Interviewing, Positive Psychology, Solution Focused, YogaCalm, Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Brief Dynamic Psychotherapy. I also utilize more non-traditional practices such as meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, Trauma Release Exercises, Focusing, Qi Gong. My certifications include: Trauma Studies through the University of Minnesota, Adoption Competency with the Center for Adoption Support and Education, Permanency and Adoption Competency Certification through the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) through EMDRIA to enhance my counseling skills further. In 2019 I had the honor of studying and becoming a Level 1 EMDR-Sandtray Specialist under the tutelage of Ana Gomez.
I provide individual diagnostic assessments, treatment plans and therapeutic interventions for children, adolescents and adults. Family and couples counseling are also provided in my office setting. Two days a week I am honored to provide therapeutic services at our local school districts for adult staff members needing support and accessibility for their own mental health needs as they address those of our community’s children each and every day.
I enjoy spending time with my husband and family, reading copious amounts of books, knitting, photography and writing. I practice mindfulness meditation, yoga and Qi Gong regularly. I hope to one day
climb a mountain (Machu Picchu 2017), fall out of a plane (on purpose), travel to my Grama’s homeland of Norway and live a joyful life well past 100 years of age.
(Whew! That was a lot; hope your tea’s not cold.)