Vlad Gordeyev, MS, LMFT vlad@affinitypsych.com

Vlad Gordeyev, MS, LMFT

vlad@affinitypsych.com

Greetings! My name is Vlad. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist currently working towards becoming fully licensed in Minnesota. I have six years of experience providing services in the Des Moines, IA area in home, school, and office settings. My goal is to be more than just a listening ear. I am here to offer you constructive, unbiased support for anything from difficult life changes, to trauma, or complex communication patterns in your personal relationships. I aim to give you the space to explore and express your thoughts and desires while helping you build resilience along the way.




How I Work

If you are the type of person who has paved their own way without asking for much help, I get it. However beneath that exterior strength you may feel lost and isolated, yearning for a chance to finally let someone in. You are not alone! By tapping into the insight and strengths you already possess, we will work towards becoming less dismissive of these feelings and help you begin to understand yourself better than before. I know this can be challenging and anxiety-provoking. Because, let’s be real, change is never easy. But let me tell you, it’s worth it.

I use a client-centered, strengths-based and collaborative approach to help you navigate life at your speed. Here you will be safe, listened to, valued, respected, and understood. We will explore different solutions to best meet your needs at all levels – individual, couple, family, professional, community. I am passionate about helping you find motivation and confidence in yourself. Let’s break those unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns so we can identify your goals to live a more meaningful and value-driven life!


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

Deep down, I am all about having a good time and I love having exciting things to look forward to! I enjoy bringing that same energy into therapy. Part of that includes humor, which almost always happens in my sessions! I have been described as relatable, open-minded, and easy to talk to. I believe that I bring an atmosphere that is always going to be attentive to your needs. I have been told that I make couples and families feel safe and understood without taking sides.

In my office, you will find board games, cards, and fidgets to mess around with. When adults see this, they typically think they are just for the kids, however, life is filled with many responsibilities and it never hurts to lighten things up through a game while we chat.

My personal interests are playing and watching hockey (GO WILD!), watching football (SKOL!), playing video games, exercising, spending time with my two dogs, and watching movies (particularly thrillers and suspense). I also have a major sweet tooth and love my Reese’s and DQ blizzards! I am always open to talk about your interests as well without losing sight of your goals and areas of importance. I’m humbled by the opportunity to learn more about you.



Issues I Treat:

  • Trauma
  • Life Stressors
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • ADHD
  • Life Changes/Adjustment
  • Relationship Issues
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Populations I Serve:

  • Adults
  • Teens and Young Adults
  • Children (7+)
  • Couples and Families

Professional background:



Education

  • Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy – St. Cloud State University
  • Bachelors in Community Psychology – St. Cloud State University

Trainings

  • Psychological Trauma and Juvenile Justice: Impact on Mind, Body, Behavior and Community
  • New Approaches to Managing Trauma
  • Interventions with Grieving Children and Adolescents
  • Family Interventions for Therapists
  • Using Sand Tray Play Therapy to Treat Anxiety and Trauma
  • Bowen Family Systems Conference
  • Technology and Ethics
  • Safety Training for Therapists

Previous Employment

  • ELEOS Psychology Center, St. Louis Park, Minnesota
  • Lifeworks, Inc., Ankeny, Iowa
  • The Village Family Service Center, St. Cloud, Minnesota

Licensure

  • Iowa: LMFT # 082182

Heather Brinkman, MS, LPCC heather@affinitypsych.com

Heather Brinkman, MS, LPCC

heather@affinitypsych.com

My name is Heather and I am a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), and a MN LPC and LPCC Board-approved Clinical Supervisor.

First, I want to congratulate you on your courage. Taking the first steps towards therapy can be a very scary feeling and it takes strength to know when to ask for help. So congratulations – you are taking those all-important first steps! I know your struggles are real and can feel overwhelming at times. I also know that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to therapy. Together we can explore the most effective strategies to help you navigate through your current struggles and become a more positive, focused, and confident you.




How I Work

My philosophy about therapy comes from a strong belief that each person has the power to make positive life changes, and my approach is to provide focused guidance when it is too difficult to move forward alone.  If you feel isolated, stuck, or lost, I believe that working together we can help you overcome those not-so-good feelings.

Different people work best with different approaches, and you and I will find the best approach to help you feel comfortable, positive, and motivated.  To do this, we might explore past hurts and challenges, family dynamics, current and past relationships, stressors, accomplishments, achievements, and the list goes on.  I will be there with you to support you and encourage you through the hard parts, and to celebrate your successes. My job is to help you heal and to help you feel empowered, and I always feel honored to be part of that journey.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

As a multiracial female being raised in an adoptive family, my experiences have helped me understand the importance of understanding diversity and the difficulties that can present. First and foremost, I believe that establishing a rapport is essential to any good relationship, so I make sure that I am always authentic, honest, direct, compassionate, empathetic, and reliable. That also includes laughing a lot, quoting “The Office,” occasional dad jokes, and finding playful ways to work together.  However, the end goal is always a commitment to your success. To quote the great Ted Lasso, “If you care about someone, and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together.”


Issues I Treat:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Attachment
  • Trauma (including but not limited to racial trauma, sexual assault, bullying, domestic violence,
  • childhood abuse or neglect)
  • Significant stressors
  • Adoption
  • Abandonment
  • Behavioral issues
  • Racial identity
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Relationship difficulties – specifically interracial relationships
  • Parent-child-family issues
  • Shame and guilt
  • Life transitions
  • Grief and loss
  • Women’s issues

Populations I Serve:

  • Children 7 and older
  • Adolescents
  • Young adults
  • College Students
  • Adults
  • Parents
  • Families
  • Marginalized Populations
  • BIPOC individuals
  • LGBTQIA+

Professional background:



Education

  • Master’s in Mental Health Counseling – Minnesota State University Mankato
  • Bachelor’s in Psychology – Minnesota State University Mankato 

Trainings

  • MN LPC and LPCC Board Approved Supervisor
  • Permanency and Adoption Competency
  • Attachment Theory and Play Therapy
  • Clinical Supervision Training
  • EMDR Therapy Training
  • North Central Association for Counselor Education and Supervision
  • Playing in a Post-Modern World: Narrative, Solution Focused, and Resiliency Based Play Therapy
  • Psychological First Aid
  • Suicide Prevention Summit
  • Ten Core Competencies of Trauma, PTSD, Grief, and Loss
  • Trauma Competent Caregiver Training
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
  • Trust Based Relational Interventions (TBRI)

Previous Employment

  • Christian Family Solutions
  • Adult, Child and Family Services, LLC

Licensure

  • Minnesota: LPCC # cc02251

Sierra Barger, MA, LMFT sierra@affinitypsych.com

Sierra Barger, MA, LMFT

sierra@affinitypsych.com

Hello there! I’m Sierra and I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I work with teens, adults, parents/guardians, and families who are committed to bringing greater fulfillment and meaning to their lives. I am so glad you are here and working to find the right therapist for yourself or a loved one! Regardless of your specific struggle, I know you’re wondering what you can do to change the way you’re feeling and how you can maintain your well-being throughout life’s ups and downs. You want to believe – and feel! – as though you have control of your life. I can help you explore strategies that will help you manage the difficult experiences impacting your life, so that you can feel confident in the decisions you make day-in and day-out.




How I Work

Relationships, education, and health are the factors I most strongly value and focus on when we’re talking about helping you improve your emotional well-being. I am always dedicated to partnering with you to identify the things that motivate you and help you be your best self. When your mental health is compromised you can experience difficulties with managing responsibilities and taking care of yourself.

Depending on your specific strengths and challenges, we will pull from a wide range of strategies and interventions to figure out how best to get you back on track! I’m not a therapist that thinks a particular approach is best for everyone. Instead, I’m committing to exploring and learning with you what works, why it works, and how you can do more of what works. When all is said and done…YOU call the shots! I thoroughly love teaching and providing information that can improve your overall well-being, but I know the importance of listening to and learning from your unique experiences.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

Listen, I know I don’t have all the answers to all life’s problems, and I don’t pretend to. But I will never stop trying to find them! I’ll be open-minded, validating, humorous, and direct in our work together, as I encourage you to keep looking for those answers as well. Growing up and identifying as a multiracial woman, I’ve had the privilege of learning at an early age how to acknowledge, accept, and celebrate differences. Diverse experiences are something I particularly love holding space for in my work with clients.



Issues I Treat:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship issues
  • Foster Care
  • Adoption
  • Domestic violence or abuse
  • Eating Disorders
  • Life transitions
  • Parenting
  • Pregnancy, prenatal, postpartum
  • Racial identity
  • School issues
  • Self esteem
  • Sexual abuse
  • Trauma

Populations I Serve:

  • Children (6+)
  • Adolescents
  • Adults
  • Parents
  • Families
  • Marginalized Populations

Professional background:



Education

  • Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy- University of St. Thomas
  • Bachelors in Clinical Psychology- Augsburg University 

Trainings

  • Circle of Security Parenting (COS)
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT)
  • Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood (DC:0-5)

Previous Employment

  • St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development
  • People Incorporated
  • Nystrom & Associates Ltd.

Licensure

  • Minnesota, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, 3437

Angela Ackerman, MA, LPCCangela@affinitypsych.com

Angela Ackerman, MA, LPCC

angela@affinitypsych.com

Hello there, I am so glad you are seeking out support through therapy! It can be a big step to commit to addressing life’s difficulties and I’m here to help you in finding and walking your healing path. My name is Angela (although my youngest clients have called me “Ms. Angie”) and I am a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. I went back to graduate school to understand the significant mood struggles my own child was having from a young age. I graduated from Argosy University – Twin Cities with a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. My passion is for helping children and their caregivers navigate challenges with regulation, relationships, and development.

As a clinical counselor, I can provide services for any age through individual, couples, or family therapy for a broad range of life experiences and problems. I have a special affinity for very young children and their caregivers, especially those who have experienced trauma such as experiencing family violence, separation from a caregiver, medical trauma and accidents, or natural disaster.

Personally, I have experience living with multiple family members with bipolar disorder. I truly get how tough it can be to navigate a caring role as a spouse, parent, and sibling. I worked so hard to learn positive ways to support those caught in the ups and downs of mental illness. It’s time now for me to share hope for surviving and thriving when someone you love has a serious mental illness.




How I Work

I’m here to offer a new perspective and support you in creating a new story! I love to work collaboratively with clients toward their goals, discover their strengths, and to celebrate the small successes along the way. Finding meaningful metaphors to understand the problem and ways to tackle it head on are my jam.

In therapy, we can reflect on the difficulties you are having, and explore where they may be coming from. Together, we’ll set some goals toward healthier functioning and create a plan for healing. Sometimes we may “do the work” through talking and writing, sand tray, or play therapy. Other times we may practice regulation skills, make a family values game, create a personalized chart, or find other community resources to complement your growth.

One of the best parts about this job is that I am learning as much from you as I hope you are from me. We are all working to become better humans and I am so honored to be part of clients’ personal development.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

I have lived and worked in rural settings for many years and I have served marginalized populations with limited access to resources. Because of this, I am often creative in addressing a wide range of mental health issues and take a holistic approach to healing.

I love to make things (I’m an avid home improvement DIYer!) and incorporating hands-on activities during the session can really be helpful for both kids and adults. One of my favorites is a Calm Down Bottle to bring home for self-regulation. Especially when we are addressing painful issues, having something to keep your hands busy can make a huge difference in allowing emotions to flow and be processed.

I am comfortable holding space for intense emotions and exploring the darker sides of life as well; accepting all parts of ourselves is a lifelong journey and I will hold up a light for you to find your way through. In the end, my hope is that you will find your own light again and eventually shine that back for someone else who is having a hard time!



Issues I Treat:

  • Social-Emotional-Behavior challenges in young children (B-5)
  • Parenting special needs children
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder (especially loved ones of those with BP)
  • Relationship problems
  • Parent-child issues
  • Trauma
  • ADHD
  • Attachment/children in foster care
  • Divorce

Populations I Serve:

  • Birth-5 and their caregivers
  • Children
  • Adolescents
  • Adults
  • Couples
  • Families
  • LGBTQ+
  • Low income families

Professional background:



Education

  • Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University-Twin Cities, Minnesota

  • BS in Applied Psychology from Bemidji State University


Previous Employment

  • Greater Minnesota Family Services, Willmar, MN

  • Bi-County Community Action Program Head Start, Backus, MN


Licensure

  • MN LPCC: cc01666

  • Registered provider for CPP, an evidence-based practice using dyadic, reflective interventions to treat trauma in young children

Kelsey Miller, MA, LPCC kelsey@affinitypsych.com

Kelsey Miller, MA, LPCC

kelsey@affinitypsych.com

Welcome! Look at you reading a therapist’s bio and taking a big step towards improving your mental health! I’m Kelsey and I’m a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and MN Board Approved Supervisor. I work with children, adolescents, young adults, adults, and parents. I have a background in working with adoption as well as children in foster care. I specialize in helping those that struggle with anxiety, depression, transitions, life stressors, relationships, and parenting difficulties. I have a Masters in Counseling from the University of North Dakota. I look forward to helping you explore, challenge, and re-frame the factors that are preventing you from living the life you want.




How I Work

The three hardest things to say: 1. I was wrong. 2. I need help. 3. Worcestershire Sauce. As a therapist I am humorous, genuine, direct, passionate, validating, and creative. I take the context of your life experiences and help you understand how they link to your current challenges. This could be reflecting on how you were parented and the challenges you currently have with your children or how the way you handle certain life stressors impact how you handle stressors in other areas of your life.

Also, you will learn that I bring LOTS of interventions to our sessions! I use different tools and techniques depending on the exact needs of my clients. This could be crafts and books to support children and adolescents who are working through difficult experiences. Or visual aids (which I LOVE) to explain why “we do what we do” when we feel different emotions or have reminders of past painful experiences. And as you can tell, I enjoy bringing humor and motivational quotes to sessions as a way to lighten the mood and allow you to leave the office feeling ready and able to take on big changes!


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

I show up to sessions ready to create a space with you where you feel comfortable being vulnerable. When you are going through some of the most challenging parts of your life, you need someone who will be right there with you. I think of us as partners on this journey, and I truly value that you allow me to be a part of your process. There is no better professional gratification than seeing you take what you’ve learned in session and begin to use it in your own life!



Issues I Treat:

  • LGBTQIA+ issues
  • Trauma
  • Anxiety
  • Life Stressors
  • Adoption
  • Foster Care
  • Parenting Challenges
  • Behavioral Issues
  • Depression
  • Self-esteem
  • Relationship Issues
  • Parent-Child
  • Relationship Difficulties

Populations I Serve:

  • Individual Adults
  • Adolescents and Young Adults
  • Children 7 and older with anxiety difficulties
  • Blended-Families
  • Parents with young children

Professional background:



Education

  • Masters in Counseling – University of North Dakota
  • Bachelors in Rehabilitation and Human Services- University of North Dakota

Trainings

  • MN LPCC Board-Approved Supervisor
  • Certified Circle of Security Parent Facilitator
  • Certification in Permanency and Adoption Competency
  • Certification in Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Previous Employment

  • St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development
  • Clinical Team Lead of the Treatment Foster Care Program
  • Clinical Supervisor in the Intensive Family Mental Health Program providing individual/family psychotherapy and clinical supervision.

License

  • Minnesota: LPCC #cc01511

Ashley Lange, MA, LPCC ashley@affinitypsych.com

Ashley Lange, MA, LPCC

ashley@affinitypsych.com

I’m so grateful that you’ve taken the time to look into therapy and find the right person for you, your family, or your loved one. I’m Ashley, a licenced professional clinical counselor (LPCC) with experience doing individual and family work with adolescents, teens, and adults. Whether in schools, hospitals, clinics, or at home, I have been honored to be present during crises, low points, struggles, and intense challenges. I have also been privileged enough to see people overcome, grow, change, persevere, and live their truest and most authentic lives.

Most importantly, what my experience has taught me is that mental health is never as simple as a diagnosis, a list of symptoms, what pill to take next, or what new therapy fad to use. It’s understanding the big picture, whether that involves family history, social and environmental factors, or injustice and oppression as a result of race, body size, gender, sexuality, or any other area of human bias. Mental health is often the result of trying to live in a world that makes living our best lives difficult, and I do my best to help all of my clients navigate their personal experiences with empathy and humility.

I bring practical knowledge, comprehensive clinical understanding, warmth, and a sense of humor to my work. I am so excited to get to know more about you, and help you accomplish your mental health goals.




How I Work

I attempt to bring the best of many worlds into my sessions. I value learning, education, research, knowledge, and cutting edge clinical information. I also believe strongly that every individual is their own best expert, and my primary job is to help you to access the tools within yourself to lead the life you want to live. I utilize a variety of therapeutic strategies such as CBT, DBT, MAP, mindfulness, holistic perspectives, systems therapy, and trauma informed clinical strategies.

In addition to that, however, I believe the goal of all mental health services should be to help someone live their most satisfying, fulfilling life. That can mean everything from improving symptoms, to finding and completing a lifelong dream, to building a healthy and satisfying relationship. Allow me to accompany you on this journey, and help you find what you seek.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

I’ve frequently been described as a specialist in “nerdy” topics, so I am always excited to talk about the latest video games, board games, or other niche hobbies with my clients. I also love to make use of fun and excitement in my therapy sessions. When I work with adolescents I will use games and activities to improve the process. But I’m not afraid to bust out games with clients of all ages! Life can and should be fun, and therapy is no different.

People describe me as a very insightful, intuitive, and thoughtful person. I bring deep empathy, compassion, a love to learn about others, and an open heart and mind to my work. I also value humor, and my sessions are often filled with laughter. That’s not to say we won’t also experience the hard things, and travel to dark places, together. Whatever we’re discussing in session, I strive to make my clients feel safe, understood, valued, and respected.



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Trauma (particularly with adolescents)
  • ADHD
  • Body image concerns
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic/Persistent mental illness

Populations I Serve:

  • Children and Adolescents
  • Families and couples
  • Adults of any age
  • LGBTQI+ folks
  • Parents and adolescents struggling to connect
  • Families trying to repair their relationships with one another
  • Survivors of physical and sexual abuse

Professional background:



Education

  • Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology – University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN
  • BA in Strategic Communications – Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ

Previous Employment

  • Sioux Trails Mental Health Center
  • Fernbrook Family Center
  • People Incorporated
  • Sexual Violence Center

Licensure:

  • Minnesota: LPCC #cc2903

Dani Norgren, MSW, LICSW dani@affinitypsych.com

Dani Norgren, MSW, LICSW

dani@affinitypsych.com

Hi! I’m Dani (she/her/hers) and I’m a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Minnesota. I received my Master’s in Social Work from St. Catherine University/The University of St. Thomas. I work with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families using attachment- and strength-based models. Those models derive from my specialty training in TF-CBT (trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy) and the Developmental Repair Model. While my training provides me with certain tools and skill sets, I mostly enjoy just being in space with people and letting those tools flow in naturally.

However, I am sure all of the fancy lingo isn’t as important for you to know about me as the fact that I am obsessed with Schitt’s Creek or that I feel great joy anytime a new cooking/traveling show comes out. I am a proud mama to a strong-willed one year old and my dog Sprocket. I de-stress by cooking new recipes and dancing to loud music (especially if no one is watching).




How I Work

We all have stories and experiences that have created the complex people we are today. I aim to provide a non-judgmental and open space where you feel comfortable telling your stories, and that starts with building a trusting and safe relationship.

I will work with you through your anxiety, depression, trauma, fear, shame, and unhelpful patterns to uncover your strengths and resiliency. In order to move forward, I deeply believe that we need to look underneath our mishaps and struggles to uncover the why that drives us. I will compassionately hold you accountable to your goals and to the progress you want and need to make in order to achieve them.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

In session, and in life, my style is informal, warm, playful and compassionate. I try to show up and be my authentic self using humor, honesty and warmth. I am not a wizard with the answers to life, but I am here to journey with people to find their answers. My personal experience in the world has led me to understand the importance of being present for people and allowing them to be their full self.



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Trauma

  • Anxiety and stress management

  • Depression

  • Identity exploration

  • Shame

  • Parenting Challenges

  • Behavioral Issues

  • Aggression

  • Grief and Loss

Populations I Serve:

  • Children (5+)

  • Adolescents

  • Adults

  • Families

  • LGBTQ+ Community

  • Trauma Survivors

  • BIPOC individuals

Professional background:



Education

  • Masters of Clinical Social Work – St. Thomas University/College of St. Catherine
  • BA in Psychology – University of Minnesota-Duluth

Previous Employment

  • Washburn Center for Children – Elementary Day Treatment
  • Greater Minnesota Family Service

Trainings:

  • EMDR Therapy Training
  • Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
  • Developmental Repair
  • Brief Dynamic Psychotherapy

Licensure:

  • Minnesota: LICSW #27462

Kelly Sternhagen, MSW, LICSW kelly@affinitypsych.com

Kelly Sternhagen, MSW, LICSW

kelly@affinitypsych.com

Hello and welcome! I appreciate you taking the time to get to know a little bit about me and consider whether we might work well together. I’m Kelly (she, her, hers) and I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. I received my BSW undergraduate degree from Winona State University and my MSW from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

My “therapist gift” is being able to see the whole system that surrounds my client, and all the dynamics within that system that are impacting my client’s ability to thrive. I developed this ability through many years of working with children, adolescents, and their families, and now I bring that expertise to my work with adults as well.




How I Work

We are continuously being shaped by the important people in our lives and situations that have happened to us, all of which have made us into who we are today. These experiences, both positive and negative, can either drive us to reach our full potential and goals or can get in our way. That’s what can cause us to feel stuck and hopeless, to re-live painful experiences over and over again, or to recreate unhealthy relationship patterns.

I will work with you to explore and understand these past experiences so we can get to the root of what’s keeping you from reaching your full potential. When you feel empowered to reshape your future, nothing can hold you back!


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

I have a calm, steady, unflappable energy that helps to create a safe environment for us to do the sometimes challenging, always gratifying work of therapy. I will help to guide you through the process. At times, you will take the lead, and at times I will help you to figure out how to take the lead, in therapy and in your own life. This holds true for my work with children as well. I use experiential play therapy to help children work through their experiences and feelings so that they can find and create the healing they need.



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Grief and loss
  • Life transitions
  • Self-esteem, self-confidence, and assertiveness
  • Shame
  • ADHD
  • Body image and body acceptance
  • Eating disorders
  • Behavioral issues
  • Divorce
  • Trauma

Populations I Serve:

  • Adults
  • Young Adults
  • Children (5 and older) and adolescents
  • Stressed out students
  • Families in conflict
  • Kids with social or emotional struggles
  • Parents with parenting challenges or differences

Professional background:



Education

  • Winona State University – Bachelor of Social Work

  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities- Master of Social Work

Trainings

  • Yoga Calm Integrated Approach to Wellness 1-3 courses

  • EMDR Part I, EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs

  • Experiential Play Therapy

  • Sand Tray Play Therapy

  • Filial Play Therapy

  • Intro to DC:0-3R, MN of Human Services

  • Minnesota Psychoanalytic Society Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training Program

Previous Employment

  • Prairie Care-PHP program

  • Headway Emotional Health Services

  • Children’s Minnesota St. Paul Hospital

  • Family Connections

Licensure

  • Minnesota: LICSW #20679

Tessa Wolden, MA, ATR-BC, LPCC tessa@affinitypsych.com

Tessa Wolden, MA, ATR-BC, LPCC

tessa@affinitypsych.com

Hi! I’m happy you’re here and hope that you find a therapist that fits you best. I strive to help people who long to uncover their best selves, but are buried under stressors that get in the way. My approach as a Board Certified Art Therapist and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor is client-centered, so my art directives focus on your specific goals, and I follow your lead.

I know from making my own artwork to process experiences in the natural world that living my best and authentic life is found through regular grounding practice and genuine connection with others. This passion for incorporating nature into my practice comes from working as a therapist in Grand Marais and many years guiding trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Sharing the gift of bringing nature into everyday life and the empowerment that is felt when overcoming adversity in the outdoors is one of the best parts of my work.




How I Work

Many people don’t know what art therapy is and often I explain it as simply using art as another way of communicating than talking alone. Using art often accelerates getting to the heart of an issue while also distancing you from the situation rather than talking directly about yourself.

I work primarily as an art therapist. Our work together will start with an intake, where I learn more about you, your goals and your life experiences. Here we can talk about whether using art is something you’re excited for, curious to learn more, or nervous about but interested in trying. Art is a main focus of my orientation, but is in no way the only tool I use and not something that needs to be done every session. Generally, in the second session we would introduce art materials and I would provide you with a prompt that can further help us determine our goals and plan for treatment. Starting in the third session, we begin the real work diving into the meat of what you are wanting to change or explore and we go from there. This is just a general timeline as I work to maintain a pace that feels best for you.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

My focus on using art and nature in therapy is unique compared to traditional talk therapy. My job is to give you the tools and perspectives that help you ride the waves of being human and foster positive relationships with others.

Clients often tell me how easy it is to connect with me and they feel comfortable talking about difficult things. My colleagues talk about how I stick with clients, particularly during tough times. Sitting with you through the muck is my goal and my strength. To be with you and not judge, and to offer you other perspectives when you are feeling stuck.

I believe living authentically changes the world around you. Click on the link below to schedule a session together!



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Life transitions
  • Self-confidence, self-esteem & assertiveness
  • Burnout & compassion fatigue
  • Trauma & PTSD

Populations I Serve:

  • Adults
  • Children & Adolescents
  • Queer Folks
  • Artists and other creatives
  • Perfectionists
  • Helping Professionals
  • Those in need of teletherapy
  • Transplants to MN

Professional background:



Education

  • MA – Art Therapy: George Washington University
  • BSBA – Marketing: University of Denver

Trainings

  • Trauma Informed Care
  • Child Parent Psychotherapy
  • Sand Tray Training
  • Telehealth for Mental Health Professionals
  • Reflective Supervision

Previous employment:

  • St. David’s Center
  • Accend Services

Licensure:

  • Minnesota LPCC: #cc1907
  • Art Therapy Registration – Board Certified: 18-302

Stephanie Ess, MA, LMFT stephanie@affinitypsych.com

Stephanie Ess, MA, LMFT

stephanie@affinitypsych.com

Hi. I’m Stephanie, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Approved Supervisor. I earned my Masters and Post-Graduate Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and a certificate in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health from the University of Minnesota. Now I am pursuing a PhD in Developmental Psychology as well.

Ever the learner, I enjoy constantly updating my skills so that I can more effectively help my clients understand the ways their life experiences impact their connection to themselves as others. Whether you are 3 years old or 103 years old, an individual, a couple, or a family, I am passionate about working with you to acknowledge and nurture your inherent wholeness.




How I Work

I am most interested in meeting you where you are and understanding how your personal, family, work, and community relationships intersect to shape who you are today. We are relational beings and as such, our relationships are vital to our wellbeing. Just as important, however, is the relationship we have with ourselves. In our work together we will travel the path of discovering your inherent worth and value that most often is clouded by experiences of depression, anxiety, illness, relational stress, and substance abuse.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

I am a firm believer that a diagnosis is not who you are, nor does it define your lived experience. As a therapist, I am entrusted with the privilege of bearing witness to your life. I honor this trust by understanding that you are your own unique individual, and the path that brings you to therapy and that guides you following therapy is similarly unique and valuable. Together we will create a space in which you can feel safe, curious, seen, heard, and valued as a vehicle for discovering your authentic self.



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression
  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Addiction
  • Disordered eating
  • Relationship stress
  • LGBTQ+ identified and allies
  • Identity exploration
  • Prenatal and Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders
  • Parenting conflicts/stress

Populations I Serve:

  • Children (3 and older)
  • Adolescents and young adults
  • Adults
  • Couples in conflict
  • Overwhelmed parents
  • LGBTQ+ communities
  • Foster care families
  • Underrepresented Peoples

Professional background:



EDUCATION

  • PhD, Developmental Psychology – Walden University (In progress)
  • Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Certificate – University of Minnesota
  • Marriage and Family Therapy Post-Graduate Certificate – St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
  • MA, Counseling Psychology – St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
  • BS, Psychology – University of Mary

TRAININGS

  • The Effect of Trauma on the Next Generation – Dr. Rachel Yehuda
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Trauma and Healing – Bessel van der Kolk, MD
  • Mindsight in Childhood & Adolescence: Strategies to Help Kids Thrive – Daniel Siegel, MD
  • Attachment Training/Strange Situation – Alan Sroufe, PhD and Elizabeth Carlson, PhD
  • Circle of Security Parent Trainer
  • DC 0-5 (Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood)
  • An Adlerian Model of Supervision, using Family Constellations and Early Recollections – Marina Bluvshtein, PhD

PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT

  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • University of Minnesota
  • St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development

LICENSURE

  • Minnesota: LMFT #2577