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

Denise Wing, MA, LMFTdenise@affinitypsych.com

Denise Wing, MA, LMFT

denise@affinitypsych.com

Hello! My name is Denise. Thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist with an extensive practice history in both acute short-term settings and as a long-term out-patient therapist. I earned my graduate degree in psychotherapy and counseling at the Alfred Adler Graduate School in MN. It has been my privilege and passion to utilize my years of experience to now focus on work with adults of all ages. Our work together would likely center on guiding and deepening understanding about root problems affecting you, as well as identifying your strengths and building appreciation of yourself while making sense of your story. We will collaborate to support and further develop your hopes for the future.




How I Work

I work from a belief that to understand oneself is to love oneself. Much emotional pain and suffering can be centered and sustained by factors developed at times in our lives when we had little say or help in making meaning of what is happening around us. This can lead not only to mental health symptoms but also deep feelings of inadequacy, guilt, doubt, and confusion about ourselves, our interactions with others and life in general. My job is to build trust and understanding in the therapeutic relationship so that it can be uniquely used for your healing and empowerment. Along the way, we will consider parts of your story that have gone unprivileged when problems are too strong. These are your real, but perhaps underdeveloped plots, subplots, and counter plots of your life story. Once considered and thickened, thy can create a sense of being transported (not unlike a moving novel or movie.) I believe good therapy is both artful and scientific in its approach and theory.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

I continually work hard to understand the needs of those that choose to consult with me and recognize the great honor of being allowed to do this work. I know that some people need help feeling contained, some need a reflective surface in which to see parts of themselves so they can feel whole. Others need a relationship in order to process and make sense of their lives while experiencing the unconditional regard they deserve. While many clients have noted a sense of fulfillment around getting to the root of what they consider problems in their lives, I will always honor your timing, emotional safety, and control in the therapy process.



Issues I Treat:

  • Depression
  • Self-esteem/self-worth issues
  • Trauma and abuse issues
  • Developmental trauma including exposure to violence/disaster, neglect, bullying and other emotional abuses, assault and chronic distress in childhood
  • PTSD
  • Family of origin issues and dynamics
  • Anxiety, worry, panic episodes and chronic stress
  • Parenting challenges
  • Anger/aggression
  • Chronic interpersonal conflict
  • Grief
  • Shame or excessive guilt

Populations I Serve:

  • Adults of all ages
  • Creatives
  • People interested in understanding themselves on a deeper level
  • Parents

Professional background:



Education

  • The Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN

  • Alfred Adler Graduate School, Richfield, MN


Trainings

  • Two year Psychoanalytic Training Course, Minneapolis Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (“MPSI”)

  • Eight years of specialized analytic supervision with MPSI Analysts

  • Narrative Therapy Certification Training

  • Several years of Advanced Narrative Therapy study/learning group


Previous Employment

  • PrairieCare Medical Group – Edina Partial Hospitalization Program, Woodbury Outpatient Clinic

  • Family Innovation, Anoka, Eden Prairie

  • Perspectives Supportive Housing Program, St. Louis Park


Licensure

  • MN Marriage and Family Therapist, License #1812

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

Michael Jacob, MS michael@affinitypsych.com

Michael Jacob, MS

michael@affinitypsych.com

Hello! My name is Michael (he/him). Thank you for stopping by and congrats on taking the first step to improve yourself! I have a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling degree from the University of Wisconsin – Stout, with an emphasis in eating and personality disorders. I am currently working on becoming a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Minnesota.

My role as a therapist is to help you become the most authentic version of yourself and I am honored to be part of that journey with you. I work with individuals and couples who are experiencing a wide range of difficulties in life. Mental health is never as simple as one problem or one solution, so I have a tool kit full of clinical knowledge, techniques, understanding, empathy, and practicality to help you better yourself.


Michael is able to accept all of our contracted insurance plans except the following. Feel free to ask about out-of-network or sliding scale availability.
  • Medicare
  • Multiplan
  • Tricare



How I Work

I have two jobs as a therapist: My first job is to learn about you; When things aren’t going well, it can be hard to be heard or feel seen by others, so my job is to offer you a space to have those feelings validated. My second job is to educate and guide you on this new path towards being a better you! As a therapist, I view you as the pilot and myself as the navigator. You know the destination but maybe not how to get there, so I can offer you some guidance and direction. Along the way, we may make some side trips or find a new path to take, but in the end we’ll work together to reach the goals you’ve set for yourself. 


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

As a gay man, I bring my own experiences and knowledge of what it is like to live in a world that is not always the most supportive of being your true self. I am aware of and sensitive to the struggles that LGBTQIA+ individuals have, but I also know that my experiences are unique and not the same as yours. I am always learning and being educated on different issues to provide better services for clients and to be a better member of the community.

I also enjoy bringing some fun and laughter to sessions. It is as important to celebrate the positives and successes in life as it is to explore the struggles. I like to make references to TV shows, especially my favorites like The Golden Girls, and other pop culture staples that bring me joy (and hopefully, you too)! 

Clients have shared that they feel comfortable with me, that they can trust me, that they feel heard and respected, and that I have helped them make sense of the experiences they have had. Clients also have shared that they love my Olaf tattoo!



Issues I Treat:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sexual Orientation 
  • Gender Identity
  • Sex/Intimacy issues
  • Grief
  • ADHD
  • Body image
  • Self-esteem
  • Anger issues
  • Eating Disorders
  • Life changes/adjustments
  • Relationship/Interpersonal challenges
  • Trauma
  • LGBTQIA+ issues

Populations I Serve:

  • Adolescents (13+)
  • Young adults
  • Adults
  • Couples (monogamous, non-monogamous, poly)
  • LGBTQIA+
  • Students

Professional background:



Education

  • Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, University of Wisconsin – Stout

  • Bachelors of Psychology, University of Wisconsin – River Falls

Trainings

  • Diagnosing and Treating Eating Disorders
  • Treating Personality Disorders
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy for Trauma

Ami-Lyn Sussman, MSW, LGSW ami-lyn@affinitypsych.com

Ami-Lyn Sussman, MSW, LGSW

ami-lyn@affinitypsych.com

Hi there! I am so glad you made it here. This is the first step on the journey toward healing. That’s a big deal. Exploring options and making decisions that align with your true self can be a wonderful experience. You have a lot to be proud of! Not everyone is brave enough to take this first step. In light of making this decision, let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Ami-Lyn. I am a social worker in New York and Minnesota and am currently working on becoming licensed in Minnesota. My Master’s degree is from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in NYC, and my Bachelor’s degree is from Queens College. My journey to becoming a licensed therapist was in fact my own journey toward healing.

Learning about the brain, the mind-body connection, social systems, and therapeutic tools all helped me personally, and that allows me to help others in their own process. Now I work with individuals, families, and couples across the lifespan, working with them to integrate their full selves in the healing process.


Ami-Lyn is able to accept all of our contracted insurance plans except the following. Feel free to ask about out-of-network or sliding scale availability.
  • Medicare
  • Multiplan
  • Tricare



How I Work

My job is to help you create a filing cabinet for yourself. A safe place you can contain your memories, ideas, and reflections. We will sort and revisit them together, at your own pace, in good time, and without judgement. I use a lot of mindfulness practices and exercises that we will do together in session so that you can access them on your own outside of therapy. These exercises will help build the muscles needed for healing. There may be some trial and error in the process, but that’s part of the work. Each step you take is one step closer to becoming the person you want to be and achieving the goals you want to achieve.

I believe in creating a place to explore who we truly are, how we see ourselves, what was expected of us, what we want, and all the other questions that are important to ask and answer about ourselves. That’s what therapy is all about. It’s not an overnight process, but it’s worth the time and effort you put into it.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

When I work with clients, I’m always trying to see the big picture while also trying to understand the way the pieces fit together and how each piece affects all the others in your life. I’m thinking about your mind, your physical self, your emotional world, as well as all the relationships, groups and systems you’re a part of and that wrap around you.

No one is an island. When we locate you in that web, it’s a bit like locating you on a map in relation to other places. From there we can more fully understand where you are, where you’re trying to go, and what will need to happen in order for you to reach your destination.



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self-Esteem
  • Adoption Issues
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
  • ADHD
  • Anger Management
  • Anxiety
  • Behavioral Issues
  • Coping Skills
  • Eating Disorders
  • Family Conflict
  • Oppositional Defiance
  • Parenting Challenges
  • Peer Relationships
  • Relationship Issues
  • Body Image Challenges

Populations I Serve:

  • Children (5+) and Adolescents
  • Adults
  • Families
  • Adoptees
  • Families Created Through Adoption
  • Trauma Survivors
  • Creative Folks
  • LGBTQ+
  • People Questioning/Changing Careers

Professional background:



Education

  • Master’s in Social Work – Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College-CUNY, NYC
  • BA in Psychology – Queens College, NY

Previous Employment

  • TheraCare
  • Maspeth High School, Queens
  • P.R.O.V.E (Project for Return and Opportunity in Veterans Education)

Licensure

  • MN LGSW 29643 (working towards independent licensure)

andrea-undlin

Andrea Undlin, MA, LMFT andrea@affinitypsych.com

andrea-undlin

Andrea Undlin, MA, LMFT

andrea@affinitypsych.com

Welcome! First and foremost, I applaud you for taking your mental health or the mental health of a loved one seriously. Seeking therapy is not an easy step to take for a variety of reasons and I am glad you are here. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a MN Board-approved supervisor, and a trauma specialist. I know that it is not fun or easy to start to unpack the “luggage” you’ve been carrying around for too long that’s been packed full of sad, painful, scary, shameful or other difficult memories or feelings. I know that you may be coming into therapy believing the LIES that life experiences or people in your life have caused you to believe: that you are “broken,” “damaged,” or “crazy.” I’m here to help you unpack that metaphorical luggage and find the truth that you are capable, worthy, resilient, and lovable. I will meet you where you are at, encourage you, empower you, and I will support you along the way. I already believe in you and it’s my commitment to help you believe in yourself.

A Special Note to BIPOC individuals , LGBTQ+ individuals, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from other marginalized groups: I acknowledge that I am a white, cis-gendered, able-bodied female. I recognize that already impacts my ability to fully empathize with many of the difficulties you face in a world that is often unkind or inequitable to those in marginalized groups. With that, I want you to know that I am here for you. I am committed to being a safe and welcoming therapist for people of all backgrounds, to help you navigate the specific difficulties of your life.




How I Work

I believe that therapy needs to be just enough difficult to know you’re getting some work done but also rewarding enough to keep you coming back to do the hard work!

My therapy framework is rooted in an evidence-based therapy called Internal Family Systems. This therapy holds the belief that all humans consist of a Self with many Parts. Often when someone needs to go to therapy, it’s because Parts of them are taking control and making them act in ways that they wish they didn’t. Parts can make us feel anxious; Parts can make us react with anger; Parts can make us drink, do drugs, find control through food, or make us engage in other unhealthy behaviors to cope. Perhaps you can relate to some of the Parts I just mentioned or perhaps you’ve already identified your own unique Parts. In therapy with me, “all Parts are welcome” without judgement from me. I help my clients get to know the Parts of them that may be taking control in unhelpful ways and help my clients regain control in a Self-lead way.

I am also trained in brain-based therapies and interventions. If you’ve experienced trauma, significant stress, or adverse childhood experiences, you likely need something more than traditional “talk therapy.” Often the most effective way to heal trauma is through the brain and the body because that is where the experiences are stored. I am a Certified EMDR Therapist and I have completed Phase 1 of Brainspotting. I incorporate brain-based modalities into many of my sessions to really get to the root of the problems you face and literally help you re-wire your neural pathways to support positive mental health and well-being.

In addition to trauma, I also have specialization in attachment and I have completed an in-depth training in adoption and permanency. I enjoy working with parents of young children using a reflective model called “Circle of Security.” My “parent clients” have found great benefit in learning how to meet their children’s needs through learning where their child is at “on the circle of security” to reduce power struggle, behavioral issues, and other stressful parenting moments.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

Many of my clients have commented that they have experienced true progress and change in our work together. They also appreciate that I am genuine and personable in our work together. Just because I am a therapist and have a lot of solid trainings and knowledge does NOT mean I have it all figured out. Also, I fully acknowledge and admit that some of the interventions I use may seem weird or “woo-woo”-at least they did to me when I started learning about them. But here’s the thing – they ACTUALLY WORK, and enough research backs that up for me to feel confident in saying that. I do my best to practice what I preach and I don’t ask my clients to try any intervention that I haven’t found personally helpful.



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Trauma/Significant Stress (e.g. victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, early childhood abuse or neglect, bullying, combat trauma, car accidents, persistent emotional invalidation in childhood)
  • Family of origin issues
  • Relationship Conflict
  • Body Image/Self-Esteem
  • Shame
  • Anxiety and Stress Management
  • Depression
  • Panic Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Perfectionism
  • Parent-Child Relationship Difficulties
  • Parenting Difficulties
  • Navigating Life Transitions

Populations I Serve:

  • Individual Adults
  • Adolescents and Young Adults
  • Children 7 and older with Anxiety Difficulties
  • Parents of young children
  • Families in Conflict
  • Blended-Families

Professional background:



Education

  • Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy- Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
  • Bachelors in Family Social Science- University of Minnesota

Trainings

  • MN LMFT Board-Approved Supervisor
  • Certified EMDR Therapist
  • EMDR Consultant in Training (CIT)
  • EMDR Early Attachment Protocol
  • EMDR with Complex PTSD and Dissociation
  • Level 1 Internal Family Systems
  • Level 2 Internal Family Systems- working with Eating Disorders and Addiction
  • Thought Field Therapy (“tapping”)
  • Brainspotting Phase1
  • Certified Circle of Security-Parent Facilitator
  • Certification in Permanency and Adoption Competency

Previous employment:

  • The Calli Institute
  • St. David’s Center
  • Life-Span Youth Transition Services
  • The Emily Program Anna-Westin House-Adolescent

Licensure:

  • Minnesota: LMFT 3317

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

Meridee Rilen, PsyD, LP, Foundermeridee@affinitypsych.com

Meridee Rilen, PsyD, LP, Founder

meridee@affinitypsych.com

Hello! I’m Dr. Meridee Rilen, founder of Affinity Psychological Services. I’m a psychologist, licensed in both Minnesota and California, where I offer individual therapy and couples therapy. I hold an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Yale University and a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from The California School of Professional Psychology. In addition to private practice, I’ve held clinical positions at Stanford University and Kaiser Permanente Medical Center.

My practice serves a wide variety of issues and populations, though I have special interest and expertise in the areas of sexuality and gender, executive leadership, positive psychology, and relationship work (with extensive training in multiple approaches to couples therapy including Gottman, EFT, and RLT).




How I Work

I’ll admit it – I am obsessed with information-gathering in the self-improvement space. My Kindle and Audible libraries are chock full of books representing a range of thoughts and theories on emotional well-being, leadership, communication, culture, relationships, parenting, and on and on. Then there are all the podcasts, webinars, periodicals, and journals, too. There is so much useful information out there! So you will find that I have an approach more in line with: “If it works, use it. If it doesn’t work, let it go.” That means I am continually learning about new approaches in order to offer you a wide range of information and perspectives. There is no right way, and there are only a few definitively wrong ways. I wholeheartedly believe this about so many things in life, and my therapy approach is no different.

Not everything works for every person at any time, though. That’s what I’m here for – to help you figure out what, specifically, will be useful to you in this exact situation in this exact moment of your life. You are a capable, successful human who is used to figuring things out on your own. I understand that it’s new and stressful and uncomfortable to recognize that you need different strategies right now. My job is to work with you to: first, figure out what needs to be different; second, understand why it needs to be different; and third, learn how to make it different. With the right tools and information, I believe you are capable of reaching your goals, and we will make sure you believe that as well!


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

I am chatty, a quick thinker, and can be annoyingly (but not unrealistically!) optimistic. I think both systemically (big picture) and systematically (details), which means I will quickly help you to put the pieces together so that you can see both the forest and the trees. If you want to feel challenged and pushed towards your goals, I am a therapist that gives lots of authentic, informed feedback to help you get there. I will see the good in you and be compassionate about your struggles while holding you fully accountable to the changes you need to make in order to get where you want to be.

I believe that we can always be better, and when you’re my client, I am invested in your process of being better. If these characteristics sound appealing to you, then there’s a good chance you and I will work well together.



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • anxiety and stress
  • self-confidence, self-esteem, and assertiveness
  • sexuality and gender exploration
  • dating challenges and issues arising from actively seeking a relationship
  • parenting conflicts
  • gender transition, including letter-writing for hormones or surgery
  • break-ups
  • career development and navigating the work-life ratio
  • depression

Populations I Serve:

  • individuals adults and couples
  • managers, executives, entrepreneurs, and business owners
  • “type A” personalities
  • LGBTQI communities
  • couples with a partner who is transitioning
  • new parents
  • couples in conflict
  • therapists and mental health professionals
  • open, poly, and non-monogamous relationships
  • undergraduate and graduate students
  • gifted and talented individuals
  • commuters and others needing teletherapy services

Professional background:



Education

  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology – California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, San Francisco
  • BA in Psychology – Yale University

Trainings

  • Gottman Method Couples Therapy – Level 3
  • Externship in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT)
  • Relational Life Therapy (Terry Real) – Level 1
  • Discernment Counseling
  • Telehealth for Mental Health Professionals

Previous Employment

  • Stanford University Counseling and Psychological Services
  • Post-Doctoral Residency at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center
  • Pre-Doctoral Internship at University of the Pacific

Licensure

  • Minnesota: LP #5842
  • California: PSY #23007