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

Melissa Stricklin, MA, LPCC melissa@affinitypsych.com

Melissa Stricklin, MA, LPCC

melissa@affinitypsych.com

Hello! My name is Melissa (she/her/hers or they/them/theirs), I am a Queer, neurodivergent, “ExVangelical” with lived experience having an invisible disability/chronic illness. I am a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who enjoys helping adults find practical techniques to improve their mental health symptoms. All are welcome in my office.




How I Work

I offer Cognitive Processing Therapy (not to be confused with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy!) for PTSD.

Are you bothered by things that happened a long time ago? Do you put a lot of effort in avoiding things that remind you of past events? Have you tried everything to improve your depression and anxiety symptoms but nothing seems to help? If you have symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I understand that the idea of starting trauma therapy can be overwhelming. Many who have PTSD are concerned that it will take years of weekly therapy sessions to start feeling relief. Others worry about having to share details about trauma that they hoped they would never have to talk about. Fortunately, I offer Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) which is a type of trauma therapy that is scientifically shown to reduce symptoms of PTSD as little as 12 sessions (AND it doesn’t require clients to share their trauma story if they don’t want to).

I understand that beginning trauma therapy can feel vulnerable, so my goal is to provide you with a safe space where you can begin your healing process. I want you to be able to make informed decisions about your health, so if you have any questions feel free to contact me via email (melissa@affinitypsych.com) or schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation by using our online scheduling portal.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

I am committed to providing evidence based treatment, doing my own work, and continuing to educate myself about intersectionality. My style has been influenced by Feminist Theory which emphasizes intersectionality and the ways that systemic oppression affects mental health. I practice from a sex positive perspective, and I believe in health at every size. I promise to avoid the “Minnesota nice” approach and instead show up in a way that is honest, straightforward, and kind. Let’s work together to help you start thriving instead of just surviving.



Issues I Treat:

  • Codependency
  • Peer relationships
  • Low self-esteem
  • Work-life balance difficulties
  • Relationship conflict and conflict avoidance
  • Procrastination
  • Identity exploration
  • Body image issues
  • Behavioral issues
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety/stress
  • Letter-writing for gender affirming surgery or hormones (after only 1 session)

Populations I Serve:

  • Adults
  • Undergraduate and graduate students
  • BIPOC individuals
  • LGBTQIA+ individuals
  • People with disabilities
  • People with chronic illness and/or chronic pain
  • Open, poly, and non-monogamous relationships
  • Sex workers
  • Perfectionists
  • Transplants to MN
  • Teletherapy

Professional background:



Education

  • MA in Counseling – Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Trainings

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy: An Evidence-Based Approach to Treat PTSD and Related Conditions
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

  • Clinical Trauma Professional Level 1

  • Treatment Approaches for Co-Occurring Chronic Pain and Mental Health Concerns

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

  • Multiple Trainings focused on how to better serve BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities

  • Telehealth for Mental Health Therapists

Previous Employment

  • Mental Health Systems (MHS)

Licensure

  • Minnesota, LPCC, cc02560

Charlotte Szabo, DNP, PMHFNP-BC, APRN charlotte@affinitypsych.com

Charlotte Szabo, DNP, PMHFNP-BC, APRN

charlotte@affinitypsych.com

Hello! I’m Charlotte, a board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. When medication is a part of your overall plan to manage and improve your mental health, I’m your person.

Throughout my life I have lived in different countries, and these unique people-experiences have allowed me to incorporate a more comprehensive, accepting, empathetic, and holistic approach to my practice. I speak 4 languages (Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, and English) fluently and enjoy so much connecting on a linguistic level – other than English – when possible.

I enjoy working with a wide variety of patients, from those who have trouble dealing with stress to the most serious and challenging combinations of psychiatric disorders. My extensive work experience ranges from the hospital setting to the Psychiatry Lead at the University of Minnesota’s Community Health Care Center (CUHCC), to varying outpatient clinical practices with a wide scope of patients from different age, ethnic, sexual, and socio-economic backgrounds. As a registered health care practitioner in the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Registry, I also register patients who might benefit from medical marijuana after having had unsuccessful trials with traditional psychotropic medications.




How I Work

“The glue that holds all relationships together….is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” This maxim by Brian Tracy is at my core, and because of that I work best with patients who genuinely want to get better. I invest a lot of effort, thought, and knowledge into each one of my patients and get the best results when there is an investment from you as well. A comment that I get often from my patients is that they feel that I sincerely care about them. And they’re right – because I treat each person, who comes to me looking for help in feeling better about their lives, as if they were one of my family members. (Just fyi, I’m from a Hungarian family and I’m the oldest of 9 – so being treated like family is kind of BIG!). A comment I get from my colleagues is that I will bend over backwards for my patients and go out of my way for them. Yes! I do! Because if you’re willing to make the courageous step to reach out for mental health help, then I will be there on the other end reaching for you to help break the cycle of mental illness.


What Sets Me Apart As a Psychiatric Provider?

How many times have you felt a divide between them (the medical professionals) and you (the patient)? I don’t have a problem with the cold temps in Minnesota, but the frigid gap I do have a problem with. When we work together you will find yourself in an environment in which things are warm, authentic, and open. If you’re looking for a formal, superficial “white coat doctor” approach to manage your medications – that’s not me. I believe that knowledge, expertise, and excellence in how one treats their patients is not based in a sense of superiority. I will answer the most “I feel embarrassed to ask this” questions to the most intricate questions related to your medication plan. I don’t stop at figuring out the best medication regimen for you – I dig DEEP to figure out what solution(s) might be best for you. My passion lies in system level changes to better my patients’ lives, therefore I will always offer you my $0.02. And, I will always add, it is up to you which way you choose to proceed. Because ultimately it is your life, your body, your decision.



Call, Text, or Email to schedule

Issues I Treat:

  • ADHD
  • Alcohol Use
  • Anger Management
  • Anxiety
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Autism
  • Behavioral Issues
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Chronic Impulsivity
  • Codependency
  • Coping Skills
  • Depression
  • Developmental Disorders
  • Domestic Violence
  • Drug Abuse
  • Eating Disorders
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Family Conflict
  • Gambling
  • Grief
  • Infidelity
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Life Transitions
  • Obesity
  • Obsessive-Compulsive (OCD)
  • Oppositional Defiance
  • Parenting
  • Peer Relationships
  • Pregnancy, Prenatal, Postpartum
  • Relationship Issues
  • School Issues
  • Self Esteem
  • Self-Harming
  • Sleep or Insomnia
  • Stress
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Weight Loss
  • Women’s Issues

Populations I Serve:

  • Adults
  • Adolescents / Teenagers
  • Children (5+)
  • LGBTQIA+
  • Helping Professionals
  • Marginalized Populations

Professional background:



Education

  • University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN
    Doctorate of Nursing Practice, graduated with honors

  • University of California, San Francisco, CA
    Psychiatric Mental Health Family Nurse Practitioner
    Master of Science in Nursing, graduated with honors

  • Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, CA
    RN and Bachelor of Science in Nursing, magna cum laude
  • Holy Names University, Oakland, CA
    Summa cum laude

Licensure

  •  Minnesota / CNP 1890

Certification

  • ANCC – Board Certification / 2012011414

Becca Sawyer-Smith, MA, LPCC becca@affinitypsych.com

Becca Sawyer-Smith, MA, LPCC

becca@affinitypsych.com

Hello! I am a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Ancient Studies from Saint Olaf College and a Master’s degree in Counseling from the University of St. Thomas. I have over 5 years of experience in the mental health field, working in community-based, residential, and school-based care settings. I work with individual adolescents, young adults, and adults around issues of depression, anxiety, shame, perfectionism, body image, and adjustment challenges.




How I Work

My therapy style is creative, direct, approachable, and person-centered. In our work together, we will collaborate on identifying and implementing functional skills to make long-lasting change. We will use a combination of exploration, supportive listening, psychological education, clarifying patterns, and other tools and interventions in order to find solutions that are the best fit for your personal experience. As you move through this journey of self-discovery, you will find that you feel more connected to your inner self and more fully present in the moment.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

It’s important to me that my clients receive good, comprehensive care in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. I work to strike a balance between quiet reflection and engaging conversation during sessions – clients have told me that this helps them find their own answers without feeling alone. I truly love this work and am passionate about helping people. I look forward to working with you!



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Body image
  • Body acceptance
  • Grief and loss
  • Life transitions
  • Stress
  • Self-esteem, self-confidence, and assertiveness
  • Shame

Populations I Serve:

  • Adolescents
  • Millenials
  • Young Professionals
  • LGBTQI+
  • Perfectionists
  • Young Professionals
  • Creative Types
  • Gifted Individuals

Professional background:



Education

  • Master’s in Counseling Psychology – University of St. Thomas
  • BA in Psychology and Ancient Studies – St. Olaf College

Trainings

  • Telehealth for Mental Health Professionals

Previous Employment

  • The Emily Program, St. Louis Park, Minnesota
  • Edison High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Licensure

  • Minnesota: LPCC#cc01599

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