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

Matthew “Matt” Thompson, MA, LPCC matt@affinitypsych.com

Matthew “Matt” Thompson, MA, LPCC

matt@affinitypsych.com

Hi! I’m a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and hold a Master of Arts in Counseling from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. I work with adults and older adolescents who are looking to figure out how to have a happier, more rewarding, or less lonely time on planet Earth.

I became a therapist because I don’t want anyone to have to go it alone. The world can be unfair, frightening, stubborn, and lonely. I know the power of one person taking the time to listen and care. I hope I can be that person for you.




How I Work

There are as many ways to do therapy as there are therapists in the world, so everyone’s got their own set of beliefs and expectations about what it means to be in therapy. Here’s what it means to me: therapy is a conversation and a journey of exploration. Sometimes we look at big questions. What do you want out of your life? What’s getting in the way? What do you wish was different? Sometimes the questions are a little smaller. Are you having trouble saying something to someone? How do you feel about your job? What are you having trouble with right now?

Either way, I strive to create a space where your story is heard and taken seriously. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of prioritizing our feelings, needs, and boundaries only to end up feeling stuck, unhappy, and alone. My job is to help you become your best resource in order to make positive change. I will listen with an open mind to help you explore how your past experiences have shaped both your present and your expectations of the future. I will also provide honest feedback and challenge you to take ownership of the power you have in your life. Together, we’ll chart a course that allows you to move forward and make the changes you want.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

I believe who we are and what we value is reflected in our hobbies, views on current events, and everything else we spend time and attention thinking about. I want to hear about what’s important to you, not just what’s weighing you down.

As a therapist, I embrace my own humanity, meaning my individual experiences, quirks, and limitations play a role in our work together. I don’t promote a rigid single model of what it means to be mentally healthy and I don’t presume to be an authority on every person’s life experience. Therapy works not because I have all the answers that apply to everyone, but because we can team up and share our unique perspectives to figure out the answers that are right and helpful to you.

Also, I use a lot of hastily-improvised nautical and automotive metaphors that inevitably fall apart halfway through and go off the rails. Train metaphors, too, apparently.



Issues I Treat:

  • Life Transitions
  • Adjustment issues
  • Romantic/Family Relationships
  • Peer/Colleague/Friend Relationships
  • Identity Exploration
  • Men’s Issues
  • Toxic Masculinity
  • Grief & Loss
  • Anger
  • Anxiety & Stress
  • Depression
  • Self-esteem
  • School/Work/Life Balance

Populations I Serve:

  • Adults
  • Motivated Adolescents
  • Undergraduate/Graduate Students
  • LGBTQIA+
  • Nerds, punks, misfits, and others who never felt they had a place to belong

Professional background:



Education

  • MA in Counseling & Psychological Services – Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, MN

  • BA in Theatre Arts & Japanese – University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, WI

Previous Employment

  • Headway Emotional Health
  • Radias Health (formerly South Metro Human Services)
  • Walk-In Counseling Center
  • Prior work in fields of Information Technology & International Education

Licensure

  • MN: LPCC #2226

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

Jeffrey 5x7

Jeffrey Brunsgaard, MA, LPCC jeffrey@affinitypsych.com

Jeffrey 5x7

Jeffrey Brunsgaard, MA, LPCC

jeffrey@affinitypsych.com

Hi! I’m Jeff Brunsgaard, a licensed professional clinical counselor licensed in Minnesota. I have lived in Minnesota for my entire life, from as far south as Rochester to as far north as Andover. I provide therapy to adolescents, adults, individuals, and couples. I hold a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Winona State University and a master’s degree in Clinical Counseling from the University of St. Thomas’ Graduate School of Professional Psychology.

Professionally I am at my best when I can see a wide range of clients – younger and older, individuals and couples, neurotypical and neurodiverse – all with a wide range of personalities and challenges bringing them to therapy. My training and expertise make me well-suited to work with this breadth of clients, as I pull from a variety of therapeutic approaches in order to meet the needs of each individual person. I have particular interest in working with adolescents, those with neurodevelopmental diagnoses, and individuals who have experienced trauma.




How I Work

I believe in constantly learning, growing, and improving my skills. So I could tell you that I have training in everything from narrative therapy, to solution-focused therapy, to EMDR. But that might not mean much to you, and it probably shouldn’t. Ultimately, all those theories and techniques are simply tools in a toolbox. Our task is to figure out which tools are going to be helpful for you in your unique circumstance.

For us to effectively figure that out, my foremost priority is developing a safe and collaborative relationship with you. With that in place, we will work together to try out the tools, discarding the ones that don’t work and honing your ability to use the ones that do.

As you build confidence in these new skills, you’ll see the discomfort and distress that brought you to therapy begin to transform. You will again find yourself pursuing your aspirations. It is powerful to rediscover those feelings of agency and purpose in your life!


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

One – I love, seriously love, to listen to people’s stories. When you dive deep into the heart of your personal story in therapy, allowing us to really examine and understand your place in that story, then I know we’re on our way to making big things happen for you. I know you’re going to be able to write and re-write the story of your life in a conscious, authentic way.

Two – I am a highly non-judgmental therapist. Your story, your goals, your dreams, your challenges are what make you unique. And your uniqueness is what makes our work together so interesting to me. I believe that there is always room to improve our lives, and I want to follow your direction in terms of setting goals and striving for the improvements you want to achieve. You bring your expertise about yourself and your life, and I bring my clinical expertise. Together, that collaboration allows us to address immediate problems on the way to pursuing your larger aspirations.



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Trauma
  • Adjustment difficulties and stress
  • Life transitions (phases of life, major life changes)
  • Parenting challenges
  • Relationship issues
  • Identity issues

Populations I Serve:

  • Adults
  • Transitional/Young adults and adolescents
  • Families
  • Parents and caregivers
  • Military, Law Enforcement, and First Responders
  • Survivors
  • Students
  • Professionals

Professional background:



Education

  • MA in Clinical Counseling – University of St. Thomas
  • BA in Psychology – Winona State University

Trainings

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) through EMDRIA
  • Rising Strong (Brené Brown, Ph.D, LICSW)
  • Telehealth for Mental Health Professionals

Previous employment:

  • Conscious Healing Counseling
  • Fraser
  • Minnesota Autism Center
  • Volunteers of America
  • Practicum at Domestic Abuse Project

Licensure:

  • Minnesota: LPCC #cc01755

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

Bre Kwatera, MA, LPCC, LADC bre@affinitypsych.com

Bre Kwatera, MA, LPCC, LADC

bre@affinitypsych.com

Welcome! I’m Bre (she/her/hers) and I’m a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, which in human-speak just means that I have the education and training to treat symptoms of both mental health and substance use. I hold an undergraduate degree in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and a Master’s in Addiction Studies from Hazelden Betty Ford School for Addiction Studies. Perhaps more interesting is that I am a bibliophile, love the sound of a typing keyboard, and am learning to own the creative within me.




How I Work

Therapy can feel overwhelming and uncertain for even the most skilled person. There are plenty of ideas of what therapy is and is not and websites are loaded with clinical “speak.” I will not be that. I want my office to be a place where curiosity about oneself can be ignited, perspective-taking expanded, critical awareness increased and where hope and agency can be recognized and restored. My goal in each therapeutic relationship is to bring one closer to understanding oneself in order to identify goals and strategies to reach them. I utilize the research and language of Brené Brown™ in my daily practice, as well as education, observational feedback, and accountability.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

My path to becoming a mental health therapist was driven by my desire to understand the experiences and perspectives of each unique life story, including my own, as well as what blocks us from recognizing, identifying and striving towards our goals. I rigorously “practice what I teach” and subscribe to the belief that we are both humans trying to figure out challenges together (I just happen to have some training that may assist in the messiness that life can bring). I am a therapist who believes that change happens outside of the certainty of comfort zones and will provide a safe, authentic, and humorous relationship to do that in.

My former clients have shared that I have a knack for “making sense” of hard experiences and a unique ability to see some of the most burdensome challenges feel like a strength. I have a natural tendency to connect the dots in one’s life and to normalize even the things that don’t feel “normal.” If you are desiring a safe relationship to learn more about yourself, then we may be a great fit to work together.



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Connection & authenticity challenges
  • Vulnerability issues
  • Self-worth & confidence
  • Identity exploration and formation
  • Existential questioning
  • Relationship conflict
  • Grief/loss (ambiguous, concrete, complex)
  • Transitional life experiences
  • Women’s issues
  • Shame
  • Trauma (acute and chronic)
  • Substance misuse/abuse
  • Depression management
  • Anxiety & stress management

Populations I Serve:

  • Individual Adults and Couples
  • Young Adults and Teens
  • Survivors
  • Therapists and Mental Health Professionals
  • Creative, Gifted, and Talented Individuals
  • Those Who Identify with Substance Use Challenges
  • Historically Excluded Populations
  • Individuals With Legal Involvement

Professional background:



Education

  • Master of Addiction Studies – Hazelden Betty Ford School for Addiction Studies
  • BA in Family Social Science – University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Trainings

  • Brene Brown Informed
  • Trauma Informed Care
  • Relational Cultural Therapy
  • Telehealth for Mental Health Professionals

Previous Employment

  • Wayside Recovery Center

Licensure

  • Minnesota: LPCC #cc01502
  • Minnesota: LADC #303495

Jessica McBride, MPS, LPCC, LADC jessica@affinitypsych.com

Jessica McBride, MPS, LPCC, LADC

jessica@affinitypsych.com

Hi! Welcome to my little blurb! I hope that you feel like you get to know me just a bit. I am a licensed professional clinical counselor and a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. I have a Masters in Professional Studies, a graduate certification in Addiction Studies, and a BA in Psychology, all from the University of Minnesota. I have worked in a gender-specific treatment program for women as a counselor and in leadership roles. I also worked for two years as an addiction therapist in Hong Kong, with the expatriate population. I have seen that, across the world, people are yearning for the same thing: connection. We humans are a funny bunch; what we are yearning for is what we also push away, out of fear of rejection and vulnerability, shame, and low self-worth. I practice what I preach in my own life and I am genuinely excited about helping you do the same!




How I Work

Feminist theory and relational-cultural theory (RCT) are the anchors in the framework of my counseling theory and direct my professional and personal life. Through these theories, connection and empowerment are able to thrive and start the motion of change. When I work with someone, I don’t ask, “why the issue?” I ask, “where is the pain?” I believe in validating each persons individual experience because each person I work with, matters. My belief is that we are ultimately seeking connections, and those connections help us to nurture and cultivate change. To be self-actualized does not mean to be in complete harmony with the path one is on or to not have questions or difficulties. When a human is self-actualized, they are connected to others in empathic, supportive, empowering relationships that foster empathy and support. Together, we will work on accessing all of the strengths that you may not know you have. I am a stickler for language because the words we use about ourselves matter, and together we will build a new and empowering framework for your inner monologue, which sets the foundation for how you ultimately treat yourself.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

I am highly empathic and in-tune with other people’s emotions and with the energy that is in the session. I really believe in giving you space to feel what you are feeling and empowering you to name it. The space that I create and nurture is safe, respectful, culturally responsive, and empowering. Clients have repeatedly told me that they feel at ease very quickly in my presence. I work with people on seeing and experiencing their own vulnerability as signs of strength and courage; bravery is not about stoicism, it is about authentic connection and allowing yourself the gift of really being “seen.” My clients tell me often that they feel “seen” and heard by me, which is ultimately how trust is built. I value getting to know my clients’ stories and helping them understand how they want to change the narrative, in order to live the most satisfying and fulfilled life possible. Humans are hard-wired for connection and I believe that the connections we have in our lives set the foundation for everything else. I love being a therapist and, dare I say, I do believe that therapy can be a fun and enlightening process! I look forward to working with you.



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Addiction (substance and process)
  • Anxiety
  • Behavioral issues
  • Body image issues
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Family conflict
  • Grief/complicated grief and loss
  • Intimacy issues (physical and emotional)
  • Life transitions
  • Loneliness/isolation
  • Mental health and family issues related to addiction
  • Relationship issues
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Trauma and abuse

Populations I Serve:

  • Adults
  • Young Adults/college age
  • Expatriate population
  • Tele-therapy
  • LGBTQ+ Community
  • Healthcare/licensed professionals
  • HPSP involvement
  • Adults involved in legal system (CP/Probation)

Professional background:



Education

  • Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Behavioral Health – University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  • Graduate Certification in Alcohol and Drug Counseling
  • BA in Psychology – University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Trainings

  • Level 1 Certification in Narrative Therapy (in progress)
  • Gottman Method Couples Therapy – Level 2
  • DBT
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Relational Cultural Therapy
  • Co-occuring Disorders
  • Telehealth for Mental Health Professionals

Previous Employment

  • Wayside Recovery Center
  • HCMC Addiction Medicine
  • St. John’s Counseling Center

Licensure

  • Minnesota: LPCC #cc01586
  • Minnesota: LADC #303010

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.



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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