Melissa Larson

Melissa Larson, MSW, LICSW melissa.larson@affinitypsych.com

Melissa Larson

Melissa Larson, MSW, LICSW

melissa.larson@affinitypsych.com

Hello, I am so glad you are here! My name is Melissa (she/her/hers) and I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. I work with individual adults and couples who are interested in dedicating some well deserved time to explore themselves and their relationships with those around them. I love spending time outdoors and at the lake, listening to music, eating Italian food, and connecting with family and friends.




How I Work

Experiencing issues like depression, abuse, addiction, grief, infertility, or relationship problems often make us feel like we are invisible and alone. In addition to a multitude of other issues you may be facing, sometimes in combination, it can feel like day-to-day tasks are impossible. Maybe you are feeling scared, hurt, stuck, misunderstood, unfulfilled, or numb.

These things do not make you weak or crazy, and they do not make you a failure. Maybe what you need is someone to tell you that you do not have to carry those feelings alone. Regardless of what you’re feeling, YOU MATTER. You are important and you have value. I want to hear your story and help you figure out what you want, and more importantly, what you need.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

I am very down to earth. I believe in being real with my clients. I have a great sense of humor and enjoy opportunities to bring humor into the work. I will do everything I can to make sure you feel supported and validated, while also challenging you to grow.

I have done extensive research in the presence of postpartum mood disorders in new fathers/non birthing parents.



Issues I Treat:

  • Depression
  • Life Transitions
  • Grief
  • Pregnancy/Perinatal/Postpartum
  • Adoption
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Codependency
  • Coping Skills
  • Depression
  • Divorce
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Family Conflict
  • Infertility
  • Infidelity
  • Marital and Premarital
  • Men’s Issues
  • Parenting
  • Peer Relationships
  • Relationship Issues
  • Self Esteem
  • Stress
  • Transgender
  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Women’s Issues

Populations I Serve:

  • Adults
  • Young Adults
  • Couples
  • Parents

Professional background:



Education

  • MSW from University of St. Thomas/St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN

Trainings

  • Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training Program – Minnesota
  • Psychoanalytic Society and Institute

Previous Employment

  • PrairieCare
  • Associates in Psychiatry & Psychology

Licensure

  • Minnesota: LICSW #26844

Kelly Cook, MSW, LICSW kelly.cook@affinitypsych.com

Kelly Cook, MSW, LICSW

kelly.cook@affinitypsych.com

Hi! I’m Kelly Cook. I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. I am a transplant from Topeka, Kansas where I received my Bachelor of Social Work Degree from Washburn University. I received my Master of Social Work Degree from The University of Missouri at Kansas City. I provide individual therapy to women and men, from young adults to those young at heart!




How I Work

My office is a judgment free zone! I see myself as that GPS system in your car. You’re in the driver’s seat, and you decide where you want to go. I will give you some direction, track you, guide you, recalculate with you, and help you reach your goals. You always have the choice to change routes or choose a different destination. If something doesn’t work for you, or you feel uncertain about it, or you don’t understand it, we’ll talk about it and try something different. You are your own best expert, and I will work to be the guide you need on your journey.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

My clients have told me they feel respected and listened to. I give clients all the credit for the work we do in my office. As an experienced therapist, I see the value in learning where clients are at in their life journey. I will celebrate the good things in your life and be there to help you process those disappointing things in life. I like to create a warm inviting environment where people feel relaxed. Grab a cup of coffee or my personal favorite, Diet Dr. Pepper, and let’s chat!

I like to laugh and see the good things in everything. I may even regale you with mindless classic rock/Monkees and Peanuts trivia! (I promise not to go overboard!)



Issues I Treat:

  • Adoption
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Complex Trauma
  • Depression
  • Grief/Loss
  • LGBT issues

Populations I Serve:

  • Women
  • Men
  • Young Adults
  • LGBT folks

Professional background:



Education

  • Master of Social Work – University of Missouri at Kansas City
  • Bachelor of Social Work – Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas

Trainings

  • EMDR training
  • DBT training

Previous Employment

  • Cook Counseling Service
  • Psychotherapeutic Resources
  • Central Minnesota Mental Health
  • Compass Mental Health in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging in Lawrence, Kansas

License

  • Minnesota: LICSW 17541

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

Dana Stewart, MSW, LICSW dana@affinitypsych.com

Dana Stewart, MSW, LICSW

dana@affinitypsych.com

Welcome, and I am so glad you are here! I am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker who recently moved here from Wisconsin. Yes, I am a cheese head and consider cheese to be a staple in my diet! I obtained my Masters Degree from St. Thomas University in Clinical Social Work and eventually decided to take the leap and make MN my home. I have wanted to do therapy as a profession since I was in 8th grade. I’ve always said that doing therapy is in my bones. I believe in our need to be seen, heard, and to feel connected. I trust the process of therapy and the need for all of us to be living our truth and figuring out how best to do that through the process of this work. I have worked as an outpatient psychotherapist for the last 9 years, working with adolescents, individuals, and couples.




How I Work

I love this process of therapy. I get giddy at the idea of humans finding a deeper connection to themselves and the people around them and to find freedom from what keeps them stuck. I believe in a non-judgmental and loving approach mixed with the ability to be challenged, when it’s required. I have been told my clients feel a sense of true acceptance and compassion from me, even amidst the moments they are being challenged and encouraged to dig deep into what might rather be avoided. I engage in a strong mindfulness approach and work to help create a stronger connection to your body for a greater sense of safety, self-regulation, and knowing of yourself. Often, trauma and complicated relationships with our caregivers disconnect us from our bodies in multiple ways. I want you to return home to you. I want you to walk into my office and, in spite of what you are carrying on your shoulders, feel as though the space you have with me allows you to take a sigh of relief. To feel safe and held as we weed through the difficulties you are trying to make sense of.


What Sets Me Apart As a Therapist?

Finding the right therapist for you is important, and here’s what I bring to the table. I consider myself to be intuitive and accepting and to call you out when needed. I also like to bring humor into the room, when appropriate. I try to help people connect to the truth of who they are. I understand this can sound and feel scary. I consider the mind/body connection to be incredibly important. I take what you put in your body and how you move your body into account, which sometimes results in incorporating yoga into therapy sessions. It is my desire to be with you in a way that allows you to really feel as though you are held safely in my space as you do your work of evolving. I also work hard to dig into my own struggles and evolve on my own path in a way that makes me the human I want to be. I believe that being the kind of therapist I desire and showing up for you also requires for me to check myself and hold myself accountable to doing the work.



Schedule an Appointment!

Issues I Treat:

  • Trauma (acute and chronic)
  • Family of origin issues
  • Relationship Conflict
  • Body Image/Self-worth
  • Shame
  • Anxiety and Stress Management
  • Depression
  • Identity Exploration
  • Grief and Loss (including pet loss)

Populations I Serve:

  • Helping Professionals
  • LGBTQ+Community
  • Individual Adults
  • Couples in Conflict
  • Adolescents and Young Adults
  • Creative Types
  • Military and Law Enforcement
  • Open, Poly and Non-Monogamous Relationships
  • Teletherapy

Professional background:



Education

  • Masters of Clinical Social Work – St. Thomas University/College of St. Catherine
  • BA in Psychology – University of Wisconsin, Stout

Trainings

  • 230 Hour Yoga Training
  • Brainspotting – Level 2
  • EMDR – Level 1
  • Relational Life Training – Level 1
  • Emotional Freedom Technique
  • Brene’ Brown: Living Brave
  • Food as Medicine
  • Brain-Gut Connection
  • Yoga and Mental Health
  • Pet Loss Bereavement
  • Telehealth for Mental Health Professionals

Previous employment:

  • Cardinal Psychotherapy and Coaching
  • Mayo Clinic Health System
  • Tuning Tree
  • Vantage Point Clinic and Assessment Center

Licensure:

  • Minnesota: LICSW #27820

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