Masters of Education; Clinical Counseling, North Dakota State University, 1991.
Bachelor of Science; Human Relations and Child Psychology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 1989.
I began working with children and adolescents early in my career and quickly came to realize I needed to work with the entire family to create lasting change and a safe environment for the children. I was fascinated with the dynamics of the couples who came to me out of concern for their children and began helping them do the effective work of creating a safe and stable family for their children. Helping couples create this solid foundation at home is
the most effective way to create a safe and stable platform for children’s healthy development. I also recognize that adults in a caring, emotionally responsive relationships are physically and mentally healthier and live longer.
I am the youngest and only girl of a family of 6 children. I live about 4 miles from the home I grew up in, in suburban Minneapolis. During my undergrad education I worked as a youth leader leading activities including boundary waters canoe trips, ski trips and trust building activities. I became a trusted adult to many youth and this is where I was first called upon to intervene in a mental health crisis.
I knew then that working with people was my passion.
My two older brothers have also inspired me, as they have sustained and flourished in a 30-plus years of marriage. I started my own observation of couples’ relationship dynamics by watching my brothers and their spouses interact. I realized I had a knack for observing and understanding the undercurrents within relationships. My brothers and their wives have been inspirational to watch as they formed and nurtured relationships.
Observation alone, however, didn’t help my own marriage. It ended in divorce. And ignited in me the passion to pursue better ways to help relationships and my daughter, who is a sophomore in Winnipeg, Canada studying biology. My own marriage could have been saved, and my family preserved, if there had been evidence-based couple’s therapists at the time of my own relationship troubles. Back then I needed someone like myself to fight hard for my marriage and to have hope when we both lost the vision that it was possible to stay together in a happy, satisfying marriage.
I am stubborn, and this means I don’t give up. I fight to the bitter end for something that I believe in.
My office is located in historic downtown Chaska, a quick 30-minute drive from the Twin Cities. My second-floor office provides a bird’s eye view of downtown Chaska, the people wandering the street and the river valley. Eagles, swans and hawks frequently fly by and smaller birds play on the window sill.
I have an interesting singing bowl from Nepal that I am happy to teach anyone curious about how to create its captivating music.
And I believe in couples. I believe in committed relationships.
After my divorce, I began reading every Gottman book as it was published and began training in the Gottman Method when I learned of it. My goal was to become a more competent, evidence-based couple’s therapist.
Because helping couples helps the entire family system. Loving families impact our society as a whole. Healthy kids become healthy, productive adults with a purpose.
I can see love potential in distressed relationships. I know how to help couples rekindle a lost connection and find that best friend partner again. I love to hear couples say they feel hope for the relationship again and appreciate their partner. That they’ve both gotten back the marriage they’ve been longing for. That’s truly rewarding and satisfying for me.
I’m an optimist and bring hope and opportunity for change to my clients. My goal is to create an atmosphere of warmth and acceptance without judgement for my clients, so they can feel safe to speak their truth, voice their pain, and look for a brighter future.
Thanks to my aunt, I live for the outdoors! I began hiking with my aunt when I was in elementary school. She took me to northern Minnesota and we camped and hiked for a week. We explored state parks and hiked along rivers and up the tallest point in Minnesota: Eagle Mountain. I was hooked!
I began biking with the same aunt when I was young. She had a tandem bike and we would hop on, me on the back, and ride along the bike paths that wound through Minneapolis, stopping at favorite destinations such as a nearby creek or a war memorial.
The destinations seemed so far away as a child and now I see those same destinations as just a short journey along the way to a greater ride. Much the same as couple’s therapy; at the time it can seem like an insurmountable path but once the relationship has progressed and the couple has healed and is feeling attuned, looking back, therapy seems like a short path to a greater destination.
My aunt helped me to discover nature and all its beauty and has been influential throughout my life. She has also been a source of encouragement and support through my educational and career choices.
I am “Minnesota nice” without being passive-aggressive. I am competitive mostly with myself but sometimes will secretly race against another cyclist who innocently passes me on the path. And I can be driven. I’m a finisher of the Iron Girl Duathalon. Training and working with old injuries required determination and a bit of stubbornness. And stick-to-it-ness. I had to wake up at 4:30 am on race day… not my favorite time of day.
If I am not cycling, working out, doing yoga or hiking, I am most likely reading or trying to determine which of the plants in my flower garden are flowers and which are weeds. In the winter I have been seen on a ski hill or two and snow shoeing. Thanks to my aunt's influence, hiking on the North Shore of Lake Superior (and other northern destinations) remains an all-time favorite hobby of mine.
I am currently involved with an organization whose purpose is to save the protected waters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area from sulfide-ore mining.
I live with my two rescue dogs. Both are wonderful little beings. “Wanda” has been a member of the family for 7 years and “Wolfgang” for 2 years. Wolfgang was adopted after being a foster dog with us for 2 months while he recovered from surgery.
I invite you to join me in Minneapolis, Minnesota in a weekend marriage intensive, or online, and cultivate hope again.