Our Founder: Dr. Carlson

Cara Lynn Carlson (she/her)

110512carlson038Dr. Carlson has spent the majority of her life in south Minneapolis where she is deeply rooted in the life of community. She is inspired by the landscape of both nature and city and finds home with the people and spirit of Powderhorn Park neighborhood.  Heart centered, she brings a tenderness to her work as “an elder in training” in her many roles as mother, grandmother, cultural guide, ritualist, teacher, and healing practitioner. Her work seeks to align with the three pillars of Celtic living: 1) a deep and steadfast cultural self study, daily and embodied meditation, and creating a growing and inspired community of practice. Cara participates and co-facilitates community care groups co hosted by the Cultural Wellness Center http://www.culturalwellnesscenter.org and anchors the  Moving from Race to Culture Cohort process under the guidance of Elder Atum Azzahir.

In 2006, she completed a nine-year apprenticeship at the Powderhorn Phillips Cultural Wellness Center at which time she was initiated and recognized as a community wise woman. Since that time she has worked to continue the work of the Cultural Wellness Center through her work within Anam Cara.

Cara was a full time clinical faculty member in the School of Social Work at the Universities of St. Catherine and St. Thomas from 2008-2012. She is Founder and Director of the Tree and Well, Institute for Deep Cultural Studies, and co-creator of the Cauldron Studies Program.  Cara currently supervises social workers and therapists for license, teaches a variety of mindfulness based reflective and spiritual development classes, has completed 230 hours of Yoga Teacher Training, EMDR certified and a MCBT Trainer.

After more than 30 years of providing direct care and service, building community and facilitating healing with individuals and families she continues to pursue her passion for truth and healing, engage in cultural self study and cultivate an authentic grounded presence. She most enjoys being a student in the Diamond Approach, studying transformative healing processses in community, inquirying with Jeff, spending time with her beloveds in nature, creating ritual with friends, tending her family and being a grandma to Syrus.

Dr. Carlson’s Resume

Last Update: February 2018

Below is a partial sharing of Dr. Carlson’s resume.
A fuller version can be dowloaded at the bottom of this page.

Cara L. Carlson, Ph.D., MSW, LICSW, RYT-200, EMDR Certified


Ph.D., Psychology, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, CA, 2008.
Concentration: Transpersonal Psychology. Dissertation Topic: Exploring a
Communities Approach to the Sacred Feminine.

M.S.W., Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN, 1993. Concentration: Family Practice.
Thesis: Adolescent Female Survivors of Child Sexual Trauma.

B.A., Social Work, College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, MN, 1990.
Undergraduate Research Project: Women’s Self Report of Child Sexual Abuse.


℘ Integral Clinical PsychotherapCara 2ist, Supervisor and Consultant. March 2007 – Present.  Anam Cara Therapies, Minneapolis MN.

℘ Social Work Clinical Faculty.
September 2008 – May 2012.  St. Catherine University / University of St. Thomas School of Social Work, St. Paul, MN. Courses taught in both BSW and MSW Programs, i.e. Field and practice classes, Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Family Resiliency and Diversity, Applied Graduate Research Seminar.

 Senior Social Worker and Cultural Guide.
May 1998 – March 2007.  Powderhorn Phillips Cultural Wellness Center,
Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department, Minneapolis, MN.


Carlson, Cara & Ginny Kilpela (2017, November).
Ethics and Dual/Multiple Relationships: Balancing Relationships in Community.
Workshop presented for the NASW, Minnesota Chapter Special Topic Series,
St. Paul, MN

℘ Carlson, Cara (2012 – present).
Ethical Decision-Making in Social Work Practice. Workshop presented for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Additional dates presented: November 2012, January, February March & May 2013, March, May & August 2014, February, April & May 2015, February, June, August & September 2016, March & April 2017, Saint Paul, MN.

℘ Carlson, Cara & Peterson, Dylan (2014, June).
Sacred Inquiry… Beyond Borders and Boundaries: From Powderhorn Park to Chiapas,
Presentation made at The International Social Work Conference, Bridging
Social Work Practice Around the World, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN.

℘ Carlson, Cara & Kaisen, April (2013, October).
Social Work Ethics and Reflective Practice in the Schools. Presentation made
at the Minnesota School Social Workers Association Conference, Chaska, MN.

℘ Carlson, Cara & Paulsen, Nathan (2013, June).
Justice Making: Bridging Clinical Practice and Social Movement. Presentation
made at the National Association of Social Workers, Minnesota Chapter 23th
State Conference, St. Paul, MN.


℘ 2016 – Present. Adjunct Social Work Faculty: Augsburg College,
Minneapolis, MN

℘ 2015 – Present. Clinical Supervisor and Consultant: Access and Success,
St. Catherine. University, St. Paul, MN

℘ 2012 – Present. Clinical Director, ARMHS Program: Beechwood, Inc., Minneapolis, MN.

℘ 2012 – 2015. Clinical Supervisor and Program Consultant: Daily Work,
St. Paul, MN.

℘ 2010 – 2012. Cultural Guide, Clinical Supervisor and Lead Organizer: Circle of Healing Practitioner’s CHAT: An Integral Community Care Giving System. Cultural Wellness Center, Allina Backyard Initiative, Minneapolis, MN.


Cara 3Doctoral Dissertation and Thesis Project

Carlson, Cara (2009). On the rim of the cauldron: Exploring a community’s approach
the sacred feminine tradition
 (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest
Dissertations and Theses database (UMI No. 3371950).

Carlson, Cara (1992 – 1993). Adolescent Female Survivors of Child Sexual Trauma:
Program Development
 (Master’s Thesis). Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN.

Cultural Community Research and Review Board

℘ Member: The Powderhorn Phillips Cultural Wellness Center,
Minneapolis, MN (2008-2011).


℘ Carlson, Cara & Vangen, Kara (2010). On the rim of the cauldron: Woman looking
at the world as herself
CreateSpace: Minneapolis, MN.

℘ Smith, Amelia and Carlson, Cara (2009). Creating a Therapeutic Healing Relationship.
Mental Health and Therapy ZINE, University of Minnesota, Icarus Project.

℘ Carlson, Cara (2009). On the rim of the cauldron: Exploring a community’s approach
to the sacred feminine tradition
 (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest:
Dissertations and Theses database (UMI No. 3371950).

Book Review

℘ Wiley Press: Spiritually-Oriented Counseling: Helping Clients
Reclaim Their Real Self
 by Dr. Rick Johnson.


℘ 2012 – Engaging Diversity and Difference: Addressing Economic Injustice. One-time
event for SCU/UST School of Social Work. Faculty Advisor, Beta Epsilon Honor Society.

℘ 2010 – Self-care for Social Workers. One-time event for SCU/UST School of Social Work community of staff, educators and students. Faculty Advisor, student self-care task group.

℘ 2009 – Racial Injustice: A View From the Pyramid: The Paradigm. With Father Clarence Williams, CPPS, Ph.D. Coordinator of one-time event.

Special Mentions, Awards, Grants

Cara 1℘ April 2010 – Distinguished Educator Award: Awarded by Student Association.
University of St Thomas, St. Paul, MN

℘ May 2008 – Center for the Divine Feminine Merit Research Scholarship: Recipient awarded for doctoral research on women’s psycho spiritual developmental processes. Institute of
Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, CA

℘ Nov. 2006 – Cultural Elders Recognition Award: Acknowledged and honored for
nine years of service as social worker who embodied and facilitated cultural
approaches to healing with community members and for training and preparing
workers in health and social service professions in the same. Presented by Cultural
Elders, the Powderhorn Phillips Cultural Wellness Center, Minneapolis, MN

℘ Dec. 2006 – Community Wise Women Honoring: Presented by neighborhood
and cultural elders. Acknowledged and honored as having completed a nine-year
apprenticeship in community healing. Powderhorn Phillips Cultural Wellness Center,
Minneapolis, MN.

Professional Memberships and Licensure

Yoga Teacher Training, 200 hours (Yoga Center of Minneapolis), Registered, 2014.
℘ EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Certified, 2013.
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW), 2006 – Present.
℘ National Association of Social Workers (NASW), 1988 – Present.
℘ Minnesota Society For Clinical Social Work, 2013 – Present.
℘ Social Welfare Action Alliance (SWAA), 2011 – 2014.
℘ The Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors (BPD), 2009 – 2011.
℘ Licensed Graduate Social Worker, 1993 – 1995.
℘ Licensed Social Worker, 1990 -1993.

Community Membership, Committees, and Organizations

℘ SCU/UST Beta Epsilon, Honor Society Advisor, 2010-2012.
℘ SCU/UST Spirituality Institute, 2009-2011.
℘ Board of Directors, Cultural Wellness Center, 1997 – 2010.
℘ PPCWC, Law and Health Policy Committee, 2000 – 2011.
℘ SCU/UST Social Work Club, Co-advisor, 2008-2009.
℘ Community Faculty, Powderhorn Phillips Cultural Wellness Center, 1998 – Present.

Dr. Carlson’s Full Resume