Our Practitioners

Spiritual Confidants,
Friends of the Soul

Anam Cara Therapies is formed by a group of practitioners that, along with Dr. Carlson, provide therapy, spiritual direction and workshops, among other services. Read their bios below and get to know their expertise and stories.

Kara Vangen


kara2Kara (she/her) has been a part of the Anam Cara community for many years co-directing the Cauldron Studies program. Her professional experience includes 20 years as a spiritual teacher, as well as front line work as a social worker in community mental health. Kara worked for many years as a social worker specializing in mental health at Touchstone Mental Health where she combined traditional social work practice with integrative and complimentary health practices to address mental health. Her work with others is deeply imbedded in an integral framework for psychological well- being as well as steeped in humanistic psychology.  Kara is an ordained teacher in the Ridhwan school and has extensive experience in the practice of self- reflection and inquiry, which informs her work with others.

In 2005 Kara completed advanced Professional Training through the Center for Mind Body Spirit Medicine in Washington D.C. and is currently teaching mind-body medicine to groups and individuals in her private practice. Deeply practical about healing, she is able to support grounded growth that takes into consideration each person’s uniqueness and capacity.

I have experience working with anxiety, depression, stress, developmental wounding,
PTSD as well as many other conditions of the body mind. The method is holistic, and
engages with all aspects of the self to resolve issues.  We work together so you can accept
yourself with less judgment, and learn new methods to access safety and peace within,
as well as work through unresolved feelings. All of these ingredients make it possible
to make healthy and loving changes that reflect your authentic self.
Please feel free to call me discuss the way I work.

Kara is passionate about doing the, “deep inner work” required to show up authentically in life and community and that our value and happiness as human beings arises from our ability to illuminate our inner life. With all of her work, Kara brings a grounded presence that is committed to the unfolding of each person’s true and authentic self.  She creates a safe and reflective space to help her clients take steps towards living out their values.

Elder Kaia Svien


Elder KaiaElder Kaia (she/her) -meditation instructor, ceremonialist, mentor, spiritual guide and community activist- blends ancient wisdom ways with a passion for cultural healing through experiential exploration, symbol, story, deep listening and loving-kindness. Her passion lies in manifesting the essence of the Divine Feminine in daily practice and as a guide for our psychological and spiritual passage through the environmental changes ahead.

Elder Kaia delights in assisting people in developing lovingkindness and compassion towards themselves and others. She is especially interested in working with people who have a passion for community service. As she’s moved into her Elder years, Kaia finds herself witnessing closely the journey the spirit makes after death and honoring that passage in ancient ceremony. Kaia brings unique skills as a creative thinker and idea generator, risk-taker, gentle trickster, and compassionate affirmer of people’s current essence and potential for growth.

As a cultural teacher, Elder Kaia co-lead the first public ritual at the Take Back the Night March in Minneapolis in 1980, and since then has participated in national and local peace marches, with some arrests, sometimes as media spokesperson. She designed and implemented the Iraq Photo Project, a community response of photos and messages to the people of Iraq on the torture of Iraqis by US military. She has continued to work with the subsequent Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project. Kaia facilitates courses on the work of Joanna Macy and the Great Turning.

As a ceremonialist, Elder Kaia has developed and taught cultural wisdom classes, and facilitated many ceremonies for individuals and groups seeking multi-dimensional ways to mark life’s transitions, honor Earth and find life-meaning. She has been honored for her ability to create sacred space though the making the altars and has written a series for a metro newspapers on creating ritual. In 1999 she published her first novel, To Follow the Moon, a story drawn from the Wisdom Ways of European Americans. Elder Kaia has been invited into and embraced the role of elder in her community.

Elder Kaia began her studies of European-American Ancient Wisdom with Selena Fox in Mt Horeb, WI, in the 1980s and has continued them with Starhawk, Antiga, Spiderwimmin, colleagues at the Powderhorn/Phillips Cultural Wellness Center, and other regional and national teachers. She has also studied hypnosis, guided imagery, Reiki, and Mindell’s Process Therapy.

In the mindfulness realm, Elder Kaia has trained with Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh as well as many regional teachers, and follows the teachings of Pema Chodron and Jack Kornfield. She co-designed and facilitated A Year of Living Mindfully at the University of MN’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, a course combining mindfulness meditation and seasonal wisdom. Kaia designed and taught for many years a mindfulness course in the Master’s of Holistic Health Studies program at the University of St Catherine. She offers advanced mindfulness courses on working with difficult emotions and peacemaking.

Elder Kaia’s original profession was a Learning Disabilities Specialist for adolescents and adults. In her thirty four years of teaching she worked in a range of settings including the University of Minnesota, the LDA Reading and Math Clinic, private practice, two women’s prisons, and various hospitals and corporate settings. Her most thrilling work as an educator was supporting those who learn differently, focusing on finding their gifts and strengths rather than on their failings in the traditional learning system.

She co-founded and co-directed a non-profit clinic for people with learning disabilities as well as HECLD (Higher Education Consortium on Learning Disabilities, a model now used in several states), designed study skills seminars and assessment tools for college and secondary students who learn differently, and taught on various topics related to whole-brain learning, self-esteem building, and study skills. Kaia has published papers in two academic journals, and co-founded and co-edited the Consortium for Whole Brain Learning, an international newsletter.

Elder Tere Parsley Starnes

tere parsley starnesTere’s (they/them) practice of astrology pays attention to how we can best use our talents, meet our challenges, and manifest our dreams to become our fullest selves. Tere believes that we are in a dance with the stars. A birth chart can be an opening to knowing ourselves better if we agree to join the dance. This means that choice and intention play a big role in every consultation with the stars.

Tere’s astrology is rooted in the cycles and wisdom of the Earth. It is queer, radical, and oriented towards being the change we want to see. For Tere, astrology is a tool for practicing mindful intention—a blend of self-awareness with a desire for change and manifestation.

Tere has been practicing as a professional astrologer since 1995. Tere is a writer, a teacher, a hedge witch, and a hag, specializing in astrology and earth-based spirituality. The Reclaiming Tradition is one of Tere’s spiritual homes, blending reverence for the Earth with activism. Tere writes a daily astrological forecast based on the lunar cycle. Each new Moon, Tere writes about intention and magic to follow for the cycle. You can subscribe to this forecast through Tere’s Patreon site at Patreon.com/teristar 

To book a reading with Tere go to www.starsdanceastrology.com

April Kaisen


April (she/her) is a teacher, consultant and clinical practitioner at Anam Cara Therapies since the winter of 2013. Her professional experience includes work with adults, children and their families. In her work with children, April uses techniques including Adlerian Play Therapy, Yoga Calm, and Theraplay to further develop the child’s strengths and to help foster attunement between child and caregivers.

April has worked in social services for 13 years, including four years with Headway Emotional Health Services in a school setting, providing play therapy, skills groups and family therapy with elementary school students with significant mental health and behavioral needs.

With all of her clients, April brings a grounded presence that is filled with curiosity and wonder for the unfolding of each person’s truth and authentic self.  She creates a safe and reflective space to help her clients take steps towards living out their values. April is currently a student in the Ridhwan School, practicing mindfulness and inquiry to continue supporting her own truth to emerge. She most enjoys spending time with her family and their community, having potluck dinners, playing in music ensembles and exploring the outdoors.

Nathan Paulsen



Nathan (he/him) is a dad, movement worker, writer, permaculture enthusiast and clinical trainee at Anam Cara Therapies who has worked in the mental health field for over 18 years. Nathan approaches his work with a not-knowing attitude born of the rich variety of experience and many surprises he encounters in daily life. His practice as therapist is to accompany clients in the often confusing journey toward their preferred future by nurturing best hopes and values while grounding in the rhythms of everyday life. In this way, therapy supports client intentions to cultivate the satisfaction of a more mindful and integrated style of living.

In a world of grave injustice, these healing tasks have a special significance. Nathan believes the intimate wounds each of us carries are profoundly affected by the global crisis in which we live. In turn, the difficult emotions of sadness, anger, grief and anxiety offer wisdom that – when honored – invite transformative action in our lives and wider communities.

Fanny Miller


Fanny MillerFanny (she/her) is from Ecuador, South America. Her first language is Spanish.

Fanny is the Executive Director of BeechWood, Inc., an organization that offers Independent Living Skills Services and Adult Rehabilitation Mental Health Services. She has a BA in special education and has experience teaching children. She taught in a classroom setting and also ran a special education program for disenfranchised children in her home community. Fanny is passionate about advancing social justice and working with diverse communities.

In addition to directing and leading a vibrant community nonprofit, she has years of experience working with people with disablities and older adults and supporting cross cultural understanding and healing.

She works with children, adults and families utilizing a holistic approach, leveraging the client’s own strengths and resources to work toward possible solutions. She walks side by side with clients in their journeys toward growth, health and wellness. We think of Fanny as our gentle and humble embodied shaman in training.

Nicole Duxbury


Nicole (she/her) is a clinical practitioner with Anam Cara practicing under the supervision of Dr. Carlson. Committed to deep equity, she is interested in the ways that our personal healing processes contribute to our collective wellness as a larger community. “As I heal, my relationships heal. As my relationships heal, my community heals.” She brings a decade of experience working with youth and over a decade of spiritual and cultural self-study with Anam Cara/Tree and the Well, Elder Kaia Svien, and the Cultural Wellness Center.

Her on-going spiritual study as a student of the Ridhwan School deeply informs her practice: as we engage the journey of healing and liberating ourselves from the confines of limiting beliefs and the patterning of past wounds and traumas, our lives and our interactions with the world become infused with our uniqueness and authenticity – a gift to ourselves and the world. Nicole seeks to honor and hold the space of an Anam Cara, a friend of the soul, in witnessing, encouraging and holding space for each person’s unique development and unfolding.

Nicole’s integrative and somatic approach is informed by her training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a mindfulness-based approach used to increase well-being; her completion of the advanced-level training in mind-body skills through the Center for Mind-Body Medicine; and her on-going study with Thomas Huebl on the collective and relational aspects of healing. She is trained as an herbalist and flower essence practitioner and has a particular interest in Ancestral healing and connection. Nicole works as a community mental practitioner with BeechWood, Inc and as a bodyworker and facilitator with Wild Crocus: Holistic Body Therapies, LLC.

She works with people ages 12+. Her practice is inclusive to neurodiverse populations and people of varying cognitive abilities. Nicole habla español y está disponible para responder a cualquier pregunta que usted tenga sobre los servicios ofrecidos. For additional professional training and credentials, visit: http://wildcrocus-hbt.com/partners/

Jennifer Paige


JenniferJen (she/her) holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Psychological Services, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Addiction Studies, both from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Jen is currently the Treatment Director for the ARMHS program at Beechwood, Inc, an agency that offers in-home skills coaching to adults with mental health diagnoses. Before coming to work in community mental health, Jen worked in the private sector as a writer and meeting facilitator for 16 years. Jen also has experience working in chemical dependency treatment centers and has an interest in working with clients with co-occurring addictions and mental health concerns. Jen is a board approved clinical supervisor for LPC and LPCC licensure candidates.

Jen is trained in EMDR, and uses Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, along with humanistic and existential techniques; she enjoys helping each client determine their own goals, identify personal values, and increase psychological flexibility. She loves to incorporate humor, expressive arts, and creativity into her work with clients. Jen is currently accepting new clients.

Scott Zien-Edgar


Scott (he/him) joins Anam Cara Therapies with over a dozen years of direct experience working in the Minneapolis/St.Paul metro area with persons who experience severe and persistent mental illness. Scott has experience in Independent Living Skills, Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services, Individual Counseling, Group Therapy, Psychoeducation and Task Supervision.

Scott received a B.A in Psychology from Hamline University, a M.A in Counseling and Psychological Services from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. Scott practices from a Strength-Based Positive Psychological and Humanistic model of counseling. Scott’s interests in counseling include: Anxiety Disorders, Severe and Persistent Mental Illness, phase of life
changes and spiritual exploration.

Scott’s spiritual and cultural identification falls within the Jewish traditions and spiritual practices. The Jewish practice of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) is reflected in Scott’s commitment to social justice.

In his personal life, Scott enjoys spending time with his partner and his 5-year old daughter. Scott enjoys practicing his Judaism and creating music.

Charlie A Bouverette


Charlie (she/her) has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Ferris State University and a master’s degree in Comparative Religion from Western Michigan University. Charlie is currently a graduate student at University of Minnesota-Duluth in the Social Work department and finishing her practicum at Anam Cara Therapies. She is a Professional Education Diversity Fellow. This fellowship seeks to, “promote a diversity of views, experiences, and ideas through the recruitment and support of academically excellent students with diverse ethnic, racial, economic, and educational backgrounds and experiences.” She also received a graduate certificate in Health, Culture and Spirituality that  emphasizes, “cultural understanding of the body, illness and health, and emphasizes practical tools for addressing religious, spiritual and cultural diversity in health and human services settings.”

Currently, Charlie is a research assistant at the American Indian and Minority Health Center in working in community-based research exploring health disparities in northern Minnesota tribal communities. She also is a research assistant on the Northland Access to Justice project, an advocacy project that, “explores the unique challenges of civil legal aid provision across diverse communities and state and professional frameworks” and examines how, “justice is interpreted by individuals in family, professional, tribal, state and regional contexts throughout northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

Charlie Brick Wall

Charlie identifies as a thanatological social worker and primarily has worked in fields related to medicine and end-of-life care. She blends this interest with understandings of an Indigenist worldview and is part of a matrilineal tribal tradition (Metis Nation of Ontario/Mohawk/Iroquois/French). Charlie believes that understanding the importance of spiritual coping for Indigenous folks is central to worldview. She is aiming to address problematic and alarming health disparities of American Indian people with virtually non-existent information or research available on the importance of spiritual and religious support intrinsic to well-being.  Working within community, professional, and academic spaces, her goal is to intentionally blur the lines of researcher/participant.  Functioning outside of the lines of scientific objective rigidity is “intentional reflexivity” that pushes the understandings of what is historically been considered “scholarship” or “knowledge” by academic institutions.  Charlie participates in work that is intervention-oriented, community-based, and that bridges the gap between conventional research and applied justice action. Political and ideological value commitments underline the choices for her work placing the application of research that is based on the concerns of the community above academic debates in the literature.

Charlie has served as an adjunct instructor in the Religion Department at Western Michigan University. She is published for her scholarly research in burial ritual and other non-academic writings based in narrative and storytelling.

Jason Mayer


Jason (he/him) intention as a therapist is be a true friend of the soul, to deeply listen, to meet you where you are, and to be there as a support for you as you navigate your journey and your own unfolding. He feels strongly that no one should have to do it alone. 

He relies on a mindful approach where, helping individuals and families identify and learn how to be with what is arising in the present moment- whether it is comfortable or uncomfortable. He utilizes an imaginal and integrated theoretical approach to support developing more resilience, foster and stretch your psychological flexibility, and establish a deeper knowing of oneself. As understanding emerges and perspectives shift, Jason will support you toward nurturing your own inherent wisdom. 

Nine years of professional experience in the mental health field working with both youth and adults, he hold a Master’s in Counseling Psychology degree from Meridian University and is working towards licensure as a licensed professional clinical counselor.

April DeJarlais


April 2019 (2)April (she/her) has been working in community mental health or substance use treatment environments since 2014, and in 2018 participated in the Moving From Race to Culture Cohort self-study work facilitated by Anam Cara and the Cultural Wellness Center to explore identity and cultural ground as a European-American. She approaches working with others with an earnest curiosity and a deep respect for exploration.

April brings in modalities of primarily dialectical and cognitive behavioral therapies, as well as Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. She is certified in prolonged exposure therapy through The Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety. April has attended a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher Training course, as well as a workshop for facilitating trauma-responsive yoga practice, and weaves in yogic practices or theory for body-centered practices.

April (she/her) holds a Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota’s Integrated Behavioral Health Program, and is a Licensed Alcohol Drug Counselor (LADC) and approaching licensure as a professional clinical counselor. April is accepting new clients.

Catherine Colsrud


Catherine brings a wealth of experience working with individuals, families and groups to her work with Anam Cara. Grounded in her community and cultural teachings she believes that connections to our Indigenous cultures are vital to understanding and honoring our place in the circle of life.  Identifying and creating opportunities to connect with our culture in meaningful ways is an area of specialization, and together with others she works to identify ways to honor those connections. 

Catherine has experience working with a variety of health concerns including anxiety, depression, grief and loss, trauma, and loss of cultural connection.  Recognizing that trauma, both personal and collective, is a reality that many of us are living with today, she uses her gentle sense of humor, a deep kindness, and a trauma informed approach to assist others in their recovery toward reaching their self-identified growth goals.  Meeting individuals and families where they are on their journey, Catherine brings a mature approach, assisting others with making meaning of life during times of change and transition.

Catherine has experience working with those who live with addiction, and/or living with serious and persistent mental illnesses and has worked in the adult rehabilitative mental health services (ARMHS).  Catherine received her undergraduate degree from Augsburg University and is currently attending the Master’s in Social Work Program at Augsburg where she is completing her clinical training.  Catherine is a certified trainer in Positive Indian Parenting; ACEs; Freedom from Smoking; Mothers of Tradition; Linking Generations by Strengthening Relationships; Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families; and also Credit as an Asset.   Catherine is currently creating culturally specific programs of care, and we are expanding services to Native American communities and clients.  Catherine is now accepting new clients through telehealth. 

Veronica Rivera


VerofotocaracoloresVeronica (she/her) is a counselor, advocate, social activist, and immigrant with years of experience creating, developing, and implementing community health outreach programs. She has worked creating older adults’ groups, Latino mothers’ groups, and youth groups. Veronica understands and values cultural and spiritual traditions that have supported families through the generations to find personal, family and community healing.

Veronica is trained in Brief Dynamic Psychotherapy, Integrated Psychotherapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and incorporates a culturally specific lens to her responsive counseling to clients interested in exploring their own healing. She offers services in her client’s primary spoken language Spanish, English or Spanglish.

In addition to a Master’s in Social Work, Veronica has completed training in the following: Spirituality, Life Project, and Personal Development by El Instituto Fe y Vida on Lewis University, Romeoville, IL.; Sharing a Vision of Hope by Instituto Fe y Vida on St Edward’s University, Austin Tx. and Promotoras de la Educacion by LYDC in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In her free time Veronica enjoys sewing, crafting and cooking. She enjoys being in contact with nature doing walks in parks or gardening. Veronica is now accepting new clients through telehealth.

Rachael Sarto


Rachael Sarto is a therapist and clinical social worker, as well as a member of the Anam Cara community. RachaelSartoShe is honored to join the therapists and other healers and teachers serving community at Anam Cara House.

During the past 15 years, Rachael has provided counseling and support for individuals and families facing a wide range of challenges, in clinic, hospital, day treatment, and residential settings. As a counselor in a palliative care program for many years, Rachael served people living with serious illness affecting self or loved one, including working with families and individuals facing end-of-life. She has a particular passion for working with people living with the emotional and relationship impacts of illness and injury.

Rachael’s work is grounded in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, self-study and community, and EMDR. She draws from Buddhist psychology and mindfulness-based approaches to engaging an observing and loving presence with our experiences. A lover of dance, music, authentic movement, and bodywork, she invites others toward connection with our bodies and our whole selves. Trained in clinical hypnosis, guided imagery, and mindfulness-based approaches to working with emotional and physical discomfort, Rachael sees the body as our home in the present moment, a teacher and a place of healing.

Rachael is a life-long student of disability self-advocacy, inclusion, and community building. Her mentors and teachers have included the Institute on Community Integration, the LEND Fellowship, members of the Camphill Community movement, and family and friends.

She currently also provides care through the Center for Grief in St Paul, and at Well Within Healing Arts, in the Longfellow neighborhood. She deeply values understanding what matters most to each client. With warm listening and a collaborative approach, she aims to align with each person to support them in their goals for their lives.

Rachael finds joy alone and with others in movement, stillness, reading, drawing, and making music. She savors family, friendship, and spending time outdoors.