Loss does not mean alone.
Center for Grief & Loss staff are specially trained therapists that provide support to those healing from loss. Within this broader training, our therapists have practical, real-life experience helping people like you find hope and healing following a traumatic event. Please browse through our staff's biographies below, and feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.
These letters can refer to educational degrees:
- MA – Master of Arts
- MFT – Master of Marriage and Family Therapy
- MSW – Master of Social Work
- PhD – Doctor of Philosophy
- PsyD – Doctor of Psychology
- BSW – Bachelor of Social Work
Or to professional licenses:
- LAMFT – Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, practicing under supervision of another independently licensed provider
- LMFT – Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
- LGSW – Licensed Graduate Social Worker, practicing under the supervision of another independently licensed provider
- LICSW – Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
- LPCC – Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
- LP –Licensed Psychologist
- LISW- Licensed Independent Social Worker
- LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- CSW- Certified Social Worker
Molly Ruggles, Psy.D., L.P.
Assistant Clinical Director
Molly Ruggles is a Licensed Psychologist with a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology. Molly provides psychotherapy and clinical supervision at the Center for Grief and also serves as the Assistant Clinical Director. Molly values a strong therapeutic relationship with her clients as a crucial aspect of the healing process and works to create a safe, respectful, and non-judgmental environment. Her approach is primarily relational, utilizing psychodynamic and attachment theory to more fully understand and support each client’s unique healing process. Her approach is also practical and integrates cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based interventions into her work. Molly has long held a special interest in the areas of grief and trauma, and she her training and experience in community mental health and university counseling settings have allowed her to develop skill and competence in these areas.
Allison Chant, MS, LMFT
Allison Chant is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with almost 20 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families in the areas of grief and bereavement, end of life care including palliative care and hospice. She has facilitated many grief groups over the years including Motherloss for Daughters, Family Nights for single parent/guardian and children grieving the death of a loved one, Spouseloss and a volunteered on a family grief retreat.
Allison views grief as a normal response to loss and supports finding meaning and purpose in the midst of transition, sadness and grief. She believes that we all experience change and loss by virtue of being in this world and in relationships. At times, these changes, losses, unexpected and sometimes unwanted events throw us off track or render us feeling hopeless. While normal, changes and losses can be painful. The support of a trained listener helps as you seek to make meaning of changes and return to preferred ways of functioning or optimally, finding new ways of seeing life and living fully. Allison enjoys working with people seeking ways to adapt and thrive while coping with losses including death, loss of relationships, illness, depression, anxiety and many other life transitions.
A current passion of Allison's is supporting those living with chronic illness and their partners and families. Her philosophy is that illness is a systemic experience, whether you live with illness yourself or are a family member or friend supporting someone living with illness, you are affected by this experience and are worthy of support.
Allison is honored to be a part of the team of therapists at the Center for Grief, Loss and Transition. Working in this setting with others' who are equally passionate for supporting those living with loss and grief is a great fit for her.
Amee Christensen, MA, LMFT
Marriage and Family Therapist
Amee has experience working with a diverse population of families, couples and individuals of all ages. While Amee's general philosophy is that therapy should be relational, client-centered and strengths-based, she believes that therapy must also be uniquely customized and tailored specifically to each client's entirely unique story of grief, loss, transition or trauma. With this in mind, Amee focuses on creating a space where clients feel safe, accepted, and heard while they explore healing, growth and personal and relational transformation. With a background in family systems theory, she believes that an essential part of her work with clients is helping them explore external relational systems that influence and support their well-being, as well as identifying and accessing internal strengths and resources that clients already carry within themselves.
Amee has experience working with a broad range of mental health issues and concerns, and has specialized training in treating trauma, reproductive mental health and pregnancy loss, and psychological crisis response. Amee is an EMDR Certified Clinician, certified in Psychological First Aid Response, and trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Debriefing.
Bobbie Colby, MA, LMFT
Bobbie is a grief therapist at the Center for Grief, Loss & Transition. Her interest in grief and loss began with the diagnosis of life-threatening illness and subsequent death of her husband. The impact of this life-changing experience has brought a willingness to work with others as they journey through the healing process. Bobbie works to create a safe, trusting and nonjudgmental place in which to grieve a personal loss or transition.
Bobbie brings with her years of experience working with children of all ages through teaching, counseling and mentoring. She has worked closely with AIDS and hospice care teams as individuals experience chronic illness and death.
Because of Bobbie's belief in the mind, body and spirit connection, she brings to therapy various forms of creative expression, mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
Dianna Diers, MA, LMFT
Marriage and Family Therapist
A very small sign in my office reads, "I am still learning", Michaelangelo.
I am a licensed, marriage and family therapist, politely referred to these days as "seasoned". My "seasoning" includes training in early childhood education and social work prior to more recent training in family therapy, and the treatment of trauma, grief, depression, and anxiety in adults, children, couples and families. I admire and use practices from many therapeutic traditions. I love the deep respect for inner knowledge in the narrative and existentialist approaches, the humor and practicality of solution focused methods, and the heart-centered practices of mindfulness, and modern brain science.
At the Center for Grief, I also lead therapy groups for parents who have lost children and an art therapy group for those who are grieving losses of many kinds. I particularly am inspired by the strength and resources that come forth from clients in the healing process. As a parent, grandparent, gardener and lover of stories, music, art and poetry, I am honored to be part of a team that continues to learn from one another and from the individuals and families we are privileged to serve.
Allison Epstein is a graduate student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at St. Mary’s University, completing her clinical internship at the Center. Allison is particularly interested in grief from an addiction perspective. Working as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor since 2016 has taught her how grief and loss may be related to a person’s substance use. Loss is a universal experience and every person’s response may look at a little different. Allison believes in meeting each client where they are at and letting them be the driver in their own therapy. She has a wide variety of experiences, working as a middle school teacher to a case manager, and has experience working with a variety of populations. In her free time, Allison enjoys cooking new recipes, traveling, exercising and playing with her dog.
Katie Heckman, MS, LMFT
Marriage and Family Therapist
Katie Heckman is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 10 years of experience. She works with individuals, couples, adolescents and families. Katies specialties include parent loss, spouse partner loss, anxiety, depression, trauma, complicated grief, chronic illness and life transitions for young adults in their 20's and 30's.
Katie's extensive professional experience with grief and loss has been transformative and enlightening. She is amazed at the resiliency in people that is sometimes buried deep, but with sensitivity, patience, and respect much can be revealed
She believes that the process of grief and loss can be a healing experience.
Prior to her work at the Center for Grief, Loss, & Transition, Katie worked with individuals, couples and families at an in-home intensive family service agency. Those families had experienced some kind of loss or trauma on their journey.
She also has taught developmental education, career development and study skills courses to young adults at the college level.
"It has been an honor to do this work with clients. I am constantly amazed at the depth of pain clients are willing to go to experience healing," said Katie.
Katie also currently facilitates the Spouse/Partner Loss Therapy Group and the Parent Loss Therapy Group and is in process of developing a group for clients who are experiencing chronic illness.
Katie is at the Center for Grief, Loss, & Transition Monday through Friday.
Michaela Janssen, MA, LPCC
Michaela has provided mental health therapy to children, adolescents, and young adults who have faced trauma, grief and loss, medical conditions, and other life challenges in a variety of settings. Her passion for working with this population was stimulated by her own experiences of childhood medical concerns, living with family members who have chronic illnesses, and having several close family members die since she was young. Unfortunately, it is often the children, adolescents, and young adults who can be forgotten in a situation where they have had a loved one die or are living with someone who has a medical illness. Michaela provides therapeutic support and advocates for these clients so they can be heard and receive assistance to cope with the effects of their struggles.
Michaela is a Registered Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) therapist, and she will receive her grief-counseling certificate in January 2019. She utilizes an integrated approach to therapy, drawing primarily from Cognitive Behavioral and Person-Centered theories, to provide a safe, caring, and empathetic environment to connect with clients. It is important to her to support each client individually so they are able to use the coping strategies that they learn and practice during therapy in their daily lives. Michaela is grateful to be part of the Center for Grief and Loss’ therapist team.
Jennifer Baker-Jones, MA, L.P.
Jennifer Baker-Jones is a licensed psychologist and has over 13 years experience working in a therapeutic setting with clients around grief and loss, trauma, transitions and various health concerns. Jennifer's key areas of clinical focus include: prevention, strength-based approaches, positive psychology, resiliency, empowerment and existentialism. She strives to work with clients on finding joy and meaning making, while providing space and support for the journey that comes with healing.
Jennifer is a Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy approved clinical supervisor and has been providing clinical supervision since 2005.
Brooke Kaney, MSW, LICSW
Transition, loss and the experience of grief will affect every person at some point in time. Brooke strives to understand each person’s unique experience with grief. She practices psychotherapy from a relational psychodynamic perspective which means fostering a meaningful and safe relationship to be able to uncover and explore strength and stability. This also means paying attention to ways that lifelong patterns can help or hinder how we function in relationships with others and navigate the world. She is genuine, curious and provides thoughtful feedback when life feels confusing or complicated. She integrates cognitive-behavioral interventions and mindfulness practices when appropriate. The sincerity, support and safety of the therapy relationship is central to her work.
Brooke is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with over 7 years of experience working with individuals facing chronic and serious health conditions and their families, including work in palliative care and hospice. Her clients have been the most prominent teachers about the types of loss that occur and various ways of navigating the grief. Brooke has a passion for working with individuals with cancer related concerns and other various health conditions, including organ transplants. Prior to her work at the Center for Grief & Loss, Brooke worked in an academic hospital and medical clinic providing counseling for patients and families. During this time she directed a clinical social work fellowship in palliative care and now continues to provide clinical supervision to the social work fellow.
Brooke feels incredibly grateful to work with and learn from this group of therapists and clients. She believes that bearing pain and inviting change is possible when done together.
Allison Richards, Ph.D, L.P
Allison Richards is a licensed psychologist at the Center for Grief and Loss. She works from an interpersonal framework where she seeks to develop a strong and safe therapeutic relationship with each client. Allison believes in the therapeutic power of providing clients the space to truly be seen and heard, especially when facing issues of grief, loss and transition, and strives to provide this to each client. She also incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness, when appropriate. Allison holds a master's degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Minnesota and a doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa.
Allison's previous work experience has predominantly been with college students as they transitioned from adolescence to adulthood. She also has experience working with women in multiple capacities (particularly around concerns related to pregnancy and postpartum). Allison has worked with a wide range of concerns, ranging from grief and loss, identity development, transition, trauma, depression, anxiety, and relationship issues. She is honored to be part of the team at the Center for Grief and Loss.
Allison lives in Minneapolis with her husband, three young children, and dog. She loves being outdoors and spending time with her family and friends.
Mary Wilkening, MSW, LICSW
Mary is a licensed independent clinical social worker who believes in a relational approach to therapy. She has a particular interest in working with survivors of all forms of trauma, including witnessing or experiencing violence, complicated grief, abuse, or spiritual trauma. Mary is certified in EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy and, when appropriate, utilizes EMDR as part of the therapy process.
In the midst of this serious work, Mary seeks to find hope, joy, and humor –and a renewed enthusiasm for life. Along with EMDR, Mary utilizes mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral approaches, and acceptance and commitment therapy. Mary also encourages her clients to pursue a wholistic approach to health, incorporating exercise, proper sleep and nutrition, spiritual practices, nurturing relationships, and activities they enjoy.
Mary and her husband have two young adult children, as well as a dog and a cat. She enjoys reading, drinking coffee, working out at the Y, spending time on Lake Minnetonka, and cheering on the Vikings.
Merra Young, MSW, LICSW, LMFT
Merra brings over 35 years of experience as a psychotherapist. She offers integrative, mindfulness-based and other approaches into the therapy process. Her areas of expertise include: grief and loss, life transitions, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, relationships, mind-body, spirituality, family of origin, recovery, trauma healing, stress reduction, life balance and other issues.
She has been practicing meditation and yoga since 1976.
She embodies a compassionate presence. She is honored to accompany and empower others in their unique healing journeys' of growth and transformation. She provides support for discovering ways to connect with one's innate wisdom, creativity, resiliency, and wholeness - even joy amidst life's uncertainty.
Merra is an adjunct faculty at several universities. She teaches courses and leads workshops in Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, Meditation, Happiness and Integrative Psychotherapy. She also offers supervision and consultation in other settings. She loves being in nature, bicycling and poetry. She's filled with gratitude to working at the center.