Hi! I'm Melissa
nature, music, art, dance, and color.
I bring these
elements of myself
into my work.
seeing young people
light up when
sparks of insight
I believe healing
occurs through positive relational experiences
I was born in the ice-cold state of Michigan and then moved with my family to the blazing heat of southern Mexico as a young child. I am a “third culture kid” – meaning I grew up in a country and culture that was not originally mine and then returned to my country of origin later in life. This was a blessing and a struggle as I worked to figure out just who I was as an individual. Looking back, I now know what a rich experience this was for me and how it helped shape me into the fun-loving, adventurous, creative soul that I am!
As a young adolescent, I discovered what was to be my passion in life while sitting on a bed of rocks and gravel in southern Mexico. I can still remember the experience of watching the movie The Cross and the Switch Blade (1970). The movie tells the story of a gang member named Nicky Cruz who changed his life due to the involvement of a caring adult. His story remained with me throughout my adolescence and into my undergraduate studies where I volunteered at the local juvenile detention center. Later I interned and eventually became employed at a local group home for adolescent girls.
This is where my journey to helping others and
my passion for working with youth began.
over 25 years
youth and families.
In 1996 I graduated with a B.S. in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Psychology.
I chose to begin my career by integrating my passion for working with adolescents and my love of nature. I worked at both a girls' and later, a boys' therapeutic wilderness school in Central Virginia and Maryland—where I remained for over a decade.
These experiences prompted me to return to school for a Masters' degree in Professional Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (2006).
My journey towards becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) led me to Allentown, Pennsylvania. I received my initial LPC in Pennsylvania and worked as an in-home family therapist. While in Pennsylvania I completed a three-year study in Echo Systemic Family Therapy, receiving a Completion Certificate through the Philadelphia Child and Family Therapy Training Center, Inc. (Marion Lindblad-Goldberg, Ph. D., Director).
In 2011, I returned to the state of Virginia. I became a Licensed Professional Counselor in Virginia and have continued to work with struggling adolescents and their families in a multi-cultural context involving the impact of trauma.
Since then I have received multiple certificates in trauma and trauma-informed work. I continuously seek to increase my expertise.
I believe in consistently seeking out new skills and knowledge in my areas of expertise to provide those I work with or mentor the best guidance and counseling possible.
This is what molded me into the person and therapist that I am.
My Professional Journey
M.A. in Professional Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy
B.S. in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Psychology
- Approved Clinical Supervisor
- Certificate in Traumatic Stress Studies -The Trauma Center at JRI in Boston, MA, in conjunction with PESI, Inc.
- Certificate in Advanced Trauma Treatment Level I & II - Advanced Psychotherapy Training and Education Inc. (Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C, DAPA)
- Participation in Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (TM) Case-Based Training Series - Winter 2012 at The Child Trauma Academy, Houston, TX (Dr. Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D.)
- Certificate in Echo Systemic Family Therapy (3-year program) - Philadelphia Child and Family Therapy Training Center, Inc. (Marion Lindblad-Goldberg, Ph. D., Director), Allentown, PA
Associations & Memberships
NCC (National Certified Counselor ): 266822
ACA (American Counseling Association)
VCA (Virginia Counseling Association)
VAPT (Virginia Play Therapy Association)
DCFG (Drum Circle Facilitator Guild)
Virginia LPC: 0701005208
Pennsylvania LPC: PC005427
ACS (Approved Clinical Supervisor): ACS2440