Therapists / Clinicians

Heidi V. Carlson

M.S., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist

Profile

Dr. Carlson earned her doctoral degree in counseling psychology in 2007 from University of St. Thomas. She earned her master's degree in community counseling with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy in 1999. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health System in Brainerd, Minnesota in consortium with the APA- accredited internship at University of Minnesota- Pediatrics Psychology Internship where she completed psychological, cognitive, neuropsychological, assessments for children and adolescents.

She has also been intensively trained in individual, marital/couples, family and group psychotherapy for adults, adolescents, and children. She has worked in multiple settings, including residential, day-treatment, in-home, outpatient clinics, hospitals, and schools where she has provided a number of assessment and treatment services, including developing and implementing programming for adolescents and young adults. Areas of expertise include trauma, brain development, attachment, adoption, developmental issues, treatment program development, mood disorders, and relationship issues. She provides consultation and training to schools, hospital and organizations on multiple topics.

Heather O’Connor
MA, LMFT, LADC Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist;
Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor

Profile

Heather earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2012 from Argosy University. She has been a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor since 2005. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Family Social Science in 2002 from the University of Minnesota. She has worked as a counselor in the school systems for over 7 years where she provides adolescents and their families support around mental and chemical health concerns.

She has been trained in individual, marital/couples, family and group psychotherapy for adults, adolescents and children. She has worked in multiple settings including residential, in-home, outpatient clinics, and schools where she has provided a wide array of assessment and treatment services. Her areas of interest continue to be working with families, couples, adolescents and children.

Susan J. Baker
PsyD Licensed Psychologist

Profile

Dr. Baker earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology in 2006 from the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Minnesota Veteran’s Home in Minneapolis, MN. Her training includes assessment and treatment of individuals with Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, developmental disabilities, chemical dependency, anxiety, depression, and personality pathology. Dr. Baker has experience in various forms of assessment including cognitive/intellectual, neuropsychological screenings, personality measures, and she has completed court-ordered evaluations for adults with mental illness.

Dr. Baker specializes in therapeutic services for adolescents and adults and focuses on the unique qualities of the individual, couple, or group. Her theoretical orientation is integrative with particular emphasis on cognitive-behavioral and dialectical-behavioral approaches as well as mindfulness-based stress reduction. She works collaboratively with her clients and often incorporates eastern philosophy and meditation exercises that enhance well-being and internal growth into her therapeutic practices.

Jennifer M. Bertsch
PsyD Licensed Psychologist

Profile

Dr. Bertsch earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology in 2002 from the California School of Professional Psychology. She also earned a master’s degree in forensic psychology. She completed her APA-accredited pre-doctoral internship at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, CA, where she conducted psychological, cognitive, personality, and forensic evaluations for adults. Her training also includes treatment of adolescents and adults with severe and persistent mental illness, developmental disabilities, depression, anxiety, sexual abuse issues, personality pathology, relational issues, and chemical dependency.

Dr. Bertsch has experience in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings, including crisis facilities, correctional, hospital settings, and private practice. Her theoretical orientation is best described as integrative with emphasis on cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based approaches. Dr. Bertsch uses a collaborative, strength-based, and empowering approach with her clients.

Jennifer Peterson
MSW, LICSW,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Profile

Jennifer graduated with her Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota in 2009 and has been licensed as an Independent Clinical Social Worker since 2011.  Her training includes assessment and individual, family and group psychotherapy for adolescents and adults.  She has worked in multiple settings where she has provided an assortment of assessment and treatment services.   Jennifer previously worked with victims of sexual violence at the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center.  Then later began her 11 years thus far in a school setting as a School Social Worker addressing the mental health and drug/ alcohol intervention needs for adolescents.  Jennifer has also worked as a Mental Health Practitioner for St. David’s Children and Family Services providing in-home skills training.  Treatment approaches include strength based, mindfulness practices and cognitive behavioral techniques.

Age range: 12 and up

Clinical Services:
Diagnostic Assessments and Individual Therapy.  Expertise areas include working with adolescent population coping with depression and anxiety and behaviors of concern related to self-injurious behavior, suicidal ideation, sexual and emotional abuse, refusal behavior and relational concerns.

Mindy Antiel
MA, LPCC Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

Profile

Mindy obtained her Masters at Argosy University in Clinical Psychology. She has numerous years of experience with children in the areas of mental health, care taking, and coaching. Mindy did her practicum with St. David’s Mental Health Center working with kids diagnosed with ASD, Anxiety, ODD and other mental health disorders. Her experience includes, day treatment, in-home services, individual, and parent-involved strategies. In her free time, Mindy enjoys spending time with family and staying active!

Jeffrey Pounds
MA, LP, LADC Licensed Psychologist; Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor

Profile

Jeff Pounds has worked in a variety of settings in mental health including intensive outpatient programs, inpatient programs, crisis counseling and assessment, and as a private practice clinician. Jeff has worked at the University of Minnesota hospital for 20 years in the adult MICD program. He has worked in Emergency Departments and as a crisis assessor in schools.

Jeff specializes in dual diagnosis, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and thought disorders. His approach to therapy utilizes cognitive behavioral techniques, systems theory, existential theory, and humanistic therapy. Jeff has experience working with adults, couples, and adolescents.

Ann Conrad
MS, LPCC
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

Profile

In 2003, Ann earned her Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  Her focus of her training was in adolescent counseling.   She has worked in a hospital setting with the adolescent population.  Her practice includes Adults and Adolescents with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, stress management, ADHD and self-injury. Her therapy modalities include strength based and solution focused therapy, mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation skills.

Robyn Alliah
MS, LPCC, ATR-BC, CCTP Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor; Board Certified Art Therapist

Profile

Robyn Alliah (ATR-BC, LPCC, CCTP), graduated from Florida State University with a master’s degree in Art Therapy in 2006. She is a Board-Certified Art Therapist and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. Robyn also has been trained extensively in the Adaptive Internal Relations (AIR) Network model and is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP). In 2015, she helped develop a program and facilitated groups for military veterans with trauma.

Robyn specializes in art therapy and focuses her sessions on various theories which adapts for each client. She provides art therapy directives and non-directives for adolescent and adult clients who have issues such as trauma, anxiety, depression, bipolar, and ADHD. Robyn has worked with eating disorders, attachment styles, and personality disorders. She also works with the LGBTQ+ community.

Art therapy can be a guide towards self-awareness, processing of events and feelings, the reduction of symptoms, and to process trauma in safe way. Art therapy paired with AIR Network integrates the parts of self to encourage development of the whole self. Art therapy is beneficial to increase problem solving, view the internal/external self, and to foster a healthy self-esteem. It can also be a tool to help understand events from different perspectives.

Linda Santa Cruz
MS, LMFT Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Profile

Linda is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has spent her career working with adolescents, young adults, couples, and families. She attended California Lutheran University where she obtained her Master of Science in Counseling Psychology. Linda has spent much of her career working in community mental health clinics, working with clients who struggle with trauma (PTSD), anxiety, depression, ADHD, family violence, and family systems. She also has experience working with gender identity issues, incarceration, intimacy issues, chemical addiction, custody/co-parenting, supervised visitation, and foster families/adoption.

Linda is certified in Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and has a passion for working with teens who have experienced trauma. She has experience working in collaboration with social services, probation, school systems, correctional facilities, hospitalization programs, residential programs, community programs, and MI/CD programs.

Linda believes in helping individuals achieve their happiest, healthiest self and utilizes a strength-based approach to therapy services. She enjoys identifying the unique strengths in each client, building on them to challenge the negative patterns that contribute to how we see ourselves, the world, and how we believe others see us. She was inspired to work in the field because, “It just makes sense. I belong in a healing profession and I carry the hope that things can always get better.”

Michelle Dineen
MSW, LICSW, IMH-E® (III) Licensed Clinical Social Worker; Infant Mental Health Specialist

Profile

Michelle is a licensed clinical social worker. She earned her bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Notre Dame. She earned her master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota. She also earned a certificate from the University of Minnesota in infant and early childhood mental health. She is endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Specialist by the Minnesota Association of Children’s Mental Health-Infant and Early Childhood Division.

For the past eleven years Michelle has worked in a home visiting program for new parents. She has had the honor to work with many families in their home, talking about child development and attachment.

Asking for help is a brave step. Michelle works with caregivers, prenatal or postpartum, and their children. She strives to partner with families to create a safe and curious place to try to understand what is happening. Children (birth to 6) and parents are both part of the work Michelle does. She uses child parent psychotherapy, an understanding of child development, along with regulation strategies during her work with families.

Kelly Vourlos
MSW, LICSW Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Profile

Kelly Vourlos earned her Master's degree in Social Work from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2014 and her undergraduate in social work from St. Cloud State in 2000.  Kelly has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient mental health, school social work, and child welfare.  Kelly has spent her career working with children of all ages and their families to provide support and improve their well-being.

Kelly has been extensively trained in Play Therapy and specializes in working with children, adolescents and young adults.  She has also been trained in EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, for people who have experienced trauma.  Kelly has extensive experience working with individuals experiencing anxiety, depression, stress management issues and working with family systems.  Kelly believes in an empowerment and strength-based model, cognitive behavioral, and solution focused therapies.  She also uses mindfulness to work on coping and relaxation skills.

Matt Sutera
MA

Profile

Matt Sutera received his Master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas and he continues to pursue his licensure as a Professional Clinical Counselor. Matt has worked extensively with adolescents and adult males with chemical dependency issues and co-occurring trauma. His experience also includes providing therapy and skills services to families with a variety of presenting concerns, such as abuse and neglect, reunification, community violence, substance use/abuse, grief and loss, and sexual concerns.

Matt’s theory is largely person-centered and contains elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and is solution-focused. Matt approaches his clients with an understanding that we each have different experiences, strengths, weaknesses, fears, and systems of support, but everyone can be an active participant in their therapy. Matt encourages individuals to take an active role in their therapy and reinforces the understanding that we are each equipped with the tools and strengths for our recovery and well-being.

Matt’s perspective is experiential and practical and he navigates his sessions with the understanding that all clients and families have unique needs and goals. His desire is to help individuals, families, and/or couples realize their potential, improve the relationships in their lives, and better their self-understanding. He brings a calm demeanor, trust, optimism, and the occasional witty sense of humor to his sessions.

Matt works with children, teens, adults, individuals, couples, and families of all racial, economic, sexual, and mental health backgrounds.

His specific areas of concentration include:

  • Depression and Anxiety

  • Substance abuse/dependence

  • PTSD and trauma-related disorders and stressors

  • Identity/self-esteem issues

  • LGBTQIA populations

  • Relationship struggles/transitions (couples counseling)

  • Sexual concerns

  • Grief and Loss

  • Men’s mental health

Kristin Almquist
MSW, LICSW Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Profile

Kristin Almquist is a licensed independent clinical social worker with 10 years of experience working with children and adolescents ages three to 12 and their families. Kristin graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2008 with a Masters Degree in Social Work. She most recently spent eight years as a therapist in an outpatient hospital setting, working with children (aged 6-12) from diverse cultural backgrounds who've experienced disrupted functioning in multiple areas of their lives.

Kristin specializes in working with children and adolescents who have been impacted by trauma, anxiety, depression, divorce, ADHD, sensory issues, PTSD and disruptions in attachment. She has experience in cognitive behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, family therapy, child-centered non-directive and directive play therapies, group therapy, and narrative therapy. Kristin includes families and caregivers as part of her therapeutic approach because she believes that healing occurs in children whose families are an integrated and positively interconnected unit.

Lauren Reed
PsyD, LP Licensed Psychologist

Profile

Dr. Reed earned her doctoral degree in forensic clinical psychology in 2015 from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  She completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Minnesota Department of Corrections Women's Facility in Shakopee.  While on internship she conducted psychological assessments including personality, cognitive, neuropsychological, and forensic evaluations in addition to providing group and individual therapy.  Within her training she has also worked with adolescents and adults involved in the legal system, including individuals with depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders, substance use, sexual abuse issues, relationship issues, developmental disabilities, and sexually problematic behaviors.  

Dr. Reed has worked in inpatient and outpatient facilities, including detention centers, correctional settings, civil commitment settings, and community outpatient.  She describes her theoretical orientation as client-centered with an emphasis on solution-focused and mindfulness based approaches.  Dr. Reed works collaboratively with her clients, teaching them tools to reach their goals and improve their overall health and wellness."

Leah Wellstone
MA, LMFT, CEDS

Profile

Leah Wellstone comes to us most recently from Carleton College where she worked in student health and counseling for the past 8 years. Prior to that, she worked in inpatient, residential, and outpatient eating disorder treatment and is a certified eating disorder specialist.

Leah has worked in a variety of settings over the years - mostly in community mental health in urban and rural settings.

She also specializes in grief and loss, parenting, and relational issues.

Kalyn Bassett
LICSW

Profile

Kalyn graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology. Kalyn then went on to graduate with her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Augsburg College in 2010. She obtained her Clinical Social Work (LICSW) licensure in 2012. Kalyn has worked in a variety of settings including adolescent partial hospital and day treatment programs, child protection, crisis response and coordinated response. She believes in honoring the unique life perspective that each person brings to the therapeutic process.

Kalyn has previously completed training in suicide risk assessment, CBT, trauma, and is currently completing training in EMDR. She has extensive experience working with individuals experiencing anxiety, depression, interpersonal and family conflict, stress management concerns and trauma. Kalyn enjoys working with clients of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.  She works from a strengths based perspective and fully believes in the ability of every person to obtain healing and emotional wellness.

COMING IN JUNE

Psychiatric Team

Grant Gregory
DNP, RN, CNP, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Profile

Grant Gregory is a board certified Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and received his Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Minnesota in 2014. He has enjoyed working in the behavioral health field since 2006. He has worked and trained in a variety of settings including chemical dependency facilities, adult/child/adolescent inpatient hospitals, outpatient and forensic settings, and in residential treatment of severe and persistent mental illnesses. Most of his work has been in the inpatient setting treating adults with a variety of mental health issues. 

Grant provides comprehensive mental health treatment including diagnostic assessments and medication management for clients. He uses the mind/body connection to help educate and provide clients with the tools and skills needed to improve their emotional, physical, and mental health. He enjoys working with diverse individuals and helps treat those with various mental illnesses with collaborative and holistic approaches.  

Grant’s Care Philosophy:

  • I work with individuals ages 18 and older.
  • If you saw a previous provider for medication, I recommend bringing a copy of your records prior to our first meeting so I am able to review past history and improve continuity of care.
  • Explanation of Drug Testing Philosophy:
    • To help ensure the highest quality of care, I routinely ask for drug testing prior to prescribing any controlled substances as well as randomly as needed (e.g., if drug or alcohol use is suspected) per our controlled substance agreement you’ll be asked to sign. Controlled substances are not advised in any form of drug, alcohol or prescription medication abuse. If you decline to be drug tested, this may directly impact my ability to provide high quality care and to prescribe certain medications, including benzodiazepines, hypnotics and stimulants.
  • Consistent with the literature available, regular or long-term use of benzodiazepines is not advisable for psychiatric treatment. Literature showing any benefit of benzodiazepine use after 3 months is lacking. Cognitive behavior therapy has shown superior efficacy for the treatment of anxiety and sleep disorders, and benzodiazepines may actually impair a patient’s ability to benefit from psychotherapy. Benzodiazepine use can result in short and long term cognitive impairment, amnesia, worsening anxiety, dementia, and abuse/dependence. I will work with those being given regular or chronic prescriptions for benzodiazepines on a plan to slowly and comfortably taper them off, and I typically only provide small amounts when starting anyone on these medications to help minimize the above risks.
  • I treat adults with ADHD but rarely diagnose it due to the extensive testing involved for an accurate diagnosis. Providing documentation of ADHD testing and/or records confirming the diagnosis of ADHD will be requested prior to prescribing stimulants.
  • For those being prescribed opiates, including those in recovery for an opioid use disorder taking buprenorphine or methadone – the use of concurrent benzodiazepine medication can be dangerous. This combination may result in increased respiratory depression, coma and death. Nearly one-third of deaths from opioid overdoses involve benzodiazepines. Due to the severity of this medication combination and the concern of safety for my clients, I do not feel that the use of benzodiazepines with opiates is in the best interest of my clients.
Greta Ortega (Lindberg)      
PMHNP-BC, CNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Profile

Greta holds a Masters of Science in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing from the University of South Alabama, Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the College of Saint Scholastica, and Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness and Public Health from the University of Minnesota.

Certified as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner with the American Nurses Credentialing Center, Greta is certified to provide psychiatric diagnostic evaluations, ongoing medication management, and psychotherapy for individuals across the lifespan. Greta specializes in psychiatric medication management for children, adolescents, and young adults. 

Greta has worked and trained in a variety of mental health settings including inpatient, partial hospitalization programs, community health centers, dialectical behavioral therapy outpatient clinic, and intensive outpatient programs. She has experience in treating a wide variety of mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, mood disorders, ADHD, impulse control disorders, ODD, PTSD, and OCD. 

Greta believes in providing a holistic and individualized treatment plan for each client. Treatment plans may include medications, incorporating the mind-body connection, supplements, referrals to therapy/mental health programs, incorporating health and wellness interventions, pro-social activities, and addressing biological or social factors. 

Greta enjoys working with clients and their families together through life's unique challenges to provide the tools and resources towards improving their mental health.

Melissa McNellis
Registered Nurse

Profile

Melissa received her Bachelors degree in nursing from the College of St Catherine. She has over 16 years of psychiatric nursing experience working with clients across the lifespan. Melissa enjoys working closely with the psychiatric providers to get a better understanding of each client and their treatment needs.

Kris Schmisek
Registered Nurse

Profile


Administrative

Sara Kuester
Manager

Profile

Sara is responsible for the daily operations at River Valley. She handles human resources, client relations, insurance company relations, community outreach, event planning and office policy development. Sara has over 14 years of Office Manager experience.

Kjerstin Kersting
Administrative Specialist

Profile

Our front desk staff provides a warm, welcoming environment to assist clients in scheduling intakes and follow-up appointments, managing record requests and care coordination, ensuring timely email correspondence, confirming insurance eligibility, and collecting payments.

Ashley Ullmann
Administrative Assistant

Profile

Our front desk staff provides a warm, welcoming environment to assist clients in scheduling intakes and follow-up appointments, managing record requests and care coordination, ensuring timely email correspondence, confirming insurance eligibility, and collecting payments.

Katie Davis
Administrative Assistant

Profile

Our front desk staff provides a warm, welcoming environment to assist clients in scheduling intakes and follow-up appointments, managing record requests and care coordination, ensuring timely email correspondence, confirming insurance eligibility, and collecting payments.

Billing Specialists

Randi Terpening
Billing Specialist

Profile

Our Billing Specialists work tirelessly to ensure that River Valley's services are processed promptly, accurately, and professionally.  They with insurance companies to process all claim submissions, denials, appeals, and remittances/payments, as well as prior authorizations.  They manage client statements, payments/payment arrangements, refunds, and past due notifications.  Most importantly, our Billing Specialists are responsible for addressing all client concerns relating to claims processing and current balances.

Amy Loftness
Billing Specialist

Profile

Our Billing Specialists work tirelessly to ensure that River Valley's services are processed promptly, accurately, and professionally.  They with insurance companies to process all claim submissions, denials, appeals, and remittances/payments, as well as prior authorizations.  They manage client statements, payments/payment arrangements, refunds, and past due notifications.  Most importantly, our Billing Specialists are responsible for addressing all client concerns relating to claims processing and current balances.