Clinical Staff

We have six full-time therapists at Chrysalis, all of whom are master’s level and above. We’re also partnered with a child and adolescent psychiatrist who is on-site monthly and available in between for face-to-face visits.

Kendra Meiklejohn MS, LCSW

Position: Clinical Director
LCSW, EMDR Trained Therapist Kendra was born and grown in the mountains of Montana. She is passionate about exploring the world around her, loving her community and family, and challenging predictable notions. She has a vast amount of experience mentoring young women, utilizing the natural world to enhance awareness and agency. Kendra spent much her time since 2005 working in wilderness therapy, with 1500+ field days as a guide. Kendra earned a Dual Masters degree in Social Work and Kinesiology from the University of New Hampshire, and a Bachelors of Science in Behavioral Health from Southwestern College. While utilizing CBT, DBT, mindfulness and other therapeutic modalities, she strives to provide a trauma informed approach to therapy as well as relying on the healing power of wildness, kinesthetic/adventure therapy, and a strong therapeutic alliance. Kendra finds eternal optimism to be a cornerstone to leaning into the tough and arduous work necessary for a well lived life.

Kendra Meiklejohn MS, LCSW

Clinical Director

Emily Thelen, MA

Position: Milestones Transitions Therapist

LCPC, CTRS, EMDR Trained

Emily Thelen is the therapist for Milestones, our transition house. She received her Masters at Naropa University in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis in Wilderness Therapy. Emily has worked in the therapeutic wilderness and transitional care industry since 2006 with adolescent men, women, families, and young adults. She graduated from her home state’s University of Wisconsin-La Crosse as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) and has held a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Certification since 2006.

While she has EMDR and SMART Recovery training, she also leans on the use of positive psychology, ACT, nature, ritual, and ceremony in the healing and transformation process. Her kind and yet firm approach is what makes her an effective disruptor in the healing process.

Emily is passionate about seeing and bringing forward the bright light that exists in all of us, in spite of and because of our past stories and struggles. It is a pure joy for Emily to mentor and model health and healing with these courageous young women who are choosing to develop, explore, and deepen their own sense of selves.

The healing power of nature continues to run deep in Emily’s life while living and working in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Emily enjoys quality over quantity, gentle boldness, bikepacking, snowboarding, and small gestures that make the world a better place.

Emily Thelen, MA

Milestones Transitions Therapist

Anne Higgins, LCSW

Position: Milestones Transitions Therapist

Anne is licensed social worker with years of experience in the clinical treatment of adolescents and their families. She spent four years working with transitional youth in a crisis shelter setting, three years working in wilderness therapy, and one year in inpatient psychiatric care before joining our team in 2018.

She is a passionate outdoors woman with years of backcountry guiding before her work in wilderness therapy and believes in the transformative experiences the natural world provides. She approaches therapy with a multidisciplinary lens, exploring mental health and wellness in the intersection of environment, psychology, physiology, and neurology.  Currently, she is certified in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and is certified in HeartMath, a modality that explores the psychophysiology of stress, emotions, and the interactions between the heart and brain. 

Anne Higgins, LCSW

Milestones Transitions Therapist

Briar Wren, LCPC

Position: Assistant Clinical Director of Horse House and Therapist

Briar began her journey with the therapeutic process early in life. This positive experience presented itself as a passion, and led her to double major in Psychology and Studio Art at Santa Clara University. It was here she discovered the therapeutic power of art, and she continued her education to receive her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Art Therapy from Southwestern College in New Mexico. Her clinical work with adolescents, couples, groups and families has been influenced by her travels, her love of the outdoors, connection to animals and art. This work has given her a strong sense of compassion and has assisted her in multiple therapeutic settings. Briar’s spark for life shines when working with adolescents; and she aims to help them find, take ownership, and embody the positivity and resilience she sees embedded within them.

Briar Wren, LCPC

Assistant Clinical Director of Horse House and Therapist

Marissa Albat, LCSW

Position: Assistant Clinical Director of Lake House and Therapist
Marissa Albat is a Licensed Clinical Social worker certified in child and adolescent trauma. She earned her Masters of Social Work from the University of Wyoming where she also attained a bachelor’s in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. She has worked with youth and their families for the ten years. Prior to Chrysalis Marissa worked in Juneau, Alaska providing clinical supervision, consultation and specializing in dyadic treatments with youth and their primary caregivers. Marissa is creative and  innovative aspiring to create an environment of safety and acceptance leaning on ACT, CBT and somatic awareness.
Marissa was born and raised in Wyoming with a love for the wind River mountains and sense of adventure. She has two miniature schnauzers, enjoys the outdoors, adventure and being with her dogs. In her spare time she likes to paint and be outside.

Marissa Albat, LCSW

Assistant Clinical Director of Lake House and Therapist

Elle Barta, LCPC

Position: Assistant Clinical Director of Cottage and Therapist

Ellen is passionate about creating a safe, warm, and accepting space for her clients, believing that all people deserve to be understood holistically. She is aware of the social backgrounds and contexts of her clients, learning about how each client brings different experiences and expectations with them into counseling. Ellen is dedicated to honoring clients’ cultural norms and values that influence how they see the world using her curiosity, easy-going nature, and genuine empathy. Her work assists clients in addressing self-esteem, processing trauma, understanding needs and boundary setting, recognizing feelings, discussing healthy relationship development, and learning effective ways to communicate with others to achieve personal growth.

Ellen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in Gender Studies from Carroll College and her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Montana State University. In her free time, you can find Ellen outside regardless of rain, snow, or wind. She loves romping in the woods via trail running, backpacking, and mountain biking. When she is not outside, Ellen loves to cook, experiment with baking breads, take care of her houseplants, and map out adventures.

Elle Barta, LCPC

Assistant Clinical Director of Cottage and Therapist

Stacey Waites, LCSW

Position: Therapist

Stacey received her Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work from Mississippi College and her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has worked as the Director of Social Services for Vicksburg Medical Center, served as a college professor, and operated a psychotherapeutic private practice. She has worked with youth, chancery, and circuit courts to facilitate and assist in psychiatric assessments for those needing voluntary and involuntary treatment. She has also worked with numerous hospice agencies, and was the Program Coordinator for the Domestic Violence Victim’s Empowerment Program for the Vicksburg Municipal Court. Stacey has been a marriage, family, individual, and group therapist throughout her career. She specialized in facilitating griefwork, teaching coping skills, and treatment of depression and adjustment and anxiety disorders. Her clinical expertise included CTTP, CBT, Mindfulness, and RET, among others.

Stacey has a heart for volunteering, supporting non-profits and giving back to her community. She has an adventurer’s spirit, and is up for just about any challenge. She is happiest outdoors and loves riding her beloved horses, hiking, camping, kayaking, scuba diving and the beauty and tranquility of the beach and the majesty of trees. She is also passionate about her family, friends, giving gifts and the unmitigated joy of eating ice cream. She encourages service over self and unconditional acceptance of and respect for others. With all of her skill and experience, Stacey believes that sometimes healing lies in the simple power of silence and a hug. Stacey finds great peace in the company of her incredible children and her loving husband.

Stacey Waites, LCSW

Therapist

Ruth Richards-Schlarman, LCPC

Position: Therapist

Ruth Richards-Schlarman, LCPC, has been a therapist for nearly thirty years, with much of that time being spent in private practice.  Ruth has specialized in working with children, adolescents and families who have experienced trauma but works with clients with a wide variety of goals.   Ruth spent many years teaching college level students pursuing careers in the counseling field and has a strong interest in education. In addition to her private practice based in Whitefish and her part-time work for Chrysalis, Ruth continues to provide supervision to licensee candidates and teaches parenting and divorce education for the Nurturing Center in Kalispell.

Ruth grew up in Southern Missouri and attended graduate school in Illinois, where she lived for many years prior to moving to Montana in 2012, along with her husband and two children, currently ages 19 (college student in Missoula) and 25 (active military in Savannah, GA).  She lives in Eureka with her husband and four dogs.

In addition to her clinical work, Ruth also has a Master’s Degree in Harp Performance and has spent many years playing music professionally.  She is currently the Arts Director for Sunburst Arts and Education in Eureka, a local non-profit agency that sponsors music, art and educational opportunities in the Tobacco Valley.

Ruth Richards-Schlarman, LCPC

Therapist

Amy Durden, LCPC

Position: Therapist

Amy grew up in Northwest Montana. After leaving for a time to explore the country, seek her education and start a family, she returned home to raise her four children in the beautiful outdoors of Montana where she grew up. Along with her family, she returned with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling.

Amy is passionate about working with teenagers and has spent most of her life trying to help youth realize their potential and self-worth. “It is my goal to make every teenager I meet feel unconditionally loved, accepted and safe.”

In her free time, you can catch her enjoying the outdoors, watching sports and just spending time with her husband and children.

Amy Durden, LCPC

Therapist