Counseling staff

Deb Allen

Deb Allen counselor
Deb Allen

Counselor

LPC, M.A. in Counseling Psychology

I found my way to entering a graduate program in counseling through a dream, awakening one morning with a clear vision of working on a college campus with students. It was a turning point, a defining moment in my life, and a natural shift. Prior to that time, I’d worked as a counselor/educator at Durango’s Planned Parenthood clinic. I learned in that role what it means to be together as humans as we encounter crises and crossroads in life. 

I believe in the journey. Our paths are more winding than straight, with detours and dead-ends as well as times of clarity.  My own life has been such a journey… 

And I’m moved by forming real human connection, walking alongside others who are journeying forth.  

I completed my master’s degree in Counseling Psychology through the University of Colorado at Denver in 2000, and was licensed as a professional counselor in July, 2003. 

The strong interest that drew me to working for Planned Parenthood years ago, sitting with people as they look at their lives and choices, and supporting them in that process, remains central in my focus today. I incorporate various therapies to assist individuals in working both on self-acceptance and on the growth they seek. I’ve studied approaches for working with trauma, most recently being trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprogramming).    

My husband, Bob, and I feel grateful every day to call Durango our home, soaking up southwest landscapes and culture. Cycling, skiing, hiking, yoga, music, camping and playing with friends and family are passions. We have two grown children, and treasure our expanding family which now includes grandchildren. 

The journey continues. 

 

Brian Arens

Brian Arens Counselor
Brian Arens

Counselor

LPC, CACII, M.A. Counseling

I received my masters degree in Counseling from Adams State College in 2007. I was drawn to the counseling field by one of the most important principles that I live by, which is, "make the world a better place."

I became licensed as a professional counselor in 2010 and a certified addiction counselor (level II) in 2018.  My philosophy of counseling is compassionate, nonjudgmental, multi-cultural, person-centered and trauma-informed. Having been through some very challenging experiences in my own life, I have come to have some understanding of how hard life can be at times and how important it is in those times to stay connected on a human level. In that connection, I believe, is where growth and healing can occur.

I also believe in the healing power of nature, which is a significant reason I have been happy to call Durango my home, and my community, since 1998.

Aaron Belson

Aaron Belson Counselor
Aaron Belson

Counselor

LCSW, Masters in Social Work

I believe that having success in therapy is all about trust and the connection between therapist and the individual. I see myself as someone who is easy to talk to, understanding, gentle, and kind. My hope is that I can form meaningful connections with the students whom I work with. It is also very important to me that we be honest with each other as that is how we can make the greatest influence. I love to help people grow as humans, as well as help people through their struggles. We all struggle; it is a necessary part of life.

I received my Master's in Social Work from Simmons University in 2017 and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in 2019. My theoretical background comes primarily from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), where the connection between thoughts, feelings, and actions are examined, as well as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) which incorporates Mindfulness techniques derived from Buddhism to bring increased awareness to how we interact in relationships, manage stress, and regulate our emotions.

I love Nature and have a strong background in Wilderness Therapy. I believe that the natural world can be a context from which we see ourselves change, just the way you will see a plant grow over time. This is big reason why I choose to live in the Southwest. I love to explore the rivers, trails, and mountains of this area through snowboarding, river-running, mountain biking, hiking, and camping whenever I can.

Amie Bryant

Amie Bryant
Amie Bryant

Director, Training Coordinator & Counselor

LCSW, CAC III, Masters in Social Work

I have been working the Fort Lewis College Counseling Center since 2011 moving from Counselor to Training Coordinator and now, Director. I have also worked in private practice, schools, integrated healthcare, wilderness therapy, juvenile detention, emergency services, adult outpatient mental health, substance use treatment and prevention, and as adjunct faculty for the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work Four Corners Program.  

I am passionate about supporting people in developing a strong and healthy sense of self to improve overall wellness. I offer an interpersonal style of Cognitive Therapy, combining the belief that we heal through relationship with an active, educational, and skill-based approach. This is one way we can learn to respond to our difficulties and discomfort, rather than react to them.

I often incorporate many approaches into my treatment, depending on the individual. My training and experience includes, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Depression Care Management, Motivational Interviewing (MI), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Mindfulness. How we fit these approaches into counseling, depends on the relationship we create as client and counselor.

Rob Cowen

Rob Cowen Counselor
Rob Cowen

Counselor

LPC, M.A. Counseling

I received my Master’s Degree in Counseling from Adam’s State in 2001 and my license as a Professional Counselor in August of 2003.

After receiving my master’s, I worked for four years at Southwest Colorado Mental Health Center in Durango and then came to work at the Fort Lewis College Counseling Center in 2004. My background as an outdoor educator and an alternative school teacher played a significant role in my desire to support and empower young people.

I believe a strong one-on-one therapeutic relationship is essential for creating an atmosphere of support and change. I utilize many types of therapies and integrate several modalities to meet the needs of students. While I gravitate towards client-centered and humanistic approaches, I also utilize cognitive behavioral strategies such as DBT therapy in both individual and group sessions.

My wife Hallie and I have been living in the Durango area since 1991. We love to share activities such as floating on the river, biking, traveling and playing with family and friends.

Mimi Gates

Mimi Gates Counselor
Mimi Gates

Counselor

LPC, M.A., Counseling Psychology

While offering an integrative approach to therapy, I believe it is our relationship where alchemy happens.  I utilize various techniques and experiences enabling us to work in the realms of the somatic, emotional, cognitive, energetic, and spiritual, in mindfulness.  Ultimately, it is my heartfelt belief that safety in the therapeutic relationship allows for awareness, for transformation, and for our authentic self to emerge, to blossom.

I earned a Masters of Psychology and Counseling degree from Prescott College in Prescott AZ, and I am licensed in the state of Colorado.  I also completed extensive training and certification through the Hakomi Institute in Boulder, a comprehensive body-centered psychotherapy method and developmental model.  I am a graduate of Fort Lewis College and am thrilled to be a part of the FLC Counseling Center and community.

I am a summa cum laude graduate from life’s school of hard knocks.  I am truly honored to walk this sacred walk with each student, sharing our stories, and sharing our joys and pains together in the labyrinth of our human journey- as I often say “circuitous paths have purpose.”  My passions outside of work include hiking, yoga, and horses.  However, I cherish nothing more than being Mama to two teenage young men, often finding myself loving each student as if they were my own – nurturing flows from home to work easily.

Sandy Gurule

Sandy Gurule Counselor
Sandy Gurule

Counselor

LCSW, Masters in Social Work

Many of life's challenges can take us by surprise and feel too difficult to overcome.  During these times, speaking with someone can be really helpful.  My goal is to make everyone feel comfortable, heard, loved and supported during life's challenges.

I received my Master’s of social work from the University of Denver in 2006 and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 2019.  My background includes working with adolescents to build resiliency, empowerment, and personal strengths. I believe each individual is unique and to unlock the potential of growth is tuning into these passions and unique selves.As each individual is different so is the therapy utilized. I am experienced in working with anxiety, depression, grief, and relationships.  At times, I will utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  This past summer, I was trained in EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing) which is an approach to working with trauma.  I have been a part of the FLC community for several years and look forward to continuing to work with students here on campus.

I was raised on a small ranch outside of Durango.  My spouse and I enjoy watching our two boys play sports and participate in other extra-curricular activities.  I enjoy spending time with my family, working the farm, camping, fishing and hiking.

My hope is that we can build a meaningful therapeutic relationship, and that you leave feeling safe, heard and seen. It is an honor to serve you and be along for this part of your journey in life.

Kate Suazo

Kate Suazo

Professional Advocate/Case Manager

B.A Psychology

After graduating from FLC in 2017 I spent some time teaching 5th grade in my hometown as well as beginning my master’s degree in Counseling at UNM. As a Common Ground facilitator and the Legacy Award winner of my graduation year, I found myself very involved with the Fort Lewis Community during my time as a student. This allows me to support all FLC students in a deeply understanding way. Working from a very Person Centered approach with some hints of Feminist Theory, it is my goal to be both empathetic and create a sense of empowerment within each student I work with. Being aware of the balance of power and privilege within my own life, as well as within society in general, plays a large role in my intentions for this position. It is my goal to provide advocacy and case management to a diverse range of students whose many identities may shape not only the way they experience FLC but the way they see the world.

Aside from all the above jargon, my life is centered around my dog, Bean, my family, and New Mexico chili (which is the best, bar none). I love hiking and yoga and every day starts with a giant vanilla soy latte! I love meeting new people and trying new things and I am thrilled to be part of this community once again.

Administrative staff

Jennifer Cossey

Jennier Cossey
Jennifer Cossey

Office Manager

My goal as the Office Manger at the Counseling Center is to let you know what the Counseling Center offers and most importantly, help you, as an FLC student, feel welcomed in our center.  

After graduating from FLC in 2008, I worked and volunteered for several local non-profits, such as Housing Solutions for the SW, SASO, Durango Family Center and Compañeros: Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center. I returned to Fort Lewis in 2011, to work at KDUR Community Radio Station and then in 2015 moved to the President’s Office, as Office Coordinator. I have also worked and volunteered at El Centro de Muchos Colores, as group coordinator for Ballet Folklórico de Durango.  I can’t think of any where else I would like to work other than Fort Lewis College.  

I love hiking, snow shoeing, and dancing. Really, I’m a laid-back kind of person that loves hanging with my family and friends, enjoying what Durango has to offer. 


Counseling Interns

Rainer Barnhart

Rainer Barnhart, FLC Counseling Center intern
Rainer Barnhart

B.A. Psychology

Counseling Inter | Master of Social Work candidate University of Denver

I first became interested in counseling while pursuing my passions in outdoor activities where I found myself working in Utah as a wilderness therapy guide. The opportunity to help others grow and witness others rediscover their passion for life moved me to further my education. I came to Durango in 2019 to finish my undergraduate degree in psychology at FLC before moving on to DU. 

I love to be outside mountain biking, rock climbing, canyoneering,  mountaineering, or snowboarding! These activities fill me with joy and provide me with rewarding experiences with others. I value the these experiences just as I value sharing life stories with all people; the connections built through these are unparalleled and allow me the rewarding opportunity of  giving back. 

I am very excited to begin this journey with the Counseling Center and continue the process of learning and growing!

Danielle Beamer

Danielle Beamer
Danielle Beamer

B.A. Integral Psychology and Experiential Education

Counseling Intern | Master of Social Work Candidate, Western New Mexico University

People and their personal stories are what fascinate and inspire me most. I think I knew from a young age that I wanted to work in mental health but I took the longer, twisting path to get here. After growing up in the rainy Pacific Northwest, I headed to the sunny mountains of Arizona to study psychology as an undergraduate. I planned to continue with graduate school, but because life sometimes offers surprise opportunities, I spent the next decade working in land conservation in beautiful Crested Butte, Colorado. My work protecting wild places has deeply informed my belief in the restorative power of the natural world and it taught me about the power of asking beautiful questions.

Time in nature continues to be one of my greatest teachers and mountains, in particular, are the environment where I am most alive. Currently, I find myself drawn to body-centered therapeutic approaches and mindfulness techniques, but I also believe that individual needs and desires must drive all forms of personal work. As I learn to take myself less seriously, I am also a big proponent of laughter and of fostering a community to laugh with. My belief in resilience and my own healing has led me to clinical social work and the Fort Lewis Counseling Center. When not counseling, I obsess over poetry and the power of the written word, and adventure on my skis, bike, packraft, or feet. I rarely pass up a game of cribbage and I find endless delight in miniature things.

Gabriel Bernier

Gabriel Bernier
Gabriel Bernier

M.A. Anthropology, B.A. English

Counseling Intern | Master of Mental Health Counseling Candidate, Adams State University

I’ve been in SW Colorado since 2014—drawn here by the wilderness: the tiny wildflowers in the high country, the delicate piñon-juniper forests, and the endlessly surprising canyons of nearby Cedar Mesa. When I went to college a million years ago, I learned how important wild spaces are to me, and having the freedom to play in them.

Discovering new things lights me up—mostly if they’re about the experience of being human, and of being in relationship. As I enter the second half of life, I’m committed to living in contribution, and in authentic connection with my family, friends, and community. This is what’s brought me to the field of counseling. Seems to me that most of us just want to be part of something where we feel safe and appreciated. Often easier said than done, I like to think I can support some folks in creating that for themselves.

Currently, I work in the Marketing & Communications Department at FLC. I run in the woods as much as I can, eat good food with my partner, build living room forts with her daughter, and snuggle with our dogs and cats, usually with a novel in hand and a cup of coffee nearby.

Lara Cladny

Lara Cladny
Lara Cladny

B.A. English

Counseling Intern | Master of Mental Health Counseling Candidate, Adams State University

One day when I was sixteen, struggling with various mental health diagnoses, I had a thought. I was on a bus watching trees dance in the breeze when I realized: "There’s beauty here despite my suffering." In that moment, I knew my life had a purpose-- To find the beauty in even the darkest, most isolating moments-- And to help others do the same. I am a second-year intern at the FLC Counseling Center and in my final year of graduate school at Adams State University for Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In my spare time, I volunteer as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line and as a victim’s advocate for Colorado’s Human Trafficking Hotline.

As a young adult, I studied over 2,000 hours of yoga and yoga therapy in the foothills outside of Denver, where I was born and raised. After a 29-day winter rafting trip down the Grand Canyon, I moved to Durango to attend FLC in 2013 to study English-Writing and Psychology. While at FLC, I taught yoga, tutored writing at the Writing Center, mentored through Big Brothers Big Sisters, worked on writing an environmental memoir, explored the mountains and rivers with my dog, danced my heart out whenever possible, and revelled in a vitalizing community through various counseling groups at the FLC Counseling Center.

I bring all of my life experiences with me into my work as a therapist, particularly my interest in stories (and meaning-making), body-focused psychotherapy, mindfulness (you can’t blame me-- poetry, yoga, and mindfulness have repeatedly saved my life). I have three primary goals as a therapist: 1) To accompany clients (or “fellow sufferers”) on their life journeys-- to sit with them in their pain; 2) To support individuals in their own journey of gleaning even but a glimpse of beauty, meaning, or hope in their pain; and 3) To support individuals in their short- and long-term goals of creating lasting, positive change in their lives. I am also an ardent fighter for social and environmental justice and a passionate ally for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals.

Meghan Doenges

Meghan Doenges
Meghan Doenges

B.A. Liberal Studies

Counseling Intern | Master of Mental Health Counseling Candidate, Adams State University

As a writer, I have always been drawn to stories. The stories we create in our lifetime define everything in terms of meaning. As a counselor in training, I am drawn to existential and meaning-based therapies which help us define and cope with the big questions of existence such as life, love, death, and rebirth. Originally born in the suburbs of Chicago, I have been a Colorado resident since 2011. I first came to Durango to pursue my undergraduate degree at Fort Lewis College.

Over the years I have spent significant time travelling and pursuing outdoor activities. My time travelling includes a nine-month residency in Ghana, West Africa in which I worked at a developmental NGO. I am an avid enthusiast of snowboarding, mountain biking, rafting, and spending time in nature. Travel and nature have both increased my self-knowledge and multicultural competence and I believe in the great healing power and growth provided by each. In addition, my undergraduate experience in Anthropology has caused me to always question our cultural ideals and to understand suffering in the greater context of cultural and social systems in place. Finally, I am very drawn to mindfulness-based practices, Jungian therapy, and the role of myth in our lives.

I am excited and honored to begin this journey at the counseling center. I have a passion for lifelong learning, community, and curiosity in the face of what it means to be human. I hope to continue to develop the skills and interests which I already hold, learn new coping strategies, and embark upon the great journey of self-knowledge with you all.

Matt Smith

Matt Smith
Matt Smith

B.A. Sociology

Counseling Intern | Master of Mental Health Counseling Candidate, Adams State University

I have wanted to be a counselor for as long as I can remember. This dream solidified when I found my way into this very counseling center when I was a student here at Fort Lewis College. I was fortunate enough to be in a few different group counseling groups the last four years of my college career here. Reflecting back on that time, I’m always struck by The power and energy one person can provide another.

I came to Durango in 2007 for school where I earned a sociology degree. I’ve been working in Disability Services since 2016. I have also wanted to be part of the FLC Counseling Center since I was a student. I’m excited to get to know some of you. 

Caleb Speas

Caleb Speas
Caleb Speas

M.A. Counseling, B.A. Sociology

Counseling Extern

I am a counseling extern after receiving my Master’s Degree in Counseling from Adams State University. I have been working to help people for many years at Big Brothers Big Sisters of SW Colorado, and I appreciate building connection with people on a deeper level. I believe that when we face difficult situations human connections are vital to helping us through those situations. I have been living and working in Durango since 2005 and love to read, snowboard, and hang out with my dogs.