Counseling staff

Deb Allen

Deb Allen counselor
Deb Allen, she/her/hers

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, he/him/his

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, he/him/his

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.

Gabriel Bernier

Gabriel Bernier, Counselor at FLC's Counseling Center
Gabriel Bernier, he/him/his

Counselor

LPCC, MA in Mental Health Counseling

Being a human is hard, and being alone in our suffering is unbearable. Living begins with connection. And that's where our work begins, too. If you choose to work with me, we'll build off that connection to get at the root of whatever is holding you back from the life you want; we'll weather the transition that life threw at you; we'll figure out a new path through the uncertainty.
 
I use a cognitive behavioral approach to help you get unstuck from tricky situations, and I leverage the trust we build to give you honest feedback. We'll go at your pace, and you'll always be the expert of your life. I think of it like this: you're the driver; I'm riding shotgun, with a map and clear view out the window.
 
I served as an intern at FLC’s Counseling Center during my grad program and I am thrilled to join the senior staff as a Counselor for the Spring 2022 semester alongside my private practice in Durango.

Regina Curry

Counselor

Regina Curry, she/her/hers
Regina Curry, she/her/hers

Helping people feel good about who they are, and truly seen and celebrated, is truly my life’s purpose. It is such an honor to live this passion out as a Counselor and Wellness Coach at FLC.

I am a graduate of Cornell University. I was a Division I Ivy League athlete and recognize the unique opportunities and challenges athletics present in one’s college career. As a first-generation Latina who is the first and only person to attend college in my family, I worked to put myself through college. Despite being stressed to the max at Cornell, I never sought out counseling services. I’ve since realized I could have used a partner in my mental health. It is from this experience that I am passionate about FLC students knowing we’re here for them. I want to make sure ALL students get the support they need and feel good about doing it.

I specialize in working with students who identify as highly sensitive and empathic, as well as athletes and anyone who struggles with perfectionism, anxiety, overwhelm, self-esteem and distorted eating. I take a free-flowing approach to counseling, believing that the client has the answers for their own wellness, and I am simply their partner in helping them discover their innate brilliance and knowingness. In Wellness Coaching I work with clients to help them plan and implement their goals. Wellness coaching is not therapy, but it is a great “here and now” approach to making better life choices.

Other passions I have include the two loves of my life—my husband, Dave, and our son, Hudson, as well as running, hiking, biking, skiing, cooking, nature and the mountains and exploring—most likely on another continent since we love to travel. I am up for any adventure and relish in learning new things!

Kendra Gallegos Reichle

Kendra Gallegos Reichle, she/her/hers
Kendra Gallegos Reichle, she/her/hers

Assistant Director, Training and Student Wellness

LPC, Certified Prevention Specialist II

My roots are in the small town of Belen, New Mexico, where most of my familia and a huge piece of my heart still reside. I have been at Fort Lewis College since 2011, first as the Coordinator of Student Wellness Initiatives and in this role in the Counseling Center since May 2021. I have also worked in private practice and providing health promotion, life skills education, and social support through our local public health department. I am an alumna of Fort Lewis College, graduating as a first-generation college student with a degree in psychology in 2005, and I hold this campus community and the Southwest close to my heart.

My approach to counseling is client-centered, meaning that I believe each client has the ability to grow, heal, and find answers on their own, but can benefit from doing so in an accepting, understanding environment provided by a caring, respectful therapist.  I take a creative approach to therapy and often include artistic interventions that are enjoyable, relaxing, and help clients to see things from a new perspective.  I also often draw from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. I tailor services to each individual according to their needs and I am committed to helping clients find new, effective ways to approach challenging life issues, to find their strengths, and to live happier, more balanced lives. While this is my personal approach, I am also passionate about supporting individuals outside of the therapy office, recognizing that there are a multitude of ways that individuals can find support to get through struggles and to build resilience. My favorite part of my job is collaborating with others to open avenues that support students as individuals, honor their values, meet them where they are, and ensure that they feel safe, secure, and empowered.

When I am not in the Counseling Center or the Student Union working with WellPAC, I am home with my family (Jeff, Bianka, Azalea and my two chiweenies, Eva Sopapilla and Clara Bell) or traveling and exploring this area and the world.

Sandy Gurule

Sandy Gurule Counselor, she/her/hers
Sandy Gurule, she/her/hers

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.

Gerald Shorty

Gerald Shorty

Assistant Director, Diversity and Outreach Initiatives

Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

My name is Gerald Shorty and I am Dine’ from the Navajo Nation from Shiprock, NM.  I received my Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Arizona State University.   My previous research has focused on academic persistence among Native American College students (“Factors related to Academic Stress and Academic Persistence Decisions Among Dine’ College Students” and “Academic Stress of Native American Undergraduates: The role of Ethnic Identity, Cultural Congruity, and Self-Beliefs”).   My theoretical background consists of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Humanistic Therapy and Solution Focused Brief Therapy.  I am passionate about working with first generational students.  I specialized in working with students who experience depression, anxiety, academic adjustment, and romantic relationship concerns.  I like to travel, hike, fish, camp, and bike.

Jen Shupe

Jen Shupe, she/her/hers
Jen Shupe, she/her/hers

Director

LCSW, MSW

Education

  • BA, Humanities, Fort Lewis College 2004
  • MSW, Social Work, Portland State University 2012

Certifications & Training

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Trained to provide EMDR (eye-movement desensitization reprocessing therapy for trauma)

I work with students seeking help for a variety of challenges ranging from school, family, and relationship problems to depression, anxiety, recovering from trauma or oppression, mood spectrum disorders like bipolar, and substance use problems. I utilize a collaborative, person-centered, and somatic approach, inviting strengths and self-knowledge into each interaction. I also attend to attachment and interpersonal neurobiology (how our nervous systems interplay and interconnect as social beings) to inform my work with clients. I integrate methodologies including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing, Interpersonal Social Rhythm Therapy (for mood disorders) and feminist theory, and work to be culturally responsive.

The therapeutic relationship is a powerful space in which to explore, learn, grow, heal, and reach new goals. With warmth, humor, and care, I strive to honor your authenticity and mine at every step, and be transparent and accountable along the way. I hope to walk alongside you as you move toward the best version of yourself, whatever that may look like, and wherever you may you start from. We also all exist in an interdependent relationship with our campus and wider community, and I love contributing to a community endeavoring to achieve equity in our systems, our interactions and our society.

I am passionate about connections, relationships and the pursuit of personal & professional growth. I love to hike, bike, camp, fish, raft, and play in our stunning outdoor areas, and I have been involved in the local LGBTQ community, non-profits, and community organizing efforts for many years. I was born in Colorado and raised from a young age here in Durango. It is my true home.”


Counseling Interns

Shea Anderson

Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling Candidate, Adams State University

Shea Anderson, she/her/hers
Shea Anderson, she/her/hers
Counseling Intern

FLC holds a special place in my heart because it is here that I unearthed and cultivated my passion for connecting with others. Before my time at FLC, I struggled to understand myself and could not relate deeply to a specific field of study. I knew that I needed a change in my but had no idea where to begin. A spur-of-the-moment decision to jump into the realm of psychology sparked my journey. I grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado with access to an array of animals including horses, cows, cats, and dogs. I graduated from FLC in 2019 with my senior focus in Terror Management Theory. I am a first-year intern at FLC Counseling Center and in my second year at Adam State University for Clinical Mental Health.

The resiliency within every individual inspires me to walk with people towards their path to growth and healing. My studies and experiences have steered me towards person-centered and existential approaches to therapy because of the immense growth that can come from exploring life themes and stories. I value understanding where people are currently at, how their past influences them, and what they hope for the future. I am also drawn to Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialect Behavioral Therapy as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Universal access and de-stigmatization of mental health services are large goals of mine. Environments, systemic barriers, and stigmas can have an immense impact on the mental health of individuals and historically marginalized groups. I hope to work towards this goal through my training and continue action upon becoming a counselor.

Aside from my passion for connection and mental health, I greatly enjoy the outdoors and expressing my creativity. I love mountain biking (even though it terrifies me at times), hiking, skiing, fly fishing, dirt biking, and taking in the beautiful nature that surrounds Durango. Art, yoga, and journaling help me with self-expression and work to ground me. I am delighted to embark on this journey and build meaningful connections with people along the way.

Danielle Beamer

Danielle Beamer
Danielle Beamer, she/her/hers

Master of Social Work Candidate, Western New Mexico University

Counseling Intern

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.

Lauren Bell

Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling Candidate, Adams State University

Lauren Bell, she/her/hers
Lauren Bell, she/her/hers
Counseling Intern

Curiosity is the basis of my draw to counseling. Being a counselor in training, I find the plasticity of the human experience to be fascinating. The impact of upbringing, family dynamics, race, class, sexuality, gender expression, etc., coupled with gene expression, creates a unique individual influencing their choices and how people live their lives. Essentially, I’m curious about what causes people to be who they are and the interplay with mental health. I view this interplay through an empathetic lens; thus, the person-centered theory influences my theoretical approach to counseling. Essentially, the person knows their life, and my role is to assist in deconstructing the pieces that are impacting them. I recognize there is no “cure-all,” however, I wish to help others better understand themselves and practice self-compassion. I have an amount of millennial optimism behind this. Stereotypically speaking, I seek to be a part of a professional community that can help “change the world,” however small that change may be.

I grew up in Durango, Colorado, and pursued my undergraduate degree in fine art at Fort Lewis College. Once I graduated in 2011, I traveled many places before returning to my home, where I landed in my intended career path. My first passion is the fine arts, and I draw on this creativity in my current work in counseling. I enjoy many outdoor activities, as outdoor experiences allow for clarity in all aspects of life. While I am not studying or working, I am generally outside exploring with my two dogs, Christopherson the Pomeranian and Bowie the Aussie. Their energy and positivity bring richness, and I appreciate their ability to find enjoyment in all aspects of life.

I am looking forward to this opportunity of working within the counseling center. I seek to exhibit growth and continue this journey in a valuable profession.

Meghan Doenges

Meghan Doenges, she/her/hers
Meghan Doenges, she/her/hers

Master of Mental Health Counseling Candidate, Adams State University

Counseling Intern

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.

Shari Fitzgerald

Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling Candidate, Adams State University

Shari Fitzgerald, she/her/hers
Shari Fitzgerald, she/her/hers
Counseling Intern

Durango has been my home for over 20 years. My professional work started in non-profits-- first with victim advocacy and later with garden projects designed for youth and underserved populations. This work tied together my passion for community engagement, education, and the environment. Working with survivors teaches me the importance of simply sitting beside someone and our resilience in surviving hard times and finding meaning.

My counseling philosophy is client-centered and existential. I lean towards mindfulness, body-centered approaches, and dialectical behavior therapy, which adds skills and education to the mix. I believe we all deserve and desire to be heard, accepted, and belong. I am proud to be part of a field that asks us to show up for our clients and advocate for all people, especially those marginalized.

Our family has a small farm Southwest of Durango with livestock, a large greenhouse, and a garden that keeps us busy. I enjoy growing food and flowers, hiking, paddle boarding, yoga, connecting with others, and geeking out on podcasts and audiobooks.

Samuel Newbury

Master of Social Work Candidate, Western New Mexico University

Sam Newbury, he/him/his
Sam Newbury, he/him/his
Counseling Intern

A quote that has guided my life in the last few years is “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”  The meaning I make of it is that when we come together as people, we unlock some potential to heal, grow, learn, endure, sustain, and find a way forward that is not available to either individual separately.

I was born and raised in Alaska.  My heart sings a bit louder when I am in that landscape still to this day.  As a kid I walked to school and started working at a young age, yet also have had so much privilege in my life, privileges I am still trying to learn about.  The last 20 years of my life have been oriented around guiding groups and individuals in wilderness settings to learn about simplicity, teamwork, and themselves.  I learn alongside.  I strive to bring both sacredness and playfulness to the journeys I guide and to the journey I am on myself.

Wellness and gratitude tend to find me on morning walks with my partner, on winter adventures in the mountains with friends, while watching seasons change, while sledding in old fashioned plastic sleds, and while singing on a beach in the far north around a driftwood fire, connected with the natural world and alongside other humans, all of us in the middle of a journey that is impossible to complete alone.

Aaron Shipps

Master of Mental Health Counseling Candidate, Adams State University

Aaron Shipps, he/him/his
Aaron Shipps, he/him/his
Counseling Intern

Living life with authenticity and honesty has always been a core value. And doing so in a manner that builds connections with others is one of life’s greatest joys. Looking into the world in pursuit of understanding what is underneath has been a passion that has taken me on quite a few transformative journeys that, humbling as they were, have shown me the strength, resiliency, and beauty of the human spirit. I rarely cease to be awed by the connections that are forged between the heart, mind, and body.

In my former life, I worked as a collaborative master lithographer for 15 years, creating new artworks in the print mediums with contemporary artists across the nation. The act of collaboration was one that taught me many lessons about deep listening, remaining open to possibility, and the true magic of the unexpected when two people meet with sincerity and intention. Undoubtedly, I bring this love of collaboration forward into my counseling practice, which I see as a new expression of this craft. Similarly, I bring a long and practiced love for meditation and mindfulness practices into this internship, along with body (somatic) centered practices.

At present I love pointless adventures, just for the sake of the act itself. These take me on long, hard swims in cold mountain water or hopelessly lost rambles. No matter. The journey is the joy. I believe that our personal journeys of healing, transformation, or even clarity are important not only to ourselves on a personal level, but are an honest gift to those around us and our communities. To learn to live with a sense of honesty, joy, and freedom of expression in self requires work, resilience, the support of others, humor, curiosity, and sometimes a great dose of humbleness. And it is my daily inspiration to try and bring these qualities forward.