Meet the Staff

Clinical Staff

Ruby Casiano, PhD, Licensed Psychologist/Assistant Director/Coordinator of Training (she/her/hers)

Doctorate, Counseling Psychology, University of Oklahoma, 2010

Professional interests: Clinician training and supervision, University mental health, complex trauma, multicultural/multiethnic identity development, LGBTQ+ development/identity issues, women's issues, multicultural counseling, social justice issues ̶ this list is a dynamic one!

Approach to counseling: As a therapist, I conceptualize from a relation standpoint with the assumption that much of our development as individuals occurs in our relationships with others. As a result, much of the distress we experience can be seen through our interpersonal interactions and behaviors. In the practice of therapy, I am integrative, allowing me to ensure my students collaborate in the treatment process as well as utilizing evidence-based approaches to symptom reduction and management. 

Involvement in the Pre-Doctoral Training Program: I am the Assistant Director and Coordinator of Training at the WWU Counseling Center. In this role, I am involved in not only in the logistical and administrative aspects of the training program, but also in supervising and mentoring interns during their year at WWU. I also provide didactic seminars and co-facilitate groups with interns. My supervision style is an integration of developmental approaches within a relational/interpersonal framework. My goal in my work is to provide interns with supportive, nurturing, challenging, and growth-fostering experiences throughout their internship year.

Personal interests: I am a mom to two wonderfully mischievous kids and this dominates my world. When not at work, I'm home with my family getting to know the area. I love cooking, reading, knitting, getting lost in a good television series, and nerding out with my partner. 

“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.” – Fred Rogers


Nikki Cassidy, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist (she/her/hers)

Doctorate, Clinical Psychology, Adler School of Professional Psychology, 2013

Professional interests: Body image issues and eating disorders, trauma, self-compassion, depression, anxiety, multicultural counseling, LGBTQ issues.

Approach to counseling: I try to create a safe and non-judgmental space in counseling.  In this space where students feel seen, heard, and valued, I get a sense of what students think will be helpful and integrate their ideas into counseling.  I also help students explore their emotions and how they make sense of them, and we work together to find different, often more self-compassionate, ways of coping.

Involvement in the Pre-Doctoral Training Program: I facilitate intern seminars on different topics, co-lead groups, and provide primary supervision.  I draw primarily from the competency-based model of supervision and tailor supervision according to interns’ individual needs and strengths.  I try to build upon interns existing competencies and increase skills and confidence through a balance of challenge and support.   As a supervisor, I value genuineness and openness and exploring interpersonal and multicultural processes in supervision and counseling.

Personal interests: Reading, outdoor and physical activities, cooking, playing with my pet cat.

“Worthiness does not have prerequisites.” – Brene Brown 


Christopher Edwards, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist (he/him/his)

Doctorate, Clinical Psychology, Pacific University School of Graduate Psychology, 2014

Professional interests: Anxiety and mood disorders, disordered eating, identity development, substance use, LBGT+, outreach and prevention, providing supervision to trainees, and behavioral health.

Approach to counseling: I take an integrative approach to treatment drawing from client strengths and fostering a strong therapeutic alliance to provide affirming, engaging, and evidence-based psychotherapy and intervention. I view the counseling process as collaborative and strive to meet clients where they’re at. Through values exploration, increasing awareness, and addressing maladaptive behaviors it is my hope that clients will improve their functioning, acquire coping skills, build self-efficacy, and live with intention and authenticity.

Involvement in the Pre-Doctoral Training Program: I lead intern seminars on a variety of topics, co-lead groups, and provide primary supervision to trainees. I am also the Outreach Coordinator for the Counseling Center and work with Prevention & Wellness Services and other campus departments. I approach supervision from a developmental frame acknowledging that trainees come to internship with a vast array of clinical and life experiences and, will continue to expand their knowledge, skills, and abilities through training at the Counseling Center. I highly value the supervisory relationship and endeavor to create a safe, open, and empowering experience for trainees as they continue to grow both personally and professionally.

Personal interests: Spending time in the San Juan Islands, cooking, gardening, running, quality time with family and friends, spending time outdoors, travel, and trying new places to eat!

“Forget regret or life is yours to miss.” – Rent 


Mimi Freshley, MSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Case Manager (she/her/hers)

Master in Social Work, University of Kentucky, 1989

Professional Interests: Client advocacy, crisis intervention and stabilization, linking individuals to community resources, mental health and disability awareness.

Approach to Case Management: My role at the Counseling Center is to provide clients with off campus referrals, particularly to psychologists and mental health counselors in the community. I assist clients in finding therapists who accept their insurance and whose therapeutic specialties best match the clients’ needs.  When needed, I provide clients with information about other community resources. (In addition to working with the counselors at the Counseling Center I also work with the doctors at the Student Health Center providing referrals for patients.)

Personal interests: Music, hiking, traveling, gardening, cooking.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


Jennifer Gildner, PhD, CMPC, Licensed Psychologist (she/her/hers)

Doctorate, Counseling Psychology, University of Houston, 2005

Professional interests: Issues experienced by student-athletes and other elite performers; issues associated with outdoor pursuits, extreme sports, and adventure activities; issues experienced within the LGBTQIA population; issues associated with involvement in the Foster Care system; multicultural concerns and the intersection of identities; sexuality; identity formation; injury and pain; mind-body synergy; mindfulness-based therapy; unwanted sexual experiences; spirituality; wellness/self-care habits; and general support during the university experience.

Involvement in Pre-Doctoral Internship training program: I am the Interim Assistant Director and Coordinator of Training. Therefore, I am deeply involved in the logistics of and actual training within our Pre-Doctoral Internship program and am the primary contact person for those interested in completing that next step in their training at WWU. I also co-facilitate groups and provide seminars. My supervision style is developmental as I take each individual where they are. I incorporate humor as much as possible in that relationship. I also have high expectations for Pre-Doctoral Interns and will help them set appropriate and realistic goals that are challenging while I also provide the support and supervision necessary for a safe environment to pursue those goals.

Approach to counseling: I am honored to be a part of your journey! I respect that this is your journey and that my role is to create a safe nonjudgmental space for exploration, challenge, and even celebration. You will be treated as an individual so I am very interested in knowing who you are, what your journey has been to this point, and how we can collaborate to better your situation. You have many answers within you already and together we can attempt to access those answers to create better balance. Sometimes those answers will be specific strategies that will help to change thoughts or behaviors. Other times, the answers come from deeper discussion and exploration of your experience. Though therapy is a serious endeavor, humor can often be healing so we can use humor together when it seems appropriate.

Personal interests: Spending time with my spouse and our pooch who is too cute for her own good; involvement with the Foster Care system; camping; backpacking; hiking; SUPing; reading; music; and road trips to strange and wonderful places.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac


Gabrielle Hope-Foucault, MA, Licensed Mental Health Counselor (she/her/hers)

Master of Arts, Psychology, Antioch University Seattle, 2002

Professional Interests: Women’s Issues, First generation College Students, Multi-Cultural Issues, Stress Management, Anxiety Management, Mindfulness Practice

Approach to Counseling: I provide a safe space for students to be seen and heard while empowering their ability to reach established goals by overcoming barriers and accessing each person’s unique strengths. I do this by incorporating mindfulness practice and addressing any maladaptive thoughts and behaviors that may be interfering with a person’s functioning and/or quality of life. Within this approach I emphasize the impact of issues of identity related to gender, sexuality, culture and family.

Involvement in the Pre-Doctoral Training Program: Consulting with colleagues and trainees. Co-lead groups with trainees. I have also provided supervision to Licensed Mental Health Counselors in training in the past.

Personal Interests: Yoga, hiking, reading, spending time with family and friends.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou


Kelsey Johnson, MA, Licensed Mental Health Counselor (she/her/hers)

Master’s in Counseling-Psychology, The Seattle School, 2012

Professional Interests: Food and body concerns and Health at Every Size; experiences of both systemic and interpersonal trauma; PTSD; stress and anxiety; LGBTQ+ concerns; empowerment; finding meaning and purpose in life; mindfulness; spiritual concerns and questions; social justice and mental health; yoga therapy

Approach to counseling: I approach the counseling process with warmth and curiosity. I view each client as an expert on their own life and experience and, therefore, my job is to help reflect that and guide clients toward what is important to them. I view the counseling relationship itself as a conduit for healing and exploration and often use what’s happening “in the room” to explore what’s happening in the bigger picture of the client’s life. I often use humor and connectedness as tools for healing when appropriate, and I enjoy helping clients develop their own practical tools and skills to live life in a meaningful way. As a trained yoga teacher, it’s not uncommon for me to use mindfulness practices, breathing exercises, or even some gentle movement when appropriate in session as well. I believe that every person has within them unique wisdom and resiliency. I practice from a feminist lens.

Involvement in the Pre-Doctoral Training Program: I co-facilitate groups with interns and also participate in the intern seminar series. 

Personal Interests: Good food and good conversation; relishing in the beauty of nature and simplicity; the practice of yoga in its many forms; treasure-hunting in consignment and antique shops; going to the movies; reading one of my many started but not yet finished books

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” – Mary Oliver


Tonya Pepper, LMHC and art therapist (she/her/hers)

Master's, Transpersonal Counseling Psychology with a Concentration in Art Therapy, Naropa University, 2004

Professional interests: Buddhist and Transpersonal Psychology, Art Therapy - working with: anxiety, depression, and stress, grief and loss, life transitions, spirituality/existential issues, autism, self-care, and holistic approaches for wellness.

Approach to counseling: I am an active and experiential therapist – I tend to have clients trying out new things with their minds and behaviors by the first session to create change. I provide deeply grounded space where clients feel acceptance and safety fairly quickly, and I use a lot of humor which can lend the sometimes heavy work of therapy more ease of movement and lightheartedness.

Personal interests: Foraging/medicinal plants, dogs, photography, Instagram, Buddhism, Mongolia.

“We do not have to be ashamed of what we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate; we can plant anything in it.” – Chögyam Trungpa


Cynthia (C.J.) Swanlund, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist (she/her/hers)

Doctorate, Counseling Psychology, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, 2017

Professional Interests:  Anxiety and Stress Management, Womxn’s Issues and Intersectionality, Working with student-athletes and performance populations, Outcome measurement and routinely tracking treatment progress, Mindfulness, & Integrative Behavioral Health

Approach to Counseling:  I view counseling as an active, collaborative and goal-oriented process for change that occurs within a strong, supportive, and healing relationship.  My priority is to help students feel heard, understood, respected, and empowered to make meaningful changes in their lives.  Our work often includes an exploration of the various cultural, political, and social contexts in which we live and participate, as well as an examination of power-differences that may be contributing to distress.  I aspire to help students identify strengths and resiliency, respond to unhelpful thinking habits in productive ways, overcome challenges, and live aligned with their values. 

Involvement in the Pre-Doctoral Training Program:  I facilitate intern seminars, co-lead groups, and engage in consultation with trainees.  I tend toward a developmental and competency-based approach to supervision.

Personal Interests:  Spending time with my dogs, family and friends, playing and watching sports, being outside, reading, & thinking about potential research projects

 “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit.  We are all the same in this notion. The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” – Wilma Rudolph

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau


Anne Marie Theiler, MS, Licensed Mental Health Counselor/Assistant Director of Clinical Operations/Interim Director (she/her/hers)

Master's, Counseling Psychology, Western Washington University, 1988

Professional interests: Cognitive behavioral therapy within a therapeutic context that values emotional experience and relationship.  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Approach to counseling: Begin with awareness and self-understanding, identify strengths as well as goals for change, and start to take small steps in the right direction, following the values which are important to you.  My most frequent counseling quote is “every strength is also a weakness, and every weakness is also a strength”.

Involvement in the Pre-Doctoral Training Program: As the person coordinating our clinical services, my role is to provide orientation and consultation to interns and trainees in regards to policies, procedures, and our day-to-day operations.  I have had the privilege of supervising a number of our master’s level trainees over the years and I take a strengths-based approach to supervision, examining both counseling process and counseling interventions with an emphasis on developing skills to evaluate for yourself what is and isn’t working for your clients.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass... it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” – Oscar Wilde

Doctoral Interns 2019-2020

Jamie May, MA, Pre-Doctoral Intern (he/him/his)

Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, The Wright Institute, Berkeley CA, 2016

Professional Interests: Existential and Psychodynamic based therapies, socially just healing practices, group therapy, trauma, grief, relational difficulties, social anxiety, and depression.

Approach to Counseling: I am a supportive and encouraging therapist, who works to understand your experience from your perspective while offering what insights I might have that may be of use.  I hope to create a therapeutic environment that feels collaborative, experiential, and equitable.  Drawing upon the strengths and knowledge we each bring to the therapy, I gear my work towards empowerment through value and goal oriented outcomes.  Most importantly, I want to conduct a therapy that provides individuals with the opportunity to live and exist more freely and fully, however that may look for each person.

Personal Interests: Songwriting, cooking and baking, climbing, Dungeons and Dragons, fantasy and science fiction, and riding my bike. 

Sometimes it’s not enough to know what things mean, sometimes you have to know what things don’t mean.” – Bob Dylan


Angela Swan, MA Pre-Doctoral Intern (she/her/hers)

Master of Arts, Clinical Psychology, Alliant International University, San Diego CA, 2016

Professional Interests: Adult ADHD, Multicultural Issues, increasing access for underserved populations, mindfulness, neuropsychology, psychological assessment, trauma, existential concerns, and anxiety management.

Approach to counseling: I acknowledge that seeking counseling may bring up discomfort or apprehension, and strive to create a safe/non-judgmental space for humans of all backgrounds, beliefs, abilities, and identities to express themselves authentically. As your counselor, my intention is to empower you to align with your values, achieve balance, maintain healthy choices and relationships, build coping skills/resilience, and ultimately, tolerate the inevitability of suffering (including adulting). I do this by taking a collaborative approach, optimizing your strengths, treating you as an individual, and continuously striving to understand your perspective.

Personal interests: Outdoor exploration (hiking/camping), live music, spending time with loved ones, my cat (Mittens), stand-up comedy, philosophy, and brain games.

“Life has no meaning a priori… It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose.” – Jean-Paul Sartre  


Leja Wright, MA (she/her pronouns)

Pre-doctoral Intern, Antioch University Seattle

Professional interests: Issues affecting the LGBTQ+ population with a focus on gender and sexuality identity; stress and anxiety; multi-cultural issues.

Approach to Counseling: I believe in the whole body approach to psychotherapy, therefore I take a biopsychosocial approach, taking into consideration biological, psychological and social factors that may be impacting your daily life. I work using collaborative, strength-based techniques. Together we will identify your goals, maximize your strengths, and work towards overcoming obstacles to allow you to focus on being your best self.

Personal Interests: Cooking, photography, running, enjoying my family and friends.

“At the center of your being you have the answer. You know who you are and know what you want.” – Lao Tzu

Administrative Staff

Jane Wareing, Patient Services Coordinator  (she/her/hers)

Personal Interests: Reading, gardening, fitness walking and knitting.

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein


Heather Poellot, Administrative Assistant (she/her/hers)

Personal Interests: Hiking, drawing, snowboarding, yoga, spending time with family and friends.

“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” – David Steindl-Rast