Our Staff

Meet the Counselors


Sarah Frost

I am a counseling intern at Northwest Nazarene University.  I am entering the counseling field through a round-a-bout path.  I started my career earning a PhD in computer science and engineering and working in the world of nanotechnology before spending 15 years as a stay at home mom of children with extra challenges.  I learned the hard way how important and how valuable self-compassion is.  I will bring compassion and acceptance to meet you where you are and journey with you towards the destination you choose.

I firmly believe that counseling can benefit everyone.  In the best of times we have responsibilities, opportunities, wants, and needs all pulling us in different directions.  In the …. other … times, navigating those challenges gets harder and harder.  When those not-best of times happen early in our life, things get even more complicated.  My approach to counseling uses a lot of non-verbal, creative modalities like art, sandtray, and music along with traditional talk therapy to integrate memories of early hard experiences and current challenges in order to make sense of our personal story.  We cannot choose all the major plot points in our stories, but with support we can choose what role they will play in our lives.


Kristen Connolly

Hi! My name is Kristen (she/her), and I am a graduate student in the Counseling Department at Northwest Nazarene University nearing completion of my master’s degree in Clinical Counseling. Life challenges us all, but I believe every person innately has what they need to heal, grow, and thrive. As your counselor, I will provide a supportive and empathetic space for you to explore your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

My approach to counseling involves
bringing awareness to patterns in your life that may not be serving you, and offering alternative strategies to help you engage with life in a more authentic and meaningful way. My theoretical perspective is rooted in Existentialism, Internal Family Systems (IFS), and EMDR's Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model. I am happy to see clients at any stage in their life, including children, adolescents, and adults. I also enjoy incorporating art, play, and Sandtray modalities into sessions, and love to foster the creative expression of my clients.

In my spare time, I enjoy getting outdoors with my husband and two dogs and dabbling in hobbies like ice skating and playing the guitar.


Kurtis Pugh

Hi. I commend you for taking steps to seek support. I’m Kurtis. I’m a Graduate student in the final stages of my training at Northwest Nazarene University in the Marriage, Couple, Family track of the Counseling program. As part of my graduate studies, I am also receiving education and training in play therapy, with a focus on the specific modality of Theraplay®.

I believe that each human being is unique, irreplaceable, and both worthy and capable of finding and fulfilling meaning in their unique life circumstances. Further, I believe that, with a little support and guidance, every person can find and implement solutions to their unique struggles in life.

In counseling and consultation, I work from a Logotherapeutic (meaning-centered) and Solution-Focused stance. This means that I will help you to envision your desired outcomes and meanings in your current and future situations and support you as you work toward realizing those. In play therapy, my work is based on Theraplay principles which focus on attachment in the parent-children relationship and healthy sensory and emotional regulation.

I have extensive professional experience working with young children (0-5) and their parents, but I have also enjoyed working with older children and adults. I look forward to working with you.

Hola. Le felicito por tomar medidas para buscar apoyo. Soy Kurtis. Soy un estudiante de posgrado en las etapas finales de mi capacitación en Northwest Nazarene University en el énfasis de Matrimonio, Pareja, Familia del programa de Consejería. Como parte de mis estudios de posgrado, también estoy recibiendo educación y capacitación en terapia de juego con un enfoque en la modalidad específica de Theraplay®.

Creo que cada ser humano es único, irremplazable, y digno y capaz de encontrar y llevar a cabo el significado en sus circunstancias únicas de vida. Además, creo que, con un poco de apoyo y orientación, cada persona puede encontrar e implementar soluciones a sus desafíos únicos en la vida.

En consejería y consultoría, trabajo desde una postura logoterapéutica (centrada en el significado) y centrada en soluciones. Esto significa que le ayudaré a visualizar sus resultados y significados deseados en sus situaciones actuales y futuras, y le apoyaré mientras que usted trabaja para realizarlas. En la terapia de juego, mi trabajo se basa en los principios de Theraplay cuales se centran en el apego en la relación padre/madre-hijo y la regulación sensorial y emocional sanas.

Tengo una amplia experiencia profesional trabajando con niños pequeños (0-5) y sus padres, pero también he disfrutado trabajar con niños mayores y adultos. Espero con interés trabajar con usted.


Wendy Sorenson

Life is hard and messy; we were not created to do it alone.  When someone begins the journey
to seek help and begin the healing process, I know that is a big step. I will honor you and treat
you with dignity and respect.  I will come alongside of you and together we will explore who
you are and what has impacted and shaped you. You already have coping strategies, some are
helpful and healthy, while some are not so healthy.  I will listen to your story and help to
unravel the knots that have been formed.  Healing is possible.

I welcome all ages and stages
while holding an extra special place in my heart for children.  As a former teacher, I see that we
are all struggling with finding ways to cope with life’s demands and children are no exception.
As a mom of two “grown” boys, a bonus daughter and two delightful grandchildren, I want to
see all of us reach our fullest potential.


Erica Faler

Hello there! I'm Erica, and I am currently in the final stages of my training at Northwest Nazarene University, working on graduating in the Marriage, Couple, and Family track of the Counseling program.
Beyond counseling academia, I hold an associate degree in music, which connects to my belief in the therapeutic role of creativity in facing life's challenges. Also, juggling parenthood with four lively children has offered me a down-to-earth understanding of family dynamics. Balancing the realities of family life with the intricacies of relationships is a struggle I understand well.
In counseling, my approach is rooted in a blend of humanistic and existential principles. I aim to create a warm space for clients to delve into their emotions and embark on a journey towards healing and self-discovery.
While I don't limit myself to serving a specific group of people, children and teens have a special place in my heart. Their unique perspectives and resilience inspire me, and I enjoy supporting them as they go through the various challenges of childhood.
If you're navigating through life's challenges and could use some support, know that I'm here and committed to walk alongside you through the process. Let's explore this path of growth together.

Lauren Smith

I have had the honor of working in the anti-trafficking movement as an ally for over eight years. I hold a Professional Certification in Trauma & Resilience from Florida State University and a Bachelors in Communications from Texas A&M University. After working with trafficking survivors in Southeast Asia for 5 years, I began to pursue my Master's degree at Northwest Nazarene University to study the impact of trauma and grief as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor.

Now, I am a Therapist-in-training committed to seeing lives transformed & empowered through compassionate care. My passion lies in helping trauma, grief, and trafficking survivors not just survive, but thrive. I have personal experience with sudden grief and loss. My approach integrates lenses of trauma, attachment, and neurobiology- how the brain works. I am committed to empowering my clients through counseling that is non-judgemental and authentic.

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Nathan Lapp

Life is a journey full of a variety of experiences. There are times that life can feel chaotic, burdensome, filled with pointless suffering, and thrust upon us. We Can feel beat up, used up, and cast aside, even enslaved by life. Some of us may fear when life ends while others may wish it to end soon. For many of us, we have lost that feeling of purpose or meaningful existence.
Hi, my name is Nathan. I am a graduate student at Northwest Nazarene University, and I am nearing the completion of my master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I believe that counseling can be a benefit to anyone at any stage of life. As a counselor, I take a narrative approach to addressing the fundamental realities of life, freedom, relationship, and meaning through integrating various forms of art and play in the therapeutic process.
I believe life is inherently meaningful, with meaningfulness as one’s true desire. This stems from a belief that every individual is not only capable of finding fulfillment, but uniquely and intrinsically valuable and worthy of finding fulfillment. My desire as a counselor is to join you on your journey to discover (or rediscover) meaning in life. I offer a safe, compassionate, empathetic, and nonjudgmental environment on this journey as we explore various existential and spiritual situations with a trauma informed therapeutic perspective. I look forward to working together with you to discover your personal values and reach your personal goals.
I have worked in construction for the past several years and have experience working as an emergency medical technician (EMT). I have coached youth sports and have worked in other youth organizations. I love the outdoors (rain, sun, or snow) and in my spare time I love connecting with my family through exploration and play.

Jessica Wassom

Hello! My name is Jessica, and I am a clinical mental health master’s student at Northwest Nazarene
University. I believe that many factors affect us in life including our past life experiences, our family
systems, and current life circumstances big and small. Challenges in life are inevitable, and it can be
difficult to know how to navigate those struggles. The great thing about counseling is that you don’t
have to navigate those challenges alone! My goal is to walk with you in your struggles and help you to
realize that you have the strength within you to heal and grow.
Through personal experiences with loss
and relational trauma, I have learned to show up authentically with my clients and empathize with the
pain while helping them to move forward with renewed hope. I would love to join you on your journey
to healing and wellness.
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Erika Losik

Hi, my name is Erika and I am a graduate student in the Counseling Department at Northwest Nazarene University nearing completion of my master’s degree in Clinical Counseling. 

Mental health, counseling, and self-reflection have profoundly influenced my life, so much so that I’ve chosen to pursue both a career and way of being that is authentic, empathetic, and holistic. Existence is complex. There are many beautiful and difficult pieces that can make up a life but the gray, undefined areas are where I believe we have the opportunity to get to know ourselves deeper. 

I approach counseling from a humanistic lens, emphasizing empathy, rapport, and authenticity in the therapeutic process. Psychoeducation, increasing awareness, and self-reflection are also tools I practice with. I seek to provide a space for all thoughts, feelings, emotions, and persons. 

Healing and processing can be painful but I believe there is opportunity for health, meaning, and well-being for all those willing to engage in the process. 

In my free time I enjoy being outside with my dog, slow mornings on the patio, reading fiction, cooking elaborate meals for one, and hot yoga classes. 


Mackenzie Purnell

Hello, my name is Mackenzie (she/they). I am a graduate student in the Counseling Department at Northwest Nazarene University and will graduate with a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

Every person is unique, and likewise, so are their individual experiences. Counseling can provide a space for clients to explore their values, learn about themselves, and begin to tell their stories. Often, patterns and behaviors that clients have learned are no longer serving them and what they want for their lives. Counseling can be an opportunity for the client to realign their values and goals while learning new skills and behaviors. I hope to work alongside clients as they move towards their goals and desired changes.

I counsel from an eclectic stance that includes a Person-Centered, Internal Family Systems (IFS), and an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) framework with the addition of mindfulness techniques and practices. These frameworks emphasize acceptance of difficult thoughts, feelings, and experiences, encouraging the client toward a more fulfilling and meaningful life. I also have training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Sandtray Therapy. I enjoy involving therapeutic play and art within sessions.

Outside of the counseling realm, I enjoy tending my hobby farm, enjoying a good book, and caring for my many animals alongside my partner.


Anastasia Bearden

Hello! My name is Anastasia and I am a graduate student at Northwest Nazarene University, acquiring hours to receive my master's degree and license in Clinical Mental Health.
Embarking on the path to becoming a counselor is a personal journey for me, fueled by the incredible impact counseling has had on my healing and growth. Experiencing the transformative change counseling provides has ignited my passion for extending that same support to others seeking to heal and grow.
I view counseling as a team effort. We're in this together, exploring, healing, and uncovering the wonderful complexity of who you are. I genuinely believe that everyone, no matter what they've been through, has an incredible capacity to heal and thrive.
Guided by a humanistic and Internal Family Systems (IFS) lens, my approach is rooted in the belief that everyone has an innate capacity to heal and grow. Through this lens, we will navigate the intricacies of your experience, fostering understanding and facilitating meaningful change.
In our sessions, judgment is left at the door. I'm here to create a warm, empathetic space where you can process emotions and experiences without fear. You're not alone on this journey—I'm here to lend an ear, offer support, and help you as you build a more authentic life. As the saying goes, "In the journey of healing, we find our true selves." I look forward to joining you on this journey, offering encouragement and support along the way.
On a personal note, when I am not in the counseling office, you will find me hiking with my dog, paddleboarding, engrossed in a good book, painting, or playing my guitar. Life's about balance, joy, and finding peace both in and outside the counseling room.