Washington Mental Health Counseling Association

Washington Mental Health Counselors Association (WMHCA) is the professional organization working exclusively to meet the needs of Licensed Mental Health Counselors in Washington State.

WMHCA is chartered through the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), our national professional organization.

Our mission is to promote quality mental health counseling services, maintain a viable and distinct professional identity, and influence public policy consistent with our professional ethics and values.

WMHCA performs its mission by working with other professional organizations, the state legislature, state regulatory agencies, insurance companies and consumers to promote quality in mental health counseling practices.  We maintain standing committees whose focus is to safeguard and advocate for Licensed Mental Health Counselors and their clients.

WMHCA in principle and in practice recognizes that all individuals have the right to be accepted for their unique and authentic self. WMHCA seeks diverse membership with respect and honor of the unique human spirit and without discrimination of gender identity, race, age, ethnicity, disability, or socioeconomic status. WMHCA is committed to non-discriminating practices and to the prevention of harassment in all forms, verbal, physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological that infringe on the freedom for all people to be who they are.

The Purpose of WMHCA:

  • Promote and maintain the profession of mental health counseling by stressing high levels of ethical and professional practice
  • Promote legislation and administrative rules that recognize and advance the profession of mental health counseling.
  • Foster cooperation among mental health providers to improve care and services to clients.
  • Position the profession favorably in the healthcare market through marketing and education.
  • Encourage the next generation of mental health counselors by supporting the transition from graduate school to professional life.
  • Provide advocacy with insurance companies for contract language that protects licensed mental health counselors and their clients.
  • Provide educational programs that enhance knowledge and promote continuing professional growth.
  • Provide opportunities for connection and networking among its members for professional development.

Disclaimer: WMHCA does not endorse products or services, including products and services advertised in its publications or on its website, unless explicitly so stated in the advertisement itself.  Nor does WMHCA endorse opinions or confirm authenticity of statements contained in material submitted for publication.  And also, the selection of a venue by WMHCA to hold meetings or host workshops reflects only the suitability of the facility for that purpose, nothing more.

Susan K. Leveridge, Psy.D., LMHC, President susan.leveridge@gmail.com

Susan holds a doctorate in counseling psychology from Northwest University and is a licensed mental health therapist. She runs a private practice in Gig Harbor where she sees kids, teens, and adults. She enjoys working with at-risk populations due to lack of resources including limited insurance coverage. Her first love is working with children who experience distress and behave in ways that are not beneficial for their overall well-being. Her methodology includes educating parents in hopes of bridging the gap between the child’s inner reality, home, and the child’s community. To meet these ends, she uses interpersonal neurobiology, play therapy, creative-expressive art therapy, and EMDR.

Susan has been a part of the board since July of 2017. She is also a member of the American Mental Health Association, WA Play Therapy Association, EMDR Association, and credentialed with a Northwest Creative Expressive Arts Certification. As a private citizen, she is active in her church, a seeker of social justice for all, and a Responsible Guns advocate.

Marianne Marlow, LMHC, CFDW, President Emeritus, mariannemarlow@hotmail.com

Marianne is president of the board for WMHCA, a Certified Daring Way Facilitator, and the managing director of a local networking organization for women, eWomen Network. As a public and industry presenter, she extends her expertise by teaching personal and professional resiliency. As a skilled therapist with over 20 years experience, she supervises and professionally develops coaches and therapists.

Emily Brown, Board Treasurer

Emily is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Substance Use Disorder Professional and a clinical supervisor with the state of Washington. Currently she sees clients out of her private practice based out of South King County and providing telehealth across Washington State. Most of her work over the last 10 years has been in crisis management and community mental health with children, adolescents, emerging adults, and families throughout King Country. Her passion and areas of expertise include working with teens, young adults, and adults and in the topics of self-esteem, emerging adulthood, self-harm/suicide, co-occurring disorders, and clinical supervision. Along with being a therapist Emily has done and enjoys training for other mental health professionals and the community on a variety of mental health related topics. Being on the WMHCA board has provided new opportunities to do more of the work she loves in advocacy at the legislative level. Working toward change in laws that increase access to care, workforce development, de-stigmatizing mental health and equity in care amongst other thing. As a lifelong Seattlite. Emily spends much of her free time in the outdoors enjoying the beauty of the PNW on and around the water, mountains and trees with family and friends.

Gay Niven, Board Secretary

I am an HR professional, specializing in leadership development. My graduate degrees are in organizational development and in family systems counseling. I believe we bring our family systems into our work settings and team dynamics, and have found the family system perspective valuable in my organizational work. I regularly reflect on my internship: working with individuals and couples as a therapist-in-training that opened my eyes to the challenges people face daily that impact our performance at work, in life and with our families.


I believe the more support we can give people to get through mental health challenges, and build self-efficacy, that teams, communities and families are strengthened. I'm thrilled to be part of Washington Mental Health Counselors Association and contribute to the work the organization is doing to build quality access to behavioral health resources and influence public policy consistent with our ethics and values. I think my perspective helps bring a systems view to the organizational work we do to support practitioners, open access and advance OneAMHCA.


Dr. Ellen Carruth, PhD, LMHC, NCC, President Emeritus, Education and Training Chair

Dr. Carruth is currently a Professor and Program Director for the M.Ed. in Counseling at the University of Puget Sound. Dr. Carruth received her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision from the University of Tennessee, a CACREP-accredited program. Dr. Carruth is a National Certified Counselor (NCC), a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in Washington State, and an Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS).

Since finishing her formal education, Dr. Carruth has spent time working in the mental health system in Washington, and has used her experiences as a clinician to inform her practice as an instructor and her current research agenda.

Dr. Carruth has spent her career in the helping professions, and she has over 15 years of experience working in human services and community mental health. Dr. Carruth began her career as a music therapist, specializing in providing services for older adults with memory impairment. Later, Dr. Carruth spent time in domestic violence crisis centers working with women and children. All of her clinical experiences have informed her approach to teaching and training mental health counselors.

Dr. Carruth has developed a unique perspective of the importance of action research for counselors, and her research interests now include examining the relationship between action research and social justice in counselor education.

Dr. Carruth maintains active roles in a number of professional organizations, including the American Counseling Association, the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, Counselors for Social Justice, the Association for Humanistic Counseling, and the Washington Mental Health Counselor's Association, where she is president emeritus.

Debiruth Stanford, LMHC, Legislative Chair

Debiruth Stanford is Chief Firewalker of Next Steps Coaching and Psychotherapy in Bellevue, Washington. Her specialty is “getting past stuck,” and she is passionate about helping people manage difficult life transitions, put purpose and values first in life, and create fulfilling lives with great relationships.

She focuses on working with adults as individuals, in couples, thruples, and more, and in a variety of arrangements that include extended, 'chosen,' and alternative family structures.

Debiruth maintains active membership in a variety of professional and community organizations, including the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), Washington Mental Health Counselor's Association (WMHCA), Daring Way Pacific Northwest Region, and Seattle Women’s Chorus / Seattle Choruses. Currently, she is a board member and legislative chair for WMHCA and active in determining the ‘new normal’ for the Chorus.


Kathryn Lorz, Membership Chair

Kathryn is a graduate student in counseling at City University of Seattle. She has 15 years of experience working in behavioral health settings, and has worked in crisis centers, transitional living programs, hospitals, and clubhouse model non-profits. She enjoys variety in her work, and is passionate about learning and growth. She has an MBA in Finance and currently teaches financial courses to college students and in the community. She volunteers with Bridges, a center for grieving children. Upon graduation she hopes to build her own practice focused on holistic wellness, while working at an agency that supports community mental health. She also hopes to specialize in disaster trauma to be able to volunteer when environmental or social crises occur. Kathryn's dream is to promote healthy lifestyles in her community by focusing on preventative health practices, trauma reduction, and individual empowerment.

Tim Griswold, Graduate Student Representative


Karen King, MS, LMHC, Board Member

Karen King is a psychotherapist and the CEO of King Health Associates, an Integrated Wellness Center in Bellingham, Washington. Before her life as an entrepreneur and p ractice m anager, she practiced counseling in a variety of settings, and has found that her studies in dance, Tibetan Buddhism and the study of consciousness greatly inform her work with clients as well as the management of her b usiness . Her primary passions include being absorbed in the incredibly rich and unfolding field of psychology, advising and consulting with counselors as they build their practices and helping clients gain insight and compassion towards themselves as they heal. She is an Enneagram 7, an MBTI ENFP and her Instagram stream is filled with cats, books and lots of sky.

Dominique Avery, PhD, NCC, LPC (ID), LMHC (WA), Board Member

Dominique Avery is core faculty in the Counseling Department at Saybrook University.  She teaches at both the Masters and PhD levels with a focus on culturally responsive counseling and counselor education, crisis and trauma interventions, child and adolescent counseling, psychopathology and diagnosis, and quantitative research.  She has extensive scholarship and presentation experience including topics in White counselor antiracist accountability, crisis and trauma education, licensure portability, and mixed methods research. Dominique’s past service on boards includes a position as the founding secretary of Idaho Association of LGBT Issues in Counseling, the Interstate Licensing Agreement Committee for the Rocky Mountain region, and the Institutional Review Board for research at Saybrook University.

She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with experience in EMDR counseling with adult survivors of child-hood sexual abuse and working with refugee children and families by bringing play-based therapy into their homes. Prior to becoming a counselor, Dominique spent a decade working with children and adolescents in shelter home settings, wilderness therapy in the deserts of Idaho, and forest schools in the woodlands of England.

Mitch Teufel MA ABS LMHC, Board Member is owner and principal of MWT Associates. He has been working in the field of mental Health for over 35 years. He has worked in a variety of clinical settings, community mental health, residential health services, addiction outpatient clinics and private practice. He is both a counselor and life coach. As a counselor, he specializes with those seeking recovery and freedom from either Chemical dependencies and or Sexual Addictions. As a life coach, he works with clients seeking new perspectives whether in their personal or professional lives. He’s had a long-standing commitment in supporting his community through board service and active volunteering. He is an advocate and believer in how higher education changes lives, having seen it first-hand. As a NW native, he enjoys spending time in nature. Whether its beach combing, walking in nature or working in his own garden.


Karen Langer M.Ed, LMHC, President Emeritus,  KLanger@cityu.edu

Past President Emeritus;. President of WMHCA for 8 years and then on the AMHCA board from 2007-2014 (Western Region Director 2007-11; President-Elect 2011-12; President 2012-13; Past President 2014).

Shannon Thompson MA LMHC CMHS,  Education and Advocacy Director shannon@wmhca.org

Shannon is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and a child and adolescent mental health specialist (CMHS). She has had a private practice since 2013. Prior to that she worked in community mental health for several years. She graduated with a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Argosy University in 2006. She has been a part of the board since 2015.

Sara Oppler, Business Operations Director  wmhcaboardassistant@gmail.com

Sara Oppler has 10+ years of Human Resources experience in a wide variety of organizations, primarily non-profits.  She previously worked at a Community Mental Health Center.  Sara resides in Kirkland with her husband and two young children and serves as the Chair of the City of Kirkland Salary Commission.