It is with great sadness that the Washington Mental Health Counselors Association is sharing the passing of Dr. Ellen Carruth.

On August 25, 2023, Dr. Ellen Carruth passed away peacefully in their home. They were a beloved friend, colleague, mentor, boss, instructor, counselor, and more. Ellen touched the lives of many, held many roles, and was involved in many spheres. Ellen's commitment to the mental health field was evident through their various roles, including students, program development, supervision, and volunteer work. To know Ellen is to love them and to love them means this news is devastating.

Dr. Ellen was involved with the Washington Mental Health Counselors Association for over 14 years.  During that time, they mentored many new and seasoned counselors and could always see something in people they could not always see in themselves.  Personally, Dr. Ellen encouraged me to pursue teaching graduate school two different times.  I was so nervous and did not know if I could do it.  Ellen believed in me and believed I was qualified and competent.  Without them, I would have never tried teaching. They believed in me, and in turn, I believed in myself. This experience of Ellen was not unique to me.  To be in Ellen’s life was to be seen, heard, and encouraged.  Ellen was also a former President of WMHCA, the inaugural Education Committee Chair, and was heavily active in WMHCA’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.  They were involved in many other organizations outside WMHCA, which focused on diversity and inclusion and expanding mental health access for our most vulnerable populations.

In 2014, Dr. Ellen Carruth was awarded the “Dr. Linda Seligman Counselor Educator of the Year Award” by the American Mental Health Counselor Association.  The award is intended to recognize outstanding and humanitarian service to others. The nominee had to possess the qualities of humanitarian and altruistic giving to individuals as opposed to giving to the profession.  Ellen did just that.  They poured themselves into others sincerely.   

Ellen's passion and commitment extended to the Queer community and those with visible and invisible disabilities. They had a fierce grace and tenacity that was present in all that they did. Ellen's impact reached far and wide.

Outside of their professional life, Ellen had a deep love for dragonflies, whales, and penguins. They enjoyed playing the guitar, writing children's books, and spending time with friends over cocktails.

Ellen’s Penguins have created a Facebook Memorial for Ellen to leave messages and photos and provide connection to their community as we all grieve. The memorial page is Camilla Mackesy- A name chosen for the character in their children’s book in honor of the author of their favorite book. This page will stay active, with updates and continued stories of how Ellen’s love and teachings manifest in their friends, colleagues, and students.

The Washington Mental Health Counselors Association honors Ellen by starting The Dr. Ellen K. Carruth Diversity & Inclusivity in Counseling Scholarship.   The scholarship was named after Ellen, a former board member and fierce advocate of diversity and inclusion for all marginalized individuals. If you would like to donate to this scholarship, you can do that HERE.  WMHCA will also donate $500 in  Ellen’s name to The Trevor Project.

Ellen Carruth is deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing them. May their memory be a source of comfort and inspiration to us all.

With Love,

Shannon Thompson LMHC

WMHCA Executive Director


I want to thank Dr. Amy Cummings-Garcia for her help with writing this and creating a space to help remember Ellen.