Clinical Director, Jordan Yost
Registered Psychotherapist and Educational Therapist
July, 2018. To support our continued growth and expansion at SAGE, we are pleased to announce that Jordan Yost, a senior clinical therapist, is now promoted to Clinical Director. Jordan will oversee the training and ongoing supervision of our clinical therapists.
Jordan has a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Outdoor Education from Western State University and a Master’s degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Wilderness Therapy from Naropa University. During these years, Jordan began to see the benefit in combining the outdoors with the healing component of therapeutic interventions. The outdoors continues to teach Jordan to be grounded in her being, accepting and honoring all parts of herself.
Jordan comes to SAGE with over 12 years of experience working with children and adolescents as a therapist and teacher. During her years teaching, Jordan guided many gifted students through learning environmental education and the importance of respecting the environment as a reflection of respecting one another. Jordan also began the In Focus curriculum by Thomas McSheehy, teaching social and emotional intelligence to students as a way to help them understand themselves on a more holistic level. Jordan guided these gifted children through the challenges of finding success in a traditional school setting, where standards of behavior must be met in order to be successful in the classroom. She promoted understanding to the child, their caregivers, and the teachers, through psychoeducation around nervous system regulation and neurodevelopment. This groundwork of education helped the children succeed and their families to feel more empowered about their child's future.
During her years as a therapist, Jordan empowered young women to use their voice and begin to heal from past trauma at a residential treatment facility in Denver. This experience taught Jordan the power of community support and how crucial it is to heal in relationship. Additionally, Jordan began her training as a Synergetic Play Therapist, learning the power of authenticity and providing a safe container for the child to express their unique self. Practicing mindfulness and using her knowledge of neuroscience, Jordan supports children in "rewiring their brain" through modeling techniques, giving them a chance to build a repertoire of coping skills to be used in the classroom, at home and any environment where the child needs support.
Jordan believes every child deserves safe and compassionate relationships in their lives to help reach their full potential, especially in the educational setting where the child spends so much of their time. Jordan devotes her career to healing and teaching children in ways that support them both emotionally and mentally, to excel in their life-long journey of learning.
It is this therapeutic and educational blend that draws Jordan to SAGE Center's philosophy, as she believes it is the cornerstone of growth and wisdom. Jordan will call on her individual experience in Outdoor Education and Synergetic Play Therapy to bring a sense of acceptance and creativity to her sessions. It excites Jordan to not only bring what she has to offer to children at SAGE, but moreover the holistic approach of working with a team of dedicated professionals. Whether it is the emotional, psychological or educational realm, supporting a child from all angles is to set the child up for success in a way that Jordan believes no other program offers. It is this structure that brings confidence to families, but more importantly, the child.
"It is my mission for each child to reach their full potential – feeling safe, competent, worthy, empowered – and free to be their authentic self." – Jordan Yost
Lisa cuss brings a unique blend of knowledge and experience to the SAGE Center setting with her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Denver Seminary, Littleton, CO, and her Bachelor Degree and Licensure in Elementary Education with Emphasis in Gifted Education from Johnson University, Knoxville, TN.
During her twelve years of experience teaching in both public schools and homeschooling organizations, Lisa worked with parents and school counselors to provide both educational depth and emotional health for children within the school setting. She is naturally attuned to obstacles such as anxiety, fear of failure, sensory struggles, and attention disorders which can create barriers in academic, emotional, and behavioral health. Lisa spent one-year teaching children on the autism spectrum, and from that experience learned the vital tools of clear communication, immediate positive feedback, and creativity in fostering social-emotional growth. She also served for 4 years on a focused team in a public school working with parents and teachers in providing direction and alternative learning approaches for children, both in areas of giftedness and in areas of disability.
Lisa is passionate about the social-emotional health of children and adolescents within their educational and family systems and has experience working clinically with children, adolescents, and adults. Through her Clinical Counseling experience, she has co-facilitated Adolescent Behavioral Therapy Groups, and Social Skills Groups for Elementary children, as well as Individual Therapy. Lisa believes that growth and healing are experienced most in relationship with another; therefore, close communication and work with parents is vital in the therapeutic process. Her focused study of Synergetic Play Therapy helped her further understand the convergence of neurobiology with the energy and emotions behind HOW a child experiences life through play, relationship, and educational exploration. Lisa values connection, attunement, empathy, narrative, and mindfulness. She also values care of the nervous system and spends time modeling skills to help clients grow in their abilities to self-regulate. At the core, Lisa believes two fundamental beliefs of play therapy: 1) Children and adolescents are innately created to move toward health; 2) Although he or she may not be able to articulate it, a child knows what he or she needs.
Lisa remarks, “After one conversation with Director Renu Rose about the vision and DNA of SAGE Center for Gifted, I was excited and ready to be a part of a place that provides such intentional holistic care for students and their families. I was drawn by the heart, empowerment, collaboration, and creativity that is foundational to the process of growth and healing for families at SAGE.”
Outside of her Clinical and Educational Profession, Lisa enjoys time with her husband and three kids around the dinner table, on a hike, and in cheering her kids on at sporting events. She is fortunate to have traveled abroad with her family and states she continues to be impacted by the life experiences of family and friends around the world.
Michelle is a licensed psychotherapist with 23 years of experience working with individuals, couples, adolescents and families.
Michelle obtained her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University in San Rafael, CA in 1994. There, she did her post-master’s internships at the University of San Francisco’s McCauley Institute working with children and adolescents. Her second internship included Marriage and Family training and counseling at The Family Institute in San Francisco.
Michelle’s specializations and expertise include helping individuals use mindfulness combined with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to understand and decrease depression and anxiety issues. She has a special affinity for connecting with adolescents and provides a safe space for them to explore their inner world of feelings.
Michelle is passionate about helping people understand their emotions, guiding them to discover healthy coping skills when feelings arise, encouraging them to communicate openly in their relationships.
SAGE Center welcomes Michelle's seasoned clinical experience and exceptional connective qualities. She will be a gift to our SAGE families providing support on the Louisville and Denver side of our ever-widening reach.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker,
SAGE Center, Denver
Amy Pickett-Williams, LCSW has been providing psychotherapeutic services in Denver for over 16 years. She graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work in 1997, and earned the Master of Social Work degree from the University of Denver in 1999.
She worked in both pediatric and adult medical settings, including hematology/oncology, medically complex children, emergency trauma and hospice. For 8 years, she worked at a school and community-based medical clinic providing psychotherapy to all ages – children, adolescents, women with pregnancy/post-partum challenges, couples and families. At this site, she served many children and adolescents with unique learning needs and enjoyed the integrated approach linking the child, family, school and clinic. She provided consultation for school and medical staff and supervised graduate level students. Before the birth of her third child (who is now three years old), she resumed working in private practice. A majority of her clients are referrals from pediatric offices and both private and public schools. Many of these children are gifted or twice exceptional children and adolescents.
Her specialty areas include work with gifted and twice exceptional children, depression/anxiety, ADD/ADHD, grief and loss, chronic and terminal illness, trauma, abuse, infertility, post-partum mood disorders, divorce/children of divorce, play therapy, art therapy and family and couples therapy. Her therapeutic modality varies among clients, but always comes from a strengths based/empowerment approach.
“I am thrilled to partner with SAGE Center for Gifted, an agency that looks holistically at a child and all the systems that may impact him/her. This model of empowerment fits exactly with what I believe in as a person and a provider.” – Amy Pickett-Williams, LCSW
Kim Johnson has been working with families in private practice for the past 10 years. She is a Registered Psychotherapist with extended training in trauma and attachment theory.
Kim is also trained as a Love & Logic Parenting Coach. This core of this approach helps parents understand that each child is unique; each child must be parented in such a way that recognizes his/her unique strengths and challenges. Parenting with Love and Logic motivates parents with self-confidence, ready to handle real world problems by crafting caring and respectful relationships in an authentic, connected way – rooted in trust and understanding.
Kim understands first-hand, the challenges parents face trying to find a holistic environment to nurture the gifted child. As a mother of two children with learning differences, she knows that patience, compassion, and empathy create an environment rich in love, understanding, and kindness. Kim practiced slowing down, to get into their world and she has seen her children blossom when provided the necessary support and guidance.
Skilled professionals help parents make wise decisions. Accurate assessment and diagnosis is essential to help these children thrive, for when empowered and nurtured, these children are the most loving, sensitive souls.
Kim is excited to join the team at the SAGE Center where honoring cognitive, emotional, social and creative intellects creates the space for children to bloom.
“I am delighted to join SAGE Center’s professional, caring team. SAGE has the heart to serve beautifully gifted children. The core of SAGE Center is one of love, acceptance and support.” – Kim Johnson
Licensed Professional Counselor,
Catherine Mathon, MS, MBA, MA
Catherine Mathon comes to SAGE with a unique specialty in counseling of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She brings a wealth of clinical expertise as well in ADHD, learning disabilities, anger management, sensory issues, and autism spectrum disorders. She is clinically experienced in supporting adopted/foster children and those with traumatic brain injury.
Catherine is certified in Synergetic Play Therapy (SPT), a modality we have found at SAGE to be highly effective with our gifted children.
Description of Synergetic Play Therapy by Lisa Dion, Founder and Director of Play Therapy Institute of Colorado:
“Synergetic Play Therapy (2008) is a researched-informed model of play therapy based on nervous system regulation, interpersonal neurobiology, physics, attachment, mindfulness, and therapist authenticity. Its primary play therapy influences are Child-Centered, Experiential, and Gestalt theories. Although Synergetic Play Therapy is called a model of play therapy, it’s actually a way of being in relationship with self and others. It’s an all-encompassing paradigm that can be applied to any facet of life and, subsequently, any model of play therapy can be applied to it or vice versa. Synergetic Play Therapy is both non-directive and directive in its application. The Synergetic Play Therapist aims to replicate the delicate dance of attunement that occurs between a caregiver and an infant. Since 60% of communication is non-verbal (Burgoon, 1985), it is important that the therapist’s verbalizations and non-verbal activity are congruent during the play therapy sessions in order to transmit trust and safety to the client (Shore, 2006). In doing so, the therapist maximizes right-hemisphere to right-hemisphere communication and acts as an external regulator for the client’s dysregulated states (Shore, 1994) as they arise in the play therapy process. The therapist is the most important toy in the playroom. Toys are used to help facilitate 1) The relationship between the child and his or her perceptions of the challenging experiences in their lives and 2) The relationship between the therapist and the child. SPT believes that the toys themselves are not as important as the energy and emotions that arise as a result of how the child is playing with them.
“The therapist must work at the edge of the window of tolerance and the regulatory boundary of the days-regulated states in themselves and in the child in order to expand those boundaries and re-pattern the disorganization in the nervous system. A core principal of SPT is the therapist’s ability to be authentic and congruent in his or her expressions, coupled with the ability to model regulation through the crescendos and decrease dos in the client’s arousal system (Shore, 2006). This allows the therapist to stay on the edge of the window of tolerance and serves as a catalyst for the re-patterning of the nervous system.
“When the relationship is experienced as safe enough, the dissociated experiences will begin to come into conscious awareness. As we resonate together, the activation will amplify and, if our window of tolerance is broad enough to contain this energy and information, our patient will also experience a widening of his or her window. In the research of Carl Marci and colleagues (Marci & Reiss, 2005), these moments of autonomic synchrony were subjectively experienced as empathetically rich interpersonal joining. This research showed that within the session, our nervous systems will flow into, out of, and back into synchrony many times. This rhythm is parallel to the dance of mother and infant as they move from attunement to rupture and back to repair over and over, laying the foundation for security, optimism, and resilience.” (Badenoch, 2006)
“With repeated observation of the therapist’s willingness to stay authentic and move towards the challenging emotions and physical sensations aroused through the play, the child’s mirror neuron system is activated and the child learns that it is ok to also move towards their own challenging internal states. Research shows that as clients begin to move towards their challenging internal states, new neural connections are created until a critical state is reached that results in a new neural organization (Edelman, 2004; Tyson, 2002).“SPT is an all-encompassing paradigm that incorporates other models and expands on the therapeutic powers of play. Its roots are in Child-Centered, Experiential, Gestalt and Interpersonal Neurobiology. The focus is on being in relationship with the child, not doing something to the child. Through the play itself, the Synergetic Play Therapist supports the child in changing his perceptions of the perceived challenging events and thoughts in his life, as well as getting in touch with his or her authentic self.
“In SPT, the child’s symptoms are understood as symptoms of a dys-regulated nervous system. These dys-regulated states arise as a result of 1) The perceived challenges and thoughts he or she has regarding the events in his or her life and 2) He or she has lost attachment with him or herself and is attempting to be someone they are not (acting from “shoulds”) instead of being who they truly are. The result of Synergetic Play Therapy is that the child heals from the inside out and from the lowest part of the brain up.”
An additional asset of Catherine's therapeutic expertise that will beautifully benefit some of our gifted and twice-exceptional children is in the area of Equine Assisted Therapy. Catherine has been deeply passionate about horses all her life and brings this passion into her therapeutic work to support children with emotional regulation, attachment, social skills relationships, and daily functional regulation, as well as sensory processing needs.
Catherine is a certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor (2013) and a certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning with Path International. She has worked as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor at Rocky Mountain Riding Therapy in Boulder, teaching horseback riding to people with disabilities.
Catherine's unique skill set fits clinically – especially for many of our gifted clients who have not felt the benefits of traditional therapeutic models – and it may be transformative. In addition, her own experience with giftedness gives her a felt sense of how it is "to be in her client's shoes".
Catherine is also trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a well-researched treatment for trauma developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. EMDR has been empirically supported as one of the leading treatments for PTSD, utilizing bilateral stimulation. The theory behind bilateral stimulation involves an activation of both left and right hemispheres of the brain, creating a new neural network to support the integration between traumatic material stored in the right brain and the capacity for meaning-making in the left-brain.
Catherine loves the mix of neurosciences and the study of behaviors; and she finds the current research on epigenetics, oxytocin and their impacts on behavior fascinating. Raised around horses, Catherine loves the discipline of dressage; she rides her horse and practices meditation daily. She is also bilingual in French-German languages.
After 20+ years as a Senior Executive in the International Telecommunications Industry, Catherine made a career change in 2010, deciding to get a Master’s in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from Naropa University. In addition to her degree in Transpersonal Psychology, Catherine has a Master’s degree in Molecular Pharmacology from the University Jussieu, Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University in Paris, and an MBA from University La Sorbonne in Paris, France.
Having worked and lived in multiple countries, Catherine brings a broad worldview and the ability to discuss many topics that can help children see that they can do anything they want to do.
Catherine is excited to join SAGE Center and to participate in their mission to support gifted individuals. “SAGE’s philosophy resonates closely with my own … a thorough assessment process, tailoring every intervention to meet the needs of child and family, working with experiential and mindfulness-based practices to develop self-awareness. I love helping children define how they want to be in the world, negotiating the apparent contradiction of being their authentic self and navigating social expectations.” – Catherine Mathon