Our Team

Counselor

Steve Wickelgren, MA, LMFT

Law Enforcement Assistance (LE-AST) is headquartered in Twin Cities area, MN and founded by Steven M. Wickelgren, MA LMFT. Steve is an experienced mental health professional who specializes in trauma and depression as well as crisis intervention. Steve is trained in ART (Accelerated Resolution Therapy) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Both are an effective and quick treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety/trauma related issues. Steve is an experienced police officer who served the Minneapolis Police Department from 1988 to 2014. He served in a number of capacities, including use of force instructor, investigator, supervisor, and policy writer among others. He served as the police department's full time counselor from 2001 until 2014. Steve also serves as the Clinical Director for the Minnesota Crisis Intervention Team Officers Association, where he leads mental health training for law enforcement officers. He focuses on training police officers to provide crisis intervention services and to act as liaisons to the mental health system. This training features professional actors who play the role of a person struggling with a mental illness.

Aside from his role with the Minneapolis Police Department and the MN CIT Officers Association, Steve has had many other roles in relation to the mental health profession. He was an Instructor/Program Assistant at Hennepin County Technical College. He is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and has served as a volunteer at the MN chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and has also volunteered with the Metro Critical Incident Stress Management Team since 2002. Steve is also trained as a Transformative Mediator.

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Counselor

Kristin Turner, MA, LPCC, DBTC

Kristin Turner is a therapist who specializes in working with complex cases and serious mental illness. She has experience working in inpatient hospital settings, correctional settings, and outpatient clinics. Kristin is a staff presenter for MN CIT and is committed to helping law enforcement safely interact with those struggling with mental health issues. She is familiar with the culture of public safety work and enjoys working with those that help their community. In therapy, Kristin utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and person-centered techniques. She believes in meeting each person where they are at and tailoring her approach to the unique needs of each client. Kristin has a direct but casual approach and appreciates humor in session. She supportively challenges thinking and behavior patterns to help clients reach their true potential and individual goals.

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Marks, Scott

Counselor

Scott Marks, MSW, LGSW

Scott has been a licensed police officer in Minnesota for over twenty years. When not in uniform he provides individual therapy and couples counseling for law enforcement officers and their significant others for a variety of concerns.

Communication problems, anxiety, depression, grief, PTSD, coaching, at times we all need a little help navigating our lives. Scott believes in a strengths-based perspective using an eclectic mix of therapy drawing from Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness, Narrative, Motivational Interviewing, Psychodynamic, and ART to build resiliency and support with thoughtful interventions.

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Laura Sosalla

Counselor

Laura Sosalla, LADC, LPC, EMDR

I specialize in military, law enforcement, corrections, and first responders - and the unique challenges these professions and their loved ones face. Though, I found my home mostly within law enforcement and "cop culture". I gravitated towards working with these populations after working closely with probation and parole, CPS, 1st responders, nurses, and doctors in the many various roles I had before becoming a trauma therapist. At some point I started asking myself, "Who is watching out for those who help, protect, and serve?" This question led me to shift focus towards working with the people I used to work alongside.

I believe that distressing thoughts, feelings, beliefs, or behaviors are not mental illness, weakness, being broken, or a failure. But, in fact, are natural and normal human responses to ongoing exposure to escalated or high risk situations, cumulative and traumatic stress, unresolved grief or loss, experiences of betrayal and broken trust, overwhelming adversities, or from harmful interactions or relationships. Similar to healing from complex physical injuries --- It also takes time, patience, and hard work to heal and grow from the impacts of psychological injuries.

My style is laid back, collaborative, and semi-structured. Though I practice with trauma informed, evidence-based, client-centered, and integrative approaches. I'm always up for laughing at ourselves and each other. But I'm not afraid to talk about the tough stuff, and walk with my clients into their darkest places where healing is needed the most.

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Trainer

Karen Prunty

Karen is a mindfulness instructor offering classes grounded in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. We know first responders have some of the most stressful occupations and routinely face intense situations. This chronic stress can lead to many physical and psychological challenges. National Institutes of Health studies of police officers reveal higher rates of heart disease, obesity, and depression. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction offers tools to help us recover from day to day stressors and learn to respond rather than react.

These tools have been proven to reduce blood pressure and anxiety while improving sleep, focus, and a sense of well-being. Karen’s commitment to working with first responders is reflected in her classes – experiential, engaging, and practical. She received qualification to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction from the UMass Medical School. MBSR is one of the most highly researched and validated approaches to stress reduction and its effectiveness has been shown in studies spanning many health disciplines and populations.

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Counselor

Erin Holznagel, Clinical Trainee, MFT Candidate

Prior to practicing therapy, Erin was a licensed police officer in Minnesota for over 12 years and recognizes that the unique experiences of public safety personnel require a highly individualized approach to therapy. Erin’s desire to help others create meaning out of loss, provide avenues of hope, and a space to heal, ultimately led to her transition from law enforcement to her work as a therapist.

Erin believes we are all influenced by the systems we are a part, including our families, our work, our schools, our relationships, and our communities. Our experiences and whether our beliefs or values are challenged or supported often impact every aspect of our lives. Erin offers a neutral, nonjudgmental atmosphere and utilizes trauma informed care practices and evidence-based treatment options to reach your goals and improve your overall well-being.

Erin recognizes that each story is unique and understands it is not always easy to talk about problems that exist. When it becomes too difficult to share your story out-loud, Erin is trained in Brainspotting which is a non-verbal treatment option that works to identify and release those primary sources of emotional and physical pain, trauma, and a variety of other challenging symptoms. Erin believes that trauma does not need to end in tragedy and utilizes a Post Traumatic Growth approach in her practice. This approach recognizes that significant life events and adverse experiences can result in negative life outcomes but can also be a catalyst to positive growth afterward.

Erin is passionate about working with individuals to identify their needs’, resources and the flexibility needed for lasting growth and change.

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Counselor

Linda Mercado, Clinical Trainee, MFT Candidate

Linda is a graduate student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, completing her clinical internship at LE-AST Services/Counseling LLC.

Prior to attending school, she was a licensed police officer in St. Paul MN for almost 18 years. Linda understands the unique stressors first responders face and she strives to eliminate the stigma faced when asking for support.

She offers a confidential, safe, and nonjudgmental space to help navigate through the challenges that can occur with this career. Linda uses a strength-based approach, identifying and utilizing a person’s existing resources, strengths, and survival skills to promote healing, resilience, and post traumatic growth. She feels honored to hear your personal experiences and sit with you in your most difficult moments.

Linda can provide individual, couple, or family therapy. Other areas of interest include grief and loss, complex trauma, chronic pain, EMDR, and neurobiology.

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