Meet Our Therapists
Learn about our team of highly experienced therapists. Each of us brings a unique perspective to the table, offering counseling services and specialties to meet a wide range of therapy needs.
Teri Karjala, LPC, LMFT, EFTCert1, RPT, CACII
Founder and Executive Director
Teri Karjala is the Owner and Executive Director of Creative Counseling Center, a licensed professional counselor, credentialed trauma therapist, author of the Amazon Top Seller Be the Magic of You: Tools to Transform Your Life, teacher, trainer, national keynote speaker, and has been featured on Denver’s WB2 News-Everyday, CNTV and local Denver-area radio shows.
Teri has been working in the field since 1999, providing individual and group therapy for children, adolescents, adults and today, her clients are primarily women and female entrepreneurs living generally unfulfilled lives, feeling weighed down by limiting beliefs, self-sabotage, fear, anxiety and depression, possibly due to past trauma. Through her truly integrative approach, Teri empowers her clients to create massive change and expand far beyond their wildest personal and professional dreams.
Teri meets her clients where they are and works at a pace they dictate. Her focus is on being supportive, warm, and collaborative, using various counseling theories and techniques to treat the “whole” person. Depending on a client’s goals, Teri draws from modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), experiential, humanistic, mindfulness, and systemic approaches.
Teri believes a solid relationship is crucial to the therapeutic process and encourages her team of therapists to build a foundation of trust with clients, enabling progress, growth and transformation.
Teri, wholly devotes herself to being a resource for her clients, equipping them with practical, unique tools to tackle their challenges, uncover their greatest levels of fulfillment, and live a life of hope, harmony and happiness.
Danielle Polifroni, LPC, ATR-BC
Danielle is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Clinical Art Therapist with several years dedicated to developing meaningful connections and providing care for children as young as age three, adolescents, adults and families. She obtained her Masters degree in Art Therapy from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Danielle works to validate, support and accept her clients right where they are, while also challenging them to take the lead in their own progress and personal growth. Her approach is generally non-directive, assisting clients in finding solutions that suit them best. Each session is unique and tailored according to the client’s needs using a variety of techniques and modalities including traditional talk therapy, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), mindfulness practices, psychodynamic therapy, and cognitive behavioral exercises. Danielle utilizes art therapy, expressive arts therapy and play therapy (particularly for young clients) as a way for them to express emotions that are typically difficult to verbalize due to their age or past trauma.
Danielle has extensive experience helping individuals cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), physical and emotional abuse, anxiety, depression, mood disorders, grief and loss, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory challenges, attachment disorder, special needs, boundary setting, and low self-esteem. She assists families seeking parenting education as well as pre- and post-adoption and foster placement transitions. Danielle’s passion of helping her clients find their own voice empowers them to make choices that lead to healing, growth, and change.
Kristen Sexton, LMFT
Kristen Sexton is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), having obtained her Masters of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Connecticut. Kristen works with children of all ages, ranging from 18 months through adolescents and into early adulthood, families, and adults.
Kristen works with her clients to help them identify and build upon their inner strengths as well as navigate the systems around them. She believes her clients are experts of their lives and works with them to support where they are as well as help them work toward their identified goals.
She incorporates a variety of modalities in her counseling including traditional talk therapy, play therapy (directive and non-directive), art therapy, mindfulness, sand tray, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT-informed).
Kristen’s experience includes working in crisis residential and community mental health centers where she worked with children, adolescents and families from diverse populations and backgrounds. She has experience supporting those struggling with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, ADHD, bullying, divorce transition for adults and children, parenting education and skills, low self-esteem, substance use, anger management, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Kristen strongly believes in taking a collaborative approach through creating a safe, caring and supporting environment where her client’s well-being and goals are the priority.
Mary Whittaker, MSW, RP
Mary Whittaker is a Registered Psychotherapist, having obtained her Masters of Arts in Social Work with a specialization in Children and Youth Mental Health from the University of Denver. Mary works with families, children ranging from 3 years old through adolescents, and young adults through age 25. She is an empathic and mindful clinician who respects all ages, races, cultures, genders, sexual orientations, physical abilities, and financial status.
Mary’s prior experience includes working in community mental health centers, juvenile justice residential programs, and school settings where she worked with children, adolescents and families from diverse populations and backgrounds. She has experience supporting those struggling with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, ADHD, bullying, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) in young children, parenting education and skills, familial conflict, emotional and physical abuse, low self-esteem, divorce transition, anger management, self-harm, suicidal ideation, sexual and gender identity, complex trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bereavement in children and adults, and complex grief.
Mary utilizes various counseling techniques, tailors them to each client, and believes in treating the “whole” person, including mind, body, and spirit. She incorporates modalities such as play therapy (directive and non-directive), art therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT informed), yoga and mindfulness, sand tray, traditional talk therapy, and Experiential Therapy. Mary strongly believes in the healing qualities of moving the body and connecting the mind and spirit. She integrates outdoor elements (taking walks, playing games outdoors, or making arts and crafts with outdoor materials) to allow individuals to reconnect with themselves, with other humans, and with our earth, and come to feel capable and empowered to make meaningful changes in their lives.
Mary is compassionate, supportive, and collaborative and believes in forming meaningful, therapeutic relationships with each client. She meets them where they are in their life journey and gently challenges them to make personal, positive changes. She’s passionate about advocating for and assisting her clients in navigating through systems of oppression that impact positive functioning. Her goal is to create a brave space for clients to feel fully heard, understood, and supported non-judgmentally and works to validate clients in their self-discovery of insights and development of individual life goals.
Sarah Thompson, LPC, ATR-BC
Sarah Thompson is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Board Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC) and works with children, teens, young adults, and adults. She earned her Masters of Science degree in Art Therapy Counseling from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. Sarah is devoted to creating a safe and supportive therapeutic space with her clients in order to build trust, empathy, and a meaningful relationship. She believes the therapeutic relationship and collaboration is key to guide her clients in exploring and supporting their goals and strengths. Sarah also believes clients are leaders in their own therapy, and she works to empower them to make positive change in order to grow, heal, and live a full and meaningful life.
Since 2011, Sarah has been supporting and improving the emotional, social, physical, and mental health of individuals, families, couples, and groups across the lifespan. Her experience began in therapeutic recreation, psychiatric rehabilitation, and most recently comes from outpatient community mental health. She has extensive background working with individuals from all walks of life who have experienced acute and chronic stress, adjustment disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar disorder, anxiety and panic disorder, substance abuse and addictions, grief and loss, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), unspecified psychosis and schizophrenia, personality disorders, eating related disorders, suicidal thoughts and self-harm, developmental/cognitive challenges, those on the autism spectrum, and those exploring their sexual identity and identifying as being part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Sarah incorporates a variety of therapeutic modalities in her counseling including Art Therapy (directive and non-directive), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Experiencing Chronic Stress (SPARCS), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Positive Psychology, Mindfulness, and Psychodynamic talk therapy.
With her specialty in Art Therapy, Sarah strongly believes in the innate healing qualities of art making, and with her professional support as a Board Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC), anyone can express their creativity to resolve inner conflicts, increase self-awareness, gain insight, reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and so much more.
Trista Charnas, LPCC, MA
Trista Charnas, a Licensed Processional Counselor Candidate (LPCC), obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Youth, Adult, and Family Services from Purdue University in Indiana and received her Master’s in Counseling with a post-graduate certification in counseling children and adolescents from Regis University. Trista works with children as young as 2 years of age, pre-teens, teens, young-adults, families, and adults of all ages.
Trista’s experience includes working in school settings and counseling agencies, working with children with special needs, as well as with diverse populations and backgrounds. Trista supports those struggling with anger management, anxiety, depression, bullying, ADHD, divorce transition, domestic violence, physical and emotional abuse, self-harm, grief and loss, parental alienation, and parenting issues, education and differences in parenting styles and supporting children and members of families experiencing familial conflict.
Trista wholeheartedly believes we are all just human and need to be heard. She utilizes a variety of methods depending on the needs of her client and pivots quickly during sessions for maximum effectiveness. Trista tends to work from an existentialist perspective which integrates a combination of mindfulness, narrative therapy, and trauma-informed therapy. She will pull in therapeutic modalities as appropriate such as play-therapy (directive and non-directive), talk therapy, sand-tray therapy as well as art therapy and expressive arts therapy.
Trista works to help her clients feel heard, understood, and safe to explore as they grow on their therapeutic journey. She believes strongly in the relationship between a client and therapist and would love to hear your story.
To schedule an appointment with one of our therapists or for a free phone consultation, call 303.843.6000.