Meet the Team
We are a team of highly trained clinicians and support staff whose experience and compassion enable us to provide the highest quality and level of care in Interior Alaska. Read more about us below!
Gunnar Ebbesson, CEO
LPCS, MAC, CDCS
Gunnar is co-founder and CEO of Turning Point Counseling Services. He has been a therapist and researcher in Fairbanks since 2002. Throughout Gunnar’s career, he has been an advocate for access to excellent services by people who experience Mental Health and Substance Use disorders. He graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a Masters Degree in Community Psychology with an indigenous focus. He has worked as a Child and Family Therapist at Community Mental Health, Program Director for a Suicide and Substance Abuse Prevention Project at the University called Qunaasvik and formed and developed Turning Point along side Joseph Nowell as a leading provider of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment in the state. Gunnar has served on on Governor’s Advisory Board for Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ABADA) for 8 years. He also co chaired the Alaska Opioid Policy Task Force which developed guidance for the Legislature, Governor and Public health to address the Opioid Epidemic. Gunnar was one of the founding members and instigator in developing the Fairbanks Opioid Work Group. He has trained and lectured around the state on issues surrounding the intersection of Trauma, SUD and Mental Health. Gunnar is a trainer and practitioner of Brainspotting, a powerful tool to bring about significant change in people’s response to trauma. His clinical passion is around the intersection of addiction and trauma and has extensive and broad experience working with this.
His passions include being in the outdoors, his two children, and sailing. He also feels very privileged to work with an amazing staff of caring people who truly take their work to heart, are keen clinicians and staff members who understand and are effective in helping people to move in the direction of healing.
Joseph Nowell, Clinical Director
Clinical Director Joseph holds two Masters Degrees, Master of Science in
Counseling Psychology and Master of Education in Adult Education, both
received from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a Licensed
Professional Counselor in the state of Alaska, a Nationally Certified Master
Addiction Counselor by the National Association for Alcoholism & Drug
Abuse Counselors, and a National Certified Counselor by the National
Board of Certified Counselors. He has worked in the field of addictions
treatment since 1998 and has been a practicing mental health clinician and psychotherapist since 2003. He has worked in the public sector in inpatient, residential and outpatient Substance Abuse treatment programs as a Chemical Dependency Counselor and Clinician, as a Crisis Stabilization Unit Coordinator, and as a Mental Health Clinician and Clinical Supervisor. Joseph has 21 years of experience in helping people heal from Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders. He approaches therapy as a solution oriented therapist with a strong cognitive behavioral flavor. Joseph is an International trainer in Brainspotting (BSP) trauma-focused reprocessing therapy, which he often utilizes to facilitate client healing from trauma effect. He is experienced in treating a wide variety of issues but specializes in the treatment of addictions, trauma effect, depression and other mood disturbances, and anxiety syndromes. Joseph is also one of our cofounders, and provides clinical supervision for many of our counseling staff.
Chief Operating and Financial Officer
CDC 1, BHC 2
Nick was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska. He currently holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in Human Services, with a concentration in Addictions Counseling from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Nick also has a Chemical Dependency Certification I as well as a Behavioral Health Certification II. Nick has worked in the field of mental health for over 10 years now and has been in a variety of roles, including direct care with patients, case management, intake coordination, administration, and leadership. Nick sits on the Association for Addiction Professionals of Alaska board for the state of Alaska as our interior representative and is an active member of our community interested in helping others.
Jonathan Miller, LPCS
Clinician Jonathan Miller holds a Masters Degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University. Jonathan grew up in southern Michigan, but started coming to Alaska every summer after his first visit in 2005. He and his family moved to Alaska in 2011 when Jonathan started his counseling internship at a residential treatment program for adolescents. Prior to becoming a counselor, Jonathan was a teacher and youth ministry leader for 7 years. From that background, children and adolescents have naturally been a strong focus of Jonathan’s mental health work, but he also enjoys counseling adults and families. His approach is cognitive behavioral, though he frequently employs play therapy techniques with younger children. He approaches each client as an individual, with a strong belief in the importance of trauma-informed care. Jonathan is an active member of the American Counseling Association. In his leisure time, he enjoys being outdoors, playing sports, reading, and pretending to be a carpenter.
Amy Carlson, LCSW
Amy Carlson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the State of Alaska. Amy was born and raised in South East Idaho. In July of 2012 Amy and her family moved to Alaska to fulfill a life long dream. She has had an interest in mental health from an early stage in life. Amy worked in residential treatment with adolescents while attending Idaho State University. There she earned a Bachelors degree in Social Work in 2005 before attending Walla Walla University and obtaining her Masters degree in Clinical Social Work in 2007. Amy has over 15 years of experience in mental health. She is trained in Brainspotting and holds a license through the National Guild of Hypnotists as a certified hypnotherapist (CHt). Her emphasis is on anxiety, depression, including post partum depression, and family members of substance abuse. Her focus has been on children and adolescents, but she also enjoys working with individuals, families, and couples. Her approach to therapy is cognitive behavioral, person-centered, and trauma-informed. Amy is very active in nature and enjoys hiking, camping, and skiing. She is also an avid reader and crafter and enjoys beading, quilting, and sewing. Her lifelong goal is to empower others with the tools they need to lead full and happy lives.
Danielle Burke, LPC
Clinician Danielle was born and raised in Fairbanks. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, who obtained her bachelors degree in Psychology and Masters degree in Education Counseling from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Danielle is an active member of the American Counseling Association. She joined the Turning Point team in 2013 and has worked in a variety of capacities during her time with us. Danielle co-facilitated the intensive outpatient program (IOP) for substance use for several years prior to moving on to focus working with clients individually. Danielle works with clients holistically, using a solution-focused approach to therapy. This approach allows her to meet clients where they are currently in their life and experiences, as well as helps support clients reach solutions that fit their lives. Her specialized training includes trauma-reprocessing therapy called Brain Spotting, Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY), internal family systems (IFS), Bessel Van Der Kolk’s “The Body Keeps the Score” hosted by the Annual Advanced Trauma Training Institute in Anchorage in 2017, and nutrition for mental health. When she is not practicing therapy, Danielle enjoys yoga, training and competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, going on random adventures, and finding ways to be creative in the kitchen.
Holly Sanborn, LPC
Clinician Holly Sanborn holds a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy and Counseling from Southwestern College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska and received her bachelor’s degree from UAF in Art, with a focus in ceramics, and Psychology in 2011. Holly has always had a life-long dream of becoming an Art Therapist and views art as an integral process to healing the mind, body and soul. She enjoys working with children, frequently using art and play therapy, and holds a Children’s Mental Health Certificate from Southwestern College. Holly’s internship, in 2016, led to a very well-rounded experience with working with children and families as well as adults and adolescents struggling with eating disorders at the Eating Disorders Treatment Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her approach to therapy is person-centered and strength-based and likes to individualize treatment for her clients so they can ultimately reach healing and well-being. Holly, herself, enjoys creating art in her spare time because she knows that creativity cultivates balance, inner-peace and helps keep her grounded. Her goal is to empower people through encouraging self-expression, compassion and self-love to meet their therapy goals and live happy lives.
Claire Gelvin-Smith, LPC
Claire holds a Masters of Education in Counseling from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and a Masters of Arts in Social Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Claire is a Licensed Professional Counselor, as well as a certified practitioner of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) modality. Claire offers assisted psychotherapy, a therapy model that includes horses, with group therapy and individual clients. In addition, Claire is trained in Brainspotting, a trauma re-processing therapy. Claire co-facilitated the group therapy program for addictions, the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), for several years before shifting her practice to work exclusively with individuals. Claire specializes in trauma and substance use disorder, primarily working with teens and adults. Her therapeutic process offers a client-focused approach incorporating cognitive behavior therapy and dialectical behavior therapy with trauma-informed, mindfulness-based practices. Claire’s professional background includes therapeutic work with severely emotionally disturbed youth, both in the school and clinical setting. Claire is an adjunct with UAF’s psychology department, offering psychology courses in coordination with Student Support Services’, Emerging Scholars Program. Claire’s personal background includes growing up with horses, riding English and Dressage most of her life, as well as offering riding instruction for a number of years. Claire enjoys fishing, being in the outdoors, painting, writing, and spending time with her family.
Elizabeth Sewell, LPCS
Liz is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor in the State of Alaska. She received her Masters of Education in Counseling from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Liz works with adults who have experienced trauma in their lifetime. Liz uses specific trauma treatment reprocessing modalities including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Brainspotting, and Prolonged Exposure (PE) to address and treat symptoms of trauma. She views the therapeutic relationship as a catalyst for change when collaboration, commitment and authenticity are present.
Ashley Kelley, LPC
Clinician Ashley Kelley is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Alaska and holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology with an emphasis in behavioral health from the University of Phoenix. Ashley was born and raised in Northern Nevada and has since spent time between Arizona and Alaska and has made Alaska her home. She worked as a clinician in a residential treatment program for children before coming to Turning Point. Her experiences have included working with children with trauma, grief, behavioral concerns, substance use, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and mood disorders. She has worked with mostly adolescents and their families, but is eager to learn and grow. She has spent time working with children on the spectrum and understands the importance of patience and acceptance. Her approach is cognitive behavioral therapy as well as implementing trauma-informed care.
Her approach to counseling is to understand that everyone experiences life in different ways and that everyone has the skills or the ability to learn the skills, to master their own emotions and become the best version of themselves. She focuses on helping others recognize their own strengths and abilities and provide hope and reassurance that they can achieve their goals while living a healthy life and creating positive support systems. In her leisure time, she is an avid reader and writer, enjoys fishing and being outdoors, and watching sports. She has ambitions to continue learning, motivate others, and to become a Professional Licensed Counselor.
Justin Knowles, LCSW, CDC-1
Justin Knowles is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Alaska and holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Robert’s Wesleyan College and is licensed in the state of Alaska. Justin grew up in Upstate New York, but joined the Army as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, and ended up right here in Fairbanks in 2010. After attaining the rank of Sergeant, Justin decided to pursue his call into the mental health field in 2013.
Justin began his journey in residential treatment for adolescents. While working, both as a Mental Health Technician and a Therapist, he worked alongside teens and their families to regain equilibrium. Justin then branched out to broaden his horizons. Justin worked at an adult mental health clinic, which improved his clinical skills and his passion for joining with adults to help them achieve a version of their best self.
His approach to therapy is generalist: he uses techniques from cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavioral, person-centered, child-centered play, and trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy. Justin is also trained in Brainspotting.
Justin has an amazing wife and three little boys - twin two-year-olds, and a 4-year-old. He spends his time at home outside on power-wheels and dirt bikes or inside building train tracks with his boys. Justin also enjoys metal detecting, house projects, and occasional stops at the local re-use areas.
Krista Zody, LPC
Krista grew up in Fairbanks, enjoys being involved in community outreach, and has personal military family life experience. She values quality time with family, social connectivity, and viewing people as human beings of worth. Her education journey includes a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Linguistics with a focus in American Sign Language and holds a Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She obtained both degrees through the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is an active member of the American Counseling Association. Krista provides individual psychotherapy counseling sessions and is a clinician in the Intensive Outpatient Program for substance use disorders.
She strives to create a safe therapeutic environment, intentionally understand the client's internal experiences, and foster the journey of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-growth. Her approach to therapy utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, trauma informed care, Brainspotting trauma reprocessing, somatic experiencing, psychoeducation, and strength-based support. In her leisure time, Krista enjoys being in nature, exploring, spending time with loved ones, and attending community events.
Patricia Cooper, LPC
My approach to counseling recognizes the importance of finding healing
though the counseling relationship. Clients are often unaware of their ability to find healing within themselves and struggle to find someone to walk with them though their difficult journey to peace. My hope is that when you walk into my office to work on trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety, or any other significant issue, you find an accepting place where you can feel at peace with yourself and gain that understanding that you are not alone and able to overcome your battle. With that, you can accomplish anything.
My job as a counselor is to help you discover and build on your own strengths and empower you to have a healthy life. I feel that there is no single approach that is the right one for every individual and so I have been trained in a range of modalities that are client-centered to include solutions focused therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment (ACT) therapy and trauma-informed therapies, such as Brainspotting. I have a passion for working with clients who experience addiction, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, trauma, and grief. I have experience working with adults and children and welcome ages 13 and older.
I joined the Turning Point team during October 2016 and my professional
training includes a Master’s of Science in Mental Health Counseling and I am professionally licensed in both Alaska (LPC) and Montana (LCPC), where I reside. I have enjoyed working in the different levels of care and programs offered at Turning Point to include the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), alumni group, and standard outpatient treatment.
Jessie Robertson, M.Ed.
Jessie was born in Switzerland, grew up in New Mexico, and moved to Fairbanks in 2009. She values spending time with her family, traveling, snowboarding, and drawing and painting. She has an education journey that includes earning a B.S., M.S., and PhD in Biology. She also holds a M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from UAF. Jessie provides individual counseling sessions and has experience doing mental health and substance use assessments for court-mandated clients.
Jessie strives to connect with each client, meeting them where they are in life’s journey, and she views counseling as a collaboration. She is trained in the treatment of trauma, disordered attachment, brainspotting, dialectical behavior therapy, and mindfulness. She is interested in interpersonal neurobiological approaches for connecting with clients. Jessie also works with clients who are struggling in their professional lives, including experiencing burnout, career transitions, interpersonal problems, work-life boundary issues, and feeling psychologically unsafe at work. Creative, intuitive, attachment-focused, and strength-based approaches are at the heart of her connection with clients.
Colleen is in a Master’s program for clinical mental health counseling through Bradley University and will be graduating in May, 2022. Before beginning at Turning Point, Colleen worked as an advocate for people experiencing relationship abuse through a shelter in Utah. Currently, Colleen works in the intensive outpatient program (IOP) for substance use at Turning Point.
Colleen approaches counseling from a trauma-informed lens with a focus on exploring our lived experience. Colleen strives to create a safe and caring environment in which individuals can connect with and express their emotions while better understanding themselves. Colleen incorporates a variety of techniques including Brainspotting trauma reprocessing, mindfulness, behavioral therapies, and a strengths-based focus. Colleen is especially interested in working with those who have experienced relationship trauma and is an LGBTQIA+ affirmative counselor.
Outside of Turning Point, Colleen is generally found outside adventuring with her partner and dog, cooking unnecessarily elaborate meals, or playing music.
Coleen Flynn, MA
Morgan Bursiel, M.Ed
Morgan has recently graduated from the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master’s degree program at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF). Morgan holds a BA in Biology and Women’s Studies from St. Olaf College (MN) and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education from UAF. She maintains certifications as an experienced, registered yoga teacher (E-RYT 500) and a mindfulness meditation teacher (UC Berkeley).
As a clinical intern, Morgan considers it a privilege to accompany individuals on their journeys of healing, growth, and transformation. She aspires to provide a safe, non-judgmental, compassionate space, in which individuals can be themselves and start from right where they are. Morgan uses a holistic, trauma-informed, integrative approach and seeks to connect patients to their own strengths, values, and personal goals for therapy.
She has special interests and training in end-of-life counseling, compassionate bereavement care, grief and loss, mindfulness and compassion-based therapies, healthy aging, yoga for terminal illness, Buddhist psychology, and caregiver wellness.
In her free time, she enjoys walking and being in nature, gardening, cooking, contemplative practice, poetry, and savoring time with family and friends.
Laurain was born in Monterey, California, but grew up all over the United States and Korea, being raised as an Army brat. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Military Leadership in 2009 from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Upon earning her undergraduate degree, Laurain was commissioned into the United States Army and served as a Medical Services Officer for 12 years. Following her military career, she taught middle school English, Language Arts, and Reading (ELAR) in Texas, and coached youth soccer and baseball.
Laurain is currently serving as an intern and is a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, earning her Master of Social Work (MSW). She is expected to graduate in May of 2024 and aspires to be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Laurain recently moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, from Kansas, with her spouse, children, and fluffy husky.
Her approach to therapy is strength-based and empowerment therapy while focusing on self-acceptance, self-growth, and mindfulness. Laurain believes her clients have the power to control their own destinies and is looking forward to accompanying individuals on their growth journey.
In her free time, she enjoys traveling, experimenting in the kitchen, live music and attending concerts, spending time with her children, and walking with her dog, Draco.
Sarah is currently in the Couple’s and Family Therapy Master’s degree program through Antioch University-New England. She expects to graduate in May 2024. Sarah also holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Jazz Voice and a Ph.D. in Musicology. In addition to her therapeutic work, she maintains a private voice and piano studio and serves as an adjunct professor for Belmont University (TN).
As a clinical intern, Sarah aspires to create a space where clients feel both supported and challenged as they learn and grow toward their individual and relational goals. Sarah uses a systemic lens, always keeping an eye on the health of both individuals and relationships and the systems that they function within. A social justice perspective guides her exploration of how social systems can affect her clients’ well-being.
Sarah has special interests and training in LGBTQ+ issues, sex therapy, marital/family conflict, gender issues, social justice issues, trauma, grief and loss, and creative arts modalities.
In her free time, Sarah enjoys hiking, kayaking, skiing, cooking, home-improvement projects, making music, and spending time with her friends, family, and fur-babies.