Meet Monarch School’s Clinical Team
Dr. Joe Wassif, Ph.D, Clinical Director and Licensed Psychologist
Dr. Joe earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from West Virginia University, and has been working with adolescents and their families for the last decade, earning a variety of honors and awards. His diverse teaching and professional experiences working with therapeutic professionals, adolescents and their families since 2003 make him a great addition to Monarch School. Dr. Joe has worked as a direct care supervisor and supported both individual and group counseling in a variety of settings in the Therapeutic Wilderness and Therapeutic Boarding School arenas. Joe is a licensed psychologist in the state of Montana (PSY-PSY-LIC-1733).
With Dr. Joe’s extensive therapeutic experience working with adolescents struggling with Substance Abuse, Trauma, Autism Spectrum, Depression, Anxiety, Somatization, PTSD, Eating Disorders, and Personality Disorders, he brings an amazing skill set to Monarch School, our students and their families.
Dr. Joe also serves the larger NATSAP community as conference chair for the Rocky Mountain Region.
Jeremiah Guidos, Primary Therapist
BS Liberal Studies
MA Clinical Counseling
Jeremiah earned his BS in Liberal Studies as a Dean’s List graduate in 2004. He earned his MA in Clinical Counseling from George Fox University in 2011. Jeremiah is licensed in the state of Montana as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (SWP-LCPC-LIC-8307).
Jeremiah has worked with teens and their families since 2001. He has worked in residential programming, school systems and clinical outpatient settings during this time. Jeremiah approaches counseling from a relational standpoint that is designed to explore the multi-faceted individual and the systems they interact in.
Jeremiah loves to spend time with his wife, his two daughters and his dog, Gryffin. He enjoys being outdoors year round and creating memorable adventures. He played college baseball, he has jumped out of a perfectly good airplane for fun and he loves trying new foods.
Chris Wiegenstein, Primary Therapist
Master of Science in Counseling
A.S. in Addictions Counseling
Chris comes from Whidbey Island Washington and has been a Montana resident since 1999. He attended the University Of Great Falls in Montana where he earned his A.S. Degree in Addictions Counseling in 2011. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with Counseling Concentration in 2012 and then went onto to earn his Master of Science in Counseling in December of 2015. Chris has worked as a Licensed Addictions Counselor with all ages, including adolescents.
Chris is active in any community in which he resides, serving as a mentor and support for other recovering addicts. Most recently, prior to arriving at Monarch School, he served on the board of an organization that serves the poor, the homeless, and veterans in need. Chris has experience working with adolescents and families affected by substance abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety, borderline and schizophrenia disorders.
Chris likes the outdoors and in his spare time he takes every opportunity to practice his photography. He likes to go boating, camping, and fishing on his days off. Chris enjoys traveling and spending time with his family.
Ellen, LCSW, graduated with her Master’s Degree in Social Work in 2005 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She then started her career working as a field guide at Second Nature Wilderness Program, where she met her husband, Joe Wassif. Ellen then got a taste of therapeutic boarding school doing fill-in work, before starting her career in clinical social work. Ellen spent about 5 years doing assessment, counseling, crisis and grief response, and complicated discharge planning in medical settings such as Hospice and Emergency Departments and another 4 years in more traditional mental health settings. Most recently, Ellen was working in Durango, Colorado in the public school system, providing counseling and crisis intervention to middle and high school students.
Ellen utilizes both traditional therapeutic interventions as well as experiential learning to facilitate students’ goals. She focuses on mindfulness, dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, using the therapeutic relationship to develop trust and positive change. She enjoys facilitating groups, both skills based and process oriented.
Tammy received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Penn State University before attending Villanova University in Villanova, PA where she graduated with a Master’s degree in Counseling and Human Relations. Following graduation, she worked in a private practice for seven years specializing in addictions and personality disorders.
Her other areas of experience include psychiatric hospitals, community mental health and transitional living programs. Tammy prefers a relational approach to therapy. She encourages students to evaluate the specific role they play in their primary relationships with the goal of establishing boundaries and exploring communication patterns.
Tammy’s greatest enjoyment is spending time with her husband and their two children. She is a cowgirl at heart and has a passion for being in the saddle riding and showing her horses. She also enjoys hiking, yoga and knitting.
Robb earned his Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota and worked in wilderness therapy for four years prior to coming to Monarch. Growing up, Robb retreated to the lakes and woods of northern Minnesota where he learned the value of being in nature and self-sufficiency. He followed his calling in theatre for a couple decades, including working in a theatre program for professional performers with disabilities which created shows that toured internationally. Before long, Robb returned to the woods, this time providing adaptive guiding for people with mental and physical disabilities, and leading him to pursue a new career in mental health.
Many of the young adults working with Robb have conflicts in their family, are smart but struggle with academics, lack skills in tolerating distress, and may have struggles with chemical or behavioral addiction. Through narrative techniques and creative interventions from improvisation, poetry slams, and experiential activities, these clients learn to accept and express themselves. Robb also uses techniques from motivational interviewing, cognitive therapies, and dialectical behavior therapy to help clients build autonomy and nurture their own self-worth.
When he’s not working, Robb, his partner Rebecca, and their corgi Chuck like to wander and explore, or stay at home and pretend to be on cooking challenge shows.
Angie Salerno, Primary Therapist
MA Counseling, BS Sports & Exercise Psychology
Angie earned her BS in Sport and Exercise Psychology in 2012 and went on to earn her MA in Counseling in 2014 from West Virginia University. Her post-graduate years leading up to Monarch were spent working in community mental health in her home town in rural Pennsylvania.
Angie has specialized training in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy and utilizes this approach when helping clients heal from trauma and PTSD. She also has experience working with individuals struggling with Depression, Anxiety, Grief/Loss, and Personality Disorders. With enthusiasm and genuine care for others, Angie brings an interactive and creative approach to both individual and group therapy that is well suited to meet the needs of the adolescent population at Monarch School.
During her time in WV, Angie developed a love for the outdoors leading backpacking trips for incoming freshman students to West Virginia University. It was in that time that she came to understand the healing power of establishing meaningful connection with others and the lasting positive impact it can bring. In her free time, Angie enjoys running, hiking, kayaking, and reading.
Ryka earned her BS in Social Sciences with honors in 2009. She went on to earn her MSW from Portland State University in 2015 and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Ryka is an LCSW Candidate in the state of Montana.
Ryka has worked within many different communities. She has worked with refugees, children in the school system, the LGBTQAI community, and those living with HIV/AIDS. Most recently, she was a primary clinician in community mental health. She uses modalities of Mindfulness, Motivational Interviewing, and other Evidence Based Practice techniques. She has experience helping others process Grief and Loss, Trauma, and Anxiety/Depression Disorders. She believes creating rapport and trust through sacred listening are integral pieces to creating a harmonious therapeutic relationship with those she works with.
Ryka enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, adventure, and has worked on boats and lived abroad in her past lives. She is looking forward to exploring all of the seasonal activities this beautiful state has to offer.