About Ellie Brainerd Lakes Area (BLA)

Ellie Family Services Brainerd Lakes clinic is conveniently located right off of 210 in Baxter, just west of 371 and north of Perch Lake. The Ellie Brainerd Lakes clinic is in beautiful single level office space with lots of convenient parking spots available. Ellie Family Services may be new to the area, but our staff here are not- all of our staff are from, and live in, Brainerd Lakes Area. Community is something we value (A LOT!), and we believe that our care is much more effective when our providers are most invested in the wellness of their own families, neighborhoods and cities.

We believe that therapy and mental health should be normal, and not something that anyone should feel ashamed about (because seriously, we’ve all got issues)! We do our best to use humor and creativity in the work that we do and relate to people as people. We believe that good mental health care is based on solid, trusting and authentic relationships.

At Ellie Family Service Brainerd Lakes Area, we offer therapy for individuals, couples and families, children, teens and adults. Some of the most common things we work with at Ellie BLA include:

  • Family communication (We help kids communicate with parents, and parents with kids and parents with each other at any stage of the relationship)
  • Other relationship stuff (from premarital counseling to family conflict and divorce, and everything in between)
  • Child and teen support
  • Difficulties with life events and transitions (new jobs, job conflicts, moves, struggles with faith, relationship stressors, pandemic stress, and so on)
  • General stress about pretty much anything (life throws a lot of curve balls, we know).
  • Anxiety & depression
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Adjustment stress
  • OCD
  • We also have several staff who have significant experience working with Schizophrenia, Bipolar and other major mental health diagnoses.

Beyond the work that we do in-clinic, Ellie Family Services Brainerd Lakes also offers Community-Based services of ARMHS and In-Home Therapy. ARMHS is a skills-based service aimed at helping adults with mental health conditions to live more independently in the community, and our providers actually go in-home or meet clients out in the community. ARMHS is available to adults who struggle to live independently who need help with navigating mental health obstacles to maintaining stability. Our In-Home therapy programming is available to both adults and children, and is provided in the home. Both ARMHS and In-Home therapy services are available for folks who have Medical Assistance or a Pre-Paid Medical Assistance Plan (PMAP).

When we’re not working, we love to spend time in the area, particularly at the race track or on the pontoon. If you’re not familiar with the BLA area, we recommend checking out the link below for things to do in the BLA!

Meet Our Brainerd Lakes Team

Jenny Owens, MS, LMFT

Clinic Director, Therapist

Read Bio

Whether you are feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, or simply not meeting your life goals, therapy can help. So often, clients come to me feeling as though no one else has listened to them or taken them seriously. It is my goal to make you feel heard and understood, while providing guidance to assist you to take steps to improve your well-being. I focus on building a strong therapeutic relationship, and helping you feel comfortable as we move forward step by step toward your goals.

I provide individual, group, couples, marital and family therapy to children over 6, adolescents and adults. I am experienced in treating a wide variety of mental health issues including trauma, sexual issues, depression, anxiety, assisting those in law enforcement, and Veterans. I am trained to work with families going through divorce. I also offer Therapeutic Parenting Education Groups.

Master of Science, Marriage and Family Therapy
St. Cloud State University

Courses towards Master of Science
Pepperdine University, California

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology and Child and Family Studies
Concordia College, Moorhead

AAMFT MFT Supervisor Training

LMFT Minnesota Board Approved Supervisor,

Ashley Catlin, MSW


Read Bio

Therapy can be hard for an individual to do. Coming to terms with needing help is a very difficult thing to admit and I look forward to working with clients who have taken that step to continue their journey in growth.

I believe in making the client feel comfortable and safe by making it a relaxing setting with open dialogued conversation and no judgement.

Most of my experience is working with older adults. I have worked with clients experiencing depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, suicidal ideations.

I am open to many approaches as each individual and situation is different and may call for a different approach. I use strength based approach often since I have worked mostly with adults who have lost most of their independence and don’t feel as though they offer much to anybody anymore.


Masters of Social Work- St. Cloud State University

Danielle Cotter,

Therapist, Maternal Mental Health Director

Read Bio

We all carry a life story that wants to be expressed and genuinely heard. Danielle is passionate about creating a safe space for clients to tell their story in a judgement free zone. Danielle helps her clients gain access to the meaning of their life story, to problem solve what is no longer working in their life, and develop a path moving forward that is rooted in the personal strengths and values of each client and family. She is committed to providing respectful, authentic, and creative therapeutic services to every client she supports.

Danielle’s choice to become a therapist was inspired by her own life journey and family system. This is the work she feels she is meant to do. Danielle finds great joy and meaning in helping clients gain insight and awareness, access their innate strengths and resources, and develop the skills and confidence to create a more fulfilling and balanced life.

Danielle works with a wide variety of clients ranging in ages and backgrounds. She sees individuals, couples, and families and has extensive experience in facilitating therapeutic groups. She has experience with mood disorders, trauma, struggles with body image and relationship to food and eating, maternal mental health, family transitions, relationships, as well as diminished sense of well-being or life purpose. Danielle is currently working with the in-home therapy team, as well as seeing outpatient clients in the Ellie office.


Certified Family Trauma Professional; Arizona Trauma Institute & PESI; March 2017

Certified Maternal Mental Health Professional; Postpartum Support International; February 2017

EMDR Level 1 training: Institute for Creative Mindfulness; March 2017


Adler Graduate School: Master of Arts, Marriage and Family Therapy

University of Minnesota: Bachelor of Science in Nutrition/Dietetics

Kayla Gruber, MS, LPCC


Read Bio

Clients seeing Kayla for therapy can expect a very open and non-judgmental atmosphere.  She prides herself on building relationship first and working as a team with the client and family to find an approach that works for them and their lifestyle.  She meets the client and family where they are and work with them to figure out what their goals are.
Kayla enjoys working with a range of ages and people but especially loves working with younger children and their families!
Kayla’s specialties include early childhood and family work.   She’s previously worked with a lot of young children with trauma.  She is trained in completing early childhood diagnostic evaluations.
Kayla uses a variety of therapeutic techniques, since she works with a lot of children, her focus is usually on play therapy, family systems, and trauma informed care.
University of Wisconsin Superior-MS
Licenses and Certifications
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor- LPCC
Circle of Security Parenting facilitator
Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health in Early Infancy and Early Childhood

Nicole Mason, BA

Mental Health Practitioner

Read Bio

Nicole is a great listener, empathetic, and enjoys helping others grow and expand. She really likes working with children and looks forward to working with adults as well.

Nicole have experience working mainly with children and completed her internship through Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge working with individuals struggling with addictions.

Nicole describes her approach as extremely flexible as she loves adapting herself to change. She is extremely driven and strives for perfection. Her clear communication skills allow her to bring out the best in any person.


Currently enrolled in St. Mary’s University for Masters in Social Work

Naomi Nelson, MS


Read Bio

Therapy is stretching, silly, and scary at times. I want to serve clients who may be resistant to therapy. I want to join clients who are open to connecting their mind, body and soul and moving towards healthy change

Whether in the office or out at the ranch, I want clients to experience acceptance, laughter and to feel safe in the therapeutic journey. Grab some coffee, and lets hike, paint a horse, or sit by the fire. I believe healing and growth is possible when we have the courage to see our true self, and are brave enough to take steps towards holistic wellness.

Specialties: Individuals experiencing suicidal ideation, anxiety, depression, sexual trauma, victimization through human trafficking and/or other mental health concerns. Children 6+, adolescents and young adults.

Often I use a combination of Play Therapy, Art Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Equine Assisted Therapy.

Grand Canyon University -MS

mental health services MNEmma Smith, MSW, LGSW


Read Bio

My ideal clients are first responders and military service members/veterans and their families.Clients can expect an empathetic ear, and a collaborative working relationship. I see every client as a unique individual and my number one priority is helping the client reach their goals.

I draw on a number of evidence-based interventions, with an emphasis on attachment and systems theory, depending on the client’s therapy goals. I am often direct in manner, but not directIVE – I strive for a collaborative therapeutic relationship that is supportive and puts the goals of the client first and foremost. I also use humor when appropriate as a key part of the healing process and to strengthen the therapeutic relationship.

My specialties are working with military (I have a specialization is military social work) and first responders. I am particularly interested in healing trauma and working with couples and families. Other specialties and areas of interest include Emotionally Focused Couples and Family Therapy, grief and loss, life transitions, military/law enforcement spouses, animal-assisted therapy/equine assisted therapy.



Licenses and Certificates


Nikki Rubbelke


Read Bio

I believe the foundation of successful therapy is creating a safe place for clients as they build a relationship with their therapist. My definition of safe place is a place for the client to have the freedom to be themselves without judgement and creating a safe for clients to feel comfortable to make themselves vulnerable enough to access and process their trauma. I firmly believe that genuine healing does not occur without the client feeling safe. Whether someone is seeking services because it is mandated or they are seeking services on their own, each client has the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

I believe in collaborating with clients to create a therapeutic relationship that will empower and support clients as they work through area’s they are struggling, identifying strengths that can empower them to make change in their lives. I utilize person centered practices and believe in collaborating with the client’s entire team of professionals working for client to support common goals. I believe it is important to support the client in addressing their needs holistically mind, body, spiritual (if it applies to client).

As a social worker I am bound by the NASW code of ethics so one of the things I am passionate about is ensuring that the clients I serve are provided integrated healthcare services. This ensures that I follow the guidelines that I must practice within as a social worker while collaborating with other providers to ensure the clients needs are met whether its physical health, medication management, chemical dependency, or mental health.

I am currently a graduate student enrolled in the Master of Social Work Program through University of Denver. My anticipated graduation is June 2020. The curriculum is focused on mental health and trauma. I have a bachelor’s degree in social work from the College of St. Scholastica I graduated in 2015. My experience so far has been in child protection, children’s mental health case management, adult mental health case management, chemical dependency, and adult protection.

I have a specific interest in working with individuals and families that have experienced trauma. My interest is in working with both adults and children over the age of 6.

Pennie Rubbelke, MSW, LGSW


Read Bio

I am passionate about using a person-centered, strengths-based approach to support individuals in creating what they define as their life worth living. I believe in building a safe, supportive, and authentic therapeutic relationship with the individuals that I support. I also believe that incorporating a holistic approach is important, including physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
I love the imagery of the ripple effect; Ripples can grow to immense proportions, but someone must initiate them. My passion is to support individuals in making the changes and then supporting them as the ripples of those changes grow and flourish.
I have worked in various community settings, including Peer Recovery Support, Mobile Crisis Outreach, Crisis Stabilization Services, and Adult Mental Health Case Management.

When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family, friends, and my fur-child, Riley Maxwell. I also enjoy listening to music, collecting stones, being outside in nature, and using essential oils to promote my own well-being.

Master of Social Work
University of Denver
Licenses and Certifications
Licensed Graduate Social Worker


Ellie Family Services
13782 Bluestem Court #100 Baxter, MN 56425
Brainerd Lakes, MN
Phone: 218.833.9107
Fax: 651.925.0610