Awakening Mental Health Provides Public Mental Health Education by Collaborating with Field Experts.
Check Out our Incredible Expert Collaborators Below.
Amanda Surface, LPC Associate
Child, Family, and Parenting Expert
Amanda obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of North Texas in 2013. She completed her graduate studies with a Master of Science in Counseling and Human Development from Texas Woman’s University in 2018. During her time at Texas Woman's University, she was part of the TWU Play Project providing Play Therapy to children in local schools free of charge.
She currently works as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in private practice under the supervision of Heather N. Smith, M.Ed. Her areas of focus include women’s issues, anxiety, depression, crisis, addiction, spirituality, trauma, chronic health concerns, adolescent counseling, and Child-Centered Play Therapy. She is actively working toward completing the required hours to obtain her Registered Play Therapist credential. The RPT designation indicates enhanced clinical competency and training in providing play therapy to children.
In her clinical experience, she has had the opportunity to counsel individuals and groups of varying ages. She believes that clients benefit most from a supportive and collaborative approach to therapy. She strives to provide a safe environment in which clients feel free to explore concerns, establish goals, and enhance personal strengths. When working with children, her guiding principle is always to exercise unconditional positive regard. Holding a child in a place of unconditional positive regard enhances feelings of safety, and that emotional safety strengthens the therapeutic relationship. She believes that in working with children, it is not the therapist's role to teach strategies or change the child but to draw out their unique gifts to understand how they experience the world. In the wise words of Jess Lair, “Children are not things to be molded but are people to be unfolded.”
Before beginning her counseling journey, she worked extensively with children and families in schools, community centers, residential treatment centers, and agency settings. She has also worked with children to explore their passion for the arts as a dance teacher and program coordinator.
Outside of the counseling office, Amanda is a wife to her husband of eleven years and a mother to her two daughters, ages (almost) two and nine. She enjoys binge-watching documentaries, drinking excessive amounts of coffee, spending time at bookstores, iPhone photography, and she still loves dancing anytime the opportunity arises!
Amanda is passionate about educating children and families about the role of mental health in wellness. She hopes that through partnering with Awakening Mental Health, she can provide creative solutions for families, offer solidarity to parents, and improve access to resources for children.
Cayla Gensler, LPC
Cayla completed her BA in psychology at ASU in 2011 and her MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at University of Phoenix in 2016. While in high school Cayla took her first psychology class and knew she found her calling. She first became interested in attachment work through personal experience with challenging relationships. She jokingly tells her clients that she is a “pursuer in recovery”. Cayla completed her EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) externship with Sue Johnson and will continue with certification next year. Currently, she sees both individuals and couples to work through attachment injuries, helping them to understand their attachment style and resulting emotions, thinking patterns and behaviors, and to increase their success in relationships. She also facilitates Hold Me Tight ® couples weekend intensives in Phoenix, AZ. As an attachment therapist, Cayla believes that once we create success in our intimate relationships, many other areas in our lives feel more manageable.
Outside of being a therapist, Cayla is an avid Buffalo Bills fan. She is convinced the team will be at the Super Bowl every year. She loves reading both personally and professionally, and is typically juggling multiple books at a time. She currently has two elderly puppies, who get quite a bit of her love and attention. Favorites also include all things that involve cheese, pizza, or 90’s music.
Cayla is a very passionate human being. She loves people and strongly believes that everyone deserves compassion and acceptance. Mental health stigma is an area she is particularly passionate about, both in her professional and personal life. Cayla knows the stigma around mental health prevents people from getting care they need and deserve, and this is troubling for her. Through her contribution to Awakening Mental Heath, she hopes to bring awareness to the struggles people have in relationships and motivate others to get the care to create success in this area of their lives.
Seth Larsen, DO, ABFM, CSCS
Family, Exercise, and Mind-Body Medicine
Dr. Seth Larsen completed his B.S. in Neuroscience and Biology at Dickinson College in 2010, followed by earning his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Midwestern University – Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2015 and his certification as a Diplomate in Family Medicine from the American Board of Family Medicine by way of Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton in 2018. He currently works as a staff family physician in both a traditional clinic setting and through direct primary care telemedicine via SteadyMD.
Though admittedly Dr. Larsen was uncomfortable early in his career with treating psychiatric patients, through many patient encounters and his own struggles with mental illness, this has become a passion of his. He feels that his own personal history gives him a unique ability to walk side-by-side with patients through their own mental health journeys and shares his story freely. Combining this with a significant amount of experience in psychiatric medication management, additional training in mind-body medicine, and daily mindfulness practice, he is now the subject matter expert for his clinic regarding psychiatric medical care.
Outside of the clinic, Dr. Larsen is married to his incredible and brilliant partner, Taylor, and is a dog dad to three insane and adorable rescues. “Dr. Meathead”, as he is known in some circles, is a gym rat and competitive strength athlete, stepping into the international arena for the first time at u90kg World’s Strongest Man in November 2021. He is also an avid reader and writer, budding yoga practitioner, and live music junkie. You can also catch him watching Notre Dame football and the Los Angeles Chargers (albeit painfully) while enjoying craft beers and oversized burritos.
Dr. Larsen believes strongly in a holistic approach to mental health and the treatment of mental illness, utilizing a multidisciplinary team of providers and integrative methods. Training his patients in mindfulness and with nutrition and exercise as medicine, regardless of their pharmacologic needs, is a cornerstone of his holistic care model. Seeing himself as a teacher as much as a healer, Dr. Larsen is a strong advocate for widely available psychoeducation and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness, especially among men who are often taught that showing emotion is inappropriate or even dangerous. This stigma is significantly more aggressive surrounding psychiatric medication, especially among healthcare professionals who will avoid seeking pharmacologic help due to the fear of it affecting their careers. Having experienced this stigma firsthand and even fighting through it in his own mind, Dr. Larsen has developed a burning passion for open discussion about prescription psychiatric medications, as he has seen and felt their life-saving potential personally. Through his collaboration with Awakening Mental Health, he will provide evidence-based, scientifically driven education about psychopharmacology and mind-body medicine with personal context and accessible terminology. Only by speaking freely with one another about the psychological struggles we all face can we truly end the stigma and find the internal and external solutions we need to live as our best selves.