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Meet Our Staff

Student Counseling Center Staff

The Student Counseling Center’s permanent staff consists of a Director, two Assistant Directors, and seven staff psychologists. In addition to permanent staff, there are four doctoral interns, three graduate assistant and advanced practicum clinicians, and three doctoral practicum clinicians working at the Center. Four full-time administrative professional staff provide support for administrative operations of the center. The university psychiatrist and psychiatric clinical nurse specialist are adjunct staff members.

T. Paul McAnear, Ph.D. — Director

  • University of Tennessee, 2004
  • Licensed Counseling Psychologist and Health Service Provider

Center Activities: Administration of clinical services, provision of psychological services to students, training and supervision, various community intervention activities including service on the university Case Management Team.

Theoretical style: I use a client –centered approach informed by psychodynamic, interpersonal, and solution-focused orientations. Recognizing that the quality of the therapeutic relationship is a key factor in effective therapy, I emphasize the therapeutic relationship and use of self. I often utilize Motivational Interviewing techniques to help clients identify reasons for change and move past their resistance to trying out new ways of living/relating.

Professional Interests: Administration/leadership in university counseling centers, trauma work and the impact of childhood trauma on current functioning, substance use management/harm reduction approaches to substance treatment, positive psychology, spirituality and grief, fatherhood and men’s issues, group dynamics/teamwork.

Supervision Model: “I utilize a developmental model of supervision that focuses on providing the structure and guidance appropriate to the individual needs of the supervisee. My goal is to facilitate a supervisee’s development of a therapeutic identity and style that is both genuine and clinically effective.  I see supervision as a collaborative process where a supervisee’s professional training, needs and goals are integrated with excellent client care. ”

Personal Interests: My personal interests include hiking, cycling, home improvement projects.

Michelle Cooper, Ph.D., — Associate Director/Director of Clinical Services michelle2

  • University of Massachusetts, 1997
  • Pennsylvania State University, 1987
  • Licensed Health Services Provider Psychologist (North Carolina) – Tennessee (in process)

Center Activities:  Administration of clinical services and member of management team, provision of individual and group counseling services to students, training and supervision, and various consultation and community intervention activities in the support of collegiate mental health needs on the UTK campus.

Theoretical Style:  I typically adopt a strengths-based stance while incorporating relational-cultural, feminist, systems-based and culturally-sensitive conceptual frameworks in my clinical and supervisory work.  Being present and relationally authentic are important values I hold and I often incorporate mindfulness-based strategies, compassion practice and/or empowerment-based activities into our clinical work.  I view counseling as a collaborative process where both client and counselor bring their individual expertise/gifts together to address specific concerns.

Professional Interests:  I truly enjoy working with a wide range of presenting concerns and have found it most rewarding to aim toward “becoming an effective tool” in working with individuals or groups to improve their overall mental health and wellbeing.  So, I consider myself a strong collegiate mental health generalist.  I’ve developed some expertise in working with trauma recovery, maladaptive substance use or other ineffective coping, anxiety and/or depression and interpersonal concerns.  I’m certified in KORU Mindfulness and Meditation, Health Rhythms, Cognitive Processing and other evidenced-based therapies.

Supervision Model:  My approach to supervision is congruent with my approach to providing psychotherapy:  I believe we both bring shared expertise into this dynamic relationship with an intentional purpose of serving the client through effective clinical services.  Within that approach, I incorporate feminist, mindfulness-based and solution-focused frameworks within the supervisory relationship.  As your individual supervisor, I will adopt different roles as needed – teacher, consultant, mentor, and evaluator.

Personal Interests:  I love the mountains, rivers and related recreational activities.  I also enjoy yoga & meditation, participating in community service of some kind or exploring new cultural experiences.  You’ll definitely find me at a community drum circle!  Favorite gatherings involve lots of family fun, laughter, random silliness and interesting food (though I’m not much of a cook!)

Gina Austin, Ph.D. — Couples and Group Coordinator / Staff Psychologist

  • University of Tennessee, 1999
  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Health Services Provider

Center Activities: I provide  psychotherapy (individual, group, and couples), clinical training and supervision, and outreach to various UT communities. I specialize in evidence-based therapies (EBTs) for treating trauma, suicidal depression, LGBTQIA concerns, and distressed relationships.

Theoretical Style: My training includes relational psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioral, and humanistic/existential treatment models. I incorporate mindfulness, neuroscience, and Positive Psychology research and models into my psychotherapy, trainings, and community interventions. A particular influence is Dr. Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy which has informed my evidence-based practice through a foundation of an attachment theory of close relationships with a humanistic/experiential approach to intervention.

Professional Interests: My focus includes EBTs for which I have certification: Prolonged Exposure Therapy (for treatment of PTSD due to sexual assault, combat trauma, etc.), Cognitive Processing Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy for depression/anxiety, Gottman Method for Couples, and Emotionally-Focused Therapy (for couples and family). Posttraumatic Growth is a research and clinical practice interest of mine in the prevention and treatment of sexual assault on campus and healing of student veterans’ combat trauma. I am an advocate for LGBTQIA since 1990 when I began my psychology studies; I work from a relational psychoanalytical-narrative perspective in working with LGBTQIA clients.

Supervision Model: I approach clinical supervision from a developmental, relational, multi-culturally aware perspective, which is structured and directive but also collaborative; attachment theory is useful in understanding psychotherapy processes not only with client and therapist but also supervisor and trainee for a working relationship that cultivates lasting change. I encourage trainees to adopt approaches suitable to their own personality and then foster the development of their best use of EBTs towards clients’ needs.

Personal Interests: As a Knoxville native, I enjoy scouting around the area for new activities; going to the Tennessee Theatre and the Bijou for concerts is great fun with my husband. A lot of my time is spent with family and our Australian Shepherds (Tango and Jazzie) and our one-eared cat, Van Gogh. Flower gardening, movies, reading, and writing “the novel never to be published” rounds out my interests.

Bonnie M. Benson-Palmgren, Ph.D. — Diversity Coordinator / Staff Psychologist

  • BBPWestern Michigan University, 2012

Pronouns in Use: she/her/hers/herself

Center Activities: I provide individual and group psychotherapy to undergraduate and graduate students, clinical supervision to psychology trainees, and outreach across campus. As Diversity Coordinator, I consult with campus partners serving underrepresented/underserved student populations in an effort to improve counseling center services. I also conduct needs assessments and make recommendations for training to increase therapist awareness and skills related to diversity and multiculturalism. I will be collaborating with the Chancellor’s Commission for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People.

Theoretical Style: My work integrates client-centered, interpersonal process, and cognitive-behavioral theories and interventions within a multicultural/feminist framework. My clinical work and supervision are grounded in forming a trusting and accepting relationship that honors students’ intersecting social identities and acknowledges (and attempts to minimize) the power differential inherent in our professional relationship. I view therapy as an opportunity for students to learn and practice skills, acknowledge and accept painful feelings and lived experiences, and make discoveries about themselves that can help improve how they feel, increase their effectiveness in relationships with others, and move toward their academic goals.

Professional Interests: I specialize in working with trans and gender non-conforming students and have presented nationally on this topic. I am also interested in sexual minority student concerns, intersectional microaggressions, and family of origin issues.

Supervision Model: I encourage supervisees to be themselves as much as possible in the room with clients and in supervision with me. I believe we do our best work in and outside of therapy when we are authentic. I work from a developmental perspective, trying to meet trainees’ needs based on their past experiences and identified growth edges, while providing gentle challenge and support. I also work from a multicultural perspective, attempting to honor and incorporate social identities (of client, therapist, and me) into how we formulate diagnoses, treatment plans, and our conversations about the work.

Personal Interests: Transplanted from the Midwest, I love the mountains, water, and woods of Tennessee. I enjoy cozy home activities like watching TV/Netflix, cooking and eating, making digital scrapbooks, reading teen dystopian fiction, and being owned by my cats.

Alicia Brown, Ph.D., – Community Intervention Coordinator / Staff Psychologist

  • Ph. D., University of Georgia, 2015alicia2
  • M.Ed., Auburn University, 2006
  • B.A. Judson College, 2004

Center Activities: I provide individual and group counseling to students.  I am also actively involved in several outreach activities across campus

Theoretical Style: I mainly conceptualize from a Cognitive Behavioral Theoretical (CBT) perspective, however I also incorporate several counseling interventions.  I also expand my CBT perspective to include aspects from Schema Therapy and Mindfulness techniques.  I consider therapy as a means for students to gain more self-awareness, knowledge and skills to use in their daily lives.

Professional Interest:  I have a very strong interest in multiculturalism and diversity and enjoy working with students with racial and spiritual concerns.  I am also interested in obtaining training in Emotional Freedom Techniques and Advanced Integrated Therapy.

Supervision Model:  I use a mentor and collaboration style in supervision.  I encourage trainees to find their personal therapy and learning style.  As a supervisor, I think it is important to maintain trust, consistency and safety in order for trainees to feel comfortable to share their strengths, growth edges and concerns.  I also work hard to decrease the power dynamics to establish and maintain a healthy and encouraging training environment.

Personal Interest: I enjoy traveling, cooking, trying new meals and attending ballet performances.

Amber N. Thornton, PsyD- Staff Psychologistamber2

  • Wright State University School of Professional Psychology, 2014
  • Licensed Counseling Psychologist, Health Service Provider

Pronouns in Use: she/her/hers/herself

Center Activities: I provide individual, couples, and group psychotherapy to campus students.  I also provide supervision to psychology graduate students.  Additionally, I participate in outreach and consultation with various campus faculty and staff, particularly surrounding issues of diversity and multiculturalism.

Theoretical Style:  I believe that clinical psychology and mental health service is beneficial to everyone, however this is only true when it is tailored to fit your specific needs and unique identity.  Because of that, culture and identity are fundamental to my clinical approach.  “One size does not fit all,” therefore the understanding of your cultural identity (a combination of age, disability status, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, nationality, gender, etc.) and the meaning associated with your identity is of the utmost importance to me and dictates my theoretical approach to psychotherapy.

Professional Interests:  Diversity and Multiculturalism, Racial and Gender Identity Development, Intersectionality, Developmental and Complex Trauma, Consultation, and Community Intervention.

Supervision Model:  Similar to my theoretical approach, culture and identity are also fundamental to my supervision style.  This includes rapport and relationship building, as well as understanding of a supervisee’s cultural identity and how it may contribute to their work as a psychologist.  This is followed by continuous learning and understanding of the cultural identity of others, and how that may impact their perspective and worldview.

Personal Interests:  I enjoy reading, exercising, eating good food, and spending time with family, friends, and my dog.  I also enjoy social media and blogging.

William K. Hahn, Ph.D. — Staff Psychologist

  • Purdue University, 1987
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Public Health
  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Health Service Provider
  • APA Internship: Indiana University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry

Center Activities: I provide psychological services to graduate and undergraduate students, work closely with Student Health Center medical staff, and supervise trainees.

Theoretical Style: I believe the various theoretical orientations in psychology attempt to understand human nature and illuminate a pathway to relieve suffering. Consequently, I try to use an approach that most closely matches the clients’ subjective distress and belief system.

Professional Interests: I am most interested in individual psychotherapy. I have published several articles about individual and group psychotherapy, as well as brain development in infants and children, intern evaluation, and psychological and physiological risk factors for future hypertension among teenagers and young adults. I also enjoy teaching First Year Studies and Public Health 430.

Supervision Model: I believe the quality of the therapeutic relationship is the most important variable for successful outcome. As such, I help trainees be present and make an authentic connection with their clients.

Personal Interests: I enjoy running and walking my Border Collies. I enjoy traveling and have been to Alaska, Canada, the Panama Canal, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, England, Scotland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Vatican City, Switzerland, Monaco, China, and India. My trip to Africa is on hold.

Philip Johnson, Ph.D. — Staff Psychologist

  • Oklahoma State University, 1989
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
  • Licensed Counseling Psychologist and Health Service Provider

Center Activities: Individual and couples therapy; supervision; outreach and consultation with faculty, staff, campus ministers and various university organizations.

Theoretical Style: Orientation combines developmental, cognitive behavioral and family systems with interpersonal process psychotherapy.

Professional Interests: Training and supervision; family of origin and spiritual issues.

Supervision Model: “My supervision model is based on a developmental approach while encouraging awareness and understanding of process issues and the counselor’s use of self in therapy. I believe that understanding the emotional reaction of therapists is a very helpful tool in conceptualization, and I strive to create a supervisory relationship of respect, safety and support in which issues or reactions can be discussed.  I emphasize the transitions of professional growth that occur during the internship year.”

Personal Interests: I enjoy weekends in the Smoky Mountains, hiking, and traveling- always with a good book or two.

Maggie Klotz, Ph.D. — Practicum Coordinator / Staff Psychologist

  • Maggie KlotzSouthern Illinois University, 2014
  • Licensed Psychologist and Health Services Provider

Center activities: One of the things I love about working at college counseling centers is the variety of activities in which I am able to engage. I provide individual, group, and couples counseling, provide training and supervision to clinicians in training, and provide outreach to the UT community.

Theoretical Style: I believe one of the most important aspects of therapy is the relationship that is built between a therapist and client. Thus, my first goal is always to help my clients feel safe in my office while discussing any difficulties they may be experiencing. Overall, I have an integrative approach to therapy, conceptualizing problem development from psychodynamic and interpersonal theories while utilizing interventions from emotion-focused, dialectical behavioral, interpersonal, and cognitive behavioral theories. Moreover, all of my work is grounded in strength-based and multicultural perspectives.

Professional Interests:  While I enjoy working with a wide range of presenting concerns, I have expertise in areas related to complex trauma, relationship difficulties, family-of-origin issues, impulse-control, suicidality, self-injurious behavior, and group therapy.  I am also passionate about providing supervision to clinicians in training.

Supervision Model:  I believe trainees are able to grow the most when they can be open and honest in supervision and feel safe sharing both strengths as well as growth edges. I approach supervision from a developmental perspective and work collaboratively with supervisees to meet their goals. I also utilize a strengths-based approach and work to instill confidence in trainees as they grow both personally and professionally during their graduate training.

Personal interests:  Outside of the office I enjoy being outdoors with my camera and love both landscape and journalistic photography. I am also a huge sports fan and enjoy playing or watching almost any sport. When I don’t feel like being active, I can be found curled up on my couch with my “dorkie” (half dachshund/half yorkie).

Ashley Ross, Ph.D. — Staff Psychologist

  • AshleyTennessee State University, 2007
  • Licensed Counseling Psychologist and Health Services Provider

Center activities: Supervision and training; individual and couples psychotherapy; group therapy; consultation/liaison.

Theoretical Style
: I conceptualize my clients from a broad dynamic approach, which includes object relation, interpersonal, and family system. In sessions, I use the interpersonal process to deepen the experience of therapy and promote change. I frequently engage in emotionally focused, here-and-now interactions. In addition, I am mindful of transference/countertransference issues and employ a use-of-self approach.”

Professional interests: Trauma survivors, family-of-origin issues, supervision, intimate partner violence, spirituality.

Supervision model: Supervision is the foundation of becoming a confident, competent clinician. I believe supervision is a playful, creative process and I enjoy it as much as I enjoy providing therapy.  In many ways, my supervision style mirrors my approach to therapy. I generally take a psychodynamic/interpersonal stance and work on creating a trusting environment. I believe that supervision is a reciprocal interaction, both exciting and informative. While taking into consideration the supervisee’s developmental level, I try to deepen his/her ability to conceptualize clients so that interventions are timely, focused, and more effective. This involves discussing several aspects of the therapeutic relationship, such as, emotional reactions regarding the client or parallel processes that may be occurring. During supervision, I may share my own professional experiences as a clinician­-both my successes and blunders­- in an attempt to normalize the supervisee’s experiences and possible fears at this developmental crossroad.

Personal Interests: I love anything that involves my family- this can be taking a trip to the mountains, looking for geocaches (they’re everywhere!), dancing in the living room to 80’s music, or singing songs in the car. I’m also passionate about hunting and typically plan my year around whatever is in season. I enjoy having a vegetable garden, but unfortunately, have never developed a taste for things that are green!

Jennifer Smith, MSSW- Clinical Case Coordinator/Therapist

  • University of Tennessee, 2012jennifer2
  • Licensed Master of Social Work

Center Activities: Individual and couples therapy; consultation and liaison to community and campus resources; case management.

Theoretical Style: I conceptualize clients through a biopsychosocial perspective, understanding that personal identity is woven through the influence of a variety of experiences in the lifespan. I place particular emphasis on how an individual’s self-perception is shaped through family of origin and cultural messages. I draw from client-centered and strength-based perspectives with the goal of collaborating with an individual to increase insight and draw on his/her natural strengths to reach solutions.  I also integrate self-compassion work, mindfulness and self-care strategies within an interpersonal framework. My ultimate goals in working with clients is to create an atmosphere of empathy and genuine respect in which people feel safe, valued and are able to work toward goals, form a more positive self-perception and achieve desired change.

Professional Interests: Substance abuse/dependence, self-compassion, family of origin issues, spirituality, women’s issues and relational issues.

Personal Interest: I am a native Knoxvillian, and I love this great city. I like to spend time being active outdoors and getting involved in a variety of community events in the city, whether through attending Market Square Farmer’s Markets, First Friday art shows, paddleboarding or swimming at Ijams or any outdoor festival. I also enjoy home decorating, growing vegetables and working on my house.

Doctoral Intern Clinicians

  • Ella Yung
  • Brandon Waits
  • Lauren Rosso
  • Sarah Schwarz

Graduate Assistant and Advanced Practicum Cliniciansprac2

  • Chandra Feltman, Graduate Assistant Clinician, UTK Counseling Psychology doctoral program (Not Pictured)
  • Cora Powers, Advanced Practicum, UTK Counseling Psychology doctoral program

Doctoral Practicum Clinicians

  • Erica Peppers, Doctoral Practicum Clinician, UTK Counseling Psychology doctoral program
  • Lauren Hamrick, Doctoral Practicum Clinician, UTK Counseling Psychology doctoral program
  • Rachel Carreta, Doctoral Practicum Clinician, UTK Counseling Psychology doctoral program

Administrative Support Staff


Erin Thames — Administrative Assistant IIerin2
Personal Interests: In addition to working as the front desk staff, I am currently a
student here at the University, working toward’s a Bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies, and then on to my Masters in Organizational Communication. In my free time, I enjoy Volley Ball, rock climbing, live music events, dancing and hiking with my dogs.




Caitlin Steciw – Administrative Assistant II

(Not Pictured)

Jessi Lewis – Administrative Assistant II

(Not Pictured)

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