About Nina

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, I hold a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of California, Berkeley and a Masters in Counseling Education from San Diego State University. I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist living in Sonoma, California and a certified movement therapist. I lived in Europe for a decade where I trained and worked in Education and the Arts with unforgettable teachers and peers. I now live in beautiful northern California where I enjoy private practice.

In 1990, during my Master’s program, my beloved mother was diagnosed with cancer. I left the program to be her full-time care-giver which unexpectedly opened me to a career I had not imagined. After my mother died, I completed my coursework, became licensed and sought the wisdom of experts in the field of death and dying. An opportunity arose to create a children’s bereavement program for hospice in San Diego, a rewarding passion I could not have foreseen. Through my work with youth and families, dealing with my own grief and subsequent losses, I discovered a whole new life filled with possibility.

My focus on arts in education and counseling spans more than 40 years, since 1988 specifically with children and adults coping with grief and trauma. In 2000, I founded a non-profit organization, WillMar Center for Bereaved Children.

As an artist, I enjoy the brilliance of oils and the simplicity of black and white media. As a therapist, I offer creative tools for children and adults. Curious about the human soul in all its facets, strengths and sorrows, people, portraits and figures remain my favorite subjects.

When I am not counseling, I enjoy drawing, reading, writing and storytelling, playing piano, listening to music and taking beautiful walks, especially by the ocean, with my husband, Howard.


Education, Certification & Licensing

  • California Licensed Marriage and Family Child Therapist (1992 to present) License#: MFC30252
  • Masters in Counseling Education, Pupil Personnel Services Credential, San Diego State University (1990)
  • BA in Fine Arts, University of California, Berkeley (1974)
  • Certified Curative Eurythmist (Movement Therapy), London School of Eurythmy, England (1986)
  • Diploma in Artistic & Educational Eurythmy, Lea Van Der Pals Eurythmy Academy, Dornach, Switzerland (1982)
  • Diploma Waldorf Education, Emerson College, Sussex, England (1976)

Advanced Trainings & Certification

  • “Traumatic Experiences in Childhood: Healing the Senses and Will through Education and Therapy” Center for Anthroposophy, Wilton, NH; “Art as Transformation and Transcendence in Times of Trauma” Prescott College, AZ: The Dougy Center, National Center for Grieving Children and Families, Portland, OR; “Helping Children Cope With Death and Dying” Kings College, Ontario, Canada; “Understanding Bereaved Children and Adolescents” The Center for Loss & Life Transition with Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D, Fort Collins, CO; New Ventures West Coaching Training with James Flaherty, San Francisco; “Peace, Love and Healing” with Bernie Siegel, MD; Trainings in Yoga; Feldenkrais Movement, Qi Gong, T'ai Chi Training with Master Li Li Ta
  • Relevant recent coursework: “The Enlightened Brain” with Rick Hanson, PhD; The Liberating Promise of Mindfulness” & “Lovingkindness” with Sylvia Boorstein, PhD; “Creating Your Life” with James Hollis, PhD
  • Ongoing professional courses addressing developmental issues through all life cycles, health and well-being and interpersonal relationships including but not limited to stress management, coping positively with life transitions, illness, elder care, learning disabilities, grief, loss and trauma, neuroscience research and resiliency, variety of creative arts
  • Mindfulness and meditation studies

Professional Experience

  • Private Practice, San Diego, Sonoma, CA (1992 to present): Counsel and support children, teens and adults coping with variety of life stressors and transitions, offer social/educational learning tools and classes for parents and guardians, creative arts and meditation, consult for organizations and businesses (see Counseling)
  • Founder WillMar Center for Bereaved Children, Sonoma, CA: Executive Director, Program, Development and Training Director. Developed free-standing 501 c 3 non-profit organization and safe environment for bereaved children and families, created and facilitated support programs for youth ages 3 to 19 experiencing the death of a loved one and support programs for children living with a loved one with life changing illness, created Parent/Guardian/Family programs, developed successful Creative Arts and Play programs, initiated and developed teen and adult Volunteer programs, created ongoing fundraising and educational events, grant-writing, promotional materials, speaking engagements, and multi-media communications approach. Facilitated trainings for staff and volunteers.
  • Led Sonoma WillMar Teen Delegation to PeaceJam, Denver University, gathering with 10 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates including the Dalai Lama and The Reverend Desmond Tutu and 2500 teens from 31 nations, culminating in teen service project to alleviate poverty in Sonoma County.
  • Presenter on Multi-media Creative Arts at National Symposium for Grieving Children, Denver, CO, became team leader for National Alliance of Grieving Children
  • Guest presenter: Classes addressing illness, death and dying, grief and loss, Psychology and Geriatric Departments, Sonoma State University, CA, Santa Rosa Junior College, CA
  • Facilitate in-services for schools and youth organizations on Children and the Creative Process, Healthy Living, Self-Care, Educational and Counseling Support for teachers, counselors and staff addressing multiple children and teen issues, Grief in the Workplace and in the Community, Sonoma, CA
  • Provided training for hospice staffs and volunteers regarding children and adolescent grief and loss, San Diego, Petaluma, Sonoma, CA
  • Created Grief and Loss programs for children in Sonoma Valley Elementary Schools, grief and loss programs for families, private practice
  • Program Facilitator, Valley of the Moon Hospice (now Hospice by the Bay), Sonoma, CA Created children/parent bereavement program, collaborating with social workers, nurses, home health aides and support staff
  • Program Facilitator, Hospice of the North Coast, Carlsbad, CA, Created first children's and family bereavement program for HNC, support groups for children ages 6 through 14 and parents including comprehensive creative arts programs, individual counseling for children and teens.
  • Facilitated support programs for young adult bereaved siblings participating in Compassionate Friends, National Organization for parents and families coping with the loss of a child. San Diego, CA
  • University of California, San Francisco's Pediatric Oncology Department, created support program for bereaved siblings, Bay Area, CA
  • Cancer Wellness Center, San Diego, CA, led children's support program
  • Guest Presenter: University of California, San Diego, AIDS awareness, Counseling Children, Teacher Education program
  • Facilitated children's support programs for Kids' Turn, organization for children of divorce, San Francisco and Marin Counties
  • Created and co-facilitated support groups for children and adults at “Grief and Growing,” a bereavement camp sponsored by three leading Bay Area non-profit agencies, San Francisco, CA
  • Facilitated Faculty/Staff Grief Support Program, Sonoma Valley High School
  • Guest teacher for Sonoma Valley High School Peer Counseling Program, Sonoma, CA, served on Advisory Board
  • Facilitated children's support group for Sonoma Children's Cancer Foundation, Sonoma, CA
  • Internships, San Diego, CA: Counseled homeless children, adults and families at Joan Kroc Center, transitional housing center, created art programs and educational video; Counseled college students at San Diego State University, issues included depression, anxiety, and general developmental challenges; Counseled mentally ill adults with dual diagnosis in milieu setting, created programs in music, art, therapeutic movement and storytelling

Professional Affiliations

  • California Association for Marriage & Family Therapists (CAMFT)
  • Association for Death Education & Counseling (ADEC)
  • Northern California Art Therapy Association (NorCATA)
  • National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC)
  • Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (Scbwi)
  • The Storytelling Association of California (SAC)
  • Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Let's Connect

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    My Office

    255 West Napa Street, Suite M
    Sonoma, CA 95476

    Please Note: I have opened my office to see some clients in person and continue to hold virtual appointments as well.