Annie works with children and families experiencing a wide variety of difficulties such as emotional regulation, social and emotional issues, low self esteem, ADHD, anxiety, depression, trauma, and attachment issues.
Rooted in psychological research of child brain development, Annie uses clinical play therapy to strengthen the connection between brain and body, helping children learn to regulate their bodies and emotions while engaging their interest and enjoyment.
Annie received her Masters in Social Work from Dominican University after graduating from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Cultural Studies. Most recently, she earned a graduate certificate in Animal and Human Health from Denver University, allowing her to practice animal assisted therapy. Annie’s work is also informed by her years of experience working with survivors of domestic violence and families in the child welfare system.
When not practicing therapy, she loves to spend time with her son, husband, and their pets. Annie enjoys training her dog, Zelda, to become a certified therapy dog. She also likes to make natural dyes and hand drums. Annie is a trained dancer and enjoys spending time hiking in the local forest preserves.
Gretchen Manske has 18 years of experience working in a multidisciplinary pediatric therapy center, serving in a number of administrative roles. Her most important role (and greatest passion) continues to be in supporting families throughout their therapeutic experience; ensuring that they have both a partner and a friend walking alongside them at all times as they navigate new experiences and learnings, insurance and scheduling challenges, and the ups and downs of parenting. Gretchen will continue to guide the unique focus of Birch Forest as a therapy center that integrates trauma-informed mental health strategies and a cutting-edge neuroscientific lens with natural child development and family focused, relationship-based care.
Gretchen holds a degree in Biology with a minor in psychology from Concordia University Chicago. She has attended trainings workshops through the ATTACh Conference, Trauma and Attachment Symposium, and Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child Symposium as well as completing several courses on topics of the DIR/Floortime Model, parent coaching, and a variety of approaches in trauma informed care with the pediatric population. Currently she is pursuing an Advanced Certificate in Traumatic Stress Studies from the renowned Trauma Research Foundation.
Outside of work, Gretchen enjoys spending time with her husband and three sons (and one amazing pup).
Dionysian Josts, Dio, graduated from Western Michigan University with a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy as well as a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Health Services. In addition to occupational therapy, both programs emphasized education and training related to complex trauma, mental health, and pediatrics.
Throughout his career, Dio has helped children and adults facing a wide range of challenges. He has worked with children through organizations such as WMU Children’s Trauma Assessment Center, Bethany Christian Services, Plainwell Elementary, and other Kalamazoo Public Schools. Within these settings, he has helped children encountering sensory, behavioral, and motor concerns as well as worked with immigrant and refugee children who have experienced complex trauma. Additionally, as an Early Interventionist in Kalamazoo, Michigan, he has worked with children and infants facing struggles in the earliest stages of life. Working with adults through the WMU Hand Clinic, Dio has helped patients recovering from significant neurological and orthopedic incidents and has also worked with adults experiencing a variety of conditions through the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital.
Through these experiences, Dio has had the joy of being a part of the lives of children, adults, and families from diverse walks of life. From an early age, he knew he wanted to spend his life helping others and has always striven to help those he serves to live healthy, enjoyable, and successful lives.
When not supporting children and families, Dio enjoys spending time with his own family, playing with his German shepherd, and exploring the outdoors. Some of his passions include playing drums and listening to music, meditating, and exercising. As a life-long learner, Dio continues to seek every opportunity to improve his ability to help the children and families he treats.
Madeline is a licensed professional counselor with a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development from Texas State University and a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
With this unique blend of education and 15 years’ experience, Madeline provides a comprehensive understanding of the unique cognitive, social, and emotional needs of children. She helps children experiencing difficulties such as emotional dysregulation, behavioral challenges, anxiety, depression, ADHD, executive function challenges, grief and loss, trauma, poor self-concept, school refusal, and educational challenges. She understands that integrating parents and caregivers into treatment is especially important for successful children’s therapy. She is skilled at providing parents and caregivers the guidance and support needed for them to facilitate their child’s growth and healing. She also supports parents struggling with conflictual feelings around the parental role and parental burnout.
Madeline adheres to developmentally appropriate practices such as therapeutic play, art, activity, and child-centered therapy as well as age-appropriate dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. For parents and caregivers, she provides parental psychoeducation, parental coaching, and child-guidance education to provide support as their child heals and grows.
Outside of work, Madeline can be found outside, with her sheepdog Pia, pursuing her love of nature and animals.