Our team is made up of educators and therapists with years of experience who have a strong passion to revolutionize educational systems, support families, and enhance the services provided to students.
Jessica Pfieffer, LCSW, SSW
Jessica Pfeiffer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Licensed School Social Worker in Denver, CO. Jessica is a ChildTrauma Academy Education Fellow and the Founder of Intricate Roots. Over the last 15 years, Jessica has provided trainings, consultations, coaching, and observations to educational systems around the world. Jessica focuses on embedding a neurobiological lens in the school setting and providing recommendations and interventions that are developmentally relevant for students. She partners with school districts, day treatment facilities, public and charter schools, early learning centers, and state education entities to create customized and engaging trainings and supports.
Jessica is passionate about helping educators, foster parents, therapists, and others who care for children understand how the brain is shaped and how to create developmentally appropriate interventions. Though she focuses on children who have experienced childhood adversities, she believes that helping others understand brain development in early childhood has the potential to improve how children are served in a variety of settings.
Jessica is also interested in exploring how animals can enhance both the therapy and school settings. She is the co-author of “Implications of Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy for the Treatment of Developmental Trauma through the Lens of Interpersonal Neurobiology”.
Jessica is currently a student at the University of Colorado, Denver, working towards a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in School Psychology. She completed her undergraduate degree in Social Work at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. She received her Master of Social Work degree and Animal Assisted Social Work Certificate from the University of Denver.
Jessica is an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver, and an adjunct professor at Wartburg College in their social work program.
Jamie Higa, MA
Barn Buddies Coordinator
Jamie is currently a student at the University of Colorado, Denver, working towards a Doctorate in School and Clinical Psychology. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Chaminade University of Honolulu and received her Masters degree in School Psychology from the University of Colorado, Denver. Jamie is passionate about using animals as a tool to help foster social-emotional engagement and development in children.
Julia Dean, Amanda Mattila, Elena Bonitati (L to R )
Barn Buddies Mentors
Our Barn Buddies Mentors are Graduates from the University of Denver’s Graduate School Of Social Work and each have a certificate in Animal-Assisted Social Work. We partner with The Community Farm and the Youth and Families with Promise program through Colorado State University and Jefferson County and provide one-on-one mentorship to at-risk youth to help them build academic and social skills.
Coaches / Consultants
Jordyn has an extensive history supporting marginalized and at-risk students in educational settings. She worked at Excelsior Youth Services providing crisis management support to students and was the Day Treatment Manager at Mount Saint Vincent’s Sister Daniel Stefani School. As the Day Treatment Manager she provided staff trainings, developed behavior intervention plans and interventions, and supervised PARAs. Jordyn specializes in helping educators provide individualized support to students and ensuring a neurodevelopment lens is guiding school expectations and policies.
Lindsay Ritscher, LPC, ATR-P
Lindsay is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Provisionally Registered Art Therapist (ATR-P), and Phase II certified in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT). Lindsay’s goal is to offer space and guidance to children and teens so they can use art to express thoughts and feelings for which there are no words, give form to previously unseen ideas, gently uncover hidden parts or stories, build confidence and self-efficacy, and use art as a means of emotional regulation. Her work is guided by person-centered, humanistic, and psychodynamic counseling theories with a strong neurodevelopmental lens. Lindsay also uses knowledge of the Expressive Therapies Continuum, a neuroscience based approach to use of art media, to guide interaction with visual art materials in order to promote balanced growth and development. Lindsay loves to talk about the brain and how it works so that clients can leverage that knowledge to make change.
Lindsay’s prior clinical experience includes supervising the Creative Arts Therapy Team at Mount Saint Vincent in Denver, CO, working as a school and clinic based therapist for Child and Family Services in Fall River, MA and providing art therapy services for the child and adolescent psychiatric hospital at Marillac Children’s Hospital in Overland Park, Kansas. Prior to her clinical experience, Lindsay also worked with children in school and community programs, and with adolescents at a social service agency for arts based job training.
Lizett Gutierrez, LCSW, MA, RVT
Life events have a way of clouding a person’s strengths. Therapy is a platform for growth and recognition of one’s internal strengths and it can revive self-awareness. Within her therapeutic practice, Lizett utilizes techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior
therapy, motivational interviewing, solution-focused approach, and harm reduction psychotherapy. Lizett has guided clients with attachment disorders, acculturation/immigration stress and resilience, depression, anxiety, stress, ADHD/ADD, serious emotional disorder, personality disorders, co-occurring disorders, substance abuse and addiction. Lizett incorporates animal-assisted therapy interventions, if clients are amenable. Lizett is grounded in providing culturally relevant and appropriate therapy, encouraging awareness of the human-animal bond, and increasing access to mental health support to underserved populations.
Lizett has a Master of Arts degree in Special Education from the University of New Mexico, a Masters of Social Work degree with an academic certificate in Animal-Assisted Social Work (AASW) from the University of Denver, she is working on becoming a Licensed Addictions Counselor (anticipated 2021), and is completing coursework towards her Veterinary Social Work certificate (anticipated 2022). Lizett is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who can provide therapeutic support in English and Spanish. When Lizett is not working she fills her cup by laughing with her friends and family, riding her bike, listening to musica criolla, playing pinball, watching hockey and searching for the perfect croissant.
Maggie O’Connor, LPC
Teresa Coen, LCSW, AASW, SSW
Teresa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and School Social Worker. She has been working with children and families since 2007. She has worked with children, adolescents and families in various settings including in-home, schools, residential, day treatment and subsidized housing programs.
Teresa works from a developmental approach with clients and has extensive training in trauma informed care. The majority of her work has been with children and families who have experienced extensive trauma and families who have fostered/adopted children into their lives. She is certified in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics. Teresa’s passion lies in animal assisted therapy she has been working with therapy animals in her clinical practice for the past 10 years. Teresa currently works as a school social worker in an elementary school in Thornton, CO.