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Meet Our Team

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Esther Sachse, LCSW-BACS

Executive Director

Esther Sachse, LCSW, a graduate of LSU School of Social Work, has twenty years of experience in Medical Social Work. Her expertise is in the areas of grief, life transition, coping with illness, working with disabled children and their families,  and depression/anxiety. Her practice focuses on children starting at the age of 4, teenagers and adults who have experienced loss and/or life transitions resulting in grief. Grief can challenge people emotionally, socially, intellectually, spiritually and physically. She views walking along side a client on his/her own personal grief journey as an honor and privilege. Esther Sachse holds a Certification in Thanatology (grief work) from the Association of Death Education and Counseling and is a Certified Oncology Social Worker.

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Gretchen Bankston, LCSW

Gretchen specializes in the treatment of mood dysfunction, substance abuse issues (food, drug and alcohol addictions); individual, family and couples therapy, grief and other life change issues. Gretchen is semi-retired, but chooses to continue counseling because she wants to pass on the hope that anyone can successfully navigate the journey of grief and change.  Watching her clients successfully live through difficult life stages inspires her every day. 


Laura Catherine Fortner, MSW

Laura-Catherine Fortner is a recent graduate of Louisiana State University’s School of Social Work. She achieved her master’s degree in a social work and received her undergraduate degree in sociology from Southeastern Louisiana University. Laura-Catherine’s professional interests include bereavement, parental loss, children and adolescents, disenfranchised grief, and special needs populations. She incorporates the use of art, music, play therapy, as well as CBT and mindfulness techniques to create various coping mechanisms that will fit individual clients. Laura-Catherine  hopes to impact those dealing with loss of all kinds and considers it a privilege to walk along side those who need support during the grieving process. 

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Carrie Davidson, LPC-S, NCC

Ms. Carrie S. Davidson, LPC-S, NCC, is a graduate of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, with a concentration in Fitness Studies, and Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Southern University, Baton Rouge, LA. As well, Ms. Davidson has a Certificate in Biblical Studies from St. John Bible Institute, Baton Rouge, LA. For the past 17 years, Ms. Davidson became passionate in working with teens, young adults, and adults as it relates to various mental health issues and substance abuse issues while working with the Juvenile Justice System, various Community Mental Health Rehabilitation Service programs, Health Clinic Agencies, Mental Health Clinics. She also has experience in working with teens, young adults, and adults that have experienced significant changes in mood, substance abuse issues, anxiety, and depression that a person may experience within various phases/levels of life. Ms. Davidson believes she is a compassionate vessel that is rooted and motivated in educating her clients with tools to navigate through life changes. She believes that her purpose is to inspire her clients to have the courage to work through life issues and be empowered to transform their lives by using an integrated eclectic approach. 

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Mary Ann Abel, LCSW-BACS

Mary Ann Abel is a graduate of LSU School of Social Work. Over 25 years, she has amassed a wealth of experience in hospice social work. She specializes in adoption, infertility, life transitions, divorce and loss. Mary Ann is also a former first grade and preschool teacher. She knows the effects grief has on a person and understands that not every one handles loss in the same way. Every person who shares his or her story with Mary Ann inspires her.

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Allison Purser, LMSW

Allison Purser is a Licensed Master Social Worker who received her undergraduate and graduate degree from Louisiana State University. She obtained her Master's degree form the LSU School of Social Work. Allison enjoys micro work and specializes in children and young adults with trauma, grief, and other forms of loss and mental health concerns. Allison uses methods and assists clients in creating their own coping mechanisms to best assist them throughout their various life problems. Allison enjoys using play therapy with younger populations and creates a safe space for all of her clients to express their feelings and various emotions. 

Joanna Hynes, LMSW

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Joanna (Jo) Hynes is a Licensed Master Social Worker who works with adults processing grief and loss, particularly losses associated with caregiving. She obtained her Master of Social Work from LSU in 2021 as well as a Master of Pastoral Studies with a focus in Christian Spirituality from Loyola University New Orleans in 2020. Jo worked as an attorney practicing family law and estate planning and probate work but found her calling helping people process their feelings to heal from grief and loss. Jo is certified in dementia care and trauma counseling. She uses interventions based on her individual clients’ strengths and needs, drawing from CBT, DBT, CPT, IFS, mindfulness, psychoeducation, supportive reflection, and structured problem solving.

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Sharon Valencia, LCSW

Sharon Valencia is a graduate of the LSU School of Social Work with over 30 years of Clinical Practice. Sharon specializes in the treatment of Mood Disorders: Depression, Anxiety, and the treatment of Couples and Families in Dysfunctional Relationships. She seeks to help those who are mourning a painful loss, to understand and embrace their unique grief. She believes in walking with the bereaved as they journey through their grief into their healing.

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Michele Guidry, LCSW

Michele Guidry is a graduate of the Tulane School of Social Work.  Her practice is focused on mental health and substance abuse.  She also has experience in hospice social work.  Her specialty is working with clients with substance abuse as she has experience with 12 step fellowships. Through her work, she is committed to helping others overcome alcohol and drug addictions, disordered eating, depression and anxiety that affect all of us in our lives. 

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Sara Sotile, LCSW-BACS

Sara Sotile, LCSW-BACS, a graduate of the LSU School of Social Work, has over thirty years of experience in the field of social work.  Her experience has been in the area of medical social work, particularly hospice and oncology. She holds a certification in Gerontology from LSU. She also has vast experience with at-risk youth and families experiencing homlessness. Sara considers it a unique opportunity to work with people that wish to address the struggles of life’s transitions. 

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Hilary Tallman, MSW, LCSW

Hilary Tallman (she/her) is a graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Social Work and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Hilary holds a specialized Graduate Certificate in Gerontology and has ten years of experience working with all age groups. Hilary’s collaborative, strength-focused, therapeutic
approach fosters a safe environment where individuals can engage in personal growth and healthy adjustment to various life transitions. Her professional interests include hospice social work, chronic
illness, caregiver fatigue, and grief therapy. Hilary views therapy as an opportunity to promote positive
change and personal value.

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