MEET OUR THERAPISTS

Each of our therapists has had extensive training and several years of experience. They grow to know you personally and care about you. You are valuable and they want to see you experience progress and fulfillment in your life. They provide “coaching” and “counseling” to help you realize your goals.

Carol Horsager – MEd, SEP, LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist), CTSS (Childrens Therapeutic Support Services)
Hackensack, MN | Cross Lake, MN | Wadena, MN

CarolHorsagerCarol earned her Master of Education degree in Parent Education and Family Relations from the University of Minnesota. She worked as a Preschool Teacher and Child Care Instructor and then took time off to raise her two daughters. Carol also worked as a Paraprofessional with Minnewaska Area Schools attending to students with special educational needs. She served as a Consumer Counselor working with developmentally disabled adults through Prairie Community Services and Storge Residential Treatment Homes. Carol took classes at Bethel Theological Seminary and earned her Post-Graduated Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from St. Cloud State University. She worked with children and their families in the home setting as a Mental Health Practitioner through the Professional Family Based Division of Nystrom & Associates. While at Nystroms, she also worked with couples, families and children on an outpatient basis. Carol has specialized training and interest in anxiety, trauma, depression, adoption and attachment concerns as well as marriage and family relationship issues.

Carol loves spending time with her family on their hobby farm and also likes camping, relaxing at their cabin, motorcycling with her husband and caring for the family pets. She also enjoys gardening, hiking, reading, sewing, quilting and playing violin.



Kate Friesner – MA, MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist)
REMER, MN | CROSS LAKE, MN

kateKate completed her undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Sociology at Houghton College in upstate New York. She returned to Minnesota to earn her Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul and is currently working towards licensure. She has worked with children, adolescents, couples, and families in clinical, home, residential, and school settings. Her areas of interest include depression, anxiety, recovery from sexual abuse and trauma, adoption, couples therapy, and parenting issues. Kate is especially interested in attachment and narrative therapy and the way belonging and emotional connectedness influence personal stories, thereby affecting all relationships from birth to adulthood. She is thankful for the opportunity to share in the stories of people’s lives and help them identify and succeed in the improvements they wish to make in their own life stories.

Kate enjoys cross country skiing, hiking, camping, and most other outdoor activities, particularly while participating in them with her family.



Christine Davis – LADC, MA MFT
Hackensack, MN | Cross Lake, MN

christine_davisChristine received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Drug and Alcohol Counseling from Metro State University in St. Paul, MN. She worked for the University of Minnesota Medical Center Fairview as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor since 2009. There she gained experience working with individuals, couples and families who were affected by addiction issues. She went on to receive her Masters of Marriage and Family Therapy from Argosy University. She is driven to obtain ongoing education related to ideas that will facilitate the opportunity for change and increased satisfaction in the lives of the clients she serves. Christine is trained as a Prepare/Enrich facilitator, a program specialized for couples in all stages of their relationship. Her areas of interest include depression, anxiety, grief and loss, trauma, addiction, and couple/family relationships.

Christine loves to travel and experience new things. She also enjoys participating in outdoor activities with her family such as golfing, fishing, skiing, and boating.



Tracey Malone – B.S., M.S., LMFT

traceyTracey received her undergraduate degree in Social Work from the College of St. Benedict and a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from St. Cloud State University. Tracey has over 12 years of experience working in the mental health field and is currently working toward her Marriage and Family Therapy licensure. Tracey primarily uses a cognitive behavioral (CBT), biblically based approach to therapy and believes in treating the whole person (mind, body and spirit). Clinical areas of interest/specialty for Tracey include infidelity, anxiety/depression, women’s issues and couples therapy. Tracey also has extensive experience in the areas of adoption (domestic and international), parenting (certified Love and Logic instructor) and child development.

Tracey has a strong love for God and a deep passion for helping those who are hurting and broken. She and her husband live in the Brainerd/Baxter area and have five children. In her free time Tracey enjoys sports and reading as well as local and global mission work.



Kari  Vacinek – MSW, LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker)
Hackensack, MN | Cross Lake, MN
KV photo website1

Kari joined Birch Lake Counseling in 2014 and sees clients of all ages, including individuals and families. Her areas of interest include; anxiety and depression, autism spectrum disorders, recovery from trauma, grief and loss, parent-child relationships, and disenfranchised grief.  She has training in various modalities of therapy such a play therapy, art therapy, sand tray therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, narrative therapy, animal assisted interventions and trauma systems therapy. Kari grew up in the Brainerd Lakes area and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Hamline University and a Masters of Social Work from College of St. Catherine and University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul. She holds a certificate in Animal Assisted Interventions and is interested in becoming a registered play therapist. Before joining Birch Lake, Kari spent over four years working as a therapist with children in grades K-12 in the Pequot Lakes schools. She also spent several years assisting Adults with Serious and Persistent Mental Illness to find and keep employment. As part of her Master’s program, she worked with young adults with learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, focusing on teaching life skills. She also provided individual and family therapy at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital, where she supported and advocated for pet owners making medical decisions for their pets and co-facilitated a pet-loss support group.

Kari enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, cooking, gardening, being outdoors, as well as reading, sewing, knitting, photography and movies. She also spends time with her rescue Brittany spaniel, Bill, who sometimes accompanies Kari to her sessions. She also has two pet rabbits she hopes to train and utilize as therapy animals.