Heart to Heart Child and Family Center for Counseling, LLC is unlike any other clinic, because we offer a specialty team for families that meets the needs of each individual within the family unit. Our passion is to strengthen families to achieve their highest potential. With great professionalism, care, and experience, Dr. Kathleen and her team will work tirelessly for you and your family. As a parent and a professional, Dr. Kathleen brings a heart for the success of every family to her work. 


Dr. Kathleen has a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in the state of Minnesota and a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S) through the Association of Play Therapy. She completed her dissertation on Secondary PTSD transmission, and has co-authored a myriad of books and articles on topics such as issues of attachment, grief, loss, and early trauma for children, PTSD, as well as articles on physical and sexual abuse.

Counseling Training
  •  Permanency and Adoption Competency Certificate (2017)
  •  Experiential Play Therapy (2012)
  •  Theraplay: Level One (2017), Level Two (2019)
  •  Yoga Calm (2018)
  •  Somatic Expressions (2018)
  •  Virtual Reality (2019)
  • Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (2020)
  • Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI)  (2020) 
  • Master ART (Accelerated Resolution Therapy) Practitioner  (2021)

Counseling Experience
Dr. Kathleen has been counseling children for thirty years. Dr. Kathleen has co-authored six books and has published numerous articles in professional journals and reference books, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Northwestern - St. Paul teaching Counseling Children and Bethel University teaching Neuroscience and Trauma Therapy.

Publications: Books
  • Amy Elizabeth goes to Play Therapy.
  • Caleb’s Healing Story: An interactive story with activities to help children overcome challenges arising from trauma, attachment issues, adoption or fostering.
  •  A Safe Place for Caleb: An interactive book for kids, teens, and adults with issues of attachment, grief and loss, or early trauma. .
  •  Allergy Busters: A Story for Children with Autism or Related Spectrum Disorders Struggling with Allergies. 
  •  Sensory Smarts: A Book for Kids with ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorders Struggling with Sensory Integration Problems. 
  • Generational Transmission of PTSD in Military Families. 


Counseling Options

click for descriptions

Heart to Heart Child and Family Counseling specializes in play therapy. The clinic houses two playrooms specifically designed to benefit the growth and recovery process of the children. The clinic also employs video monitors and a one-way mirror enabling viewing of playrooms for the benefit and inclusion of parents/guardians.

Play therapy is a form of counseling used to help children ages 2 to 12 years of age use their medium of expression to explore their thoughts, feelings, and life circumstances through play. The goal of play therapy is to help children learn to express themselves in healthier ways, become more respectful and empathetic, and discover new and more positive ways to solve problems. Parents/guardians meet with the therapist immediately following the session our clinic’s team approach is family focused. Review blog posts below for more information.
We use both directive and non-directive approaches: Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Attachment, Regulation Competency (ARC), and Experiential Play Therapy. We also have an one-way mirror so parents can view counseling sessions.

Heart to Heart Child and Family Counseling provides a variety of services for families. The clinic creates a welcoming and fun environment complete with games, snacks, and engaging activities designed to provide helpful tools for the development and growth of family relationships and resolution of conflict.

Heart to Heart Child and Family Counseling provides counseling services for teens and adults. Unlike children who experience change through play therapy, teens and adults are given the opportunity to engage in one-on-one talk therapy with a trained professional.

Heart to Heart Child and Family Counseling offers group counseling for clients who have the same or similar life challenges. Group therapy is guided by a professional and provides a supportive environment in which multiple individuals are able to encourage and learn with and from one another. Drumming is also used during groups!

Accelerated Resolution Therapy, often referred to as ART, is a form of psychotherapy with roots in existing evidence-based therapies but shown to achieve benefits much more rapidly (usually within 1-5 sessions). Clients suffering from trauma and other mental health problems such as Anxiety, Depression, Phobias, Panic Attacks, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Addictions/ Substance Abuse , Performance Anxiety, Family Issues, Victimization/Poor Self Image, Victimization/Sexual Abuse, Relationship Issues/Infidelity, Codependency, Grief, Job Related Stress, Pain Management, Memory Enhancement and many other mental and physical conditions can experience remarkable benefits starting in the first session.
The client is always in control of the entire ART session, with the therapist guiding the process. Although some traumatic experiences such as rape, combat experiences, or loss of a loved one can be very painful to think about or visualize, the therapy rapidly moves clients beyond the place where they are stuck in these experiences toward growth and positive changes. The process is very straightforward, using relaxing eye movements and a technique called Voluntary Memory/Image Replacement to change the way in which the negative images are stored in the brain. The treatment is grounded in well-established psychotherapy techniques, and the end result is that traumas and difficult life experiences will no longer trigger strong emotions or physical reactions. Importantly, clients do not even have to talk about their traumas or difficult life experiences with the therapist to achieve recovery.

Heart to Heart Child and Family Counseling provides Theraplay as a supplement to other therapies. Theraplay is designed to promote bonding in the parent-child relationships. It builds and enhances attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is a beneficial tool for families with adopted children.
Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships; Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge. The therapist guides the parent and child through playful, fun games, developmentally challenging exercises, and tender, nurturing activities.
Theraplay sessions create an active, emotional connection between the child and parent or caregiver, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding. 

Great news! We have a sensory room for clients of all ages at Heart to Heart!
By utilizing sensory materials in a therapy setting, we can drastically help the child break the old trauma connections in their brains and rebuild them with healthier connections. A sensory room is a great tool for helping children process their current sensory reactions and explore new sensory connections in a safe and regulated environment. Utilizing tools in a sensory room can help individuals learn to self-regulate, feel grounded, repair attachment relationships, understand emotions, and recreate healthy brain patterns in response to sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. See more information in our blog at the research behind sensory rooms!

Heart to Heart Child and Family Center for Counseling  recently opened a Virtual Reality Therapy Clinic (from Psious) that is housed at our office. It has more than 70 virtual environments designed to treat a variety of problem issues such as ADHD, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Specific Phobias/Fears (such as driving, flying, test taking, needles and more), PTSD, trauma. It also has the capacity to engage clients in exercises involving Relaxation, Mindfulness and Distraction of Pain, utilizing techniques such as EMDR. See https://psious.com/environments/ for more information.

Dr. Kathleen is a Registered Play Therapist - Supervisor, certified by the Association for Play Therapy and is a LPC/LPCC MN Board Certified Supervisor. She provides play therapy supervision to clinicians who are working towards their credentialing as a Registered Play Therapist and supervision for clinicians working towards their LPC or LPCC licensure (working with all ages of clients). Dr. Kathleen can provide supervision via a variety of methods including long- distance via doxy.me. Heart to Heart also have internships available. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Kathleen.

Heart to Heart is also accepts interns. Please contact Dr Kathleen at drkathleen@hearttoheartfamilycounseling.com or call her at 651-335-8219 for an interview.

Meet Our Team

Dr. Kathleen Chara, Ph.D., LPCC

Owner, Therapist

Lilly Tolen MA


Olivia Hansen


Natalie Eaton

Graduate Intern

Joy Rudenberg

Graduate Intern

Karston Chara

Assistant Play Therapist

Jennifer Mahlke

Executive Assistant

Kristiana Chara

Office Administrator

Tasha Lehner, MA

Blog Writer, Researcher, Product Designer


Counseling: Most major insurances are accepted. Call the center for insurance verification.



Important: After clicking on the needed document, please save as a pdf and complete.

Please fill out the following: a). Informed Consent, b). Sensory Room Waiver and c). Intake form (pick 1 based on age) and d) COVID-19 Form.

I. Informed Consent and Sensory Room Consents

II. Complete Intake (according to age of client).

III. Releases

IV. Treatment Plan

Here is the basic Treatment Plan we use but families can individualize.

V. Trauma Informed Parenting Information

Here is a helpful resource for how to be a trauma informed parent

Trauma Informed Parenting.pdf

TBRI (cflearning.org) 


  • 127 County Road C, Little Canada, MN, USA 55117
  • Suite 6


$25.00 -- click for desired amounts