Shawn Neel, MS, LMFT, CSAT

What you can expect from me during our sessions...

When I first meet clients, I tell them that they are the experts of their own lives. I will be present with you throughout your entire therapy journey, offering my opinions and gentle, and not so gentle, challenges along the way. In my practice, I believe that therapy is a place in which you examine your story and the various meanings you’ve applied to it. You can expect to be validated for your worth AND be challenged to change the stories of your life that keep you stuck. You can expect me to be empathetic and affirming and to use humor and irreverence as we review, and possibly challenge, the story of your life. I believe in the power of the therapeutic relationship, and that change and acceptance happen most easily within a trusting and honest therapeutic relationship.


I collaborate with my clients to find the best forms of intervention for each individual or family. I tend to practice from an integrated framework of Narrative Therapy, Internal Family Systems (Parts Work), Pia Mellody’s teachings on developmental repair model, and somatic/body psychology based in the most recent neurobiological teachings.

About Shawn

I came to be a marriage and family therapist very thoughtfully after a career as a school guidance counselor. I worked in a rural school district and saw daily the need for mental health services for youth and families. This belief was strengthened further in my first relational counseling position as a family therapist working in a therapeutic school/day treatment with students impacted by significant persistent mental health conditions and the aftermath of emotional trauma. The process of bearing witness to families working on attachment, relationships, and trauma reduction solidified my therapeutic lens in knowing that health, wellness, and peace can only come through the pathway of attending to relationships within yourself and between yourself and others with whom you are vulnerable and intimate. To me, relational work is at the heart of every symptom, every diagnosis, every emotion and cognition.

In 2003, I earned my Marriage and Family Certificate from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, a specialized training certificate that complements my graduate degree in counseling psychology. In addition to my direct practice with clients, I serve as an adjunct professor and academic advisor in the graduate program of marriage and family therapy at Saint Mary’s University. I also provide supervision to marriage and family therapists in training as a nationally recognized American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Clinical Supervisor.

Marriage and family therapy looks to understand individuals beyond their medical diagnosis and work within each client’s system to bring relief, healing, or understanding. As your therapist, I will challenge you to be your best self. I believe we all tell ourselves a story about our life and that this story, left unchecked, can take us off our desired life path and lead us to depression, anxiety, unfulfilling relationships, and an inability to take care of our basic wants and needs.

My clinical interest and passions

My specific areas of interest involve assisting people in understanding and overcoming the profound impact of relational trauma on identity and sense of worth. I specialize in work with LGBTQIA-identified people who are working to dismantle voices and systems of oppression to live their best life. I am also passionate about work that involves re-storying childhood and relational trauma so that individuals can live out a life that is more congruent with their "truth." I am also adept at helping individuals and couples explore and understand how childhood experiences imprint on them and impacts how they do relationships.

As a relational therapist, I have the skills to assist you in "fighting" differently... So you are not left rehashing old fights, and you are able to move to a place of change through deeper relational understanding of your, and your partner’s, patterns and neurobiology. This is accomplished by understanding concepts such as relational addiction, relational avoidance, and childhood trauma and developmental and attachment repair. I also have extensive training in Exposure Response Prevention, a technique that is well documented in having a positive impact on the lives of people who experience symptoms of thought rumination, obsessions, and compulsive actions and activities (OCD) and interventions aimed at assisting individuals and families around compulsive sexual behavior and other impulse control behavioral patterns. In my ongoing training to become a certified sexual addiction counselor, I have also dedicated a portion of my practice to assisting males who have experienced sexual violence break the ongoing pattern of shame, self-harm, and suicidal ideation that is commonplace due to the toxic societal expectations about masculinity and the shame of being sexually harmed. I am also invested in partnering with community agencies and first responders to identify and reduce the loss of military, first responders, medical and dental professionals to suicide.

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Fun facts about Shawn...

In my spare time, you will find me consuming all that pop culture has to offer with music, television, books, podcasts, and movies.

Patronus and Spirit Animals: Fox, Owl

Enneagram: 6


CliftonStrengths Harmony, Consistency, Focus, Empathy, Restorative


"All people are born with worth. You cannot lose your worth, but you may forget your worth."
—Shawn Neel, MS, LMFT