Meet Our Clinicians and Staff

Clinicians 2023-24

Nikki Dovel

Nicole Dovel, Counseling Services Lead Counselor

Nikki Dovel, LPC, (she/her/hers) earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from James Madison University, and completed her graduate studies right here at EMU in the MA Counseling Program in 2013. She has served as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Shenandoah Valley for the last several years in various settings to include community based services, crisis response, and clinical leadership and supervision. Nikki serves from a person-centered approach with the understanding that relationship and connection are impactful and transformational. Nikki is also trained in EMDR through the EMDR Institute, and utilizes this treatment approach often with various issues to include treatment trauma responses, anxiety and depression.  She strives to provide a safe space where all feel accepted, understood, and  empowered to take an active role in their healing and growth. Nikki’s personal interests include time with family, crafting, live music, and rooting for her favorite DC teams.

Annalise Livingston, MA, Resident in Counseling

Annalise (she/her/hers) is a Resident in Counseling who obtained her undergraduate degree in Psychology at James Madison University, and completed her graduate studies in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University. Annalise was born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia and fell in love with the Harrisonburg area on her JMU college tour. She has worked in various healthcare and crisis stabilization settings, including VCU Health Systems and Region Ten Community Services Board, and her love for supporting and caring for others has only grown throughout her experiences in the field. She believes in the importance of meeting people where they are, wherever that may be. She is passionate about helping individuals with anxiety, depression, interpersonal skills, and emotional regulation. She takes a Person Centered and Existential approach and actively integrates tenets of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Annalise enjoys spending her free time hiking, reading, attempting to learn how to cook, and spending time with loved ones.  

sarah ketchum

Sarah Ketchum, Resident in Counseling

Sarah Ketchum (She/Her) is a resident in counseling who received her B.A in psychology at James Madison University, and completed her Master’s of Science in clinical mental health counseling at Radford University. Sarah is originally from Frederick, Maryland, but moved to Virginia to start her college career. She fell in love with Virginia, and moved back to Harrisonburg this summer after 2 years living in Blacksburg. She previously began her career working briefly as a crisis counselor, and transitioned into working intensive in-home during her Master’s program. She currently works full time at SRMH as a behavioral therapist.  She has a true passion in this field, and loves to be a core support for anyone in need. She enjoys working with all populations, but enjoys specialties such as depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and LQBTQ+ communities. Sarah takes a person centered approach, as well as utilizing cognitive behavioral techniques in her practices. Sarah loves the outdoors, music, surfing and snowboarding (when Massanutten cooperates!) She can’t wait to work with you!

Melissa Hinton, Graduate Intern

Melissa (she/her/hers) is a graduate student in the EMU Master of Arts Counseling department. Melissa, raised in New England, moved to Virginia eight years ago. She previously worked in construction before entering the counseling program at EMU. Melissa shifted to counseling, from working in construction, as she is drawn to working alongside individuals as they navigate life experiences. She believes everyone can benefit from counseling as every individual has worth and value. Melissa takes a person centered approach when working with clients and strives to create a safe, empathic and trusting relationship with every client she works with. Melissa spends her free time enjoying the outdoors, walking her dog Elsie, creating art, reading and exploring local eateries with friends.

kris livingston

Kris Livingston, Graduate Intern

Kris (she/her/hers) is a graduate student in EMU’s Master of Arts in Counseling program. She grew up in Maryland but has lived in Virginia for over thirty years. Kris was a special education teacher before raising her two children. She works with clients facing anxiety, depression, grief, sleep issues, difficulty with life decisions and transitions, issues with identity and self-esteem, and relational struggles. She will partner with you to help you make connections between past experiences, present challenges, and what you hope for your future in a safe, non-judgmental space. In her free time she takes walks, reads, dances to good music, and spends time with her two adult children, friends, and family.  

Michael Tavolacci, Graduate Intern  

Michael (he/him/his) is a graduate student at EMU’s Master of Arts in Counseling program. Michael was born and raised in a suburb of New York City and moved to Harrisonburg in March of 2020. He has worked in several different healthcare settings and grew to love counseling while working at MAZE Sexual Health in Manhattan. He is passionate about helping individuals build, strengthen, and maintain healthy relationships as well as developing interpersonal communication skills. He takes a Person Centered and Existential approach to counseling and hopes to help people find meaning in their lives. In his free time, he enjoys longboarding, hiking, and playing video games. 


Lauren Shoss, M.Ed, Graduate Assistant, McMillin Center

Lauren Shoss (she/her) is a graduate assistant working for the McMillin Center for Sport Psychology at James Madison University, while also providing clinical services for athletes at EMU Counseling Services.  She is a doctoral student in JMU's Clinical and School Psychology program. Lauren received her Master of Education in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Sport Psychology from Boston University, and her Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) degree from McMaster University. At BU, Lauren worked as the sports psychology consultant for numerous Division I, Division III and youth sports teams. She is the co-founder of Zhilkin’s Vision, an organization created with the goals of raising awareness about mental health and advocating for resources in sports. Lauren’s work includes team workshops and individual sessions tailored to meet the athlete's mental performance and mental health-related needs. She strives to take a holistic, person-centred, collaborative approach when working with clients, allowing them to be the guide whilst being supported, accepted, and empowered to grow and learn. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching hockey, working out, and indulging in cooking competition shows. 

amanda gilbert

Amanda Gilbert, Graduate Practicum Student

Amanda (she/her/hers) is a graduate practicum student at Eastern Mennonite University who graduated with a bachelor’s from EMU in psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. She grew up in DC and Maryland and is excited to keep exploring Harrionsburg while finishing her graduate studies. She has worked as a community advisor and loved getting to know others and creating connections. She loves to meet new people and learn about their favorite things and activities they do for self-care. For her own self-care, she loves to dance, listen to music, read books, play with her three dogs, and spend quality time with friends and family. Amanda finds the most meaning in conversations about creating and maintaining life-giving friendships and relationships. She strives to take a person-centered approach, hoping to create a safe space for others to explore their authentic self and find meaning in their life.

fengyi huang

Fengyi Huang, Graduate Practicum Student

Fengyi (She/Her) is a graduate student in the EMU Master of Arts in Counseling Program. She worked as a social worker for nine years with children, adolescents, and their families in Southwestern China, before she came to EMU to study counseling. She was initially trained in pharmacology and acquired her Master of Social Work degree in 2014. Fengyi is a humanistic practitioner and believes that each person has the potential to change and live a meaningful life. Her theoretical orientation is informed by some tenets from contemplative approach, cognitive behavior therapy, and acceptance commitment therapy. Fengyi enjoys cooking, reading, and traveling in her leisure time.

nick la grua

Nick La Grua, Graduate Practicum Student

Nick La Grua (He/Him) is a graduate student at EMU’s Master of Arts in Counseling Program.  Nick grew up in Staunton, VA and in the Summer of 2023, he moved to Harrisonburg to begin his counseling education. Nick holds a BA in Theatre and a minor in English from Randolph-Macon College and worked as an Admissions Counselor for two years at Mary Baldwin University. It was a combination of working with incoming college students as a Resident Assistant and Tour guide at R-MC and journeying with high school seniors through their college process where he found an interest in counseling. Nick also identifies as Gay and is very interested in working with adolescents and young adults through the LGBTQ+ experience. He
also feels drawn to more Person-Centered approaches, along with Contemplative Psychotherapy and Existentialism. In his free time, Nick enjoys coffee shop vibes, watching different TV shows and movies, playing video games, and photography!


Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell is the Front Desk Attendant in Counseling Services.  She graduated from EMU in 2007 and benefited greatly from the support of the Counseling Center during her time at the university.   Now she is grateful for the opportunity to be in a role that allows her to welcome and support students who will benefit from these services today.  When she’s not at her desk, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family, hanging out with her goats/chickens/cows/cat/etc., supporting her church, and reading when she can squeeze it in.  Remember that you’re welcome to stop by Counseling Services for any reason - we weren’t meant to go through life on our own!  


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