Merritt Benz, LCSW, CDWF
Merritt is a Kansas City native but calls Brooklyn NY “her true home”. Merritt Benz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the owner of the Bedford Therapy Group. She is a Certified Daring Way Facilitator. The Daring Way™ is a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown and focuses on shame resilience skills and developing daily practices that transform the way we live, love, parent, and lead.
Before private practice, Merritt was the Program Director and helped open Gilda’s Club Kansas City where she provided individual and group counseling to people living with cancer and their family members and friends. Before moving to Kansas City, she participated in a post-graduate fellowship at the Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine where she provided both individual and family counseling in a community based setting. In New York she was the worked with various high risk teen population groups as Program Director for the Juvenile Justice Initiative, a new clinical evidenced-based treatment program (called Multi-Systemic Therapy) that provides intensive in home family therapy for adjudicated teens and their families, as an alternative to incarceration. Although her work brings her great satisfaction and joy, Merritt’s ideal day is being knee deep in a spring fed trout stream casting flies, hoping for a fish to rise, and celebrating with a cold beer on the river afterwards.
Heidi Coulter, LMSW
Heidi was raised in the Kansas City area and loves calling it her home. Heidi Coulter is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and a therapist at the Bedford Therapy Group, a private counseling practice that focuses individuals & Couples, Kids & Teens. Heidi has been working with children and families for over 10 years and is very passionate about her work. Before private practice, Heidi was a clinician at Gilda’s Club Kansas City where she worked with individuals, children and families who have been impacted by cancer. She also worked with parents and children at the Child Abuse Prevention Association and Children’s Mercy Hospital. When Heidi has the day off, you can find her enjoying life in Lee’s Summit with her two little boys and husband.
Kathie Hoffmann, S-MFT
Kathie is a Licensed Social Worker in the state of Kansas and S-MFT in the state of Missouri. She loves to travel the world and experience new cultures and different beliefs but Kansas City is home. Kathie has over 10 years of experience working with grief and loss in the mental health field. She worked extensively with adoption and infertility at a local adoption agency in which her passion for attachment and connection began to grow immensely. Prior to that, she gained experience working with children and families at the Boys and Girls club and working for the state to reunify family systems.
Upon pursuing private practice, she found passion in bringing a level of authenticity, acceptance, and kindness to a world that does not always value those things. Kathie now specializes in couples therapy and individual therapy. Special areas of focus are adoption, fertility struggles, grief and loss, shame, self-compassion, identity, anxiety, depression, relationship distress, infidelity, pre-marital counseling, discernment and divorce. Kathie is thrilled to be joining Bedford! When she is not with clients, she can be found on her yoga mat, in her art studio or adventuring and loving on her two German Shepherds!
Ashley Barrett, S-MFT
Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ashley Barrett became a KC transplant in 2012. After marrying her husband, she began the Masters of Science in Family Therapy at Friends University and is currently a S-MFT in the state of Missouri. While at Friends University, Ashley completed her clinical internship at Heartland Community Church where she worked with couples, individuals and families facing numerous difficulties.
Her undergraduate degree is a Bachelors of Science in Youth and Social Ministry which equipped her to advocate for underserved populations in her community. Before receiving her Master’s Degree, Ashley used the skills developed through her undergraduate program to develop volunteers and volunteer teams at a Minneapolis non-profit organization. Ashley’s passion is to walk alongside her clients as they experience the freedom of uncovering their true self. She holds a Prepare|Enrich certification that facilitates her work with premarital couples. When working with clients, Ashley takes into consideration the impact of her work on the client and their relationships. Her ultimate hope is that her clients will feel known and supported through their process of growth and change.
When Ashley is out of the office, you can bet she’s running around a playground with her husband and toddler or enjoying a latte at one of the numerous local coffee shops. As part of her personal self-care, Ashley knits a lot…and in public.
Kandace Callwell, LPC, RPT
Kandace is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Registered Play Therapist who has more than 15 years experience working with individuals, groups, and families in both the mental health field and school setting.
While Kandace has extensive training working with children and adolescents, she has also found a passion for working with adults and couples. By providing a safe space for her clients to process through their story, she hopes that her clients feel they have someone walking alongside them on their journey to find authenticity and their true smile. Kandace utilizes several approaches to help clients work through their inner and outer conflict by balancing exploring root causes of discord while finding solutions to progress in present time. Her specialties include anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, and adjustment.
When Kandace isn’t working with clients, she is soaking up time with her children, family, and friends. She loves losing herself in a historical fiction book. Reconnecting with nature is a priority for her, and if she had no constraints, she would travel the world full time!
Michael VanderWaal, LMSW
Michael helps adults at all stages of life achieve their personal goals. His approach is holistic, Person-Centered, and Strengths-Based. Before becoming a therapist, Michael assisted people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and mentored at-risk youth in Michigan. When Michael moved to Florida, he provided psychotherapy to individuals at a university counseling enter, a non-profit outpatient clinic, and a private practice outpatient clinic. He received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Andrews University and his Masters in Clinical Social Work at the University of Michigan.
Michael is passionate about working with diverse clients, including adults, couples, and groups. He helps clients gain coping skills to work through depression, anxiety, trauma, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, substance use, spiritual concerns, and difficult life transitions. He has a firm grasp of evidence-based practices, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Techniques. With this in mind, Michael believes therapy should be driven by the relationship, not governed by any particular technique or theory.
Michael has traveled to over fifteen countries on four continents. These diverse experiences have increased his passion for working with individuals with intersectional identities. He is competent in conversational Spanish after completing language courses, living in Spain for four months, and maintaining deep relationship with his wife and her family in Mexico. In his free time, Michael enjoys riding road bikes, playing pick up soccer, swimming, cooking delicious meals, and spending quality time with his wife and friends.
Verena Fawzy, S-MFT
Verena is originally from Ontario, Canada and moved to Kansas City to be closer to her extended family and has loved living here since. Shortly after moving to Kansas City, Verena began the Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy program at Friends University and is currently a S-MFT in the state of Missouri. Verena completed her clinical internship at Heartland Community Church and Palestine Baptist Church. She is trained in Prepare and Enrich, which allows her to work with premarital couples and is also trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy, which focuses on helping couples achieve the deep connection they’ve been longing for.
Verena is passionate about sitting with people and learning their stories. She encourages people to come as they are and believes in the power of vulnerability and being seen. Verena has experience working with individuals, couples, and families dealing with common relationship problems (communication issues/loss of connection), identity issues (finding your “true self” and finding the courage to live out of it), shame & guilt, depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and simply trying to process day to day life.
In her spare time, Verena loves to try new foods (and seek out old Canadian favorites!), cheer on the Toronto Raptors, grill out with her firends and family, and find the next Netflix series to binge watch. Verena is absolutely thrilled to be joining the BTG team!
Elizabeth Tullis, S-MFT
Elizabeth graduated from Friends University with a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and worked as an intern at Heartland Community Church before joining the Bedford team. Elizabeth has over 6 years experience working with adolescents in various settings, such as leading at camps, ministries, and internships.
Elizabeth enjoys helping individuals and families find freedom to live their lives to the full. She is a strong believer in connection and feeling seen and understood. She has a huge heart for teens and their families facing issues such as identity, self-worth, and processing life’s challenges. She utilizes aspects of Attachment Theory, Internal Family Systems, and Narrative Therapy to help her clients discover freedom from shame and fear, and live in their true identity.
Along with teens, Elizabeth has experience working with individuals experiencing challenges such as relationship stress, loss, anxiety, depression, and shame. She is also trained in Prepare and Enrich and enjoys providing premarital counseling to couples.
In her free time, Elizabeth loves to adventure to new places (whether its down the street or across the world), run around with her miniature poodle Hugo, swim, write, and spend hours talking over a glass of wine with her friends and (very handsome) husband.