Meet Our Team!
MSPC, LPC, RPT
I am also a presenter for churches, schools, and various organizations. I began presenting on the emotional pandemic that was already in motion prior to the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. The required physical safety measures only added fuel to a silent tsunami of emotional health needs. I saw a huge need for community-based interventions and awareness that was not being addressed. I trained and educated local school counselors, teachers and businesses on early detection of anxiety and depression, associated school and parenting challenges, psychoeducation on how the brain works, the purpose feelings serve (how to help children identify this), and creating a safe space and a common language. In addition to counseling and speaking, I also write children’s books to provide additional resources to the community.
My writing projects include The Invisible Riptide, a book for children and adolescents to navigate the emotional current of the world, and co-authoring From Surviving to Vibing:Tips and Tricks for Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults. In addition, I develop downloadable resource guides for parents, teachers, and mental health clinicians. I am currently working on a new child and adolescent book series. All of my books are written out of passion and as a voice for my clients.
I often refer to myself as a storyteller, as my writing often reflects the words of many generations and lessons from my own life, as well as the amazing clients who teach me as much as I teach them. My clients and three young children continue to remind me how precious life is every single day.
Additional resources can be found on The Invisible Riptide website and Artful Therapy, LLC, which provides art kits to build connection and understanding with your child, self, spouse or teen, made in collaboration with local Kansas City artist Courtney Pfaff.
My mission is to provide a comprehensive mental health service to youth and their families that utilizes coordination of care with all necessary parties. I believe in the importance of front loading on psychoeducation and equipping children and their adults with a common language and understanding of how and why they are experiencing distress. I tailor my sessions to each individual client and utilize a combination of CBT, play/art therapy, mindfulness/relation skills, talk therapy, and trauma work with EMDR (eye movement and desensitization). EMDR is a Level I evidence based treatment for PTSD, anxiety, depression, phobias and other emotional issues. “Research shows a success rate for EMDR in the treatment of PTSD of 80-90% (2009 LifeSource Group, llc).” I am Level II certified in EMDR and continue taking classes on EMDR while working with children and teens. I have been incorporating this therapeutic modality into my work for over 13 years. Throughout my career I have sought out additional one-on-one training with Sue Thompson, who one of the leading trainers in the country. I strongly believe in counselors taking care of themselves, too, and engage in biweekly therapy/consulting with Dr. Erik Kulick. I am also currently working on a designation in mindfulness for kids through a local Kansas City company, Mindful Child Yoga.
Areas of expertise:
I specialize in treating anxiety, depression, OCD, trauma (especially sexual abuse and sexually reactive behavior, for which I have frequently testified as an expert witness), grief and loss, single incident traumas (car accidents, etc.), divorce, parenting education and complex trauma. As a Registered Play Therapist, I often balance front loading on psychoeducation (the how and the why) and bibliotherapy (using books and creating a safe place to explore the mind/body and brain with kids and parents), with art and play often through the use of menus (cards with feelings, limiting/negative/fear based beliefs, body sensations, coping skills, and behaviors. Menus normalize these symptoms and provide clients with words they may not have or are not able to articulate. I prefer to include parents when they are a safe co-regulator for their child, as this allows me to work at a faster pace that is healthy for my clients and helps provide the family with the education and a common language to help with continuity of care at home.
I graduated from Denison University in 2004 with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology, followed by an accelerated year-round program at Avila University to earn my Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology in 2007, while also taking a 9-month course and receiving extensive supervision to become a Registered Play Therapist. While working at MOCSA (The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault), I counseled sexually abused children and often testified in court on their behalf. I began my EMDR Level II certification and continue to enhance EMDR skills and obtain ongoing continuing education for my RPT and general LPC license.
Memberships and Associations:
I am a member of Psychology Today, the Association of Play Therapy and participate in ongoing weekly supervision and counseling with Dr. Erik Kulick to stay up to date and healthy for my clients. I am an avid reader and am currently working with a publishing company on a new series of children’s books. I am also a co-owner of Artful Therapy, llc. This company combines the power of art and therapy as a proactive and non-intimidating approach to helping those less comfortable with the stigma of mental health. I have become a fierce advocate for reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and am currently working with the local Just Like You documentary on Amazon Prime Video, to help educate the world about the severity and prevalence of these conditions. I am also currently enrolled in a 9 month woman’s business’s group called, The Female Mastermind Group, with Jen Ciszewski.
I began my career interning at Swope Behavioral Health and MOCSA (The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexaua Assault). I was directly hired to MOCSA following my internship and worked there for over three years. During that time, I completed a one-year program to work towards my RPT credentialing (a Registered Play Therapist). Being a Play Therapist extends way beyond young children and allows me to give clients of varying ages multiple outlets of expression. It also provides clients with a safe distance to approach difficult territories by utilizing metaphors and other means of expression that are not as direct and overwhelming. After my time at MOCSA, I moved to Operation Breakthrough, working with families and underprivileged kids and teens. Once I had my first child, I moved into private practice and formed Aster Counseling, llc. This allowed me more flexibility to be with my son more. I have been in private practice for a decade and enjoy every minute of my day! I have recently begun to train clinicians and have had an intern for the past six months. I am discovering that I also love being in a teaching role.
I began speaking at the beginning of the pandemic for local churches and schools in 2020. By 2021, I was training Blue Valley Schools’ social workers, Children’s Mercy affiliates and later Shawnee Missions social workers. I have appeared on the Big Shifts podcasts with Dr. Brown, Dr. Patrick Porter (leading expert in braintap device), and on Dr. Amy Novotny’s podcast, and most recently on KCUR with Dr. Danda. The most meaningful podcast happened to be when I was interviewed by a class of 4th grade students’ about mental health and The Invisible Riptide.
Speaking engagements on The Invisible Riptide:
Featured talks from leading mental health experts discussing the current state of children’s well-being, the impact COVID restrictions have had on their state of mind, and the positive role physical activity can play in helping them reconnect, heal, and thrive.
- BVWell talk
- Cure suicide prevention
- Shook Hardy and Bacon national trainining for parenting during the pandemic – Multiple series at Village Press
- PTA presentation at Trailwood Elementary
- Virtual Public Health Forum On The Current State of Children’s Mental Health (Nov 3rd, 2021)
- Desoto Teacher Trainings
- Border Showdown for Kids
- “Pop-Up” radio event on Sports Radio 810 WHB
- Trauma training for the Ale House staff after the shooting on
- Blue Valley School District
- CoVene webinar (500 plus)
- National Shook,
- Hardy and Bacon law firm
- Training for parents regarding the new documentary, Just Like You: Anxiety and Depression followed by Q and A.
Children’s Mercy Social Workers, Highlands Elementary Teacher Training, Suicide Prevention at two local Catholic Schools, and The Junior League, Just Like You: Anxiety and Depression.
- Shawnee Mission Post: “Shawnee Mission Faces: Carron Montgomey, local counselor and mental health advocate” (Nov. 2020)
- Shawnee Mission Post: “JoCo Counselor offers tips for kid and families dealing with stress, anxiety and isolation during pace if this winter” (Dec. 17th 2020)
- Shawnee Mission Post: “JoCo counselor’s new children’s book teaches kids (and adults) that ‘it’s okay not to be okay’” (Dec. 2 2021)
- The Kansas City Magazine: “Article title”written with Dr. Julie Brown and Dr. Carolina Aponte (2021)
- The Kansas City Star Business Journal: Retired BLue KC CEO parlays his doodles into gig as book illustrator in collaboration with Carron Montgomery (2021)
- The Kansas City Magazine: “Two Local Mental Health Experts Wrote a Book to Help Navigate The Fallout of the Pandemic” (Feb. 21 2022)
- The Pitch: “Expert Authors Dissect the Mental Health Crisis Among Children and Students” (Feb. 25, 2022)
- The Kansas City Star: ”It’s OK to be not OK.’ How Parents can talk to their kids about mental health” (March 6, 2022),
Carron Montgomery, LPC, RPT
Passionate Clinician, Author, Presenter, Trainer and Speaker
Carron Montgomery Counseling, llc and Artful Therapy, llc
Dr. Caroline Danda
Dr. Caroline Danda is a clinical child psychologist in private practice and co-author of the recently released From Surviving to Vibing: Filling in the Gaps. She specializes in working with children and adolescents with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral regulation problems. Dr. Danda has extensive training and experience with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and associated modalities such as mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy, and parent-child interaction therapy. She has real-world experience as a mother of 3 children and is active in the community.
Dr. Danda’s passion is working with children and teens who have “big emotions” and normalizing mental and emotional well-being. She strives to help youth and their families not only resolve current challenges but also develop foundational skills for thriving. She uses evidence-based strategies and information and tailors them to the presenting concerns, the individual, the family, and the environment. She embraces collaboration with other important adults (e.g., parents, schools, physicians) involved in the child’s life and care as well as integrates a mind-body, biopsychosocial approach. She frequently incorporates play-based strategies and books to help illustrate concepts and explore a child or teen’s world.
Dr. Danda is enthusiastic about sharing what she knows, frequently presenting workshops to parents, schools, and other professionals as well as contributing to articles and podcasts. She recently co-founded The Invisible Riptide organization with registered play therapist Carron Montgomery as a way to improve understanding of mental health by providing provide information, resources, and practical strategies that spark conversation and build resilience.
Her previous training includes graduate school at the University of Florida, an internship at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Developmental and Behavioral Sciences, and post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KU Med) in Behavioral Pediatrics and Gastroenterology. Past work experience includes positions as a clinical assistant professor at KU Med where she was highly involved in working with functional abdominal disorders and then as a staff psychologist at the Kansas City Center for Anxiety Treatment.
“Our adolescent son recently needed help describing some anxious feelings. Thankfully, we had just bought The Invisible Riptide and asked him to read it. The book was a superb help in our discussion, and helped him realize how normal his feelings are, especially now.”
– Mother of Four
“It has given us words to talk about how we’re feeling and emphasized the importance of asking for help when we need it.”
– Mother of Five
“I have read The Invisible Riptide, and it spoke to my heart and to my passion for meeting the social/emotional/behavioral needs of students who have experienced trauma, neglect, abuse, insecure attachment with a caring adult, transience, unstable home environments, and any other experience that causes a change in the brain’s ability to process big feelings.”
– Special Education Teacher
“...It was one of the first times I had ever seen my thoughts, on paper, and coming from someone else. It’s extremely validating to know that my generation as a whole has these thoughts too, and we’re not alone.”
– Junior in High School
Chris has been a musician since his first performance in 1976. He had a long and varied career in the 80s before pausing to raise his family. His music career flourished again from a push from his Montessori teacher, and he began to perform and write music for children. This started his career as “Mr. Doolittle,” a children’s musician. Chris releases self-produced and original compositions, performs at schools around the KC area, and does children’s festivals. In 2019, he retired and resumed his dream full-time. In 2022, Chris was brought on to write songs for The Invisible Riptide. Chris shared our passion for developing much-needed resources aimed at helping families with mental health wellness and began writing amazing songs.
Event Coordinator, Community Connector, Enthusiast
Kristal’s mission is to build community and connection in this great city we call home! Kristal is a consummate volunteer within the community. She was first introduced to The Invisible Riptide during the Junior League KC C3KC conference, where Caroline and Carron presented the mental health crisis in young children. She shares the same passion and vision for supporting the building of mental wellness through community, collaboration, and connection. Kristal has been instrumental in creating ongoing community connections to partner with The Invisible Riptide and coordinate events like the Summer Refresh and Back to School Recharge Family Fun Events. She is the Community Coordinator for HoneyDews KC and has partnered with Denise Albright to promote organizational tools for enjoying more and stressing less.