Counseling and Education Staff
The Ecumenical Center is a non-profit 501 C3 supported by a professional staff. We use a team approach, drawing upon the unique talents of professionals from the counseling, theological and medical disciplines. Our collaborations allow us to renew a person’s mind, body and spirit.
Our counselors have graduate degrees and are certified or licensed as professional therapists by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors or a state licensing board.
Elisabeth Hand, MT-BC
Music Therapist – Board Certified and Neurologic Music Therapist
Elisabeth has been providing music therapy services through the Ecumenical Center to the San Antonio community for two years. She provides a wide range of opportunities for clients to identify and develop their own needs through individualized therapeutic goals. While music is the primary component used in these sessions, the relationship built between the client and music and the skills practiced through it are what create a healing and lasting therapeutic experience.
Elisabeth works with individuals and groups to build coping skills, learn healthy self-expression, build confidence, and enhance creativity to help clients create a holistic lifestyle. She works primarily with survivors of trauma, individuals with disabilities, and addresses the difficulties related to depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
James Anderson, M.A., M.Div., Ph.D. (Biblical Studies) LPC-INTERN, Supervised by Richard Amiss, D.Min, LPC-S
James Anderson received a PhD in Biblical Studies/Hebrew Bible from the University of Sheffield in England and a Masters of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He has a Masters in Mental Health Counseling from Texas A&M San Antonio and a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from Southern Methodist University.
James currently works with all ages on a variety of issues. He often works with those desiring to implement spirituality into the therapeutic process, having seen the benefit of such an approach for those struggling with grief, trauma, anxiety, and depression. James takes seriously the belief that God is the ultimate source of healing as he seeks to work collaboratively with clients to foster autonomy, empowerment, healthy boundaries and well-being. Regardless of the issues, James works from the perspective that our thoughts play a much larger role in our lives than most realize. He maintains change is always possible – it is never too late.
Currently, James serves as Adjunct Faculty at various universities in the San Antonio area. He has studied in England, Israel and Germany and delivered papers in Ireland, Portugal and England. He enjoys traveling and writing in his free time and has traveled extensively in the Middle East, Europe and India.
His publications include articles on ancient Israelite religion and his recent monograph entitled Monotheism and Yahweh’s Appropriation of Baal (New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015). He is currently writing a book entitled Manifesting Peace, which is a synthesis of wisdom from the world’s religious traditions and psychology.
Mary Dom, LPC-S
Mary is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor. She has been in practice for over 25 years. After serving in the US Air Force for five years, she went on to obtain her master’s degree in mental health counseling from St Mary’s University in 1991. She provides counseling to couples, families, children, and adults and is currently in the process of becoming a registered play therapist. Mary also uses EMDR to treat trauma as well as other problems. As a therapist, she provides guidance and insight in a warm, accepting, and non-judgmental environment.
Thelma Rivera, LCSW
Frank E. Emmett, PhD (LT COL, Ret)
A licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Frank Emmett has more than 40 years of experience, much of which he gained during his time in the United States Army and the United States Air Force. He served in a variety of leadership positions in military hospitals and clinics around the world, and retired as Chief of Mental Health at the U.S Air Force Clinic at Randolph Air Force Base.
Dr. Emmett specializes in marital and family counseling, parenting effectiveness, personality disorders, and men’s issues. He has assisted many clients at the Ecumenical Center with spirituality, growth and healing. Dr. Emmett is also in charge of the Center’s testing program, through which he conducts a psychological assessment for individuals, parents, and corporations. He is trained in EMDR therapy for trauma recovery.
Nancy B. Franklin, LCSW, ACSW, Registered Play Therapist-S
Director, Child and Family Services
Nancy brings close to 25 years of experience in individual, marital, family, and child counseling to the Ecumenical Center. A registered play therapist supervisor, Nancy supervises individuals who are working toward their credentialing with the Association for Play Therapy. She also works with children, helps parents with parenting issues, and teaches the Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) course at the Center. As a former career military spouse, Ms. Franklin’s therapy experience also includes recovery from trauma, grief and loss issues among both adults and children, as well as other life stresses occasioned by the military lifestyle.
As director of psychodrama, Nancy leads a weekly women’s group entitled, “Who’s Running Your Life?” She received her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Arkansas and her master’s degree in social work from Our Lady of the Lake University. Nancy is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, Texas Society of Clinical Social Workers, the Association for Play Therapy; and the Texas Association for Play Therapy, including the Alamo Chapter. Nancy is also a professional member of Attachment Parenting International and La Leche League International.
Thomas J. Preininger, LCSW, MDiv
Social Worker / Spiritual Director
Tom has worked in the field of counseling for over
23 years. He holds a master’s degree in clinical social work, as well as a Master of Divinity degree. He is also an ordained Catholic priest and worked for 11 years as the Executive Director of the Hill Country Christian Counseling Center, Inc. in Kerrville, Texas.
Tom’s counseling reflects a deep respect for marriages and families. He sees families as the foundation stones of society: The health of families will determine the health of the society. He provides pre-marital counseling and has extensive experience helping couples work through their marital issues, such as communication, boundaries, feelings, needs, growth, and violence). Tom has worked with individuals dealing with depression, anxiety, grief, posttraumatic stress, and substance abuse; and with adults who suffered childhood sexual abuse. He is trained in EMDR therapy for trauma recovery. He also provides spiritual direction and often brings spirituality into the therapy process for those who desire to use the Bible, prayer, and other spiritual practices in the course of their treatment.
Richard Amiss, DMin, LPC-S
As a counselor, Richard has devoted 14 years to helping people through spiritual struggles, issues concerning both healthy and unhealthy relationships, and a variety of mental and emotional health concerns. He works with children in play therapy, as well as adolescents and adults in individual, couple, group, and family counseling. Richard’s vocation spans to include cases of domestic violence; various types of psychological, sexual, and other physical abuse, as well as the difficulties related to depression, anxiety, grief, PTSD, and diverse personality disorders. He also co-facilitates a Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) group.
Richard, a clinical supervisor, enjoys supervising clinical interns and counseling students, his most recent at St. Peter-St. Joseph’s Children’s Home. Richard received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Florida State University, his Master of Arts in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at San Antonio, and his Doctor of Ministry degree from Jacksonville Theological Seminary.
R. Esteban Montilla, PhD, LPC
Counselor & Pastoral Educator
Dr. Esteban Montilla is an ordained clergyman, a licensed professional counselor and a Latin-American theologian known for his ability in scriptural/psychological integration at both theoretical and practical levels. He received his master and doctoral degrees in counseling from Texas A&M University-CC.
Dr. Montilla is a diplomate/CPE-supervisor, as well as a board certified pastoral counselor and clinical chaplain with the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP). He is a pioneer in establishing counseling and pastoral care programs in several Latin American countries, and the architect of several of our present Spanish language pastoral trainings.
Dr. Montilla is the author of several books including “Viviendo la Tercera Edad” (2004), Family Counseling with Latinos and Latinas (2005), Pastoral Counseling with Latinos and Latinas (2006) and several articles on the various aspects of counseling and pastoral care in multicultural environments.
Dr. Montilla is an assistant professor for the master and doctoral programs offered in the Department of Counseling and Human Services at St. Mary’s University.
Expressive Arts Course Facilitator
Cyra Dumitru is a lifelong poet, former Poet-in-the-Schools with the San Antonio Independent School District and many other schools, freelance medical writer and a full-time faculty member in the Department of English and Communication Studies at St. Mary’s University. In 2011, she was awarded the Alice Wright Fanzke Feminist Award for Excellence in Teaching at St. Mary’s University.
Also a student, Cyra is completing her final phase of Poetic Medicine Practitioner training through the Institute of Poetic Medicine, founded and administered by nationally-renowned poetry therapist John Fox.
Daniel Thompson, PhD
Daniel works with a variety of clients and specializes in addictions. He is a Licensed Psychologist, listed on the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology. He is also Board certified in the Treatment of Alcohol and other Psychoactive Substance Use Disorders; a Board certified Chemical Dependency Specialist; and a Certified Compulsive Gambling Counselor.
Daniel supervises The Center’s advanced pastoral psychotherapy trainees in spiritual/psychological integration and provides psychological testing and assessment for individuals, children and business professionals.
Diana Grippi, M.A.
Diana Grippi has a master degree as an Educational Diagnostician, from the University of Incarnate Word. In public, private and homeschool environments, Diana has many years experience assessing children and adults for gifted and talented, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, learning disabilities, and intellectual disability. She is knowledgeable with all current assessments for diagnosing these various disabilities. Individual accommodations are designed specifically to meet the needs of each client. She carefully selects appropriate testing instruments based on the need of the client. Diana is knowledgeable in Federal special education laws and Texas Commissioners Rules, thus, her diagnostic reports meet criteria for special education or 504 determination. Diana’s experience allows her to recommend effective yet practical academic and cognitive strategies as useful research-based intervention tools for the client, parents, and teachers. She served on the Boards of Alamo Area Educational Diagnostician’s Association and Vocational Education for the Handicapped as well as many compliance and advisory councils.
Marla Rushing, MEd., LPC-S
Marla has been a counselor for 23 years. Along with individual and family counseling, he has directed programs in family preservation for teens on probation, served as a director for a child care and shelter facility, and worked with children and teens in foster care. She has an extensive background with trauma counseling both locally and internationally and worked with adolescents for 30 years. Marla has developed and presented the support group materials “Considering Forgiveness” and has worked with women whose husbands are sexually addicted. She uses a cognitive behavioral approach to counseling.
Marla earned a Bachelor of Science from Baylor University, and a Master of Education in Counseling from Texas State University, and has attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Nick Pantuso, LPC-I, NCC
Counselor & Neurofeedback Specialist
Nick specializes in neurofeedback therapy and assists with the Center’s testing and assessment program. In his neurofeedback experience, Nick has helped children, adolescents, and adults overcome a variety of challenges associated with ADHD, anxiety, and depression. He has also assisted adults and their families in coping with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, using the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) model.
Nick earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Texas State University and his master’s degree in counseling from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is currently working toward a board certification in neurofeedback (BCN) therapy.
Vicki Williams-Patterson, MCAT, ATR-BC, LP-AT
Counselor & Art Therapist
Consulting Art Therapist & Open Studio Facilitator
Vicki Williams-Patterson is a Board Certified Art Therapist and a Licensed Professional Counselor. She has worked as an art therapist since 1983. Her graduate education at Hahnemann University was strongly rooted in developmental psychology and psychodynamic theory, and she has continued with that orientation. Since 1990, she has been conducting seminars on the therapeutic uses of art in the counseling process at local, regional and national conferences. Since receiving her graduate degree in Art Therapy, she has engaged in advanced professional training in the areas of trauma recovery, Jungian psychology, and Sand Tray Process. In November 2009 she received the American Art Therapy Association’s Annual Award for Clinical Services. She is the past President of the Texas Mental Health Counselors Association, a division of the Texas Counseling Association.