Mark Nichols (he/him/his)
Founder of Black Pine Counseling Center, Mark is Licensed through the Virginia Board of Counseling as a Professional Counselor. He is knowledgeable in a wide range of approaches to therapy, and takes a “what works” approach of fitting the theory to the client rather than the other way around. He operates by the philosophy that growing and encouraging health and resiliency is the most important part of truly overcoming adversity. In his own thinking, he primarily focuses on Cognitive Behavioral, and Existential approaches. Spirituality and religion are, for some people, highly important in their lives. Mark has a lifelong interest in world religion and philosophy, and is willing to work your beliefs into therapy if you so desire.
He has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver, and a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Mason University. He spent 3 years teaching graduate level psychology at Hebei University in China, designing and implementing his own curriculum across the span of their Master’s program. He then spent several years working in residential treatment for adolescents with a wide range of mental disorders, severe enough to be unsafe in the community. He has since spent several more years working in private practice, seeing individuals of all ages in the community as part of a large practice in Northern Virginia, and now independently in Newport News.
He has also been a movie theater manager, a runway model, a janitor, a voice actor, a consultant for an international company manufacturing oil prospecting equipment, a textbook editor, the sole proprietor of a lemonade stand, and does most of the work on his own cars.
His father was in the air force throughout Mark’s childhood, leading to quite a few moves around the USA. Mark continued his travels after reaching adulthood, exploring the US as well as living in China and Mongolia before finally settling here in Hampton Roads.
*We make efforts for our offices to be as accessible and accommodating as possible, however Mark's office is currently only accessible by stairs. If this presents difficulty, please let us know, so that we can discuss other accommodations.
Donna Searle (committed to unconditional positive regard for all people)
Donna is Licensed through the Virginia Board of Social Work as a Clinical Social Worker. With over 40 years of experience providing mental health services and a lifelong love of learning, she has gained a depth and breadth of experience and training that has enabled her to facilitate and empower a wide range of individuals in improving their relationships with themselves and their lives. Her most common techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused and emotional focused therapies, grief work, traumatic memory reprocessing and recovery, and a mindfulness practice of self compassion.
Donna's approach to therapy is informed not only by her learning, but also her own rich life experience. Through her own losses and suffering in life, she learned profound lessons and gained great compassion and a commitment to unconditional positive regard and acceptance of all people. A love of nature has given her a sense of peace and belonging. Working in the Alaskan bush where she went to work by dogsled, cohabitating with lizards in Mexico, and eventually immigrating to Quebec, satisfied her need for adventure. Painting, meditating, qigong, playing guitar, writing poetry, dancing and creativity feed her soul; as does learning, learning, learning about an endless number of interesting subjects. Her somewhat weird sense of humor is a source of never ending entertainment for herself, and to many of those around her. Reflecting on her own life, as well as her experience in her work with others, she can truly bear witness to the fact that our lives can become progressively better as we can come to know we are good enough and can be more kind and accepting of ourselves and each other.
Donna is wholeheartedly committed to being a part of positive change for every single person that sits down with her in her office. She approaches therapy as a creative, relational partnership that must be tailored for each individual. She holds that it is essential that you feel listened to, accepted, and that she understands what it is you want to accomplish. Her belief in the power of open communication and mutual understanding, within a safe relationship, suffuses her work. After many years of working with people, she will be heard saying "I love meeting every person who comes here. There have never been two people who are alike. It is an enormous privilege to be trusted and allowed to know what it is like for each person to live their lives and be who they are".
Aishah Khursheed (she/her/hers)
Aishah is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Professional Counselor. She works well individually with adults or children/adolescents, as well as families, couples, and partners. She aims to create an environment that radiates safety, security, acceptance and fosters growth. She uses an integrative approach based on the needs of her clients who have experienced different trauma from sexual/physical abuse, family conflict, grief and many others. In her own words " we are all individuals living a human experience while trying to exist in a system or number of systems. I have a deep sense of empathy, compassion and sensitivity of anyone dealing with mental health challenges."
Aishah values self-care and personal responsibility. She views empowerment as a necessity and loves assisting people with accessing their instruments of self-healing to create a more peaceful and functional life. On a more personal level, she comes from witnessing firsthand, the turmoil that mental illness can create in the lives of loved ones.
Seeking therapy is not only a brave and courageous step, but also scary. Being vulnerable to a complete stranger is not easy, but her focal point is to make the process easier. Change can be uncomfortable and does require a lot of work, but she believes that a more fulfilling life is worth fighting for.
Michelle Duclos (she/her/hers)
She works from a client centered approach, which allows her to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the people she works with. She uses techniques such as Mindfulness to find peace in the moment through acceptance of thoughts and emotions, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to target and challenge negative thoughts, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to help people explore emotions and learn how to regulate them, overall working together with you to reach your goals. Michelle strives to create a space for people to feel safe enough to step out of their comfort zone and explore the areas where one might overcome and grow in the problematic areas in their lives.
“Together we will identify exactly what you want to work towards. It is easy to say that you want to find happiness, but what does that look like? How can you get there? Together we can lay out that road-map and navigate all the twists and turns.”
Stefan Dabkowski (he/him/his)
Edie Moorcones (she/her/hers)
Ellen Goodloe (she/her/hers)
Miigaa Nichols (she/her/hers)
Miigaa is our practice manager, which means that she is the one who actually runs things. She has strong organizational skills, and is great at problem solving. She and Ashley will be your first/primary point of contact with us, and work with you to schedule appointments, sort through options with insurance and billing, and do her best to create an inviting atmosphere as you enter our practice.
She is originally from Mongolia and speaks Mongolian, English, Mandarin and a bit of Russian.
She enjoys learning, painting, decorating, organizing, traveling, meeting people, going to outdoor concerts and relaxing at sunsets. Also she never skips her warm tea and pastry with dark chocolate.
Ashley is our part time receptionist. She grew up in Hampton Roads, and is currently studying at Christopher Newport University with a major in psychology. She enjoys spending time with her family, and taking her sister shopping. She has experience in customer service in various backgrounds. Ashley is bright, patient, empathetic, has strong communication skills, and is eager to help you with any scheduling needs.