Sara Ranssi is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with 20 years of experience in the field of mental health. Sara is a Registered Play Therapist and Supervisor (RPT-S) and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP). She specializes in providing culturally and language specific mental health services for deaf and hard of hearing individuals of all ages and is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL).
I often use Mental Health Therapist as my official title. However, my primary identity is as a trauma therapist. Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW), Registered Play Therapist and Supervisor (RPT-S) and, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) are some of the other formal titles I have acquired which contribute to my knowledge base as a trauma therapist.
Over the course of my career I have worked with a wide range of ages and presenting concerns, but at this time I primarily work with people eight years and up who are experiencing symptoms of trauma. I enjoy working with adults and teens, and treating people throughout the age span keeps my skills fresh. I have been in this field long enough that many of the children I started with early in my career have come back to see me as young adults.
I also provide mental health treatment in the Deaf Community and am fluent in American Sign Language (ASL).
My work with clients and supervisees is often experiential and includes play and somatic interventions that promote movement and connection. I do not believe that trauma can be healed by talking alone, but by increasing safety, unlocking constriction in the body and moving toward experiences that are playful and corrective, we can create new possibilities and new opportunities for change. I think supervision should be experiential as well so that we have a felt sense of what it is like to experience the same interventions we are offering our clients.
I believe we are all capable of healing, growing and making changes in our lives. In my own healing journey, I have benefited greatly from my own therapy and opportunities to understand my own nervous system better. Trauma is treatable and while therapy is not a miracle cure, I believe that we can help people to feel better, to get more flow in their nervous systems and move from a place of protection to connection.
I think the most compelling and humbling experiences for me are when clients trust our relationship and our work in a way that allows them to be vulnerable enough to do their healing work. When people leave my office feeling better than they entered I am compelled to continue to grow my skills so that more healing, learning and relationship building can happen.
Less talk, more embodiment. As a school and home-based therapist for many years I did not have access to a play room conducive to child-centered play therapy. As a result I often used play to explore, teach and practice skills. Even through these very playful interventions I was requiring too much talk and cognitive processing. Now my interventions often include more sensory experiences, more movement and more silent time to be in relationship and process the play at a more meaningful level. I love to apply these same playful, movement and sensory-based interventions in my work with my adult clients and supervisees.
I have been trained in Trauma Focused – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and I have completed the requirements to become a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) and Registered Play Therapist and Supervisor (RPT-S). As a play therapist I tend to be directive and body-based in my interventions. I am currently working to add the Safe & Sound Protocol to my list of services and delving deeper into parts work with Janina Fisher.
I completed my BS in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. I then completed a MA degree in Deafness Rehabilitation Counseling. I realized very quickly that I wanted to support individuals more holistically than I could as a vocational counselor. However, the experience of completing this degree opened me up to the Deaf Community, American Sign Language, and many compassionate service providers to model myself after. Finally, I completed my MSW at the University of Minnesota allowing me to specialize in clinical social work.
I feel lucky any time I get to be in a room with Alexis and Marit! They both have a special gift for being so present and attuned. They have so much wisdom as therapists, supervisors and leaders in the play therapy community; however, they often bring a humble curiosity to their work that leaves them open to new learning and ideas.
While these two share so many wonderful qualities they each bring uniqueness to our Safe Haven team. Alexis has so much energy for generating new and exciting ideas, for encouraging and inspiring others and for bringing people together in community. Marit has a special understanding of macro systems and supports learners in navigating complex systems in service of their clients. She is also warm, grounding and awesomely hilarious.
Purple, except when the Vikings play the Packers, then my favorite colors are Green and Gold!
After being a therapist for two years I was convinced that therapy didn’t work or that I was doing it wrong. I now have the insight that I was talking too much, that I needed to do my own work and that my calm nervous system is the best intervention. As I was failing as a therapist I took a 14 day trip down the Grand Canyon and almost left the therapy profession to become a river guide!
The Queen’s Gambit
The first concert I ever attended was Tiffany at a small county fair in Janesville, WI with my grandmother and younger sister. Garth Brooks was playing the next night but who had ever heard of him at the time?!
Sara in grade school.