Who we are


The Institute was created to meet a need generated by a significant deficit in the training of psychotherapists, physicians and clergy. Most providers have little to no training in sexual health. Yet sexuality is core to intimacy. In addition, sex therapists have little to no training in couple’s therapy. Yet relational dynamics effect the sexual relationship. This deficit left the public seeing uninformed providers.


The goal of the Northwest Institute on Intimacy is to make it standard of care that all people seeking psychotherapy can expect to see someone with expert training and supervision in individual, couple, sex and spiritual intimacy therapy. We believe that no matter what issue a client is presenting, whether relational, sexual, historical, circumstantial, intrapersonal or other, the therapist needs to be adept at assessment, diagnosis and treatment without a lack of training or self-of-the-therapist issue interfering with their care.

Our mission

Educate various clinicians and other educators on how to share the value of diverse expressions of healthy sexuality by providing world-class courses, supervision, and tools.


Provide the public with access to impactful resources on healthy sexuality.

Our board

The board's vision and charter: We want to see a world in which all people are sexually healthy, knowing how to create the level of connection and pleasure they desire. Educators and clinicians have the knowledge and competence to teach sexual health and intimacy well, and all people recognize the role sexuality plays into our overall health and wellness. They understand the value of healthy sexuality and treat it that way.


Board Member

Aimee Heffernan MS, LMFT, CIIP graduated with a master's degree from Seattle Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and is an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist. For over 10 years she worked at her private practice in Redmond, Washington where she specializes in relationships, sexuality, infidelity, women’s issues, faith/spirituality transitions, self-esteem, and body image resiliency. Aimee runs various workshops on sexuality and stress, presents for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and contributes to various podcasts. She enjoys speaking about mental, emotional, and sexual health. Aimee is a board member of the Mormon Mental Health Association and the Northwest Institute on Intimacy. She is an adjunct professor at Antioch University in Seattle, WA teaching Sexuality in Faith Systems and Introduction to Sex Therapy.


Board Member

Dafna Chen, MA, LMHC, SUDP, NCC is a psychotherapist, substance use counselor, relationships and Intimacy therapist. She is also the founder and CEO if Pivotal Center – where clinicians focus on healing relationships between self and others who are significant in their client's lives. Dafna is a life-long student of cultures, societies, and humans. She roamed in technology companies as an engineer, worked with people struggling with substance use and their loved ones, supported people recovering from life-traumas and helped partners reignite their passion. To learn more about Dafna please see www.PivotalCenter.com.


Board Member

Jamie Abenroth, MA, LMHC is a couples and individual psychotherapist who specializes in areas of intimacy and sexuality. I am committed to engaging my clients as whole, embodied beings and helping them get to core expressions of individuality and meaning. Jamie is also committed to challenge, redefine and expand the narrow American definition of what it means to be a sexual/sensual being because hopes to free people up to experience and share the core of who they are: sensual, embodied, distinct and creative.


Board Member

Justin Pere, MA, LMHC has 17 years helping individuals and couples as an Intimacy, Sex and Relationship Therapist. Specialties include low/no sexual desire or frequency, discrepancy in sexual desire, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and affair recovery. He loves what he does, so gladly invests in helping his clients. To learn more about Justin please see: www.claritycounselingseattle.com


Founder, Medical Director

Tina Schermer Sellers, PhD, LMFT, CSTS is a licensed sex and gender feminist psychotherapist, writer, researcher, supervisor, and public figure whose expertise spans sex therapy, spiritual intimacy, medicine, parenting, and social justice.  Dr. Sellers' book Sex, God, & the Conservative Church – Erasing Shame from Sexual Intimacy has had a global impact exposing the damage of sexual shame. Now she speaks throughout the world on how to heal, and how to raise shame-free relationally confident children. She can be followed on Instagram @DrTinaShamelessSex


Board Member

Cherie Katt, MA, LMHCA, CIIP is a sex therapist who sees individuals and couples.  Cherie enjoys working with people around the intersection of spirituality and sexuality, sexual shame, exploring sexuality/sexual orientation, and those that want to move from the fear based mentality around sexuality to the idea that sexuality can be and is a force for good in the world.  She works with sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction/painful sex or finding pleasure and connection after abuse.  In a culture of learned shame and hiddenness around sexuality, and really enjoys working with mothers around their sexual stories so that they can learn to have open dialogue and be the guide for their children they wished they would have had in their developmental years.


Board Member

Deb Thomas, M.S., LMFT, CIIP works with families, individuals, marriage & couples. 

Drawing from a variety of family therapy models, Deb generally works from a systems perspective. This means therapy will include consideration of the many social, cultural, and spiritual influences impacting you, your family, and your relationships.
Deb has advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT) and is a Certified Integrated Intimacy Practitioner (CIIP) with NWIOI. Deb is also a facilitator for NWIOI's retreats in Seattle, WA. 


Board Member

Jessica Szymas, MA, LMHC is a mental health counselor who loves working with individuals and couples to enhance greater self-understanding, achieve deeper levels of intimacy, and experience more pleasurable sexual connections in their lives. With curiosity and a good sense of humor, she invites her clients to ask hard questions, show up more authentically, and to be creative in finding their own answers. She works most often with clients who struggle with religious sexual shame, desire discrepancy or conflicts regarding sexual preferences, pain disorders (such as vaginismus), erectile dysfunction, and feelings of loneliness and isolation. To get more information or connect with Jessica, feel free to visit www.jessicaszymas.com.


Board Member

Kimberly Castelo, LMFT, CST, CEFT-T, is a couples and individual therapist.  She provides therapy from a core belief that people long to be loved, seen, accepted, and understood.  With that approach in mind, Kimberly strives to help people facilitate meaningful relationships with themselves and others in their lives. She can supervise LMFTA, LMHCA, rising sex therapists, and those wanting to learn more about using EFT in their own practice.  Feel free to look at www.healingmomentscounseling.net to learn more about Kimberly, her specializations, and her approach to therapy


© 2020 Northwest Institute on Intimacy

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