Staff Marriage Counselor Bios



Robert S. Paul, LPC

Vice-President, NIM Services

Bob received his Bachelor’s Degree from Evangel University, his Master’s Degree from Georgia State University, and a Diploma in Christian Counseling and an honorary doctorate from Psychological Studies Institute. He holds a license in the state of Missouri and the state of Georgia as a Professional Counselor. Bob is an accomplished speaker who presents regularly at professional conferences and enrichment events both nationally and internationally.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television programs and has co-authored three books; The DNA of Relationships , with Drs. Gary and Greg Smalley, The DNA of Relationships for Couples, with Dr. Greg Smalley, and Finding Ever After.

He is a former professor at Evangel University where he taught in both the Biblical Studies and Psychology departments, specializing in Marriage and Family Counseling, Human Sexuality, and the integration of faith into all areas of life. Bob and his wife, Jenni, live in Springfield, Missouri, have been married for over 35 years. They have four children and four grandchild.


Robert K. Burbee, PhD., Licensed Psychologist

NIM Clinical Director, Intensive Therapist

Dr. Bob Burbee has 26 years of experience as a licensed psychologist working with individuals, couples, families, and groups. As one of National Institute of Marriage Intensive therapists Bob leads both Couples Intensives and Marriage Intensives.

Bob also co-ordinates marriage enrichment events and resources at NIM such as retreats and workshops. Bob provides a monthly column in the NIM monthly e-newsletter titled, Stepping Forward. Dr. Burbee has been involved with Intensive programs through NIM since 2000 and was part of the team at Smalley Relationship Center that helped support Robert Paul in developing the Intensive programs. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology, currently he is an adjunct faculty member at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. Marriage and family issues have long been an area of special interest for Dr. Burbee, and he speaks frequently to groups on these topics in seminars, retreats, and workshops. An accomplished performing songwriter Bob often integrates musical performance in his presentations to groups. Bob and his wife Mary Jo are active in their church contributing to children and family ministries including facilitating a Sunday school class for engaged and young married couples. Bob and Mary Jo have four children and reside in Springfield, Missouri.


Brett K. Sparks, PsyD., Licensed Psychologist

Intensive Therapist, Research

Dr. Brett Sparks is a licensed psychologist who joined the Intensive team in 2003. He currently serves as an Intensive therapist as well as contributor to the aftercare and research programs for National Institute of Marriage.

Brett earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary as part of his desire to integrate the Christian faith and the practice of psychology. He had the honor and privilege to serve as a psychology intern and then staff psychologist in the United States Navy. He left the Navy in 2003 and moved to the Ozarks in order to pursue his growing passion to help couples. After working briefly in a private practice setting with couples and individuals of all ages, he became a full time member of the NIM team in 2005.

Dr. Sparks and his wife, Jennifer, live in Branson, MO. They have experienced the challenges and joys of marriage since their journey began in 1993. They spend much of their time today trying to keep up with their three children.


Cindy Irwin, LMFT, ABCST

Lead Intensive Marriage Counselor

Cindy Irwin earned a Masters Degree in Family Counseling from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and her training as a Sex Therapist from the Psychological Studies Institute’s Institute of Sexual Wholeness where she has gained certifications in both Advanced Sex Therapy and Homosexuality/Sexual Identity.

She is member of the American Board of Christian Sex Therapists.

In addition to her work at the National Institute of Marriage she is also the founder and executive director of Life By Design, a local counseling center that specializes in Sexual Wholeness, Marriage and Family Counseling. Along with outpatient counseling, Life By Design serves as a resource on sexuality issues for the medical community and a training center for Masters Degree students seeking practicum work in marriage and sex therapy during their professional development.

Her passion is to help individuals gain insight and delight around their sexuality and for couples to experience all that God has designed for intimacy. As an author and speaker, Cindy endeavors to promote wholeness in the heart of each person as an outflow of the fullness of their lives.


Ken Bryant, Ph.D., LPC, NCC

Lead Intensive Marriage Counselor

Ken Bryant received his M.S. in Counseling from Pittsburg State University and his Ph.D. in Counseling from the University of North Texas-Denton. Other degrees include a Bachelor of Sacred Literature from Ozark Christian College and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Ken is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Missouri and Colorado and a National Certified Counselor.

In addition to his work with National Institute of Marriage, Ken serves as the Founder and President of Oak Tree Marriage & Family Ministries, where he, along with his wife, Carol, offer grace, restoration, strength, and freedom to marriages and families through biblically-based counseling and seminars. Ken has taught undergraduate and graduate classes in Counseling and Psychology in Texas and Colorado. Ken also served as a church pastor for over 30 years.

Ken and his wife, Carol, have been married over 40 years and have experienced the joys and the challenges of Christian living, both as individuals and as a couple. Next to their relationship with Christ, their marriage and their family are their greatest treasures. God has blessed them with four wonderful sons, four wonderful daughter-in-laws and eighteen (going on nineteen) precious grandchildren. They currently make their home in Springfield, Missouri.


Monique Wells, MA, LPC

Lead Intensive Marriage Counselor

Monique received her master’s degree in counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. In private practice since 1998, Monique’s calling is specific to marriage and relationship issues. One of her greatest joys is to come alongside a couple in crisis and be used by God to bring healing and restoration.

Monique a Canadian and Grant, a New Zealander, were married in 1993 and have two beautiful daughters, Emma Clare and Phoebe. They moved to Rome, GA in 2006 to join the adjunct faculty of WinShape Marriage and for Monique to partner with Battlefield Ministries, a ministry that focuses on Christian marriages and couples. Along with a private practice Monique partners with Grant to lead marriage retreats and Bible studies.


Verlette Berndt, LPC

Lead Intensive Marriage Counselor

Verlette Berndt is a licensed professional counselor in Missouri. She received her Masters of Arts in Counseling from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in 1995 and has since been counseling couples, individuals and families.

For nine years, she served as a counselor and the Director of Counseling at Doulos Ministries/Shelterwood in Missouri. Since 2005, she has been in private practice and an intensive therapist at National Institute of Marriage. Verlette was also a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God for 10 years, part of which was in full-time church leadership, having received a Bachelor of Arts in Bible, Pastoral Ministries and Youth Ministries from Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri.

Her favorite aspect of counseling is having a front row seat to miracles on a weekly basis as God deeply transforms hearts, lives and relationships. She really enjoys getting to know people and witnessing God’s power to restore lives through His grace, acceptance and healing.

Verlette and her husband, Chris, were married in 1999 and reside in Branson, Missouri with their two daughters, Kirsten and Katarina. As a family, they enjoy camping, swimming, hiking, the occasional rock climbing opportunity and involvement in their church.


Stephen Bell, PhD., LMFT

Lead Intensive Marriage Counselor

Dr. Stephen Bell earned his Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He earned his MS (Marriage and Family Therapy) and BBA Degrees from Harding University.

Dr. Bell is an Associate Professor at the College of the Ozarks. He teaches several courses in the Sociology Department including Marriage and the Family and Counseling Techniques. In addition to Dr. Bell’s work at the College of the Ozarks, he is Co-Founder of Family Fanatics, LLC. Family Fanatics offers various services to strengthen marriages/families. Before moving to the Ozarks, he was the Assistant Golf Coach at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and he practiced therapy at the ULM Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic.

Dr. Bell and his wife, Tracy, reside in Branson, Missouri with their two daughters Lillie and Ruthie and their son Hudson. He and Tracy met through their mutual call to serve families. They enjoy the outdoors and being involved in their church. Dr. Bell feels very honored and blessed that God has opened up an opportunity for him to serve married couples at NIM and to be a part of NIM’s vision to serve God.


Ryan Pannell, MA, LMFT

Lead Intensive Marriage Counselor

Ryan Pannell received his Bachelor of Science in Family Relations and Child Development from Oklahoma State University and his Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling and his Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He is a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist as well as a licensed minister.

Prior to coming to NIM, Ryan was the Director of Counseling at Doulos Ministries in Branson, Missouri, where he served for 6 years. In addition to his work at the National Institute of Marriage, Ryan is the founder and director of the Woodland Hills Counseling Center in Branson. Ryan was also a baptist minister in Oklahoma for 6 years before entering the counseling profession.

Ryan and his wife Brenda have been married since 1996 and have 1 daughter and 3 sons.


Tim Williams, Ph.D., LPC

Intensive Therapist

Tim received his Master’s Degree in Education from Missouri Baptist University and a PhD in Counseling from Liberty University. He is a licensed professional counselor in Missouri. He is also an adjunct online professor for Liberty University where he has taught online courses since 2007, supervised online instructors, and been involved in curriculum development.

In addition to his work as a therapist, Tim contributes to the therapist training program and is involved in new product development. Tim and his wife Carol live in the Branson area and have been married over 35 years.


Patricia McLean, MS, LMFT, LPC

Lead Intensive Therapist

Patricia received her bachelor’s degree from Boston University and her master’s degree in marriage family therapy (MFT) from John Brown University. She holds licenses in both marriage family therapy and professional counseling.

Beginning her career path in publishing, Patricia spent 27 years editing and ghostwriting for magazines and publishers, including work for Gary and Norma Smalley, and others in the field of marriage and family ministries and counseling. Her work as an editor in this field led her to pursue her master’s. As Patricia was completing her last year at JBU, she began working at Smalley Counseling Center at the exciting time of NIM’s inception. From NIM’s beginnings, Patricia has had the privilege and continued passion to walk alongside husbands and wives seeking restoration and enrichment individually and relationally.

Patricia directs the Student Counseling Center at College of the Ozarks (CofO). There she’s implemented several programs designed to develop individuals holistically while providing strong foundation for healthy relationships and marriage. She is a certified marriage family supervisor overseeing the professional development of provisional licensees and aspiring MFTs from Evangel University and Forest Institute at the CofO counseling center. Patricia is a certified Enneagram educator and coach, using the personality inventory to help individuals, couples and families reach their greatest potential–personally and relationally–through customized approaches.

Patricia and her husband, Derek, have been married more than 30 years. Although life is unpredictable–filled with good and bad–Patricia and Derek share a spirit of openness venturing into, being surprised by, and embracing the adventures life, people, each other, and the great outdoors brings their way. They look forward to spending time with friends and their childrens’ families and grandchildren, while sharing and hearing the ever evolving journeys experienced by all.

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Cynthia Nicholson, MA, LPC

Intensive Therapist

Cynthia Nicholson received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Central Bible College, a Master of Arts in Counseling from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and graduated from the Spanish Language Institute in Costa Rica. She is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, and is licensed with the state of Missouri as a professional counselor (LPC).

As a featured speaker in churches and conferences for over thirty years throughout the United States and Latin America, Cynthia has focused on marriage and home and women’s issues. She is a professor for the Latin American Theological Seminary, and the Latin America Advanced School of Theology, teaching counseling courses for pastors.

Cynthia has been working with the National Institute of Marriage for ten years, bringing insights from a cross-cultural perspective. Having served with her husband, Richard, fourteen years as missionaries in Argentina and Mexico, they continue to travel extensively in Spanish-speaking venues, providing marriage seminars based on principles that are foundational to the clinical work she does at NIM.

She and Richard have three grown children and eight grandchildren.


Jenny Parker, MA, LPC

Intensive Marriage Counselor

Jenny Parker received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Baylor University and her Master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, with an emphasis in mental health.

Jenny also trained at Doulos Ministries in Branson at Shelterwood, a home for trouble teenagers. She has worked at a Christian counseling clinic and in a church counseling setting. She currently is in private practice in Nixa, MO where she counsels clients of all ages with diverse clinical issues. Jenny is involved in women’s ministry, facilitating Bible studies, speaking to women’s groups, and Moms in Prayer International. Jenny, her husband, and their children reside in Nixa, MO and enjoy a wide-range of outdoor activities the Ozarks provides. Jenny enjoys writing, running, and singing. Jenny is passionate about encouraging people to live in God’s truth and promoting healthy individuals, marriages, and families. Jenny believes the National Institute of Marriage provides the perfect environment for healing and individual and marital health. She is thrilled to be a part of the National Institute of Marriage with the clinical skills and spiritual focus of the staff as well as the practical tools offered for couples.



Dana Sutton, MA

Intensive Therapist

Dana Sutton joined the Focus on the Family National Institute of Marriage team in 2013. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Christian Counseling from Boyce College and her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University.

Dana is thrilled to be working with the Intensives. Her desire is to see marriages find healing through Christ and to restore their hearts and relationships. Along with her husband, Jonathan, Dana has worked in ministry for the past 14 years, including church planting and a ministry to the public schools. They have travelled internationally for the past three years working with missionaries and their marriages.

Jonathan and Dana met at Auburn University and married in 2000, and have four wonderful children. In 2011, Dana began working with marriages in crisis at a practice in Rome, Ga. Dana works with Battlefield Ministries, Inc. on a contractual basis as adjunct staff seeing clients on a weekly basis.


Rachelle Colegrove, MA, LPC

Intensive Marriage Counselor

Rachelle earned a Master’s Degree from The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and is currently working on her sex therapy certification with The American Board of Sex Therapists through Richmont University. She also holds an Elementary Education Degree from North Central University.

Rachelle is a licensed professional counselor in Missouri and a licensed Assembly of God minister. Rachelle is passionate about coming alongside couples and families experiencing relational conflict. In addition, her many years of ministry experience equip Rachelle for understanding unique pressures that ministry couples face. When not working at the National Institute of Marriage, she encourages couples and families in their relationships at The Relationship Center in Springfield, MO. Rachelle and her husband, Greg, also travel and speak at weekend marriage conferences. Rachelle and Greg have been married for 29 years. They also have two adult sons and reside in Nixa, MO.


Geoff Reddick, PhD, LMFT

Intensive Marriage Counselor

He is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, having earned both a Master’s degree and PhD in Marriage & Family Therapy. He completed his Master’s degree at John Brown University, and his PhD at Saint Louis University. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas.

Geoff met his wife, Lindsey, while they both attended John Brown University for graduate school. While there, they trained under Dr. Gary Oliver & Dr. Greg Smalley and cultivated their passion for working with couples and families. Before joining the NIM team, Geoff worked as a therapist in several settings, including a primary health care clinic, university counseling centers, a victim advocacy center, adolescent group homes, and an elementary school. Geoff continues to speak in the MFT field at the international, national, and state levels.


Lyndsey Cherry, LPC

Intensive Marriage Counselor

Lyndsey received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Evangel University and Master’s in Counseling from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor with the State of Missouri. In addition to working at National Institute of Marriage, Lyndsey works with McGuire Christian Counseling in Springfield, MO where she has worked with a wide variety of individuals, families, and couples.

Lyndsey is passionate about people and loves the opportunity to come alongside them in their journey, wherever they may be. She is thrilled to be part of the NIM team and loves to see the insight and healing that individuals and couples experience during an intensive. Lyndsey and her husband, Jeff have been married since 2006 and have two children.


Vicki Morgan, MA, LPC

Intensive Marriage Counselor

Vicki received her Bachelors Degree from the University of Missouri and her Masters Degree from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, MO. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor with the State of Missouri. Vicki enjoys the opportunity to come along side individuals, couples and families as they experience personal healing and restored relationships. She feels honored and blessed to serve at Focus Marriage Institute. In addition to working with marriage intensives, Vicki is in private practice in Branson, MO.

Before joining the Hope Restored team in 2014, Vicki, served for several years with the Branson based youth camping ministries, Kids Across America and Kanakuk. Vicki, and her husband, Bruce, have been married for 32 years and have four grown sons.


Kathy Wingo, EdD, LPC, LMFT

Intensive Marriage Counselor

Dr. Kathy Wingo was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree at Missouri State University. After teaching music and education classes at Baptist Bible College, she moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she earned both her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in counseling from the University of Arkansas.

After five years working as an elementary school counselor, she has worked at three separate clinics for a total of 25 years helping individuals, children, couples and families. Kathy counts it a great privilege to have been in clinics where there has been great freedom to integrate faith in Christ into every aspect of the counseling process. She has been licensed as a professional counselor in the state of Missouri since 1992 and a marriage and family therapist since 2000. During the past several years, she has been energized and passionate when it comes to helping couples restore and enrich their relationships.

As a young adult, Kathy spent some extended time doing mission work for a few months each in Kingston, Jamaica and Santiago, Chile. She has a special heart for missionaries and their families, as well as other ministry professionals.

Kathy is currently active in the missions arm of her church and also enjoys using her keyboard skills in the church orchestra. She and Richard have been married for 21 years and they have one son who is a college student. She is currently devoting all of her professional focus to the couples who seek help at the National Institute of Marriage.

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Alex Muzichuk, MA, LPC, S-MFT

Intensive Marriage Counselor

Alex Muzichuk received his bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Logos University in Jacksonville, FL and his master’s degree in Counseling and Marriage & Family Therapy from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, MO. He is licensed with the state of Missouri as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and currently pursuing additional Marriage and Family Therapist License. Alex is a contract therapist for Focus on the Family Marriage Institute and has a private practice in Nixa, MO. He loves people and is passionate about their healing and transformation.

As an ordained minister, Alex brings years of ministry experience and awareness of the ministry dynamics that influence family life. He sets aside a few weekends a year to be a featured speaker in churches and retreats as time permits.

Alex was born in Eastern Europe and moved to United States when he was a teenager. He speaks Russian, Ukrainian, and English. Alex’s heritage brings a new perspective to family life in American Culture. Alex and his wife, Natalie, have been married for 10 years and have four children.

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Travis Hill, LAPC, M.A.MFT

Intensive Therapist

Travis has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, with a specialization in Christian Sex Therapy from Richmont Graduate University in Atlanta.

Travis graduated from Berry College in the 1990’s.  Shortly thereafter, he moved to Atlanta with the intention of pursuing a law degree, but soon felt that God was calling their family to work in overseas missions.  In 2003 he and his family moved to SE Asia where they spent six years working to build relationships and change lives. In 2009, they moved their family back to the US and Travis began pursuing his degree in Marriage and Family Therapy shortly thereafter.

Travis’ heartfelt desire is to serve Christ through helping couples find greater intimacy, trust, healing, and hope in all stages of relationships. He also has a deep desire to help men struggling with various sexual issues and struggles that often cause problems in their relationships with God and others.

He has been married to his wonderful wife Stephanie for 21 years, and they have two daughters and two sons.

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Heather Medley,LPC

Intensive Therapist

Heather Medley is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Georgia and Board Certified Coach. Heather received her Bachelor of Arts from Berry College and her Master of Arts in Counseling from the Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.

Heather has been working in the private practice setting since 2008, but has also worked in a managed care environment, as well as with the Ga Dept of Behavioral Health. Prior to working as a therapist, Heather was in full time college ministry with Campus Outreach.

Heather feels called to journey alongside people in their struggles, inviting them to healthier intimacy with God, self, and others. It is her heart’s desire to see the Lord’s redemptive work in people’s stories.

Heather and her husband, Matt, have been married since 2007 and have one son. They delight in watching God’s plan unfold.

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Eric Joseph (Joey) Staples, MS, LPC

Intensive Therapist

Eric Joseph (Joey) Staples is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the Family Life Pastor at First Baptist Church in Branson, Missouri. In his role, Joey oversees family growth in the church and counsels with individuals, marriages and families from all over southern Missouri.

Prior to coming on Staff at the church, Joey was the Executive Director of Doulos-Shelterwood Ministries for 28 years, a counseling ministry in Branson for teenagers and their families. Joey is an ordained minister, is licensed as a Professional Counselor in Louisiana and Missouri, a Professional Family Counselor and a Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor. He is also an adjunct professor of Family Studies at College of the Ozarks. He is a member of the American Counseling Association and the American Association of Christian Counselors.

He graduated with his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Baylor University. Joey also completed Internships in the Baylor Counseling Center and the MHMR Center in Waco, Texas. Joey says his greatest joy in life is his family. Jeanie and Joey have been married for 35 years and have two adult children: Elizabeth and Eric, and their wonderful spouses, Mark and Jennifer, and three grandchildren, Reese, Lucy and Griffin.
He says, “I love watching the Lord bring healing and restoration to individuals, marriages and families through the discipleship process.”

Joey loves to write, run, and eat good Mexican food.

Scott Schmidt, MS, LPC

Intensive Therapist

Scott received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and his Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Evangel University. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Missouri. In addition to working with couple’s through Marriage Intensives, Scott is the Clinical Director at McGuire Christian Counseling in Springfield Missouri where he works to assist counselors through trainings, supervision, and administrative services. In addition to his clerical duties, Scott meets regularly with couples in distress through MCC.

Scott and his wife Penny married in 1998 and are blessed with three wonderful children, two daughters and one son. Their family makes regular trips to visit Michigan where the grandparents and extended family reside. Scott and Penny are very active in serving together at their church and have led small groups for couples since 2010. Scott’s other interest include reading, woodworking, and the time in the outdoors.

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