Our Team

Executive Team

Shelly Baer, LCSW, SAP-DOT

Executive Director / Principal

Shelly Baer is a licensed psychotherapist, substance abuse professional, and life coach. She has a long career working with children, teens, and adults. Shelly has extensive experience as a Clinical Director working with inpatient psychatric units, outpatient addictions clinics, and as a school-based therapist. Shelly is an advocate for providing integrative care with primary care physicians and behavioral health services in rural areas. Also, Shelly is the Founder of the Emerald Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides behavioral health services to victims of abuse, neglect, and trauma at little to no cost. 

Interests: horses, decorating, travel, and spending time with family. 

Kevin Baer, P.E., CEM, GBE

Chief Financial Officer / Principal

Kevin Baer is the CFO and Principal of Emerald Therapy Center.  Kevin is a successful engineer and certified Life Coach/Mentor. Also, Kevin owns Utilities Dynamics, an energy-efficiency solutions company. UDI specializes in the energy saving solutions for commercial, industrial, and retail businesses. 

Interests: golf, tennis, dirt bike riding, skiing, and travel.  

Jake Allen, B.A.

Chief Operating Officer

Jake Allen is the Chief Operating Officer for Emerald Therapy Center, LLC. Jake oversees the administrative team, facility management, programming, recruitment/marketing, revenue cycle management, and technology support. Jake was raised in Marshall County, KY. He attended the University of Kentucky, and Murray State University. Jake lives in Cunningham, KY with his wife and two sons.

Interests: Jake is a parent. He has no hobbies. 

Medical Team

Dr. Laurie K. Ballew, EdD, DO, DFAPA

Medical Director / Supervisor

Dr. Laurie Ballew is a Board Certified Psychiatrist practicing Holistic Psychiatry in Paducah Kentucky. She is also Board Certified in Addiction Medicine. Dr. Ballew focuses on the cognitive, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of her clients. Each client will have an individualized treatment plan. She sees individuals who may have mood disorders, ADHD, addiction issues, or early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s or other dementias. The age range of Dr. Ballew’s practice is 18 and above.

Dr. Ballew provides medical direction and supervision for psychiatric medication management and addiction treatment medication management services at Emerald Therapy Center, LLC. Dr. Ballew is actively involved in the development of an individualized treatment plan for each medication management client to help them achieve their life goals. Dr, Ballew focuses on the whole person with the goal of “Helping you be you.”

Derek Ratliff, APRN, PMHNP-BC

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Derek is a board certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner providing in-person and telehealth treatment at the Paducah and Murray locations. Since 2008, after graduating from Freed-Hardeman University, Derek has worked in nursing. While working as an RN, Derek developed a passion for working with familes across the lifespan. After pursuing a bachelors in nursing from Indiana Wesleyan, he completed his Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree at Frontier Nursing University. In 2020, Derek was recognized as a Kentucky Colonel.

Interests: playing board games with friends, working with the “Extra Life” charity organization.  

Brandon Morehead, PA

Physician Assistant

Brandon Morehead is a Physician Assistant providing medication management under the supervision of Dr. Lauire K. Ballew at Emerald Therapy Center, LLC. 

Jennifer Abelson, APRN

Jennifer Abelson is a Family Nurse Practitioner providing medication management services at Emerald Therapy Center – Murray. Jennifer has dedicated much of her life to caring for others and made it a career when she received her nursing degree in 2010. She continued her education, earning her FNP in 2018 from Austin Peay State University. As a nurse practitioner, she developed a passion for mental health care as this impacts all aspects of a person’s life. She is currently pursuing her psychiatric mental health certification and is on track to graduate with distinction in December.                      

Interest: Spending time with her family, anything outdoors, photography, road trips, and living life to the fullest.

Sharell Griffith

Medical Assistant

Sharell is a Certified Medical Assistant at Emerald Therapy Center – Paducah. 

Paducah Clinical Team

Samantha Jones, M.Ed, LPCA, NCC, TCADC

Director of Outpatient Services

Samantha Jones has been employed with Emerald since September 2020. Samantha is the Director of Outpatient Services. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate, Nationally Certified Counselor, and Temporary Drug and Alcohol Counselor. Samantha has years of clinical experience treating addiction, mental and behavioral health disorders. Samantha enjoys working with teens and adults and is currently accepting new clients in the Paducah office or via telehealth. Samantha is happily married with four children and spends her off-time riding horses and making memories with her family.

Interests: riding horses, being in the outdoors, meditation, and collecting crystals. 

Kim Rowe, LPCC

Kimberly is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with a master’s
degree in Counseling and Human Development, with an emphasis in
Mental Health from Lindsey Wilson College. Since 2015 Kimberly has
worked with clients providing both individual and group counseling to
individuals battling substance use disorders, anxiety, depression and other
forms of mental illness. Kimberly has experience working with all ages,
populations and modalities. Kimberly has also provided trauma informed
care to women in a group setting, She is a women’s support group
facilitator and volunteer tutor of local elementary school students.

Interests: reading, gardening, and spending time with her family. 

Olivia Lehr, MSW

Olivia is a Clinician at Emerald Therapy Center in Paducah. Olivia received her Masters of Social Work from Western Kentucky University with a focus in mental health. She has prior experience in inpatient and outpatient services. Olivia has a special interest in working with teens, adults, and geriatrics while specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Olivia has lived in Western Kentucky for the past seven years and currently resides in Eddyville, KY with her fiancé, newborn daughter, and black lab. 

Interests: boating, being outside, exercising, and spending time with family and friends.

About Me: I am very laid back and easy going; my office is your space to be able to open up comfortably without having the worry of being judged. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I am comfortable opening up with clients for the purpose of therapy. I personally understand the difficulties of mental illness and you are not alone.

Mark Hurt, MM, TCADC

Mark Hurt transitioned from 30 years in pastoral ministry to counseling with a special interest in addiction and recovery related problems for teens and adults. Also, Mark helps men and couples struggling with relationship issues and religious trauma. Mark was educated at Freed-Hardeman University and Harding School of Theology. 

Interests: playing golf and tennis, reading books about spiritual development, and doing just about anything with his 6 grandchildren. 

Jason Andrews, M.Ed., LPCA, CADC

Jason Andrews has been a licensed counselor since 2018 and employed with Emerald since August 2021, treating self-referred and court-ordered patients on an individual and group basis. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts from Murray State University and a Master’s Degree in Education with a specialization in Counseling and Human Development from Lindsey Wilson College. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Autonomous Batterer Intervention Provider, and Certified DUI Instructor and Assessor. Jason has years of clinical experience in inpatient and outpatient settings treating substance abuse issues, anger management, adjustment disorders, anxiety, and depression. Jason works with teens and adults and accepts new clients in the Paducah office or via telehealth. Jason enjoys focussing on his physical health in the gym or outdoors and has nine years clean and sober. 

Interests: Music, film, history, hiking, kayaking, exercising, eating delicious foods.

Roger Thompson, LMFT

Roger Thompson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Kentucky. He is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Roger has a Masters degree in Psychology from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Roger specializes in working with clients suffering from depression, anxiety, and other general mental health problems. Roger was formally appointed by the Govenor of Kentucky to serve on the Licensing Board of Marriage and Family Therapy, for which he served eight years. 

Interests: gardening, and photography.

Haley Buck, M.A., LPCA

Haley Buck is a Counselor at Emerald Therapy Center. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and her Master’s degree in Clinical mental Health Counseling from Tennessee Tech University. Haley has a passion for providing an  accepting and safe environment for clients. She enjoys working with client’s to meet their personal goals and to learn how to implement health coping strategies into their everyday life. She also enjoys utilizing meditation and mindfulness based strategies during therapy sessions.

Interests: Self-care, her dogs, the environment, and eating (not cooking) delicious food.

Joseph Hansen, Licensed Pastoral Counselor

Joseph Hansen is a Licensed Pastoral Counselor at Emerald Therapy Center – Paducah. Joseph provides individual and couples counseling. He sees young adults to older adults working with grief, trauma, substance abuse, and relationship issues. Joseph provides christian counseling services at the request of the clients. Also, Joseph Hansen is the Senior Minister at Reidland United Methodist Church.  

Mallory Thompson, LMFT

 Mallory Thompson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Emerald Therapy Center in Paducah. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and earned her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Harding University. She has worked in the therapy field for over 10 years. She has experience working in inpatient, intensive outpatient, crisis, and traditional outpatient therapy.
She specializes as an (EMDR) Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing therapist and is also trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
“My passion is to help people heal through their trauma. We are not meant to be our traumas. I look forward to helping you redefine your life’s narrative to be that of positivity and hope.”

Interests: reading, sports, playing with my dog, crafts, laughing, meditation, yoga, Church, and being with my loved ones.

Olivia Carter, TSS

Case Manager / Therapeutic Support Specialist

Olivia is a Case Manager and Therapeutic Support Specialist (TSS) at Emerald Therapy Center – Paducah. Olivia received her Bachelors Degree in Learning Behavior Disorders and Human Development from Murray State University. Olivia provides family and individual case management services as well as behavioral modification pyscho-education for children and teens. Professionally, Olivia has spent 14 years working with behavioral disorders and learning disabilities in youth. Her Case Management services are for clients of any age. She coordinates with DCBS, school issues, accessing community resources, and removing barriers that affect clients and/or their families in daily function. Olivia provides services for clients age 4-21, incorporating play therapy and CBT. Olivia lives in Kevil with her husband and son  

Interests: gardening, and being out by the pool. Also, Olivia loves to root for the University of Tennessee, GO VOLS !!!

Alexa Landis, MSW

Alexa is a Clinical Therapist at Emerald Therapy Center – Paducah. Alexa graduated with her Bachelors degree in Psychology, and her Masters degree in Social Work with a specialty in mental health. She has experiences in both inpatient and outpatient services. Alexa works within the populations of young children, adolescent/ teens, and adults. She specializes in trauma, anxiety, and Christian counseling. She is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and practices Play Therapy. 
Interests: being outdoors, reading, and spending time with those closest to her. 

Holly Mann, CIT

Holly Mann is a Clinician-In-Training at Emerald Therapy Center, LLC Holly is a second year graduate student from Liberty University completing her Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health counseling. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in sociology. Holly enjoys working with those in need of improving their mental health and overall wellbeing. 

Interests: Spending time with her husband and her two cats. 

Drew Lucas, CIT

Drew Lucas graduated from Murray State University in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale.  Upon completion of his  degree, Drew will pursue licensure in the state of Kentucky as an LPCC. Some populations of interest and potential specialties include severe mental illness, substance abuse, trauma, and geriatric. 

Interests: Playing golf, traveling, and spending time with his girlfriend.

Megan Harmon, CIT

Megan is a second year graduate student from SIU-Carbondale. She is completing her Master’s degree in clinical Mental Health Counseling. Megan recieved her Bachelor’s in Communication Disorders with a minor in Psychology. Megan enjoys helping those in need of mental health support. She specializes in trauma for adults and sees clients at the Paducah office. 

Interests: spending time with family, traveling, and cheering for the University of Alabama. 

Christine Howard, MA

Certified Autism Specialist

Christine is a Behavioral Interventionist and Case Manager at Emerald Therapy Center with a specialty in Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Christine does home and community visits in Mayfield, Murray, and Paducah.  Christine received her Bachelor’s Degree in Learning Behavior Disorders and specialized education from Western Kentucky University and Master’s Degree in Learning Behavior Disorders from Murray State University.  Christine provides behavioral modification for children, teens, and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Professionally, Christine 23 years experience working with autism spectrum disorder, behavioral disorders, and learning disabilities in youth. Christine prides herself on balancing client’s needs and interests to maximize community, school, and home experiences.  She specializes in direct social skills instruction, behavioral interventions, communication skills, and school/work readiness skills for individuals identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  She also teaches  the ongoing Autism Parenting Tips/Support Group.  

Interests: horses, anything and everything Kentucky Lake, going to the gym, tennis, painting, and spending time with her daughters

Laurna Todd, BSW

Intake Coordinator

Laurna Todd is the Intake Coordinator at Emerald Therapy Center, LLC. Laurna received her Bachelors in Social Work from Western Kentucky University in 2020. She initiates all new clients and pairs each with the appropriate clinician and program/group. 

Interests: Exercising, being outside, walking her dog, playing tennis and golf, and spending time with friends and family. 

Ebone Ross, MPA, CIT

Ebone Ross is a Clinician-In-training at Emerald Therapy Center, LLC. Ebone Ross was born in Tennessee, where she lived and worked from 2006-2009 after college at Murray State University in Murray, KY. She studied Criminal Justice and Organizational Communication as a Ronald McNair Scholar. Ebone began researching organizational trends, barriers, and systemic structures in the field with plans to work for the Federal Government. While working for the state government as a Pretrial Counselor supervising individuals within the Criminal Justice Center, she facilitated new client orientation, Anger Management, Parenting, and Batterers Intervention programs independently. In 2009, she began working for the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a Pretrial Officer.

Ebone is currently in graduate school for Clinical Mental Health Counseling and works full time for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

In 2016, Ebone received an award for Community Leader, and in 2017, she received a pin of distinction and a Distinguished Alumni award. Her expertise and experience have presented opportunities to lead workshops, assist in a crisis center/shelter, complete various risk and need assessments, young adult mentorship, and offer a keynote address in 2017 with her husband/co-keynote speaker. Ebone’s LinkedIn describes her as a passionate advocate, servant leader, resilient, and goal-driven. 

Interests:  public speaking endeavors, sharing her career journey, and lives in Kentucky with her husband and two children.

Murray Clinical Team

Miranda Farthing, LPCA

Murray Clinical Director

Miranda is a Licensed Professional Counseling Associate (LPCA) at Emerald Therapy Center – Murray. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Psychology and M.S in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Ed.S in Professional School Counseling at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. Her internship was with Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, AR. Miranda interned with the Compassion Clinic at Harding as a Resident Counseling Intern under the supervision of Dr. Gene Wright. Miranda previously served as a School Based Therapist for Emerald in the Murray Independent and Calloway County School District. Miranda is EMDR certified and specializes in working with trauma, abuse and behavioral issues with children, teens, and young adults. 

Interests: riding horses, and spending time with her family. 

Ryker Wilson, MA, LSW, TCADC

Addiction Program Director

W. Ryker Wilson is a native of Murray, KY. He has been involved in pastoral ministry for over 20 years, Ryker previously served as a substance abuse counselor for an inpatient and outpatient program. He currently sits on the board for Serenity Fellowship in Murray. Ryker received his Masters of Arts from Liberty University. Ryker specializes in pastoral/spiritual care and counseling, substance abuse/recovery, young men’s issues, teen trauma, college age anxieties, life coaching, hospice, and grief counseling, and intensive outpatient counseling. Ryker is certified in Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).  Ryker serves as the Program Director for Emerald’s Awakenings Recovery Program in Murray, KY.   

Interests: playing the guitar, singing, writing music, reading books, and studying. Ryker is married to Jennifer Wilson who serves as the Calloway County Non-Residential Advocacy Specialist for the Merryman House Domestic Crisis Center. 

David Ramstad, LMFT

David is a licensed marriage and family counselor at Emerald Therapy Center, LLC – Murray office. David lives in Paris TN and lived much of his life in California and more recently in Colorado. David moved to Tennessee recently to be closer to his family. David earned his BA in psychology from California State University, Northridge, and his MA on psychology/marriage and family counseling from Phillips Graduate University. Also, David completed extensive coursework at Los Angeles City College and UCLA. David is experienced working with clients of all ages and backgrounds. David works collaboratively with clients to help them navigate difficult life events, making healthy transitions. David’s experience includes treating clients for depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction. David specializes in family, marital, and couples counseling. 

Interests: playing guitar, writing songs, reading and a passion for learning as well as spending time with family.  

Cassie Sengenberger

Case Management/Peer Support

Cassie Sengenberger is the Case Management and Peer Support Specialist for the Murray and Paducah offices. Cassie has worked in the substance abuse field for 6 years. She has experience with both inpatient and outpatient services. Cassie specializes in Case Management and teaches psychoeducation groups in relation to substance abuse and behavioral health. Cassie is a certified Peer Support Specialist and certified in Crisis Prevention Intervention.  

Interests: spending time with family and helping struggling addicts and alcoholics recover and gain the tools to live a happier, healthier lifestyle. 

Eric Rudd, LPCA

Eric Rudd is a Licensed Professional Counseling Associate at Emerald Therapy Center, LLC – Murray. After receiving his Bachelor’s from Murray State University, Eric went on to complete an Ed.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Eric has focused much of his career working with trauma, including abuse, assault, natural disasters, unresolved grief, and medical/health trauma. He is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a specialized form of therapy focused on working through past traumatic or distressing experiences. Eric often works with children and young adults, but enjoys seeing clients of all ages.

Interests: reading, singing, watching movies, playing video games, and all things nerdy.

Esther Malm, PhD, LMFT

Esther is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist and has 10+ years of experience serving individuals, couples, and families from different cultural backgrounds. She loves working with persons from late adolescents through adulthood across a variety of issues that impede growth, fulfilment, self-care and living with a sense of purpose. Esther is also PREPARE ENRICH certified. Esther Malm is a clinician, researcher and academician who integrates all three expertise to promote
human well-being, mentoring and service to communities locally and internationally. 

Interests: gardening

Gena Tidwell, M.Ed., LPCA

Gena Tidwell is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate at Emerald Therapy Center- Murray. 

Casey Springer, CIT

Casey Springer is a Clinician-in-Training at Emerald Therapy Center, LLC – Murray. Casey is currently finishing her graduate degree in clinical counseling at Lindsey Wilson College. 

Mayfield Clinical Team

Amanda Rule, General Psychologist

Amanda Rule is a Counselor at Emerald Therapy Center. She recieved her Bachelors in Applied Behavior Analysis and Master’s in Psychology from Purdue University Global. Amanda has been married for 9 years and has 2 daughters. She has recently relocated to Western Kentucky from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Amanda has always been passionate about accepting, loving, and helping others. She now seeks to use her knowledge and personal experience here at Emerald to guide children, teens, and adults in exploring and learning to incorporate healthy coping skills into their daily lives. Amanda relies on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Supportive Reflection to assist clients. She believes, “It’s okay to not be okay, but lets not stay that way!” Amanda understands trauma, depression, and anxiety are part of life and want to help others find the strength to control their mental health struggles.

Interests: Spending time with her family and friends, playing games, doing her nails, and practicing self-care.

Matthew Rule, M.A., TCADC

Matthew Rule is a Clinician-in-Training at Emerald Therapy Center.  He has received his Master of Arts in Education from Purdue University Global, and is currently attending Abilene Chrisitan University for a second Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.  Matthew has been married for 9 years and has two daughters.  He has recently moved back to the area from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  Matthew has long been interested in helping others, and within the past year he felt drawn to enter into the field of Marriage and Family therapy.  He has a passion for helping those with addictions as well, which is why he has obtained his Temporary License for Drug and Alcohol Counseling.  It is his long term goal, after completing his Marriage and Family therapy program, to obtain licensure as a Certified Sex Addiction therapist as well.

Interests: Hanging out with family and friends, playing video or board games, reading classic works of literature, listening to and talking about music, and learning.

Alexa Hammonds, LPCA

Alexa Hammonds is a Licensed Professional Counseling Associate at Emerald Therapy Center. Alexa received her Bachelors of Social Work degree from Murray State University in 2015 and completed her Masters Degree in Counseling and Human Development at Lindsey Wilson College in 2020. Alexa grew up and currently resides in Carlisle County, Kentucky where she served as a school-based counselor for three years. Prior to joining the mental health field, Alexa worked in family preservation and as a homeless and housing case manager. The social work field opened her eyes to the need for more quality mental health services to be available to those in Western Kentucky communities. Currently, Alexa works with children, adolescents, and adults to address various concerns. Alexa works with clients according to their own values in order to help them in reaching their goals and improving their overall well-being. Providing a safe, comfortable space for clients to feel heard is Alexa’s top priority as a therapist.


Interests: church, spending time with friends and family, being a fun aunt, walking, and cooking. As well quoting The Office or Taylor Swift lyrics way too often.

Administrative Team

Crystal Janes, MBA

Practice Coordinator

Crystal Janes is the Practice Coordinator for Emerald Therapy Center – Paducah, Murray, and Mayfield. 

Kelly Allison

Office Manager

Kelly Mackey is the Office Manager at the Emerald Therapy Center, LLC- Murray office. She is a native of Murray and comes from a background of education and customer service. Kelly can often be seen as part of Playhouse in the Park, Murray’s community theatre.

Interests: Reading, yoga, community theatre and family.


Traci Bruce

Client Liasion

Traci Bruce provides administrative support to Emerald Therapy Center at the Paducah location.  Traci has 30 years experience in Office Administration and Customer Service.  She was “born and raised” in Paducah area and is a Lone Oak Alumni.  Traci has been married for 20 years and has two sons and sometimes suffers from “empty nest” syndrome.  Note to sons – Call your mother – She loves you very much. 


Interests:  Being an exceptional listener, advice giver (no judgement ever), organizer (bring on the label maker) and being a “people pleaser” (I’m here if you need me).

Favorite quote:  Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Be kind. Always

Mykhaela Tharpe

Billing & Credentialing Specialist

Mykhaela Tharpe is the Client Liasion at Emerald Therapy Center – Mayfield.  

Kristina Abbott

Client Service Representative

Kristina Abbott is a Client Service Representative at Emerald Therapy Center, LLC. She has over 10 years experience in customer care and client relations.  Kristina was born and raised in Washington State and currently resides in Paducah. She is a Proud Army and Police Wife with 3 kids and 4 fur Babies. 

Interests include: Being outdoors, going to the gym, a day on the range, or just spending time with the family.


Zach Stevens

Client Service Representative

Zach Stevens is the Client Service Representative at Emerald Therapy Center – Paducah. 


Leslie Underwood

Accounting & Human Resources Officer

Leslie Underwood is the Accounting and Human Resources Officer at Emerald Therapy Center, LLC. Leslie has background with over 25 years of OM experience. Leslie enjoy cleaning, being organized and turning old things into some form of new. Leslie is a self proclaimed giver, doer, and genuine person. She believes in being the best of herself that she can be and letting the Lord lead in the rest!

 Interests: Spending time with family, anything on the water. Her next purchase is a Kayak!

Favorite: Phil 4:13   I can do ALL things through Christ who Strengthens Me


Join Our Team


If you are a licensed mental health professional seeking employment or internship opportunities, email your resume to jake@emeraldtherapycenter.com