About the Healing Tree

Support should feel good, the Healing Tree knows how to make cancer support enjoyable and helpful.

Get Started

Your family can get connected to the Dempsey Center’s Healing Tree program, contact Sarah Walter, Youth & Family Services Manager. She will guide you through your next steps based upon your family’s needs, which may include scheduling a parent consultation or a Healing Tree Introduction. See frequently asked questions for more information about Youth and Family services at the Dempsey Center.

Healing Tree Introductions

A Healing Tree Introduction is required before signing children up for services. For young people, connection to the environment and the people they might encounter are important to establishing the Dempsey Center as a source of comfort and safety. Additionally, this time allows Healing Tree staff to provide individualized care by getting to know you, your children, and your family better. During a Healing Tree Introduction your child will be given an opportunity to make a resource bag, take a tour, talk about the reason for their visit and why they might want to return.

Consultation and Guidance for Parents, Guardians, and other Concerned Adults

Healing Tree counselors are trained professionals in the areas of childhood and adolescent development, family dynamics, and parenting through cancer. We understand that your family and your cancer impact are unique and we will work with you to tailor our support strategy to meet your goals and address your concerns. You can access this guidance and support regardless of whether you choose to involve the children you are concerned for. Consultation support is available by phone, e-mail or in-person appointment.

Healing Tree Staff Members

Sarah Walter, LCSW
Oncology Counselor, Youth and Family Services Manager
207-376-9686, [email protected]

Sarah Walter has more than 10 years of experience supporting children, teens, adults and their family members through life transitions, trauma and loss using a clinical lens grounded in attachment theory. She earned her Master of Social Work and Master of Public Administration degrees at the University of Utah’s Graduate school of Social Work in 2016. Prior to joining the Dempsey Center in 2020, Sarah worked as a clinician supporting children and their families at Sweetser’s Eslie J. Parquette school, community behavioral health clinics and as a Field Instructor at a wilderness therapy program in Utah.

Sarah was previously licensed as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and has experience treating adults and adolescents with Substance Use Disorders. She is trained in Motivational Interviewing, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), the Attachment Self-Regulation and Competency (ARC) Framework, and Structural Family therapy. Sarah has facilitated life skills and psychotherapy groups related to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills, coping skills and mindfulness for children, teens, and adults. She has a passion for helping children and their parents build a stronger sense of connection and confidence in each other and their own resilience.

Emily Smolin, LCSW
Healing Tree Oncology Counselor
207-376-9672,
[email protected]

Emily Smolin received her Masters of Social Work degree from New York University and completed post graduate training certification through The Training Institute for Mental Health located in New York City. Since 2005, Emily’s clinical work has focused on supporting youth, families and adults through various junctures in life. Emily received extensive training in early childhood development and positive parenting models, as well as has experience in facilitating multifamily groups aimed at enhancing the parent-child relationship. Emily served as a clinical social worker and clinical supervisor within nonprofit organizations and hospital-based systems in several states and has participated in a range of learning collaboratives focused on trauma-informed practices. Before joining Dempsey Center, Emily was part of a multidisciplinary team at a small residential hospice in northern New Jersey furthering her understanding and appreciation of an integrative body-mind-spirit approach, as well as, the healing benefits of deep listening and meaningful conversation.

Patricia Sands, LCSW
Oncology Counselor, Psychosocial Services Coordinator
207-774-2200, [email protected]

Patti Sands earned her Master of Social Work degree at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. She is a licensed clinical social worker and has a background in supporting children, adults and families with grief, bereavement, loss and trauma. She interned and later volunteered at the Center for Grieving Children, serving as a facilitator in the peer model to all age groups. Patti has facilitated psycho-educational groups related to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and skill-based groups such as managing anxiety. Patti uses a variety of therapeutic modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Play Therapy and Narrative Therapy. She also incorporates mindfulness and meditation into her practice. Patti is a nationally certified Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy clinician and has presented extensively on subjects related to childhood exposure to violence and trauma, most specifically childhood traumatic grief. Patti is also trained Child-Parent Psychotherapy, Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention and Modular Approach to Therapy for Children with Anxiety, Depression, Trauma or Conduct Problems.

Tish Caldwell
Youth Yoga Instructor
207-795-7736, [email protected]

You’ll find Tish at our Little’s Group every Monday. Tish is a certified yoga instructor with a specialty certification in “Color Me Yoga” classes for  children. She was the Health and Fitness Center Director at the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA for over twenty years where she designed fitness activities for youth and their families. She currently teaches kid’s yoga classes at the Y.