Meet Our Therapists

Sara Lahti

Sara Lahti, MA, LPCC

Pronouns: she/her

Sara Lahti, a Mental Health Practitioner and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, graduated with her Master of Arts degree in 2018 and previously earned a BA in psychology through the University of St. Thomas. Lahti has worked with children with ASD as well as with people with ASD and other disabilities in a day program facility.

Lahti has a passion for working with adults on the autism spectrum. She uses Adlerian and person-centered therapeutic techniques to help clients better understand themselves and their strengths. Lahti’s Master’s thesis focused on using Early Recollections with people on the spectrum, which she believes is central to understanding clients’ core beliefs. She works with clients on thought patterns and how they affect daily living and also helps clients develop social interest within themselves and their communities.


Barb LuskinBarbara Luskin, PhD, LP

Pronouns: she/her

Dr. Luskin is a licensed psychologist who has worked closely with children and adults with ASD for more than 30 years in professional and home settings. She specializes in providing both assessments and counseling to individuals with ASD and those who support them.

Dr. Luskin’s services include diagnostic and functional assessments, individual therapy for adults and adolescents, and training and consultation for caregivers. She helps them understand ASD, teaches them creative and effective interventions, helps them evaluate progress, and provides guidance when adjustments are needed.

Dr. Luskin serves the local autism community in multiple capacities including professional consultation, autism trainings, certification instruction, and individual work with clients. As such, her schedule usually is at capacity. Please speak with the AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services appointment scheduler to identify the AuSM therapist who can best meet your needs.


Photo of Maura McDonaldMaura McDonald, MA

Pronouns: she/her

Maura McDonald is a Mental Health Practitioner who earned her bachelors in Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and masters in Arts degree from Adler Graduate School. She has worked therapeutically with individuals, families and groups in homes, clinics, day treatment settings and in the community. McDonald is a keen listener and is most passionate about supporting others by finding their own strengths, gifts, and answers.

McDonald has a special interest in helping people through transitions and utilizes techniques from Adlerian therapy, Internal Family Systems, strengths-based practices and somatics to work through challenges. She promotes the importance of understanding self to then be able to strengthen relationships and foster belonging and contribution.


Headshot of Sara Pahl, a white woman with bright blonde hair wearing glassesSara Pahl, MS, BCaBA, NCC

Pronouns: she/her

Sara Pahl is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, and Nationally Certified Counselor, who has worked with individuals with ASD for over 25 years. Pahl has been fortunate to work with individuals on the autism spectrum across the life span, in many different roles, including mental health therapist, director of a behavior analytic community-based instruction teen and early intervention programs, primary grade teacher, and adjunct professor. Pahl has a background in systems counseling and behavior analysis, and a passion for precision measurement and Precision Teaching. Pahl has published works in the Behavior Analyst Today and the Journal of Precision Teaching. Pahl was fortunate earlier in her career to begin working with children and adults with autism.  She was able to participate in the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) research convocation, Addressing the Needs of Adolescents and Adults with Autism over 15 years ago. This provided her with a lens and appreciation of the unique strengths and differences of those with ASD. She has presented her applied clinical work with children, adolescents, and adults with autism at local, state, and national conferences such as the Association for Behavior Analysis annual convention, Autism Society of Minnesota’s state conference, and the International Precision Teaching Conference.


Beth PitchfordBeth Pitchford, MA, LPCC

Pronouns: she/her

Beth Pitchford earned a master’s degree in Psychology from the Adler Graduate School (AGS), where she focused on learning about autism and how various aspects of Adlerian psychology could compliment the standard use of cognitive behavioral therapy with people on the autism spectrum. Pitchford became passionate about working with people on the “invisible” part of the spectrum (formerly known as Asperger’s syndrome) after she realized that many people close to her are on the spectrum and have spent most of their lives wondering why they felt so different.

Pitchford values working with adults who want to decode the neurotypical world in order to decrease barriers to community acceptance and to increase feelings of success. Using cognitive behavioral approaches and her Adlerian training, Pitchford’s goal is to help people better understand not only themselves but also the people in their lives.


James RechsJames Rechs, LICSW

Pronouns: he/him

James Rechs, located in Rochester, Minn., provides individual therapy for individuals age 16 and older as well as psychoeducation for parents, families, and caregivers. His top priority is helping clients achieve goals that are most important to them, and helping them develop and maintain lives and relationships that feel safe, meaningful, and satisfying. Rechs enjoys helping clients discover their own strengths, gifts, and talents, rather than changing people just to meet others’ expectations. He has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and an undergraduate degree from Grinnell College in Iowa. To connect with Rechs at his Rochester location, please e-mail jrechs@ausm.org.


Bjorn WalterBjorn Walter, MA, LMFT

Pronouns: he/him

Bjorn Walter earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southwest Minnesota State University in 2013, and his master’s degree in Adlerian psychotherapy and counseling with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy from Adler Graduate School (AGS) in 2017. During his master’s program, Walter interned at the Autism Society of Minnesota where he discovered his passion for working with individuals and families living with autism. Since graduating from AGS, Walter spent time working at a group home dedicated to adults with autism and schizophrenia near his hometown in Sweden.

Walter uses Adlerian and cognitive behavioral techniques to help individuals and their families understand the true nature of autism. He recognizes the importance of familial relationships and friendships and strives to help his clients realize how they affect us and our lives. Walter promotes encouragement, openness, and honesty.