About Mary 

Career Highlights

1982 to present - I started out specializing in counseling individuals and families who were devastated by a homicide, suicide or the accidental death of a loved-one.  

This was and is difficult work.  When we are challenged with profound loss we are thrown, without choice, into an emotional, mental, physical and spiritual upheaval where satisfactory resolution seems impossible. For some, guilt, shame, blame, perceived or real, can be daunting.

Yet we humans find our way though the dangerous abyss more times then not. Change is unavoidable. Our worldview has to accommodate new weighty information. Often without awareness, we have to reinvent ourselves.

Historical note: Only recently has grief counseling been understood as trauma counseling. In the past, it was thought of as something akin to professional ‘hand holding’. Today we know an effective grief counselor needs to have an array of the treatment skills in order to help. The grief counselor has to address emotional, physical, and lifestyle upheavals; disabled family systems, victims of crime, trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

1989 - The Loma Prieta Earthquake caused the Cypress Freeway to collapse in the Oakland-Bay Bridge corridor. Because of our work with families who had a loved one die of violence, my colleague Donna Morrish and I were liaisons with the coroner’s office. We arrived within hours to help the families of the victims and assist the coroner’s staff.  (Donna was director of the Grief Counseling Project for Alameda County’s Suicide Prevention Agency and I was her assistant.)

Donna left the agency in early 1990 I ended up with her job as program director.  I administered a counseling program staffed with interns and licensed psychologists, MFTs and LCSWs.  Part of my job was to teach grief counseling at the Center for Psychological Studies, a graduate school,  in Albany, CA. I also oversaw the two-year FEMA supported recovery program for the 42 families who had a loved one die in that earthquake’s Cyprus Freeway collapse.  

1990 - I became trained in Critical Incident Stress Management both through the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s program Solution 1 and through Jeffery Mitchell’s International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF).  I worked with and side-by-side law enforcement, fire fighters and EMS personnel. I became a member of California’s mutual aide disaster team network. Over the years I have provided assistance in hundreds of critical incidents.

1992- I oversaw the FEMA supported recovery program for the 25 families who had a loved one die due to the disastrous Berkeley - Oakland Hills Fire Storm.

1992 to present – I helped establish the standard of care of individuals, family and other by-standers by 911 personnel when death is determined during a 911 emergency call. I co-founded Grief STEPTM Programs. We have trained individuals and trainers for law enforcement, fire, EMS and associated staff throughout California, the United States and even Iceland.  

For Grief STEPTM Programs we developed the - Say the right thing...Do the right thing -  death in the workplace training. Over the years, we have developed an array of programs for a wide variety of professionals.

1994 - I started an individual private practice as a Licensed Married, Family Therapist in Hayward, CA. I was very busy.

1994 to 1999 - I was a multiple grant recipient from the California State Office of Emergency Medical Authority.  (Grief STEPTM Programs, Access Group LTD) Our task was curriculum and program development for San Francisco City and County Public Health and Fire Department, Riverside EMS and Alameda County EMS. The curriculum was given to all EMS agencies to use to give them the guidelines for their own programs. 

1994 – I was part of a mutual aide disaster team and spent a total of 6 weeks helping the Los Angeles County Mental Health Department manage critical incidents following the Northridge Earthquake. 

1995 - I was sworn in as an Honorary Firefighter. Fremont Fire Department, CA.

1996 – While wearing all my other hats, I moved to Sacramento as a staff clinician for Pacific Applied Psychology Associates.

1997 to present - I started a new private practice in Sacramento while working with Pacific Applied Psychology Associates.  Along with providing individual psychotherapy, I continued to run Grief STEPTM Programs and work in ICISF management and intervention.

1998 - I became the Director for Mental Health for an International Rescue Team. Though my time with ARTI was short, I was able to travel to Peru as a guest of the Peruvian Fire Department. Along with providing training to the fire department, I was a visiting lecturer on disaster preparedness for one evening at the University of Lima and a Guest Speaker for International Woman’s Day. I also had the privilege of working side-by-side Peru’s Volunteer Fire Department, Civil Defense workers and the elite British Search and Rescue Team. This was a year for the disastrous El Niño where there were/are devastating landslides and flooding. 

1998 - As an ARTI member I was sponsored by Delta Airlines to go to Nova Scotia following the Swissair Flight 111 crash in Margaret’s Bay.  I was assigned to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and provided CISM peer/group consultation and intervention to local emergency services and community members, plus our own team.

1999 to present – In 1999 I was able to get fully trained in EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. This therapy modality, developed by Francine Shapiro, had been around since the late 1980s. I was relieved when I had time to  become trained to administer EMDR as I knew it to work phenomenally well. 

Historical Note: When first introduced, EMDR was seen as a rogue therapy, even though we all knew it was an amazingly effective therapy for anxieties such as phobias, fears, trauma and PTSD. Many insurance companies and psychiatrists believed it was snake oil and refused to reimburse EMDR treatment. However, today it is the most validated treatment for trauma and those who doubt EMDR’s effectiveness are a very small subset of individuals.  I am certified in EMDR and an Approved Consultant.

2002 through 2012- I became the first consultant and trainer for (Caltrans) California’s Department of Transportation’s critical incident stress management program. Over the past 10 years, I established a highly specialized program to accommodate Caltran’s exceptionally diverse population. Programs I developed for Caltran’s include Death in the Workplace training program; individual and peer support crisis management and materials support.  These programs address the impact of highway worker death on employees and their families. They have been nonpartisan and supported by the International Union of Operating Engineers in partnership with Caltrans.

2004  - I became a Trained Trainer for the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) specific to CISM: Individual Crisis Intervention and, in 2006, a Trained Trainer for CISM: Group Crisis Intervention. I have trained mental health professionals, school personnel, EMS, law enforcement, hospital, school and EAP personnel (I no longer provide CISM: individual Crisis Intervention, as I developed my own program. However, I do continue to train CISM: Basic Group Intervention.)

2005 – Along with Bob O’Brien (retired Fire Chief, EMS Division Fremont Fire), I presented a train the trainer’s one day program called “Street Ops: Grief Support for EMS Field Personnel” for the yearly Fire Engineering Instructor’s Conference  (FDIC) in both Los Angeles, CA and Indianapolis, ID.  I just want to mention this as 25,000 firefighters attend either short or long programs during this week. Alas, our program was utilized by a small percentage of this group.  However, everyone got a copy of our manual, which included the standard of care and all necessary information needed to teach this class to their emergency personnel in their own hometowns.

2005 to present – Presented Death in the Workplace: Disaster/Terrorism Preparedness for the Federal Reserve Bank, Atlanta, Georgia.  I was honored when asked to present this training for the Atlanta FED.  I have since gone back in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

2006 – Since I started working with people professionally in 1981, I have taken many hypnotherapy courses and have used a variety of hypnotic techniques such as, creative visualization, guided meditation, ego-state or parts therapy, age-regression, float back techniques, and future pacing. However, I always wanted to take a very in-depth course in hypnotherapy.  So in 2006, I took every level of training offered by the Hypnotherapy Training Institute in Corte Madera, Ca. This is very thorough training. Two of the really fun aspects of training with the HTI: 1) they always have people coming from all over the world to take trainings and 2) you get to learn a little about stage hypnosis.

2009 – I presented a 3-day workshop called the Aftermath of tragedy: Grief and Trauma in Washington, DC. Sponsored by: Department of Health, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Mental Health and Disaster Mental Health Services.

2009 – The California Professional Firefighters asked me to present a program for their staff regarding their yearly memorial to the firefighter’s who had lost their lives.  I was honored to help.

I know I have not caught up to the present time…but if you are interested do check back with this page as l add photos and more information. 


mary@maryreigel.com          Ph. 1 (916) 366 - 8026            California Licensed Marraige Family Therapist #MFC31887         © Mary S Reigel 2013