patricia j. enstadI began my work life as a kindergarten teacher and yes everything I’ve needed to learn began there. My love of the teaching and the learning process, of exploration, collaboration and fun, rest and play has its foundations there. I continue to approach each new phase and aspect of my life with the freshness of this time of enthusiastic engagement.

Healing can be pretty serious, painful business, which is why it should be accompanied with laughter and joy wherever possible. After finishing a masters in counseling, I went on to work with social service organizations and became licensed as a social worker. I continued to teach art, facilitate groups, administer a group home, coordinate medical care for vulnerable adults. I sought to grow spiritually and understand a lifelong draw to meditation and study.

I surprised many when I enrolled in a school for therapeutic massage, and quickly discovered the joy a kinesthetic learner has in kinesthetic work. My hands were sure and confident and my social work and counseling experience helped clients move into the the healing process with a steady hand to guide them. I have spent these decades uncovering the manual therapy approaches that best fit my nature and best serve my clients. My foundation for hands on work is the fascial system, and I have advanced training in all the work I state I do. These are Myofascial Release, CranioSacral Therapy, Viceral Manipulation and Lymphatic Drainage. My appreciation of the mystery of healing spurred me to explore energy healing and to add a practical energy balancing approach to my skill set, which I found in Esoteric Healing. I have enjoyed over 20 years of supporting people living fuller lives and enjoy being part of a larger manual therapy community of the Twin Cities. Some of this time I enjoyed collaborating with a group practice of psychotherapists and holistic medical professionals at Partners in Healing in Minneapolis.

As a healing facilitator, I continued to be curious about the ways that healing succeeded, and where it missed the mark. In 2012, I had a personal health crisis, and discovered while I certainly had the dedication and discipline for healing, I lacked the personal self-compassion needed to really be whole again. This led me to first study, then practice, and eventually teach Mindful Self Compassion. This truly transformed my life from one of personal judgment and unending high expectations, to one of self appreciation, kindness and acceptance. This has not lessened my desire for excellence but instead has filled my relationships and work with joyful enthusiasm and the capacity to recover from my own mistakes and those of others.

As I engaged with teaching the curriculum of the Center for Mindful Self Compassion, I notice there were aspects of myself that seemed to need more than just a sense of kindness from me, and this has led me to explore a new paradigm in healing called Internal Family Systems. After doing some personal work (always a must for me with each and every modality!) In 2020, I completed the IFS Institute’s yearlong intensive professional training. This approach views all parts of ourselves as welcome and in need of connection and compassion from the core Self. I am finding it effective and deeply hopeful for transforming long-standing physical and emotional pain. It is a  non-pathologizing, paradigm-shifting game changer!

While I did not teach kindergarten for long, it instilled in me the perennial joy and wisdom of beginners mind. I bring the freshness of the opportunity for new clarity and discovery to each session, whether teaching or personal therapeutic experiences. The Montessori method describes education as teacher and student going on a journey of learning together. Healing is the same.


Professional Training:

Internal Family Systems Professional Training
Center for Self-Leadership, Chicago, IL

Mindful Self-Compassion Trained Teacher
Center for Mindful Self-Compassion

Spiritual Direction
Source at the Center
Sisters of St Joseph’s of Orange, CA

In Process: Expressive Arts Coach-Educator/Trauma-Informed 

In Process: Nature-based, Eco-focused Expressive Arts Therapy Certificate


LISW – Licensed Independent Social Worker
State of Minnesota


Bachelor’s of Arts Elementary Education
Concordia College, Moorhead, MN
Master’s of Science in Community Counseling
Minnesota State University Mankato

Practice Areas:


Internal Family Systems:
Mindful Self-Compassion:
Expressive Art Therapies:

Somatic and Body Work:

Myofascial Release:
CranioSacral Therapy:
Visceral Manipulation:
Lymphatc Drainage:
Energy Balancing

Classes and Groups:

Introductory groups to IFS
IFS and Intuitive Drawing
Making Friends with Yourself
Introductory to Mindful Self-Compassion – Pop Up Classes at East Side Freedom Library, St. Paul, MN
Center for Mindful Self-Compassion 8 week course
Self-Compassion Training for Healthcare Communities
Expressive Art Creative Process Groups
Teaching MSC On Line 6 week course
Introductory to MSC classes designed for special groups (Recently UCC of New Brighton and MN Bar Association)
CEU’s available for Social Workers and Nurses

Public Speaking:

Internal Family Systems and Esoteric Healing: Our Parts meet the Self, NAEH Annual Conference April 2024
Mental Health and COVID19 – ESABA (East Side Area Business Association), St. Paul, MN
Intro to Mindful Self-Compassion – Minnesota Bar Association Diversity and Inclusion
Mindfulness for Self Care – International Steelworkers Human and Civil Rights Conference
Intro to Mindful Self-Compassion – United Church of Christ, New Brighton, MN

Community Mental Health:

I am a Board member on the Payne-Phalen District 5 Community Council and am passionate about community mental health for my neighborhood. I am also active in StP 350, and am an active collaborator for the East Side Freedom Library. Let me help you design something for your neighborhood or organization.
Recent community events: Mental Health and COVID19 – ESABA (East Side Area Business Association), St. Paul, MN; Drop in Mindful Self-Compassion practice group at the East Side Freedom Library.