Emily Nieuwsma

Licensed Clinical Social Worker



My mother describes me as a ‘feisty child,’ as I ran away from school in first grade and no one really noticed, except for my mom when I came home and she marched me back to school.

I recently moved back to West Michigan after living in Oregon and Chicago for the past 19 years!

Through one of my jobs, I had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks backpacking.

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King, Jr.


I’m a lover of my family, friends, the outdoors, Wrigley (my dog), adventures, travels, music, and running.  I enjoy exploring and being in nature from backpacking to relaxing on a beach.  And above all, my family is extremely important as this is one of the main reasons I moved back to Michigan, to be closer and spend quality time with them.

I gain inspiration from the children and families I work with, as I’m a strong believer in hope and resilience of the human soul.  That ‘people do well if they can (Dr. Greene);’ if they are believed in, provided with positive connections and professional guidance, healing can occur for families.   I’m enjoying being part of the DE team and approaching the ‘Whole Child,’ through working close with OT’s and Speech Pathologists through CCD.


UIC: Jane Addams School of Social Work, Master of Social Work: Child and Family


Hope College, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology



I first moved to the Pacific Northwest to be a Wilderness Therapist, which involved taking teens with challenges backpacking for 3 weeks at a time while integrating individual, group, and family therapy.  We also helped teens develop healthy coping techniques through adrenaline stimulating activities (mountain biking, horseback riding, white water rafting, and rock climbing).  I later became an early childhood consultant helping Head Start and childcare facilities implement a social and emotional curriculum, as well as providing therapy to families and teaching parenting classes.  For the last 6 years, I have worked as a Child and Family Therapist in community mental health, specifically with families impacted by foster care, adoption, and addiction issues.  Through these different experiences I have learned a great deal from the families, community partners, and kiddos I’ve had the privilege to build relationships with.