Like you, when seeking out any health practitioner, I want to have a good sense of what the person is really like.

How do they interact?  What might it be like to work with this person?  How will they treat me? Finding an exceptional connection with the person who is going to share the most important aspects of your personal growth is invaluable.

What is it like to work with me?

You will be enveloped in a haven of extraordinary personalized support, woven with an abundance of authenticity, compassion, warmth, and connection.  Your Whole Self will be given special attention -- mind, physical health, spirit, emotions.

You will never find me acting as the expert on your life; instead we are partners in the process - therapy is a learning process after all.

You teach me about you and your life, and I help you learn how to unlock the tools that already exist inside you, nurture them to life, help heal past hurts, find perspective while in the midst of your current pain, and help you to cope with all the emotions that tumble down around you.  Combining your intimate understanding of your family, and my years of experience and knowledge, we collaborate together to create the most highly do-able, individualized and creative plan to help you reach your goals.

Decorative floral image
Decorative floral image

Every family I've worked with, and indeed every person I have ever met, has taught me something that I incorporate into a therapeutic blessing.  Simply stated, to share the path with you as you walk through the dark times is my deepest honor.

Women

White birds accent image
Working with women has a divinely meaningful placeholder in my spirit.
Early in my career, I found myself so awed and inspired by the limitless well of strength I witnessed in my work with them, their children, and their families, that it led to a natural energy flow with a woman’s journey and the very specific issues she faces relationally, emotionally, culturally and spiritually.  What do I believe about a Woman’s Walk?
The voice of a woman should be heard, revered, witnessed and honored.
The heart of a woman is her wisdom and nature, worthy and vibrant.  The spirit of a woman is one that should feel honored, supported, and empowered.  That I am called to serve this population as a helper and guide as she rises to her personal sovereignty is a privilege I hold with the sweetest reverence and the deepest belief in their own transcendent magic.

Children & Families

White birds accent image
Oh, the lights of the littles!  There is nothing that has taught me more than the heart of young ones on a healing journey.
Receiving the trust of a child is a gift I care for with limitless, fresh reverence every day.
My work as a Play Therapist began in 1996 and has continued with children as young as 3 and on!  Yes, adults also remember the language of play!  Now, as a Registered Play Therapist - Supervisor,  serving children and supporting their families continues to be a prominent and precious part of my practice.  Healing a child’s heart also requires their most loved ones to walk the path with them, so we partner in a combination of individual and family sessions utilizing connection-oriented approaches and relationship-building therapies.

LGBTQ+ Welcoming

White birds accent image
As an ally and supporter, I have been proud to serve our LGBTQ+ community with loving acceptance, a soft place to land, and welcoming respect.
I recognize that your walk can include very difficult terrain, and traumas may be revealed in unexpected ways.  I see you, I honor you, and I welcome you.
Trauma knows no boundaries, and here, you will find safe harbor and inclusive support to help you through your healing, live your most authentic and joyful life, and be wholeheartedly supported as you claim the life you can’t wait to live.
Decorative floral image
Floral accent image
"I’ve tried several times to write this testimonial, but it’s so hard to put into words everything that Cherie has done for me and meant to me in the time I’ve been seeing her. She somehow manages to be both a strong guide and a kind comfort, always lovingly pointing me in the direction of wellness. She’s given me words for my pain; she’s shown me all the ways fear and lies have directed my life; she’s helped me find my authentic self again. To say that I’m glad to have found her doesn’t begin to cover it; I am forever changed for the better because of her."
~ cH ~
"Cherie is warm, creative and open-hearted.  She has treated everyone in my family with kindness and respect.  Her commitment to her clients is clear to all who work with her.  I recommend Cherie to anyone embarking on a healing journey without reservation."
~ JP ~
"To know her (Cherie) as a friend is to have bond like a sister, to know her as a business associate is to have mutual respect and support. She is magic in many forms and shares her light in anyway she can to help you find your own. Cherie is truly a soul that will be woven tightly into the stories of many other souls who she has touched and will be recognized with admiration, gratitude, love and magic when they speak of her even long after their paths may part."
~ GR ~
"It is difficult to put into words to describe the work that Cherie does, but I will do my best. Cherie is like a mythical unicorn. Highly desirable and difficult to find. But she is the real deal. Magical, wise, kind, emotionally supportive — she has helped me through a variety of emotional challenges without judgement, with encouragement and in her methods Cherie goes beyond coping skills and emotional guidance. She helped me help myself in the most supportive environment imaginable."
~ JB ~

Cherie L. Spehar
LCSW, ACTP,  RPT-S

Founder, Director, Lead Clinician
Advanced Certified Trauma Practitioner
Certified Department Trainer
Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor
UNC-CH Field Instructor
Author, National Speaker and Trainer ​
Owl watercolor

Experience

With over 25 beautiful and reverent years in the Social Work Profession, I’ve been privileged to serve incredible warriors of all ages walking the healing path.  To do this, I ensured that you would have the benefits of the most helpful approaches by staying up to date with evidence supported therapies, and pursuing much additional post-graduate training and certifications to support you with wisdom and integrity.

Based on my own callings toward certain healing methods, and by listening to what benefits patients most, I chose continuing education paths such as triple Post Graduate Advanced Training Certifications in Trauma Healing and the Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor certification.  I also have completed multiple year+ long Practicum Intensives each in Mindfulness, Ecotherapy, Ecospirituality, Sandtray Therapy, and Journal Therapy.

Every professional path chosen is with you in mind, to gain experience, knowledge and wisdom to holistically and ethically support you on your own journey.  Here are some of the roles I have been blessed to serve in, on my Healer’s Way:
- Emergency Mental Health Counselor
- Lead Residential Clinical Social Worker/Critical Care Clinical Leader
- Lead Child and Family Therapist - Critical Care Unit
- Executive Director for Exchange Child Abuse Prevention Center, NC
- NCSU - Senior Trainer and Statewide Training Coordinator
- Certified National Clinical Department Trainer - Starr Institute
- AHEC Clinical Trainer
- UNC-Chapel Hill Social Work Field Instructor

Educator

Another realm of my work is in Education.   Here, I practice in many roles from our local UNC-Chapel Hill, to national engagements, Keynote speaking events, and more.

More locally, you’ll find me wearing my favorite group hats using my Master Facilitator role, supporting families, workshops, retreats, women’s classes, clinical workshops, statewide trainings and organizational and agency based education.  Another favorite - Women’s Retreats!  There is something especially magical about group work and you will likely find me in many places where sacred space can be held for a group of seekers, travelers, and learners.

Specialties

You have probably recognized that I am especially connected to the areas of trauma healing, child/parent relationships across the lifespan, women's mental and emotional wellness, and navigating painful change, transitions and loss.   Also close to my professional and personal heart is self-empowerment, identity development, and awakening to your own personal magic.

Speaking, Keynotes & Training

If you are a writer, editor, or producer and would like to request an interview for a speaking engagement, training, story, podcast, or video with Cherie, please either submit the form on the contact page or use the email below to help us better address your request.
hello@smilingspiritpathways.com

Awards

2014 Center of Excellence
by The National Institute for Trauma and Loss

2014 Trauma Consultant of the Year
by The National Institute for Trauma and Loss

Credentials & Certifications

I continually pursue ongoing training opportunities to ensure that you have access to the best practice approaches available.  Holding multiple certifications across the healing spectrum, encompassing neuroscience, psychology, multiple therapy modalities, ecopsychology, mindfulness, and ecospirituality, my wish is to support you with sound and seamless integrated tools.  Rather than list them all here, below you will find a sampling of the diversity of my training:
ACTP - Advanced Certified Trauma Practitioner
The National Institute for Trauma and Loss
2011-present
CDT - Certified Department Trainer
The National Institute for Trauma and Loss
2012-present
RPT-S - Registered Play Therapist - Supervisor
Association for Play Therapy
2011-Present
Advanced Earth Medicine Practitioner - Level 4 - Soul Lodge Earth Medicine School with Pixie Lighthorse, Ecopsychology and Ecospirituality Informed
2019
Advanced Certificate in Journal Therapy - Therapeutic Writing Institute
2014
Certified Healing Practitioner - Hibiscus Moon Academy
2019
Smiling Spirit Pathways Instagram Post
Smiling Spirit Pathways Instagram Post
Smiling Spirit Pathways Instagram Post
Smiling Spirit Pathways Instagram Post
Smiling Spirit Pathways Instagram Post
Smiling Spirit Pathways Instagram Post
100+
Components Included
6
Home Page Layouts
2
Blog Layouts
2
Portfolio Layouts