Maria LaquerreDiego, LMFT, RPT-S


Past President

Maria is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor.  Maria has served on the NMAPT board previously as President-Elect, President and Past President and chaired the Newsletter and Membership Committees. Maria owns a group practice in Las Cruces and has been an active member of NMAPT/APT since 2013. Maria enjoys working with couples, helping individuals recover from trauma, as well as members and allies of the LBGTQIA+ community. Maria specializes in working with trauma survivors, young children and adults, both individually and in relational therapy with their partner. Maria uses play therapy techniques with children and adults - and enjoys using creative interventions to help others achieve their goals. Maria provides trainings on utilizing pop culture, superheroes and villains in play therapy and supports play therapists in achieving RPT/RPT-S credentialing. 


MariaElena Jauregui-Cross, LPCC, RPT-S



MariaElena Jauregui-Cross is a LPCC, holds an Infant Mental Health endorsement at level 3, and is currently working towards becoming a RPT-S. MariaElena fell in love with Play therapy during her internship and have continued to grow her skills since. There are a number of ways MariaElena spreads the word about Play Therapy. First, she uses it daily with children and families she works with. Second, her agency is a training site for providing an introduction to Play Therapy for bachelors and masters students. Finally, her agency is registered as APT continuing education hour provider and she helps put on an annual conference that enables therapist in NM and surrounding areas to continue to earn CE’s towards their registration. MariaElena is passionate about working with others in the state to continue learning about and advocating for Play Therapy.

Shannon Grant, LPCC, RPT-S


President Elect

Shannon is an LPCC and a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor. This is Shannon’s second year on the board and she is excited for her new role as President Elect! Shannon has a private practice in Albuquerque where she uses Experiential and Jungian play therapy techniques and specializes in trauma, parental bonding, depression and anxiety with children 3-18. On top of play and art, Shannon has been studying SandPlay since 2006 and is working on her own process in the sand and in a consultation groups in order to apply for the Sand Play Practitioner credential with the STA (Sandplay Therapists of America).


Alanna Giusto, LCSW



Alanna Giusto, MSW, LCSW specializes in working with children and adolescents. She is a school counselor at a middle school and provides outpatient clinical services part-time with a private practice group in Las Cruces. Alanna is a New Mexico Board of Social Work Examiners approved supervisor for clinicians. She has a background in counseling individuals of all ages in outpatient settings. Alanna has also worked with children in foster care and with families involved with CYFD/CPS.  She believes in the power of play and creativity and use play therapy techniques with her students and clients. Alanna is excited to continue having fun serving on the NMAPT Board and promoting play therapy throughout New Mexico.

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Breena Tafoya, LCSW, RPT-S

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Breena is the Executive Director at Kids Counseling Inc. in Las Vegas, NM. She has served on the NMAPT Board since 2015 and has been the Treasure for the last 4 years. She has held numerous positions throughout New Mexico ranging from clinical to administrative over the last 35 years. Breena has practiced in the areas of child abuse, attachment, anxiety and infant mental health. She currently specializes in new program development and management.

Meredith Baca, LPCC, RPT


Member At Large

Meredith D. Baca is a LPCC and RPT residing outside of Espanola, New Mexico, where she  was born and raised. Meredith received her degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. Meredith has been a licensed clinician for 5 ½ years. She was a licensed clinician in Texas before moving back to New Mexico. Meredith became a Registered Play Therapist in November 2019. Her love for play therapy began at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. Meredith has worked with children in a variety of settings such as an inpatient facility, a residential facility and in outpatient clinics. She also has experience with children and adolescents in foster care, children and adolescents who have been adopted, children who have experienced the death of a loved one and at risk youth in the juvenile justice system. Meredith believes in the power of play and strives to spread the message of the Association of Play Therapy.


Jessica Cauthorne, LCSW, RPT


Member At Large

Jessica Cauthorne is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who has been a therapist for over decade helping and empowering people who struggle with depression, anxiety, and unresolved pain from their past.  Jessica's view of therapy is that, while often sharing a collective identity, each person's story and struggle are unique to them, therefore she always tailors her approach to meet the specific needs of each client.  Jessica has spent periods of time specializing in adolescent therapeutic treatment and now works with children, adolescents and adults in an outpatient group practice.  Jessica has been a NMAPT member for three years and recently achieved her RPT credentialing.  As a result of her involvement  with NMAPT she utilizes a variety of play therapy interventions and techniques in her therapeutic work with all populations and ages.  


Katie Bassiri, LPCC, RPT-S, ACAS


Member at Large

Katie Bassiri, LPCC RPT-S ACAS is the owner of The Treehouse, a play therapy agency in Albuquerque, NM. Katie is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), Registered Play Therapy Supervisor (RPT-S), and Advanced Certified Autism Specialist (ACAS). In addition to providing supervision for counselors, she is an interdisciplinary supervisor for Social Workers in New Mexico. Her greatest passion is helping support neurodivergent individuals as a peer, mother, therapist and advocate and she works with education and business communities to provide accommodations for all individuals to thrive.


Aretha Amundson, LPCC


Member at Large

Aretha Amundson is an LPCC from Silver City, NM. She began learning about and using play therapy during internship and has continued her training in play therapy ever since. Aretha has worked in multiple settings over the years – a early childhood education center, a federally qualified health center, and most recently, doing contract work for an agency specializing in early intervention and children’s services. Her focus has been on working with children and families living in rural areas with few services and having a wide variety of issues related to mental health, gender identity, intergenerational trauma, and poverty. Aretha is a New Mexico Association for Play Therapy member.