Hi, I'm Heather Varnau, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and founder of Inside Passage Relationship Counseling.

I'm so glad you are here.

After 20 years of clinical practice, thousands of hours of training and hundreds of clients, I’ve shifted my focus to supporting a high-quality team of therapists at Inside Passage Relationship Counseling. The independent providers on our team share common values of client-centered care, passion for providing effective therapy, a warm, non-judgmental attitude, and commitment to equity and inclusion.

Whether you’re an individual in distress, part of a partnership struggling to find common ground, or a family looking to navigate your particular situation, we can help.

licensed mental health counselor
Licensed Mental Health Counselors in Bellingham, WA.
Now accepting new clients for both in-person and online sessions.

You are NOT
a problem.

Inside Passage Counseling was founded on the core beliefs that we are all just trying our best to love and be loved.

Often, however, the way we’ve learned to cope with stress and disconnection ends up impacting our lives in a negative way.

Therapy can help us become more aware of these beliefs and habits and it can guide us to make lasting changes, helping us communicate better, and make healthier choices. As a result, we can feel empowered, connected, and confident both in ourselves and in our most intimate relationships, affecting our overall happiness and well-being. 

“We offer the gold standards of evidence-based therapies, such as EFT and IFS, as well as other mindfulness-based interventions, to respond artfully to each client’s unique needs.”


Heather Varnau, LMHC:

My journey as a therapist began as a meditation student 21 years ago.

Because I saw the immense benefits of mindfulness meditation on my own mental, emotional, physical, and relational health, I pursued a graduate degree in Psychology that focused on the intersection of Buddhist/Eastern and Western Psychology.

Since graduating with my Master’s degree in 2006, I’ve dedicated myself to ongoing post-graduate training and clinical practice in evidence-based practices of relationship therapy, including Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), Gottman Method Couples Therapy, and Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS). 

I am now a Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist and Supervisor-in-Training, Level 3 Gottman Trained Therapist, Certified Internal Family Systems Therapist, and an IFS Institute Approved IFS Clinical Consultant. I have the honor of working closely with the other therapists on my team to support a high quality of care across Inside Passage.

I believe in the importance of therapists “walking their talk,” and practicing what they preach in their personal lives. I believe therapists should also go to therapy, practice their own self-care and self-compassion, and nurture their own relationships.

I am happily married to my husband—we’ve been together for 23 years—and know first-hand that joyful and lasting intimate connection is possible.

I have two awesome kids: a middle-schooler and a high-schooler, both in Bellingham schools.

When not seeing clients and overseeing Inside Passage, I enjoy trail running in the Chuckanuts, good food, and playing with my family and friends.

Professional Endorsements

"I have known the founder of Inside Passage Counseling for many years, and know her to be an exceptionally talented clinician, who has assembled a team of clinicians with high levels of integrity and clinical skill.
Highly recommended for children, teens, families, adults and couples who are experiencing challenges in behavior, emotional regulation and relationships."

Joe Bavonese, Phd

“Heather is a dynamite clinician. She is that wonderful blend of very smart and deeply intuitive.
Heather exudes warmth and compassion while handling any situation put before her with grace, skill, and competence. I refer to her frequently with the utmost confidence.”

Connie Feutz, MA, LMHC

"If you are looking for a successful couples therapist Heather Varnau is an excellent choice! As a psychotherapist working with individuals I often need to refer my patients to a qualified couples counselor and for over 10 years it has been an absolute relief to be able to recommend Heather Varnau. She has put her self through the most effective, gold standard trainings for couples therapy and it shows. The work that Heather does is so effective that I see rapid change in the people I work with as a result. She is passionate about helping couples find lasting ways through their challenges. She is compassionate, open minded, curious and helps both partners feel seen, heard, understood and supported. Her work is rooted in the best science and approaches we have about why couples end up in conflict and how to help them find their way back to loving and respecting each other. We are very lucky to have Heather in the Pacific Northwest!"

Charlotte Underwood, MA, LMHC

Rates and Insurance

The fees for 50-minute sessions range from $160-$225, depending on the service type and therapist. We are not contracted with health insurance companies and do not bill health insurance directly. We provide insurance receipts for individual counseling, only. We’re sorry but we do not provide insurance receipts for couples therapy.

Investing in yourself or in your relationship is a gift that keeps on giving.

If you are ready to improve your emotional well-being and quality of life, contact Inside Passage Counseling today.