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111 1/2 N Churton Street

Hillsborough, NC 27278




I was born and raised in Wisconsin and moved to Chapel Hill in 1998.  I have volunteer experience at the women’s domestic violence shelter in Pittsboro and at Caramore Community in Carrboro, where I facilitated SMART Recovery groups.  I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (2003) and my Master’s in Social Work (2007), both from UNC-Chapel Hill.  I began working for a non-profit after earning my MSW where I wrote Alternative Sentencing Plans for the Orange County court system, thus beginning my career working in the criminal legal system.  I took a four year break from the court system to seek clinical licensure, providing therapeutic services to families, children, and adults, as well as serving as clinical and general supervisor for employees at a behavioral health agency.  I returned to the Orange County court system in 2017 with the intention of using my clinical skills to advocate for people in custody in the county jail whose legal involvement was directly tied to struggles with mental illness, addiction, poverty, and other barriers to health and recovery.  This work evolved into a full-time position with the creation of the Criminal Justice Resource Department (CJRD).

Allison Zirkel, LCSW, LCAS

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I have worked with the Orange County CJRD since its formation in 2015, which has greatly expanded in size, scope and mission over the years.  Last year, I decided I wanted to start my own private practice while continuing the important work with the CJRD.  I am fortunate that with the addition of new grant programs and restructuring of the Department, I have been able to shift to a part-time position with the County.  I continue to serve as Clinical Coordinator, and I manage two programs: the Lantern Project and the Detention Center MOUD (medication for opioid use disorder) program.


I am so very excited to offer a private therapy practice at this juncture in my career.  I look forward to the opportunity to dive even deeper into therapeutic work.  I believe that this work is sacred and profoundly meaningful. I am deeply grateful to be called to the healing profession and I take the work very seriously.  Please feel free to reach out to me if you have additional questions about my modalities, experience, and/or trainings.


I live in Hillsborough with my husband and two cats. I enjoy playing music, reading, surfing, swimming, running, and spending time with family and friends, as well as with the plants, animals, and rivers of the Piedmont.

Why Red Wolf?

The red wolf (Canis rufus) is native to the Southeastern US and was declared extinct in the wild in 1980.  Prior to this declaration, fourteen wild wolves were captured by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and became part of a captive breeding program. Red wolves have been housed and bred in zoos and nature centers (including the Museum of Life and Science) and were released to the wild in 1987, as part of the Red Wolf Recovery Program.  The only place they are found in the wild is on North Carolina’s Albemarle Peninsula, primarily in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. As of June 2023, there are 16 known (collared) and an estimated 32-34 wild red wolves in the wild in NC.

Wolves are pack animals who live in family groups or pairs. Both parents participate in rearing their young. The sound of wolves howling is among the most beautiful and haunting melodies of our miraculous planet. The fact that wolves howl for communication and connection is what led me to choose this fierce yet sociable and community-oriented animal for my practice name, since fostering connection lies at the heart of my healing practice.  


Female red wolf, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC

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