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Our Practice


Head in The Right Direction Counseling Services was incorporated in 2008.  We are a multi-disciplined group practice.   Our therapists are committed to developing their skills, knowledge, and practice.  This allows us to serve the everchanging needs of our clients. 

Our focus is on finding exceptional therapists and credentialing with insurance companies.  We do this so our clients can use their insurance whenever possible to access quality therapy.  

Couple therapy, relationship therapy, marriage therapy, pre-marriage therapy, infidelity recovery
Shauntay Jackson, MFT-LP

Have you ever felt misunderstood, judged, confused, or couldn't find the "right" words to express yourself? What about feeling lonely in a relationship? We have all encountered or experienced these feelings at one point in our lives. Let's have a conversation to explore and unpack all that you seek. I specialize in Marriage & Family dynamics as well as individual and relationship issues. Unpacking all related topics, we will explore the concepts of communication, commitment, intimacy, marriage, premarital relations, divorce, non-traditional couples, and much more.

I create a space where couples and families can feel safe, identify appropriate boundaries, and create a plan to disrupt unwanted behavioral patterns while cultivating healthy ways of being. I use an integrative approach utilizing modalities such as The Gottman Method, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and Bowen to name a few.

I recognize no one approach to a situation will serve every individual, couple, or family. I utilize person-centered approach which considers these differences and uses the inherent strengths present to bring about the desired change. I offer compassion, empathy, honesty, and a listening ear,

Iris Vasquez-Rojas, LMSW

I started my career fourteen years ago working in non-profit agencies, Family, Criminal and DV courts with children and homeless single mothers. I earned my Master's Degree from Adelphi University in 2010 and have been a Licensed Social Worker since.  I work with individuals of various populations to overcome depression, anxiety, anger management, relationship challenges, grief, and loss, and other life stresses.

I use an eclectic approach tailored to the unique needs of each client.  I am trained and experienced in EMDR and Prolonged Exposure Therapy, helping Indvidual's who have experienced trauma develop the skills necessary to live fulfilling lives free from the unnecessary effects of trauma.   I am compassionate, encouraging, honest and caring without judgement.  Since the pandemic started, I have had the opportunity to work with more children and teens than ever before.  I have seen the effects of chronic stress, isolation, existential anxiety on our children first hand.  I create a safe space for our youth to process their thoughts and feelings about themselves and their view of themselves in this ever changing world. We focus on coping, developing and fostering social supports / skills, and learning more adaptive ways to adjust to our circumstances.  I consider myself an active therapist, combining experience, education, creativity and sense of humor with a realistic approach to counseling.  

Kourtney Wood, LCSW

Therapy should feel like an exclusive experience. It should not be a cookie cutter or one size fits all process. I believe in incorporating various evidence based modalities to create an individualized treatment plan that focuses on one’s unique and specific needs. Therapy is simply a guided journey. I want clients to understand their challenges are not areas of weaknesses, but rather areas of opportunity to gain insight, resilience, self awareness, and decision-making skills. 


I have over 10 years of Human Service experience working with individuals, couples, and families of diverse backgrounds. Most recently, I have been working with clients navigating through difficulties in life relating to; complex trauma, chronic health issues, anxiety, depression, PTSD, intimate partner violence, substance use, and co- occurring disorders. I believe in creating and maintaining a safe space free of judgement through client/ therapist collaboration.


The process of beginning therapy or finding a therapist can feel overwhelming and even scary. I want to congratulate you on being courageous and taking the first steps. I am very passionate about empowering clients. I am here to help support your journey, at your pace, one session at a time. 

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Emily Katt, LCSW

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, specializing in the management and treatment of adult mental health issues, with a particular emphasis on mood and behavioral disorders. My professional journey in this field began with a graduation from Adelphi University, leading to the attainment of my Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) credential in 2017. I furthered my specialization in this area by upgrading to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in February 2022.

In my practice, I employ a blend of individual and group therapeutic approaches that focus on critical aspects like skill-building, stress management, and emotional regulation. These therapeutic modalities are designed to empower you to navigate life's complexities and achieve personal growth.

My clinical philosophy rests on the premise that the foundation of successful therapy lies in the relationship between the therapist and the client—a relationship that must be rooted in trust and mutual respect. I am a firm believer that therapeutic interventions are not one-size-fits-all; rather, they must be personalized and tailored to each individual's unique needs and circumstances.

In my role as a therapist, I am not here to 'fix you' or guide you towards a predefined destination. My mission is to facilitate an environment where you can discover your own potential to mend and move towards the life you envision for yourself. I am here to support you, providing the oars for you to row, but always remembering that it is you who steers the ship.

Finally, I uphold the idea that the outcome of therapy, like most things in life, reflects the investment you are willing to make in it. It is my privilege to be a part of your journey and to assist you in fostering the resilience and strength to create the life you desire.

Melanie Quezada, 2nd year MFT Intern

My goal as a therapist is to empower you to achieve your goals and foster the positive changes you desire, all within a sanctuary of warmth and acceptance. Navigating life's complexities can be daunting, and seeking guidance often feels like another challenge in itself. My approach is rooted in compassion and understanding, ensuring you always feel supported and truly heard.

As a Marriage and Family Intern, I have a specialized clinical focus on family and system dynamics. My professional interest is in working with children and adolescents and recognizing the unique nuances and challenges they face. This allows me to offer guidance tailored to their distinct needs. I employ techniques best suited to each individual, whether that's solution-focused or emotionally-focused therapy. Additionally, I adopt a systemic approach, concentrating on the intricate dynamics and relationships within the family and larger systems.

Jared Lutwyche, MFT-LP

 I am a solution-oriented Marriage and Family Therapist. Over the past few years, I have been able to meet clients where they are and help them achieve their goals. My approach generally allows the client to get results quickly and build upon the foundation that we forge together. I have worked with clients of various ages and backgrounds. This includes individuals, couples, and families.   The pandemic has brought to light the special needs of teens and young adults.  I have been able to develop meaningful, productive relationships that allow them to process their thoughts and feelings about themselves and what is going on in their world.

When a client first comes in, we work to discover who they are and what they are looking for out of therapy. I find that once we make small changes together, we utilize momentum to push through difficult issues together.  Over time, this results in meaningful change, and the development of a process that serves to promote positive change over time.   

Mary O'Hara, LCSW

With over 15 years dedicated to the healing profession, I bring a wealth of experience and a deep passion for assisting individuals through their most challenging times. Specializing in loss, grief, bereavement, relationship complexities, family dynamics, and trauma, my approach as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker centers on providing clarity, insight, and understanding. I believe in fostering a therapeutic space grounded in patience, empathy, and unconditional support, mirroring the nurturing qualities of a caring guardian. My commitment is to guide you towards uncovering solutions that resonate with your life's narrative, enabling a journey of exploration into the issues, behaviors, and patterns you seek to transform. Together, we will navigate the path to healing and self-discovery, empowering you with the knowledge and tools to affect meaningful change in your present and future.

V. Little, MFT Intern

Every soul experiences joy, pain, happiness, suffering, gratitude, grief, depression, or negativity at some point in their lives. The human experience is not just a moment but a series of memories beyond what the heart can express or elate. As a therapist, I’d like to guide you through those day-to-day experiences, identifying your trials, triumphs, and tribulations while learning to find a way to experience your emotions, reactions, and behavior with intention, purpose, and love. The road to healing is not a final destination, but an everlasting, ever-evolving journey. A journey that involves openness, honesty, kindness, forgiveness, love, and tenderness. Greetings. I am Valisia, a dedicated Marriage and Family Therapy graduate student and1st year intern. I am passionate about fostering growth, healing, and resilience within families and relationships. With a compassionate heart and a keen understanding of human dynamics, I am committed to helping individuals, couples, and families navigate life's challenges and strengthen their bonds. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, my emphasis on holistic well-being, encompassing the mind, body, and spirit, is a cornerstone in my approach. Drawing from my diverse background and experiences, including my undergraduate studies in psychology, my thirty years as an artist and creator, my ten-plus years as an advocate for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and my involvement in community outreach programs, I incorporate a holistic perspective into every stage of the process. I believe in the power of collaboration and strive to create a safe and supportive environment where clients can explore their emotions, confront obstacles, and cultivate positive change. I firmly advocate harnessing the power of nature, gratitude, and affirmations to foster healing by engaging in attentive listening, continuous learning, and purposeful self-talk. I am deeply committed to professional development and learning from my peers and clients. I actively engage in supervision, mentorship, and continued education to ensure that I stay informed about the latest research and therapeutic techniques in the field of Marriage & Family Therapy. My dedication to excellence and my genuine desire to make a me a meaningful difference in the lives of others drive my work every day. With empathy, warmth, and a strengths-based perspective, I will collaborate with my clients to identify their goals and tailor interventions to meet their unique needs. Whether when working with individuals facing personal challenges, couples seeking to improve communication and connection, or families navigating complex dynamics, I approach each client with respect, empathy, and a deep commitment to supporting their journey toward healing and growth. I enjoy spending time with my loved ones, exploring nature, and practicing self-care activities in my spare time. I believe in the importance of maintaining balance and nurturing one's well-being to effectively support the well-being of others. I am thrilled to embark on this journey as a Marriage & Family Therapy graduate student intern. I look forward to the opportunity to serve, learn, grow, and make a positive impact within the field. I am excited to bring my passion, dedication, and enthusiasm to my work and am committed to upholding the highest standards of ethical practice and professional integrity. Simply put, I am here for you. Let’s grow and evolve together.

Individiual Therapy, couples, child therapy, onilne therapy, teens,  Marriage therapy, adolescent therapy
Gabriele Trace, LMSW

Have you ever been asked, ‘are you okay?’ and felt like your world was about to come crashing down just by hearing those three words? Emotions can be overwhelming. They are even more overwhelming if we try to deal with them alone.

These overwhelming feelings may result from trauma, relationship troubles, stress from work or school, major life transitions, unconscious beliefs, etc. However, no matter what we may have experienced in life, we all have an innate ability to grow, change and thrive.

I believe that a collaborative relationship between therapist and client is essential for healing. With warmth and curiosity, together, we can work to explore and understand your patterns of feelings, behaviors, and beliefs and identify areas for change and create a path to move forward. As a therapist, I strive to offer a non-judgmental and compassionate space to encourage individuals to work towards a more connected and fulfilling life. I am privileged to guide people in discovering their capacity to heal and reach their goals.

I have spent most of my career working extensively with children, adolescents, adults, and families. This experience taught me to work from a strength-based approach with my clients. Strength-based therapy is a type of positive psychotherapy that focuses on one’s internal strengths and resourcefulness rather than weaknesses, failures, and shortcomings. I build on existing strengths using a combination of treatment modalities, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Psychoanalysis. I also strongly believe in incorporating self-care, mindfulness, and breathing exercises into therapy sessions and everyday life.

Whether you’re interested in self-discovery, learning more effective coping strategies, improving self-esteem, or building healthier relationships, therapy is a positive investment in yourself. Together we can develop a plan specific to your needs and goals. You deserve to feel your best.

Taylor Nyberg, LMFT 

It seems easy to find ourselves stuck. Stuck in an everyday routine, stuck with our feelings, stuck in bad situations. If you are feeling this way, this is the perfect time to try out therapy. At some point in our lives, we have all felt these feelings. Maybe we feel we are not good enough or worrying about the future. Maybe we have anxious feelings around the COVID-19 pandemic. All of this can be stressful, overwhelming, and hard to deal with alone. Well, in that case, I am here to help.

As a therapist, I utilize a person-centered approach to meet the client where they are and tailor each session to their needs. I have a passion for helping each client that I work with and help them to achieve their goals through therapy. I have worked in multiple different settings such as residential facilities, non-profit organizations, community-based services, and private practices which allows me to explore the importance of the therapeutic environment. Within each session, I like to create a comfortable environment where the client feels confident to share and explore the process of therapy with me. While in the field I enjoy utilizing a systemic approach which opens the room to all forms of therapy; individual, family, and couple’s work. My goal of being a therapist is to help my client attain reachable goals that they want to attain for themselves.

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Spencer Friedman, 2nd year MSW Intern

We all possess innate wholeness, but life's challenges can create disconnections, leading to struggles and pain. My approach to therapy is rooted in the belief that through therapeutic exploration, we can reconnect with our true selves and navigate life's complexities towards a more authentic existence.

As a social work intern, I prioritize a client-centered approach, attentively exploring your experiences, emotions, and narratives. My commitment lies in fostering a compassionate, non-judgmental space where we can address the issues impacting your life. Specializing in working with adults and couples, I focus on relationship issues, anxiety, depression, and the quest for deeper meaning.

Our journey together will involve examining and understanding the patterns you wish to alter, uncovering the messages they hold. I see therapy as a collaborative endeavor, aiming to create a nurturing environment conducive to meaningful change, accessible to all. While my training is in social work, my interests also encompass mindfulness, artistic practices, and spirituality as avenues for healing and growth."

Mallory Fariello, MFT-LP

We all need a place to feel safe, welcome, and heard. Every day brings new emotions, new challenges, and new relationships. I’m here to help you talk through both your highs and your lows and offer a judgement free ear. No individual, couple, or family remains emotionally constant, and change can bring fear, anxiety, excitement, or anything in between. Having a safe outlet allows us to process and understand our emotions to help create meaning to our ever-changing lives.

As a therapist, I want to help strengthen the connections in your lives, including the one with yourself. My goal is to use a person-centered approach to ensure that our sessions contribute to you as a unique individual, and that the work we do changes alongside you. This type of approach keeps you as the focus and is designed to meet you where you are, wherever that may be, each time we meet. Through person-centered therapy, you remain the expert of your experiences, and you choose the pace and direction of our conversations.

I have worked with children and families for most of my adult life.  I like to utilize a systemic approach in my work. I believe that looking into the past can help create present changes through growing knowledge and understanding of the family unit. I want each of my clients to gain positive skills that apply outside the realm of the therapeutic setting to create lasting change, and newfound confidence.

I joined this field because I have a passion for this work.  I offer a space for growth and openness which guides each encounter. I would consider it a privilege to have you as a client, and to be the person who gets to help you reach your goals and live a fuller life.

William Thom, LMSW

I have over a decade of experience working with adolescents and young adults as both a teacher and basketball coach. During my journey, I made the conscious decision to channel my expertise towards becoming a licensed social worker, focusing specifically on working with adolescents and parents of adolescents. I deeply understand that the adolescent stage of life can be tumultuous and complicated, and I am committed to guiding my clients through this crucial period.

I strongly believe that every individual has a unique and valuable story that deserves to be heard. My goal is to provide unwavering support to my clients as they navigate their own narratives, assisting them in finding meaning and purpose along the way. Drawing from my background in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and narrative-based therapy, I approach each client's story from diverse perspectives.

As an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) informed therapist, I bring a deep understanding of the unique needs and challenges that individuals on the autism spectrum may experience during adolescence. I am committed to creating a safe and inclusive space where individuals with ASD and their families feel understood, accepted, and supported. By integrating my knowledge of ASD into our therapeutic work, I strive to tailor interventions and strategies that are sensitive to the specific strengths and sensitivities of individuals on the spectrum, fostering their personal growth and well-being.

No matter the way your brain functions, our therapeutic discussions will delve into your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and self-perception in a meaningful and productive manner. Whether you are grappling with anxiety, depression, avoidance, interpersonal challenges, or any other specific issues, I am confident that our therapeutic relationship will empower you with the necessary tools to grow and evolve beyond our sessions.

Moreover, I understand the pivotal role parents play in supporting their adolescents during this critical phase. Therefore, I aim to work collaboratively with both adolescents and their parents, fostering open communication and understanding within the family unit. By offering guidance, resources, and a safe space for exploration, my intention is to empower both adolescents and parents in building a stronger, healthier, and more fulfilling relationship.

If you are seeking guidance and support through the complexities of adolescence, I am here to accompany you on this transformative journey. Together, we can overcome challenges, cultivate resilience, and foster personal growth that extends far beyond our time together.

Andrea Birch, MFT- LP

Life can be difficult. Sometimes, the difficult parts can feel stressful, confusing, or overwhelming. I believe having a therapeutic space to process life changes and emotions can be helpful and healing. I believe in supporting my clients by finding ways to help them cope with change, stress, and trauma to better focus and be present in their "right now" life.

Whether this is your first-time exploring therapy, or you are on a continuing journey to healing and healthy emotional health, I am dedicated to meeting you where you are.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I look at the larger picture.  I will bring my knowledge and training of how families, individuals, and couples interact to shape how we see and interact with ourself and others. I believe everyone has the capacity for growth and change. I am passionate about helping individuals, couples, and families navigate that process. 


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Samantha Lehnert, MHC 2nd year Intern

As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) intern, my passion lies in guiding children and adolescents through their emotional landscapes using an integrative approach that combines play therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and solution-focused therapy. My journey into counseling was sparked by a deep-seated interest in understanding and nurturing emotional well-being.

My primary focus areas include addressing Childhood Anxiety and Stress, Behavioral Issues, and promoting Social and Emotional Development. In my practice, I am dedicated to helping children overcome anxiety and stress through age-appropriate, holistic interventions and coping strategies. My approach is patient and compassionate, tailored to address behavioral challenges while engaging closely with parents and caregivers for comprehensive support.

I utilize play therapy as a key tool to connect with children, offering them a creative and comfortable medium to express themselves. This method not only aids in therapeutic processes but also significantly contributes to their social and emotional development. My ultimate goal is to nurture resilience and foster a positive self-image in the children I work with, laying a foundation for their continued growth and well-being.

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Mandy Akasofu, LMHC

Hello and welcome. In the diverse tapestry of life, I offer my expertise to individuals from all walks of life, especially those facing the complexities of anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. My practice is built on a foundation of warmth, acceptance, and deep-seated compassion.

As a psychotherapist, I hold a particular interest in the subtle intricacies of minority issues, ensuring a respectful and understanding approach to the unique experiences that shape us. My commitment is to provide support tailored to the culturally diverse population of New York State with the convenience and flexibility of virtual sessions.

Join me in a journey toward unlocking your inner peace and cultivating wellness. With my guidance, embrace the path to a more serene and balanced life.

Adam Barta, LCSW-R

I incorporated Head in The Right Direction Counseling Services in 2008.  I have had the opportunity to develop several meaningful relationships which have been the catalyst for positive change in my own life.  We can't live a better life unless we make the time to do the work.  If you are thinking about making your life better, this is where it starts.  Once you reach out to us, one of our therapists will reach out to you to help you to take the next steps.  

What is therapy?

Individual, couples therapy, family therapy , marriage counseling; whatever name you decide to call it, may or may not be an experience you're excited about. If you're a little worried about what might happen, here are a few things you can expect.

Evidence-based approaches are key to understanding effective therapy, whether for individuals, couples, or families. This means that the therapy you are receiving was tested against alternative methods, preferably in randomized controlled trials. Psychologists who provide evidence-based treatment don't stick to one particularly theoretical orientation just because they learned it in graduate school. Instead, they adapt their approach to ensure that they are following the best evidence - both clinical and research.

Some people seek counseling to strengthen their bonds with others and gain a better understanding of self and the world.  You can use counseling to address many specific issues, including:

  • General Angst in life

  • Communication problems

  • Relationship difficulties

  • Substance abuse

  • Anxiety

  • Lack of purpose

  • Anger

  • Depression

  • Unsuccessful attempts to make meaningful lasting change

  • Gain a better understanding of our world

Once someone enters therapy, the therapist's interpretation of issues may offer a new perspective, which permits a change in feelings and behavior. The therapist may act as a facilitator to clear up misunderstandings in our view of things.. This is often difficult for people to do themselves because they are emotionally caught up in the situation. The therapist may also help consider alternative ways of handling problematic situations.

We all want to feel happy, and each one of us has different ways of getting there. Our goal is to help improve satisfaction, increase helpful thinking, gain realistic expectations, overcome challenges and help you to reach your unique personal goals and maximum potential.

We will address and try to integrate the impact of any mood disorder, past trauma, and the effect of unhealthy relationships.

By gaining awareness, we can see where we have maintained self-limiting beliefs, and can then experiment with more self-fulfilling beliefs and behavioral options which haven't been considered before.

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