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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.  

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.  

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,

William Thom, LMSW

After an eleven-year career working with adolescents and young adults as a teacher and basketball coach, I made the conscious decision to apply those experiences towards the path of becoming a licensed social worker.  Adolescence is, in many ways, messy.   Continuing to delve into that messiness with clients seemed to be the most natural next step in my career.  I believe that each person’s story is unique and worthy of being told, and I aim to support clients in making meaning of their stories as we work together.  With a background in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and narrative-based therapy, we will approach your story from many different perspectives.  Our discussions will explore your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and self-image in meaningful and productive ways. Whether you are struggling with anxiety, depression, avoidance, interpersonal challenges, or something more specific, I believe we will build a therapeutic relationship that will help provide you with tools to help you evolve and grow past our work together.

Mallory Fariello, MFT 2nd year Intern

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.

Annmarie Crispino, LCSW-R

I have been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for the past 11 years, working with individuals and couples in a clinical setting, as well as private psychotherapy. I am  creative, compassionate and provide a welcoming style of psychotherapy that encourages every patient to work towards and attain their goals and dreams.  I am focused and attuned to the patient’s needs and will be able to create a safe and positive environment.  I believe that every person can reach their potential, strive towards their goals, heal from their past and obtain happiness by learning how to be present in their lives while learning how to be insightful about oneself and gain empowerment.    

I am a solution-based psychotherapist with specialties that include trauma, anxiety, depression, anger, ADHD, relationship problems and self-esteem.   8 years of experience working with victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault, as well as experience working with the perpetrators of domestic abuse.  I am a graduate of Rutgers University and obtained a Certificate in Violence Against Women and Children.    

Mandy Akasofu, LMHC

As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York, my practice has focused on serving individuals across various levels of care.

I am experienced in providing psychotherapy to help adults, children, and families in individual and group settings. My areas of specialties include anxiety, depression, stress management, relationship conflicts, trauma, life adjustment, academic challenges, and career exploration. I am trained in various therapeutic modalities, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

I use different modalities based on my client’s preferences. My approach is client-centered, mindfulness-based, and solution-focused. My clinical interests include mindfulness-based practices, mental health stigma, and ethnic minority issues.

I believe that people have within themselves the tools and resources to manage life challenges, but sometimes they need new perspectives. In my practice, I help my clients uncover their strengths and use potential tools and resources. In this process, I support my clients in learning adaptive strategies and finding new avenues.

Kernisha Otway, MFT-LP

Working with families led me to make the decision to become a marriage and family therapist. I recognized that as much as we want to connect and have family, many are scared and uncertain how to navigate the challenges of relationships.

I believe connection is essential to our wellbeing.  As a Marriage and family therapist, I create a safe to explore relationships and our role in them. I invite you to process events in your life in a way that will help us both see them more clearly and engage with them more accurately. Together we can create a space where you know you are being heard, understood, and viewed uniquely through the lens of your own life. Therapy will be different for everyone.   This journey will shine a light on a variety of emotions and insights.

The goal is to create a process for this work together that you will make your own over time.   We will develop our abilities to interpret our world accurately and take the actions necessary. You will find your voice and identity.  We will see who you are… and whom you are becoming. 

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.   

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Danielle Pulcastro, LCSW-R

I have been a social worker for 17 years and have worked with various populations, comorbid disorders, intellectual disabilities, and trauma history. While in the field, I have assisted my clients with increasing their distress tolerance skills, provided crisis intervention, and conflict resolution.  I have a vast array of knowledge in working with those who struggle with substance abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, interpersonal relationship issues, low self-esteem, ADHD, depression, and anxiety to name a few.

Through my years of experience, I have found that helping one feel empowered to help themselves has led to a positive increase in their quality of life.  My goal is to continue helping people help themselves.

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, LMSW

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. 

Taylor Nyberg, MFT-LP 

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.

Andrea Birch, 2nd year MFT-Intern

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. 


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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