​Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC

Henry Kandel Ph.D: has over 25 years of experience working with children with Special Needs. He holds a clinical license in the state of NJ and is currently studying for his renewal of his CA license. He has been Director of Camps and year-round Sports Programs for clients at SFCC for seven years.  He holds a PhD in Psychology at Georgia State University and has completed Post-Doctoral work in Sports Psychology.   He was the Sports Psychologist for Georgia Tech's athletics department in the mid to late 1980's.  In the late 90's he was the Sports Psychologist for several professional teams in the New York area.  With all his training and experience he co-authored a book on "Positive Coaching" for Little League coaches and parents.  He also co-authored several articles in journals and presented professional talks at psychological organizations.  His program of Sports for Special Needs Children was commended by the former National President of the Little League and the former Governor of Georgia.  Dr. Kandel believes in Teaching Good Sportsmanship to Behaviorally Disordered Children with Peer reinforcement of Appropriate Behavior. Dr. K has joining us in Irvine Ca.  Behaviorist, Dr. Kandel is running the clinical part of our program   Dr. Kandel plays a major role in the over all day to day programing at Stepping Forward. If there is a father in the house, it is Henry James Kandel , PhD. Parents and kids find Dr. Kandel‘s behavioral programs are very effective. When not working with families, Dr Kandel is on the playing field with clients and incorporating  “Sports as a Vehicle for Training and Generalization of Social Skills with Problem Children” and teaching good sportsmanship to behaviorally disordered children.  He could be in the mall with clients applying  the program, “Generalized Effects of Reinforcement of Pro-Social Play in Isolated Children”.  He does what is needed to get to the client: shopping, playing sports, or just interacting one on one. He gets results.  Dr. Kandel is the co author with Theodoro Ayllon of “Positive Coaching”,  a behavioral approach to youth sports.

C.A.M.P - Staff members are licensed, Master Level, Teachers and Interns from local Colleges and University working or studying in related fields.   

 

 Our CEO, Christine Robertello., LCSW and mother of two, has more than 20 years of experience as a licensed clinical social worker certified in cognitive behavior therapy.  SFCC's Director brings a demonstrated competency in the field and years of on the ground expertise. Supported by a professional, caring, and culturally competent team of psychiatrists, PhDs, LCSWs, medical practitioner, nurse, occupational therapist, speech therapist and nutritionist.   The Center's interdisciplinary staff offers vast experience in multiple treatment modalities. Working collaboratively as active members of a treatment team and in concert with the client, enables SFCC to provide treatment options appropriate to the client's goals, needs and conditions. This customized approach to treatment is further enhanced by SFCC's use of consultants and other professionals to provide specialty services. 
Given the expertise of its leadership team, Stepping Forward Counseling Center is quickly enhancing its reputation for offering quality treatment in mental health and rehabilitative services.  The Director of Clinicians and Programs, Christine Robertello, has extensive experience as a therapist in multiple treatment modalities.  Ms. Robertello brings not only a demonstrated competency in the field and years of expertise, but a proven track record of more than ten years of effective business administration and management.  Already established within the community, SFCC currently receives patients through referrals from county and state agencies, e. g., the Division of Youth and Family Services, the courts and justice systems, school districts, and other mental health service providers.  A Board Certified Diplomat and mental health consultant to several school districts in the area, Ms. Robertello is also a sought after conference speaker and trainer in mental health rehabilitation and maintenance.  These skills provide an additional advantage as it relates to the successful implementation of a service system that utilizes an Advisory Board and a formal network of community support and mental health services provider agencies.  Ms. Robertello has recently granted certification to provide in-home services to Medicaid patients through the Partnership for Children Program for the State of New Jersey. 


   

                                                        STAFF MEMBERS AND PROVIDERS


Jill P. MSW., LCSW: Program Director of New Jersey location.  Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and families.  She received her masters in social work atNew York University, and her undergraduate degree in sociology at MonmouthUniversity.  To date, she has completed 30 credits towards her Ph.D. in psychology focusing on attachment theory.  She holds certifications as a School Social Worker and a Disaster Response Crisis Counselor. At the beginning of her career, she worked with developmentally disabled adults, which provided the foundation for the progressive development of her knowledge, skill, and compassion for working and helping others.  She has also worked as an administrator and clinical supervisor in various settings including an intensive outpatient program, a children’s psychiatric hospital, and therapeutic group homes.  For eleven years, she worked as the Clinical Supervisor at a Special Education school and residential treatment setting for children with emotional and behavioral needs.  During her tenure, Jill served as the Chairperson for the Passaic County Case Assessment Resource Team and was elected and served as the Chairperson and Vice-chair for the Children’s Interagency Coordinating Council representing Passaic County.


Dr. Ghahary Ph.D.: has been a clinician for more than 22 years. Her work has included treatment of adults, children, adolescents and their families. Dr. Ghahary also has extensive experience in teaching and supervision of Master’s and Doctoral level students and post-doctoral trainees. Doctor Ghahary is a Licensed Psychologist as well as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of New Jersey. She obtained her doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology from Seton Hall University. She has been intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and holds certifications in Critical Incident Stress Management, Psychological First Aid and Post Traumatic Stress Management, and Advanced Post Traumatic Stress Management: Protocols for Response to Suicide


Dr. Nataliya Osmanova., M.D.: in NJ  has been working with the Psychiatry staff at SFCC for four years. Dr. Osmanova devotes countless hours with clients and families in a group or one on one settings. The time allows Dr. Osmanova time to properly evaluate for a  successful treatment plan. Dr. Osmanova has extensive and specialized training in Outpatient and Partial Hospital programs from Stony Brook University and UBHC Child outpatient units. She received her MD degree from the Izhevsk Medical Institute, Russia. She did residency training in General Psychiatry at the Izhevsk Psychiatry Hospital in Russia and then at Stonybrook University Hospital with both adults and children. Dr.Osmanova completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship program in Child Psychiatry at Stonybrook University Hospital and another Postgraduate Fellowship in Child Psychiatry at UMDNJ. Dr. Osmanova is Board Certified in Adult Psychiatry and is fluent in Russian. Dr. Osmanova specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of children, adolescents, and adult with a wide range of psychiatric disorders. She has expertise in the evaluation and treatment of Mood Disorders (including Bipolar), Impulse Disorders , Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Depression , Anxiety, Psychotic Disorders, Adjustment Disorders. With Dr. Osmanova expertise, SFCC programs are even more successful in having a lasting effective. 


Jason R ., LAC Co: - Camp Director, Associate Counselor in NJ is passionate about his work at SFCC because of his love for working with children.  Jason received his undergraduate degree in psychology and a master in mental health behavior.  Jason has 10 years of experience working with kids ages 6-16 and was a martial arts instructor for a decade.  At SFCC, he is a service provider who does individual and family counseling.  During his time at SFCC, he finds that his experience here is most meaningful because he is able to positively interact with children utilizing his creativity as well as his expertise to provide his patients with the best care possible.

Anne Pereira.,  M.S.: Anne Pereira is the camp director and brings a special touch to SFCC, with over 20 years of experience working with special needs children as a Transition Teacher and currently a Vice Principal at New Jersey Regional Day School in Newark, NJ. and President of the Board of Trustees for the Center for Autism in Newark. Anne's multitude of qualifications also includes her three Bachelor of Science Degrees as a Teach of the Handicap, Elementary Education Teacher, and Teacher of Early Childhood. Anne's leadership skills have radiated throughout her works, especially as the Transition Coordinator at her school, making her a perfect fit in the SFCC family. The optimism Anne has for the Stepping Forward Camps and Saturday programs is shared by the rest of the staff and will create a fun and eventful therapeutic time. We are all pleased to have her on board for another fun and successful year!


Loraine O. - Lorraine has joined the SFCC family to train the staff and parents, as well as work with the children. Lorraine is nationally certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork by the State of New Jersey, as well as by the Upledger Institute in Miami, Florida in CrainoSacral techniques. She is also trained in Acutonics® techniques, (a registered trademark of the Kairos Institute of Sound Healing, LLC, in Llano, NM) and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which draws from elements of Cognitive Therapy, Exposure Therapy, and Acupressure. These modalities are based on Traditional Chinese Medicine is also known as Meridian Therapy using acupuncture points to stimulate and balance the systems in the body, which enables her to integrate these skills into her practice. These skills are helpful for adults and children with fears, phobias, anger, guilt, grief, physical pain, emotionally-based illness and so much more. She is a member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, in Evergreen, Colorado. Lorraine is committed to providing quality service focusing on the client’s personal needs, providing a relaxing experience, while promoting wellness through the benefits of her skills.


California



Mitchell Shaffer PH.D., LMFT: Program Director, Our newest team member brings 30 years of IOP and PCP experience with teens and young adults. Dr. Shaffer is Canadian born and has been a resident of South California for most of his adult life.  Mitch and his wife are very proud of their son and two daughters all in their late teens.  An active community member Dr. Shaffer has the insight to the needs of our clients. He will be developing new programs and assist with the clinical and family treatment at SFCC.  Dr. Shaffer has worked with many different modalities like DBT and CBT in his IOP and PCP programs.


Dr. Gary Pedneault., M.D.: Head of Psychiatry at SFCC Irvine location. He has in-depth knowledge of diagnosing, treating and managing behavior disorders associated with mental health. Dr. Pedneault treatment focuses on effectively developing and implementing core treatment plans with the team. Boston-born Dr. Pedneault moved to California in 1990 and did his Postgraduate studies in Child Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.


​Khristine Valladolid, LMFT: ​A graduate of Pepperdine University master program in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Therapy.  Khristine experience is with utilizing behavioral therapy techniques such as ABA, positive reinforcement in a natural play environment and a multi- theory approach to help clients acquire effective coping skills.   She also has experience as a School Personal Counselor, bringing an added understanding of our clients needs.


April Sutherland, MFTI: in counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy from Cal State, Long Beach. She received a B.S. in Psychology from UC San Diego. April enjoys working with youths and their families. She likes playing competitive soccer and other sports with her friends.  April has worked with children on the spectrum and is trained in ABA.   As an Intern at SFCC April will be working with our team to assure success for our clients and their families.  April is a Certified Teacher Trainer of "CPI" nonviolent crisis intervention.


Ashely Hodgson, MFTI: ​a registered MFT Intern and a registered yoga teacher. She received her Master of Arts from Chapman University. Ashely has an affinity for mindfulness and enjoys utilizing grounding techniques and creative interventions when working with clients. Ashely is passionate about therapy, yoga and animals. She loves to learn and believes there is always room to grow.


Robin LeCates is an art specialist working at SFCC. She is a native Texan, was born in Austin and lived and taught in Dallas for the years prior to moving to  California. Robin attended Texas State University (BFA) and Booker T. Washington School for the Arts, a highly regarded progressive public school that helped shape and guide her love of art and desire to provide exceptional creative experiences too varied populations. She has over thirty years of combined classroom and practical experience working with children as the creative facilitator, mentor, and creative problem-solving coach as well as mental health activities director and 1:1in a residential setting. Additionally, Robin has conducted creative workshops for educators and other early childhood influencers interested in providing safe, loving, creative environments that challenge and foster open-ended learning experiences and creative endeavors. Robin relishes her time at SFCC and feels privileged to partner with clients and staff to share in the fostering of emerging skills and facilitating a warm, active, a happy creative environment where everyone is equally welcome and all are included.


Elizabeth Light, Graduate Intern, is receiving her M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Cal State Fullerton. She received a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Education from UC Santa Barbara. She has a background in trauma therapy as a certified crisis counselor. Elizabeth has a passion for working with children and families and is thrilled to bring that passion to Stepping Forward.

LSTAFF & PROVIDERS