Our Staff2019-03-18T16:29:55+00:00

Our Staff & Providers

The team/staff at SFCC are Super Heros, going beyond the call of duty. Each and every one of them brings a unique set of skills and expertise to the organization. Each and every staff member has a dedication and commitment to SFCC’s methodology of bringing a sense of wellness and success to your child and family.

New Jersey

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.

As Director of Clinicians and Programs, Christine Robertello, has extensive experience as a therapist in multiple treatment modalities. She brings not only a demonstrated competency in the field and years of expertise, but a proven track record of more than 20 years of effective business administration and management. 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.

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 at New 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 that 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 11 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 supervising Master’s and Doctoral level students and post-doctoral trainees. Dr. 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 4 years. Dr. Osmanova devotes countless hours to clients and families in a group or one-on-one settings. This allows Dr. Osmanova time to properly evaluate 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’s expertise, SFCC’s programs are successful and have a lasting effect.

Jason R. LPC, 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 Masters in mental health behavior. Jason has 13 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 is part of our team for the PCP and IOP as well as the C.A.M.P. director for our Summer Therapeutic Program. She brings a special touch to SFCC. She has 29 years of experience working with special needs children as a Teacher and a Transition Coordinator. She was 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 3 Bachelor of Science Degrees as a Teacher of the Handicap, Elementary Education Teacher, and Teacher of Early Childhood. She also has a Master’s in Administration. Anne’s leadership skills have radiated throughout her works, especially as the Vice Principal at her school, making her a perfect fit in the SFCC family. The optimism Anne has for the Stepping Forward 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!

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 Cranio Sacral 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 and 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.

Melissa Doney is a Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) in the state of New Jersey. Melissa received her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with a minor in sociology at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Melissa then obtained her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Fairleigh Dickinson University, a CACREP accredited University. Melissa is also board certified with the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) as a National Certified Counselor (NCC.) In addition, Melissa holds a certification as a Substance Awareness Coordinator (SAC.) Melissa is dedicated to the innovative, empathic and integrative approach to treatment that is provided to the children, adolescents and their families at Stepping Forward Counseling Center.


Dr. Shaffer brings 30 years of IOP and PCP experience working with teens and young adults. Dr. Shaffer is Canadian born and has been a resident of Southern California for most of his adult life. Mitch and his wife are very proud of their son and 2 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 assisting with the clinical and family treatment at SFCC. Dr. Shaffer has worked with many different modalities like DBT and Dateianhänge CBT in his IOP and PCP programs.

Lisa – Lottatore French, PsyD, BCBA-D is a licensed psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst – (Doctoral BCBA-D) specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities. Dr. French earned a master is Counseling Psychology from Boston College and a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in San Diego. She completed her pre-doctoral training at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego Outpatient Psychiatry Department where she specialized in clinic-based therapy for children with autism. Dr. French has provided ABA therapy and supervision for 17 years in San Diego and Orange County. Dr. French continues to develop her passion and commitment to providing quality, innovative, and creative individualized services for children with special needs and their families.

Head of Psychiatry at SFCC CA. locations, Dr. Pedneault, has in-depth knowledge of diagnosing, treating and managing behavior disorders associated with mental health. Dr. Pedneault’s treatments 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.

Bree received her undergraduate degree from Azusa Pacific University where she obtained her BA in Psychology. In addition to Bree’s friendly and enthusiastic attidude, she has over 5 years of experience working with children. She strives to foster a safe and supportive environment, while encouraging a positive experience as soon as a client walks in. She is honored to be working for SFCC because she see how the organization makes an impact on every child and fmaily that comes through the door.

Expert in Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy from Cal State, Long Beach. April received a B.S. in Psychology from UC San Diego. She 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.

Elizabeth received 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 SFCC. Miss Liz clients appreciate her patients, understand and commitment to successful outcomes.

Kyle was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. He received an M.A. in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Adapted Physical Education from Cal State Chico, where he had the privilege of working in the Autism Sensory Motor Skills Clinic. He earned a B.S degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Physical Education from Cal State Sacramento. Kyle is a Registered Behavior Technician and has been trained in ABA to work with diverse populations. He enjoys sports and greatly values the importance of movement. He believes that movement is a way for individuals of all ages to work towards a common goal. He is passionate about providing individuals with the tools necessary to make friends and better our society. Kyle is enthusiastic about achievements of any kind and celebrates diversity.

Meagan received her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy specializing in Art Therapy from Notre Dame de Namur University. She received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Studio Art from Gonzaga University. Meagan enjoys going to the beach, reading, watching movies, and gardening. She is excited to expand art therapy at SFCC as it helps our clients learn about themselves, enriching experiences in life and in relationships.

Contact Us

Three locations to serve you

Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC has three locations to serve you.
Please contact our offices for questions, applications, programs, and events.

New Jersey
26 Main Street
Chatham, NJ 07928
Phone: (973) 635-6550

15375 Barranca Parkway Unit B 101
Irvine, CA 92618
Phone: (949) 333-1209

22343 La Palma Ave. Unit 116
Yorba Linda, CA 92887
Phone: (714) 340-0511

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