We are a diverse group of independent professionally licensed and board certified practitioners at Village Counseling Services, P.C. To learn more about our backgrounds please read our brief biographies listed here:
Elizabeth Alberts is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the founding director of Village Counseling Services, P.C. Elizabeth brings both an informed and heart-centered voice to the nature and meaning of healing.
She approaches mental health treatment with the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives, to cultivate what is best within them, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.
Elizabeth focuses on positive emotions, positive individual traits, and the creation of positive environments. She works with adults challenged with mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex PTSD, and relationship conflict. Her emphasis is on examining each client’s capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control and wisdom.
As a Transpersonal therapist, Elizabeth is trained and experienced across disciplines and draws on insights from not only the various areas of psychology, but also the sciences of cognition, consciousness, philosophy, social and cultural theory, integral health theories and practices, poetry, literature, the arts, and the world's spiritual and wisdom traditions.
Specific trainings and expertise include evidence-based techniques such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a leading-edge trauma treatment in which she is certified level II trained; intensive and extensive training in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), an acceptance-based cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness at its core; MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy), which combines the ideas of cognitive therapy and meditative practices; Prolonged Exposure (PE) which utilizes education, breathing and safe real and imaginal exposure to traumatic events that are at the core of a symptom; and has completed her externship with Sue Johnson, EdD in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), an intervention based on the scientific study of adult love and bonding processes in couples which is designed to address distress in the intimate relationships of adults.
Prior to her work as a psychotherapist, Elizabeth worked in film and theatre. Her extensive travels and love of indigenous cultures inform her work today. With over 25 years of clinical practice experience, Elizabeth has provided services to a vast number of clients in her role as Director for three residential/outpatient mental health facilities. In addition, she has provided over eight years of crisis assessment and treatment to New Jersey and Pennsylvania hospital patients and was instrumental in designing and implementing a national model treatment/vocational housing project for ending chronic homelessness through employment and housing.
Elizabeth is an experienced and Board Certified Clinical Supervisor and trainer of mental health professionals. In addition to her role as Director of Village Counseling Services, P.C., she provides clinical consultation and supervision to the Professional Assistance Program of New Jersey, who provide services to protect the public safety and welfare of the citizens of New Jersey through education, identification, evaluation, treatment planning and advocacy for licensed healthcare and other professionals in recovery from impairing medical conditions and illnesses.
Elizabeth is a full member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, The National Association of Social Workers, a Founding Member of the Society of Shamanic Practitioners, a member of Friends of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Institute of Authentic Process Healing, the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, the Association of Transpersonal Psychology, the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy and the Emotionally Focused Therapy Center of New Jersey.
Dr. Kristen L. Carlo graduated from Rutgers University, New Brunswick campus, in 2005 with a B.A. in Biological Sciences along with a minor in sociology. She continued her education at the University of Medicine and Dentistry School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, NJ, now known as Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Her idea of being a physician was based on helping a person as a whole, listening to them, and getting to know each person as an individual. Her training in medicine and osteopathy allowed her to obtain her career goal in helping and treating those in need of mental health services.
After completion of medical school in 2009, Dr. Carlo started her residency training in general psychiatry at the medical institution formerly known as UMDNJ - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, NJ. The institution is now known as Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. During her years in residency, she gained valuable training in general adult psychiatry but she continued to pursue her dream of working with children and adolescents with the goal to be able to grow with individuals starting at a young age and helping them through life. She completed her training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in June of 2014. She is board certified in General Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Dr. Susie Chung, Ph.D., BCBA Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Susie Chung has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Cornell University. She received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in clinical psychology from a program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) at Hahnemann University, now part of Drexel University. She has worked in outpatient as well as inpatient settings, including with individuals who have severe and chronic mental illness. In addition to her off-site private practice Dr. Chung is a psychologist at a forensic psychiatric hospital, where she conducts court-ordered evaluations of mentally ill criminal defendants throughout the State, testifies in court, and consults with treatment teams.
Dr. Chung is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She has expertise in the application of empirically-based and systematic methods to the treatment of behavioral problems. She has also had extensive experience in conducting psychological assessments, with specializations in the areas of forensic cases, developmental disabilities, and serious mental disorders. Her training as a therapist has focused on cognitive-behavioral approaches including Dialectical Behavior Therapy. She works with adults, children, and currently runs a Social Skills Training Group for children with Asperger Syndrome, Attention/Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and other developmental disabilities.
Felice is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Masters degree in Counseling Education from Kean University, a Masters of Education from Rutgers University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Literature from Binghamton University.
Prior to joining Village Counseling Services, P.C., Felice worked in Partial Hospital, Intensive Outpatient and Partial Care programs where she provided psychotherapy to young adults, adults, and seniors coping with thought, mood, and substance use disorders, individually and in groups. Felice has extensive experience working with individuals who are dually diagnosed, i.e. those suffering from both mood and substance abuse disorders, and has conducted family education and support group sessions. Felice also facilitated a wide array of psychoeducational groups, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapyskills, communication skills, coping strategies, relapse prevention, pet therapy, and healthy mind and body. Felice utilizes a counseling approach informed by CBT, DBT, and Motivational Interviewing theories and practice. Felice is trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and facilitates weekly DBT Skills Training groups as a vital part of Village Counseling Services, P.C.'s DBT program. In addition, she incorporates DBT Skills Training when working with individuals. Before entering the counseling field, Felice had a successful career with a large multinational firm where she held a variety of roles in management, training and education, and Human Resources, including a position in an Executive Center of Excellence with a focus on leadership and professional development. With a desire to put her values and passion for helping people reach their full potential into practice, Felice transitioned to a new career in professional counseling. Felice welcomed this opportunity to encourage and assist individuals, as they contemplate and engage in positive change processes that remove obstacles for success and promote new, healthier ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
Laura is a licensed clinical social worker with a Masters degree from Rutgers School of Social Work, a Masters degree in Education from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Pennsylvania.
Laura believes that her ability to form trusting relationships with her clients is at the heart of her psychotherapy work. Laura is a member of Villages’ DBT team and also appreciates working with working with children, adolescents, adults, and families who suffer with depression, anxiety, addiction, ADD and chronic health issues.
Prior to joining Village Counseling Services, P.C., Laura has worked in both inpatient and outpatient private practice settings and correctional institutions where she facilitated adolescent groups, provided private ADD support and research and provided community-based health and wellness counseling. She also taught sexual health education workshops to college students and provided guidance and support at the Elizabeth Blackwell clinic in Philadelphia.
When she is not working, Laura enjoys cooking, hiking with her family and dog, exploring mindfulness practices, watching movies, and planning her next travel adventure.
Sari Harris is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with her Master of Social Work degree from Monmouth University in NJ and her Bachelor of Social Work from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
Sari has experience working with clients across the life span. She works with adults experiencing issues with, but not limited to, anxiety, anger, depression, grief, pre/postpartum, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders, psychotic disorders, OCD, and PTSD. She also has experience working with children and adolescents, age three and up, with a range of struggles, such as anxiety, depression, self-harm, ADHD, bullying, familial issues, PTSD, trauma, grief, school issues, social skills and relationship issues. When working with children and adolescents she encourages parents and guardians to be a part of the treatment process.
Sari is trained in crisis intervention, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She is trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and facilitates weekly DBT Skills Training groups as a vital part of Village Counseling Services, P.C.'s DBT program. In addition, she incorporates DBT Skills Training when working with individuals.
Prior to joining Village Counseling Services, P.C., Sari worked as a Clinical Therapist in private practice and as an Acute Therapist for adolescent females at the Strategic Behavioral Center in North Carolina. She also worked at Rutgers University Behavioral Healthcare and SERV Behavioral Health Systems here is New Jersey prior to her relocation to North Carolina.
Kelly McGlynn is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who earned her Clinical Social Work Masters degree from Rutgers University School of Social Work. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Washington College in Maryland. Kelly has experience working with individuals suffering from mood disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. She is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and facilitates weekly DBT Skills Training groups as a vital part of Village Counseling Services, P.C.'s DBT program. In addition, she incorporates DBT Skills Training when working with individuals.
Prior to joining Village Counseling Services, P.C., Kelly worked as a support coach for Transitions For Youth, a non-profit organization geared toward assisting adolescents in foster care by providing the support they need to transition to adulthood. Kelly’s training also includes cultural competency in therapy, developing leadership qualities in adolescents and young adults, domestic violence, women’s issues, play therapy and postpartum depression. Kelly is currently working towards her Doula certification in postpartum care.
Joanne Pawelko is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University's Harold Abel School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and a Master's degree in Literature from DePaul University. She has been with Village Counseling Services, P.C., since 2011.
Joanne is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and facilitates weekly DBT skills training groups as part of Village Counseling Services, P.C.'s DBT treatment team. Joanne's treatment emphasis is on the role of mindfulness and its use in the treatment of depression, anxiety and associated disorders in children, adolescents and adults.
Joanne is trained in MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) , which combines the ideas of cognitive therapy and meditative practices in a way that helps prevent depression relapse and lessen anxiety. She facilitates MBCT as well as the weekly Mindfulness Meditation Practice Group.
She has additional training in play therapy, ADHD/ADD, meditation, and Sandtray Therapy, which helps integrate memories, emotions and traumas hidden in the unconscious mind.
Joanne began working with individuals and families in 2009 at All Access Mental Health. She has advanced training and experience working with families who find themselves in the supportive caretaking role of a family member who suffers with mental illness, including children of parents with mental illness (even adult children of mentally ill parents). She is a member of the American Counseling Association, a National Certified Counselor, and a member of Sigma Chi Iota, the International Counseling Honor Society.
Mary C. Puschel, MSW, LCSW, NBCCH is a licensed clinical social worker with over twenty-five years of clinical experience specializing in individual, couples, and family therapy. With extensive experience in clinical crisis assessment and teaching clients how to improve their communication, assertiveness, emotion regulation, and relaxation skills, Mary works with clients who suffer from anxiety, depression, addictions, and family conflict. She offers an accepting, caring and engaging approach while promoting change.
Mary is a National Board certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. Cognitive-Behavioral Hypnotherapy is an evidenced-based treatment for reversing core self-sabotaging behavioral and cognitive patterns created in childhood. Mary holds a certificate in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Fundamentals Skills Training and is trained in teaching meditation as a method for preventing and healing depression and anxiety. She has been trained by Rutgers University in Professional Mediation. Mary holds her Master Teacher Certificate in Reiki healing methods from the Infinite Light Healing Studies Center in Sedona.
Kristina D. Rago-Solomita, MSW, LCSW, CEC Psychotherapist and Personal Coach
Kristina Rago-Solomita is a Licensed Social Worker and Certified Life Coach. She brings nearly 10 years of experience working with adolescents, adults and families to her practice. Kristina is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and is Village Counseling Services, P.C.'s DBT Program Coordinator. She specializes in helping adolescents who are suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and out-of-control emotions. Kristina provides individual and weekly adolescent DBT Skills Training groups and is a vital member of VCS's DBT consultation team.
Kristina has been trained in MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) , which combines the ideas of cognitive therapy and meditative practices, and facilitates weekly MBCT groups.
Kristina also has over 6 years of experience as a teacher in both private and public education. As a Certified Life Coach, she helps her adolescent clients face difficult life matters such as school, college planning, friendships, time management, goal attainment, and adolescent development. She is also skilled at helping youth and their families open the lines of communication and improve family dynamics.
Additionally, Kristina has been trained in MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy), which combines the ideas of cognitive therapy and meditative practices, and facilitates weekly MBCT groups. She has also completed her externship with Sue Johnson, EdD in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), an intervention based on the scientific study of adult love and bonding processes in couples, which is designed to address distress in the intimate relationships of adults.
Kristina graduated Rutgers University School of Social Work with a Masters in Social Work and completed a BA in Psychology at the State University of New York at Oneonta. Prior to joining Village Counseling Services, P.C., Kristina worked for Isles, an award winning, non-profit, community development and environmental organization, founded by the students and faculty of Princeton University, with a mission to foster self-reliant families in healthy, sustainable communities.
Kathy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who received her Master’s degree from West Virginia University, with degrees in Research and Clinical Psychology. Kathy has strong and results-oriented supervisory skills, and extensive clinical experience with over 25 years in practice as a psychotherapist working with adolescents, adults, families and couples.
Kathy provides clinical supervision and consultation at Village Counseling Services. She is an experienced and Board Certified Clinical Supervisor for mental health professionals, and a Certified Direct Practice Supervisor for student interns. Before coming to Village Counseling Services she was a Direct Practice Supervisor of master’s level students for New York University, Monmouth University and Rutgers University, and an Adjunct Field Instructor for Rutgers University School of Social Work.
Kathy draws on many years of experience and advanced training in multiple and varied therapeutic orientations to encourage the development of professional confidence, competence, and ensure high standards of professional practice.
In addition to her work as a clinical supervisor, Kathy has advanced training and experience as a certified Level II Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist for the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma recovery, and a Certified Imago Relationship therapist for working with couples and families. She is an active leader and member of various peer supervision groups for advanced mental health clinicians. She is a full member of the National Association of Social Workers, and former chair of the Mercer County Unit of the New Jersey Chapter.
Dr. Lizbeth A. Smith, DrNP Board Certified Doctor of Psychiatric Nursing
Dr. Lizbeth A. Smith has earned her Doctoral degree from Rutgers University School of Nursing in New Jersey, her Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Pennsylvania and her Baccalaureate degree from Columbia University School of Nursing in New York.
Dr. Smith began her nursing career in 2004 and began specializing in family psychiatric nursing while studying at Columbia University. She then went on to gain valuable experience in general psychiatric nursing while working in partial, outpatient and acute care program settings at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, NJ, one of Southern New Jerseys’ largest behavioral health organizations.
Her Capstone scholarly project “Educating behavioral health providers of the management of patients prescribed atypical antipsychotic medications” was a quality improvement projected aimed to improve health outcomes for patients with severe mental illness.
Dr. Smith is certified in Family Psychiatric care and treats patients throughout the lifespan.As a doctorally prepared advanced practice nurse, Dr. Smith is a leader and innovator in translational nursing, integrating nursing theory to improve clinical practice.