359 Ballston Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY   
Phone: 518-587-8008 - Fax: 518-587-8241

Clinical Staff

 

 

Wende W. Tedesco, LCSW-R Clinical Director

Ms. Tedesco graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelors of Social Work and Minors in Sociology and Psychology, and earned her Masters of Social Work from the State University of Albany. Ms. Tedesco’s early clinical experience was strongly influenced by attending trainings with many of the pioneers of child and family therapy including: Albert Ellis, Carl Rogers, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Salvatore Minuchin, Michael White, the solution-focused work of Insoo Kim Berg, and the groundbreaking work of Ross Greene and Stuart Ablon with children in the Collaborative Problem Solving approach.  She has devoted the majority of her career to working with adolescents and their families in a residential treatment center. Ms. Tedesco became an administrator in clinical services and focused on program development, outcome and efficacy of clinical service provision; including implementation of an evidence-based education and treatment model within a residential program. Most recently, she has worked on assessment and treatment of youth experiencing suicidal ideation or those who engaged in non-suicidal self- injury and those experiencing overwhelming anxiety.

Ms. Tedesco believes in a positive emphasis on psychoeducation, brain-based research, and mindfulness and healing tools for trauma.

Megan Heeder, LMHC Clinical Coordinator

Megan Heeder, LMHC, is Saratoga Center for the Family’s Clinical Coordinator.  Megan oversees the Center’s school-based programs and clinical therapists.

Megan earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Ithaca College.  She has been a Licensed Mental Health Counselor since 2011 and says her approach to therapy is “holistic and psychodynamic,” helping people alleviate traumatic stress through a variety of techniques including Cognitive and Dialectical Behavioral Therapies, as well as narrative, self-regulatory and mindfulness-based strategies.  Megan has extensive experience working with children in school-based settings where play therapy helps children communicate and express their feelings. Megan is currently being trained in Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT) to add to her repertoire of trauma treatment tools.

Prior to coming to Saratoga Center for the Family, Megan worked at Northwestern Counseling and Support Services in Vermont where she started and supervised a hospital diversion program to help adults in crisis.  She then spent three years running a private practice consulting within a rural elementary school.  In 2016, after relocating back to the area, Megan obtained her New York State license and joined the Neighborhood Center in Old Forge, NY, running an outpatient community mental health office.

“I am excited to step into the role of Clinical Coordinator and plan to augment the mental health services provided in our schools and community, and combat compassion fatigue so people can continue doing this important work,” says Megan.

Megan is married with two children and a dog.  In her free time, she loves to spend time in nature hiking, camping, skiing, biking, swimming and boating in the Adirondacks and the 1000 Islands. Megan loves to travel and hopes to instill a sense of curiosity, adventure and non-judgmentalism in her children.

 

 

Tracy Barboza, LCSW-R

Tracy Barboza, LCSW-R, is a licensed clinical social worker at Saratoga Center for the Family. She earned her MSW from SUNY Albany and her B.A. in psychology from Elmira College.  Tracy has over 16 years of combined experience providing individual and group therapy, consultation, and training.  Tracy has worked in private practice, clinic, residential, hospital and community based settings with both children and adults.  She is experienced in working with individuals and families impacted by trauma, grief and loss, ID/DD, ADHD, Autism, TBI, and a variety of mental health and adjustment challenges.  Tracy utilizes an individualized treatment approach drawing from a wide range of CBT, DBT, educational and solution focused interventions.

This fall, Saratoga Center for the Family will branch out to Schenectady County as Tracy will be the school-based therapist at Scotia-Glenville’s High School and Middle School. A resident of Glenville, Tracy is excited to be working in her community at an organization she feels so passionate about.

“I believe in Saratoga Center for the Family’s mission to support, empower and strengthen families.  I think it’s wonderful to be bringing this service to schools.  This creates an opportunity to provide support in an accessible and familiar environment, so kids and teens can feel comfortable should they need to seek help for any reason,” says Tracy.

In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking, and volunteer work.

Jennifer Barry, LCSW

Jen Barry, LCSW, is the Student Empowerment Program Elementary School Clinician.  In her position, Jen provides counseling services at six elementary schools including Chango, Karrigon, Okte, Orenda, Skano, and Tesago.

Jen earned a B.A. in Psychology/Sociology and Women’s Studies from University at Albany and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University.  Over the course of her career, Jen worked with various non-profit agencies including St. Catherine’s Center for Children and Northern Rivers Family Services where she specialized in foster care placement and served victims of abuse and neglect.  Most recently, Jen served as a Crisis and Pediatric Clinician at Albany Medical Center, working with psychiatric inpatients and discharge planning.

Certified in Progressive Counting, an effective therapy for the treatment of trauma, and a part-time therapist through Talkspace (an online teletherapy service for adults and adolescents), Jen was looking to get back into the full-time one-on-one counseling realm.

“I love working with children and their families; I find it of the utmost importance to treat mental health at the earliest stages to promote resiliency. Helping to strengthen individuals and families is the mission of Saratoga Center for the Family and it correlates with my own values.  I’m excited to work and represent the Center through their Student Empowerment Program,” says Jen.

A resident of Albany, Jen spends most of her free time with her two children, partner, friends, and family. She enjoys traveling and recipe searching.

 

Erica Buhler, LCSW

Erica Buhler, LCSW, is a Mental Health Therapist at Saratoga Center for the Family.  Erica began her career in human services as a case manager at Unity House of Troy, a human service agency, working with people suffering from severe and persistent mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse issues and HIV/AIDS.  This position sparked Erica’s passion to continue her education to become a licensed therapist.

Erica earned both her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree from University at Albany in Social Welfare and Social Work respectively.  During her undergraduate studies, Erica interned at St. Anne Institute, Albany, in the Residential Services program which serves young women and their families from throughout New York State. Her second internship, during graduate studies, was with Albany County Correctional Facility providing counseling through the facility’s mental health unit.

With degree in hand, Erica took a position as a Functional Family Therapist at Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth.  She earned her license and was soon offered a position with St. Mary’s Healthcare in Amsterdam as a Psychiatric Social Worker for the children’s mental health unit, eventually being promoted as the outpatient addiction services supervisor.  However, Erica missed the one-on-one sessions with families and children.

“I wanted to go back to where my passion truly lies, which is working closely with individuals and families to help them achieve their goals and I will be doing that here at Saratoga Center for the Family.”  says Erica.

Erica says she focuses on cognitive behavior therapy and solution focused therapy with her clients.  “This style is more of a short-term, goal-oriented treatment that takes a practical approach to problem-solving.  We work together to challenge and change unhelpful thought processes and behaviors for the best results. ”

A resident of Ballston Spa, Erica and her husband have a three year old son.  During her free time, she enjoys baking and cooking in general.

Cara Bryden, LCSW

Cara Bryden received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology concentrating in Human Services and Women’s caraStudies from the State University of New York at New Paltz.  She received her Master’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany in Social Welfare.  She is now a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

Cara has worked extensively with child and adult survivors of trauma providing group, individual and family therapy.  She has specialized experience in foster care and adoption as well as sexual abuse.  Cara enjoys incorporating expressive art modalities of movement, sound, visual imagery, writing, and mindfulness.  She believes that everyone has a creative place inside themselves and finding and exploring this place can be fun and deeply healing at the same time.

Cara also uses talk therapy drawing from Psychodynamic Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Solution Focused Therapy.  She understands how difficult it can be to trust a therapist and finds that building a trusting relationship is one of the most important parts of people’s healing process.

In her free time Cara has two young children that inspire her to be her best self every day.  She is currently working towards earning a certificate in Expressive Arts through Florida Expressive Art Institute.  She enjoys art journaling, creative movement, art and music festivals, and spending time with her friends and family.

Taylor C.

Taylor C., LMHC earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University At Albany and Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. She is licensed in the state of New York as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).

Taylor has experience providing mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults in outpatient clinics, school-based programs, and the summer camp setting. Taylor utilizes a client-centered approach, incorporating a variety of treatment modalities to individualize care to each person. At the core of Taylor’s approach is the belief that a trusting relationship between therapist and client can lay the foundation for overall growth. Taylor believes in empowering children and adolescents by focusing on their unique personalities and strengths, along with building a support team to surround them. Therefore, Taylor is excited to be able to offer a collaborative approach working along side the client, family, and school personnel within the South Glens Falls School District as part of Saratoga Center for the Family’s Student Empowerment Services.

Chastity Chartier, PSY.D

f8c2aa_390495b12d1c449fa077149dde0d8d74-mv2Dr. Chartier has 10 years of experience assessing individuals across the lifespan, from infancy through late life. Her areas of expertise include ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum, child abuse/trauma, and adaptive functioning. She tailors each interview, testing session, and feedback session to the individual needs of the patient and the involved family members. Dr. Chartier realizes the sensitive nature of the concerns that often bring individuals to request neuropsychological testing. She is flexible and able to work with families in a variety of scheduling and financial situations.​

Dr. Chartier earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England. She has specialized in assessment and evaluation throughout her training, including the Pediatric Neuropsychology department at Dartmouth, Hillcrest Educational Centers intensive residential placement for children and teenagers, Brightside for Families and Children inpatient hospitalization unit, Learning Solutions for Learning Success outpatient learning disability evaluation and treatment setting, Fort Lee Army Health Clinic, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Child Abuse Program, and Clionsky Neurosystems postdoctoral fellowship. She is passionate about standardized, thorough, and accurate assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning.
Dr. Chartier grew up in a military family and lived in various states throughout her childhood. During college she studied abroad in Germany, and throughout college and graduate school, she served in the Marine Corps for 8 years, where she met her husband. Together they enjoy travelling and exploring new places with their three children and two dogs.

Sheri Fortin, LMHC

Sheri Fortin, LMHC, has recently joined Saratoga Center for the Family as a licensed mental health counselor.  Her background includes working with persons as young as preschool to elementary age to adults of various ages with mental health diagnoses, trauma, and other personal and environmental challenges.  For the past three years, Sheri worked with adolescent girls at a residential facility.  These diverse experiences have given Sheri a holistic perspective into the developmental needs of clients across the lifespan and how they intersect with available mental health services, schools, and other community agencies.

Sheri earned her A.A.S. in Early Childhood Education from Hudson Valley Community College; her B.A. in Human Behavior from Skidmore College, and her M.S. in Education: Mental Health Counseling from The College of Saint Rose.  She has received training in Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Level I and II; Safe TALK-Tell Ask Listen KeepSafe; Assist-Applied Suicide Intervention Skills; Mental Health First Aid USA; Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Youth and their Non-Offending Caregivers; and Core Essential Skills for Experienced Caseworkers.

“I’m excited to be a part of Saratoga Center for the Family as the philosophies and foundations of the Center’s mission align with my personal goals and professional aspirations,” says Sheri.

In her free time, Sheri enjoys spending time with her adopted dog and cat, family and friends, kayaking, being in nature, and knitting.

 

Jacqueline Gemme, LMHC

Jacqueline Gemme, a mental health counselor, has been with Saratoga Center for the Family since November 2017. Her life experiences have helped her achieve this career.

As a practitioner of Buddhism since the 1970’s, Jacquie has been able to integrate Eastern psychology into Western psychology practices.  Her familiarity with the method of mindfulness has allowed her to embrace the therapies of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Therapy.  Having made meditation a staple of her lifestyle, Jacquie is able to offer guidance to those who wish to explore the calm and serenity that medication can offer.  She has also been able to incorporate calming techniques into her work with children.  Jacquie is not limited to Eastern related philosophies.  After graduate school, she began post-graduate studies in psychodrama, an action method used as a psychotherapy, and Somatic Experiencing, a form of alternative therapy aimed at relieving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical trauma-related health problems by focusing on the client’s perceived body sensations created by trauma therapist Peter Levine.  Continuing her training as a trauma therapist, Jacquie is completing her studies in Trauma Focus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy).

Having a long career in the field of substance abuse, while also carrying on a psychotherapy practice, Jacquie has counseled individuals throughout the human lifespan.  She is delighted to have joined the Saratoga Center for the Family and upon the asking would be delighted to share her life experiences.

Kristin Johnson, LMSW

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Kristin Johnson, LMSW – Kristin earned her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree from State University of New York at Albany in the School of Social Welfare in the Advanced Standing Program. She is licensed in New York State as a Licensed Masters Social Worker (LMSW).

On a professional level, Kristin has worked as a Therapist and Case Manager from 2005-2013 on an Intensive Needs Management Unit in a Residential Foster Care Facility. She worked with adolescents and their guardians (that consisted of collaboration of parents, extended family members, school personnel and social service departments) providing Individual, Family Therapy, and Case Management for an array of mental health issues. Kristin’s wide range of experience includes working with survivors of trauma, sexual and physical abuse, symptoms of post-traumatic stress, grief and loss, self-injurious behaviors, anxiety, depression, developmental delays and behavioral issues with children and families.

Kristin has been a Therapist at Saratoga Center for the Family since 2013, where she provides individual and family mental health psychotherapy with an emphasis on serving crime victims. She has experience working with children, adolescents and adults with a concentration on survivors of sexual and physical abuse, neglect, and domestic violence. Kristin is trained in many modalities of trauma treatments to help individuals heal from symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which includes, but are not limited to, Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Progressive Counting Technique, and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing). Kristin uses a wide range of treatment approaches including Strength Based, Solution Focused Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to ensure she is meeting the client’s where they are at with their individual needs. Kristin views the client as the expert when it comes to their personal story, goals, and solutions and believes in a client centered approach that builds on a person’s already existing internal strengths and resources and forming a genuine and collaborative therapeutic relationship with individuals as they work to meet their goals.

Starting in October 2018, Kristin is now providing Individual and Family Therapy at a satellite office through Saratoga Center for the Family located at Shenendehowa Elementary Schools, serving the elementary aged children and their families during their school day whom attend Shatekon and Arongen School.

Jessica Muscanell, LMHC, CASAC-T

 

Jessica Muscanell, LMHC, CASAC-T – Jessica earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from SUNY Oneonta.
She then graduated from Sage Graduate School receiving her Master’s Degree in Counseling and Community Psychology.  She is licensed in New York State as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

Jessica graduated in 2013 and worked as a clinician at Pearl Counseling Center in Albany as a mental health counselor and substance abuse counselor. She has experience working with dual diagnosis and addiction. She is skilled in providing individual, family and group therapy. Jessica has experience working with various mental health issues. These include: anxiety, depression, loss and grief, substance abuse, and sexual and physical abuse. She is experienced in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and uses a wide range of treatment approaches to ensure she is meeting the client’s where they are at with their individual needs.

Nathallie Kiser-Negron, LCSW-R

Nathallie Kiser-Negron, LCSW-R earned her Bachelor’s Degree from City University of New York with a focus on Sociology and Latino Studies. In 1997, she earned her Master’s Degree from
nathallieCUNY Hunter College School of Social Work with a concentration in Group Work. Nathallie brings with her over 20 years of experience working with individuals, families, and
groups in a variety of settings addressing a multitude of issues.A dancer at heart, Nathallie integrated her love of dance and movement with her strong desire to understand
people and how they go about living. With this passion as her anchor, she wenton to pursue post-graduate training in Gestalt Therapy; a humanistic approach to therapy that places emphasis on gaining moment to moment awareness of our perceptions, feelings, and behavior for both the therapist and the client. She continued honing her skills and interests in body-oriented therapy with a certification in Somatic Experiencing, a body-based approach to healing trauma and PTSD via regulation of the nervous system. Nathallie also holds a deep affinity to Eastern philosophies and has completed a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Certification through Yoga Vidya in Albany. She is currently studying Raja Yoga.
Nathallie brings to her work with clients a curiosity about how our experiences are manifested through our body. She believes that all emotions have physical manifestations that at times can be overwhelmingly confusing and scary; but making sense of the physiological response to emotions and trauma can profoundly change a person’s ability to adapt and function well in the world. By becoming aware of the body’s response, we can develop new patterns and options. When not at SCF, Nathallie sees clients at her private practice in Latham. She also teaches a weekly yoga class for cancer survivors and serves as a substitute yoga teacher at the Hindu Cultural Center in Albany. A recent transplant from NYC, Nathallie and her family enjoy discovering the many outdoors opportunities upstate NY has to offer.

Tiffany St. Louis, LCSW

Tiffany has a Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and a Master’s degree is Social Welfare from SUNY Albany. She is a New York Tate Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Tiffany has worked for 6 years as a child and family therapist. Her experience includes working at Parsons Child & Family Center in the Healthy Families Enhanced Services/Prevention programs and at Glens Falls Hospital Center for Children & Families.  She has worked with children, adolescents, and families in both home-based and outpatient settings in rural and urban areas.

Tiffany has worked as a part of a multi-disciplinary team and collaborated with parents, schools, family members and social service departments.  She has also worked in Glens Falls Hospital Emergency Room doing psychiatric evaluations for patients that present with behavioral issues, self-harm and suicidal/homicidal ideation.

While completing her Master’s degree she worked under the umbrella of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) in residential, day programming, community habilitation and after-school programming. This provides her with significant experience working with the autistic and developmentally disabled populations.

She has a passion for assisting in disaster relief and has helped natural disaster victims in Haiti and New Orleans.  Tiffany is also dedicated to assisting those impacted by trauma, attachment disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and all aspects of victimization. Her core belief is to approach people from a person-centered and holistic approach.  Tiffany uses a variety of treatment modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused, Play Therapy, Sand Tray and strength-based therapies.

Laura Zasada, LCSW

Laura Zasada, LCSW has joined the Saratoga Center for the Family in 2017.  Laura received her Master Degree in Social Work at Smith College School for Social Work in 2004 and her Bachelor of Art in Psychology with a minor in Sociology at LeMoyne College.                                            Laura has been practicing LZasada headshotas a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the state of New York since 2012.

As a clinician, Laura has worked with various organizations and has experience working with different populations.  She has provided services to children, adolescents and adults in a therapeutic setting, around issues of behavioral health, alcohol and substance abuse, developmental and learning delays.  She utilizes several different treatment modalities, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Solution Focused Therapy.  As a clinician, Laura understands the importance of beginning with where the client is at and creating a safe environment for effective treatment.

Laura enjoys working with youth and their families focusing on healthy social-emotional development and relationships by building developmental assets through positive youth development strategies and a trauma-informed approach.

Paula Zimmerman, LMHC

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Paula earned her Master’s Degree in School Counseling at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York and her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She is licensed in New York State as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and she has worked in the field for over 17 years. Paula is a certified LGBT-Affirmative Therapy Provider.

Paula provided therapy and case management to adolescents and their families in a Residential Foster Care Facility for over 10 years. She provided individual, family, and group therapy. These adolescents presented with various struggles, including anger management, depression, anxiety, impulse control, history of having been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused, chronically running away, self-injurious behaviors, grief and loss, and developmental delays. Prior to that, Paula worked in schools with grades Kindergarten through 12th, while based out of a non-profit agency, providing therapy to children, teenagers, and their families. She also worked with adults and teens in a supportive housing program, counseling them in their homes to build skills in overcoming the mental health struggles they experienced.

Paula is certified in LGBT-Affirmative Therapy, and she continues her training in LGBTQIA+ studies on an ongoing basis. Providing support and affirmation to people of the LGBTQIA+ community is a passion for Paula. She has also been trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Paula has been trained in the Collaborative Problem Solving model by Massachusetts General Hospital, in the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Intensive Training workshops. This model emphasizes parents and their children, and counselors/teachers/other professionals and children to develop solutions to problems together so that all parties are invested in the agreed upon plan. In addition, she has been trained in Distance Counseling.

Paula’s overall view of people’s experiences in life and therapy is an Existential one, as each individual experiences the world in a unique manner, and that his, her, their, or zir belief of reality, is indeed reality. She utilizes skills from the Cognitive-Behavioral and Person-Centered frameworks. Paula has a good sense of timing with clients, knowing when to encourage or gently challenge them to consider making changes, and when to allow clients to simply tell their stories. For Paula, the therapeutic relationship between the therapist and the client is an equal, collaborative one.