Sometimes life can be scary and overwhelming. Sometimes it can be beautiful and wondrous! And sometimes we just need a little help sorting things out! I am here for you wherever you are in your journey. Let’s figure this out and get you living the life you deserve to live!
My name is Cristina and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in mental health services across the lifespan with expertise in the treatment of depression and anxiety. I utilize an eclectic and down-to-earth treatment style to create a warm, safe environment to promote healing and growth. I am going to work with you to learn about your specific concerns and we will work as a team to reach your individual goals.
I have a strong background in marital counseling and anxiety management. My specialties also include school therapy, crisis intervention, Family Systems Theory, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and I have extensive experience in service coordination and outpatient therapy.
All of the therapists who are in our practice at Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling are hand picked by me for their warmth, values, ethical treatment of patients, and strong skill sets. Call today to schedule an appointment to strengthen your life and/or your family life through counseling and education. Let us help you handle life’s challenges.
See a video of my approach at Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling with premarital counseling.
Lauren Stark – Outreach Specialist
I truly love connecting those who are seeking help with the best and most appropriate help possible.
My background includes receiving an MSW at Youngstown State University which was followed by 7 years of clinical work in community mental health. I have worked with families, individuals, children, and adults. One of my interests is helping new moms and dads navigate the parenting arena whether they work or stay at home full time. I also enjoy working with teens who are transitioning into young adulthood. When I’m not working, I’m chasing my two little boys (ages 5 & 3)!
Alyssa Thomas – LPC, CAADC, NCC
“Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.” -David Richo
My name is Alyssa and I completed my master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at the Alliance Graduate School of Counseling. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Nationally Certified Counselor as well as hold a certificate in Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counseling. I have recently earned a certification in Sexual Assault Counseling and am very passionate about helping heal trauma.
My clinical experience includes working with those struggling with substance abuse and other addictions (e.g. social media, pornography, codependency), anxiety and decision-making, relationships and family issues as well as psychiatric research on long-term effects of cocaine use on the brain.
My therapy style is an eclectic approach utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and a non-judgmental, supportive environment to help clients focus on their strengths and reach their goals so that they are able to live the life they want to live the best they can.
See a video of my approach at Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling with women’s counseling.
Susan Rosemeier – MA, LPC
I am a firm believer that the relationship between counselor and client is crucially important – and therefore I strive to create a warm, caring environment in which to promote insight, healing, and growth.
I have passed the state board exam and currently hold a Master‘s Degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University and Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science and Organizational Leadership from Trinity International University.
My background includes experience in case management, structural family therapy, individual & group therapy, and crisis counseling. While I utilize an eclectic approach based on the preferences of each client, my style is person-centered and hope-focused, mostly drawing from cognitive-behavioral and existential counseling theories. I also specialize in spiritual, faith-based issues if this is something that is of interest to you.
See a video of my approach using the Gottman method at Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling.
Mary Brodland – LCSW
Everyone is a unique and beautiful individual; we all have our own unique struggles, experiences, and strengths within us. It is within this reality that I function in the therapeutic relationship, and I believe this relationship is crucial to successful therapy.
My name is Mary Brodland and I am here to help you harness the strength and power you possess to reach your goals. I am here to be your coach, guide, and/or team member. I am a licensed clinical social worker specializing in mental health with a Masters certificate in geriatrics and an emphasis in hoarding disorder. I utilize an array of therapy styles and techniques depending on the individual.
My clinical experiences span from work with individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to assisting and facilitating older adults on life review and life transitions. I have extensive experience working with many forms of dementia using validation theory as well as with family and friends of those suffering from memory conditions.
My Masters of Social Work focus of study is in geriatrics and hoarding disorder and ranges from individual therapy to family encounters. Other clinical experiences include case management, working with individuals, couples, and families who are dealing with anxiety, depression, decision-making, compulsive behavior, grief and bereavement, goal attainment and life enrichment. I am particularly interested in the counsel of individuals with disabilities.
I want to congratulate you for taking the first step to seeking help by visiting our website. I encourage you to harness that momentum and take the next step, whether that means calling to inquire, or making an appointment. I look forward to helping you reach your personal peace, through whichever path that may take us!
See a video of my approach at Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling helping people deal with life transitions.
Kelli Jo Murphy – RN, LCSW
My name is Kelli Murphy and I have been a Registered Nurse since 1994 and received my MSW in 2010. Many years of my nursing experience was in psychiatric and behavioral health nursing, but I also have experience in surgical care, long-term care, vocational rehabilitation, and oncology.
I feel very strongly about a truly holistic approach to both physical and mental/emotional health. I do not believe that you can tend to one effectively without also attending to the other. In my practice, I always assist clients in addressing physical health factors and lifestyle issues that may be attributed to the issues for which they are seeking therapy. I address diet/nutrition, activity, sleep, life balance issues, as well as review relationships with primary care physicians and other specialists. I conduct health education as needed and assist clients in becoming active in their whole care, as well as teach self-advocacy skills. I also work with clients who have chronic health conditions. I work with them to assist them in understanding their condition, coping with adjustment issues, and managing conditions for best quality of life possible.
I also enjoy working with couples who are either going through some conflict or who may be seeking divorce mediation. I strive to help improve communication and minimize the emotional impact on the children.
Currently, I run caregiver support groups and assist caregivers intending to and protecting their physical/mental/emotional health. I have completed training in Motivational Interviewing and Shared Decision Making and continue to keep up on current trends in healthcare related issues.
Chelsea Foster – LPC
It is my belief that when the proper therapeutic relationship is established individuals will gain knowledge and trust in themselves to be able to solve problems now and in the future. It is my goal to help you feel supported and empowered to make choices and changes that align with your authentic self. Each person, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation, is unique and deserving of unconditional positive regard and respect. It will be my role to provide a safe, trusting, and therapeutic environment for change to occur. My therapeutic style is person-centered, pulling from a variety of theories and techniques.
During my undergraduate studies, at The Pennsylvania State University, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies and minored in Psychology. During my graduate studies, at the California University of Pennsylvania, I earned a Master of Education in School Counseling as well as a Sports Counseling Certificate. I am a National Certified Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor.
My clinical experience involves working with children and adolescents in the school setting where I’ve provided individual, group and family therapeutic services, consultation with school staff and service coordination. However, I welcome individuals of all ages who may be struggling at any point in their lives. I have worked with individuals who may suffer from trauma, anxiety, PTSD, depression, bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, autism, and ADHD. I also focus on skill development in the following areas: social skills, problem-solving skills, time management skills, organizational skills and communication skills.
It can be overwhelming when you find yourself struggling due to life’s stressors and demands. By finding a warm, accepting and understanding therapist, you will be taking the first step towards overcoming life’s challenges and taking control of your life. Whether your goal is to improve your overall sense of well-being, strengthen personal relationships, or heal unresolved issues from your past, you deserve to live the life you want and you don’t have to do it alone!
See a video of my approach at Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling working with child and adolescent counseling.
Amber Chapman – LPC
Your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage does!
My name is Amber Chapman and I earned my Master’s Degree from Waynesburg University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. I have been a practicing therapist for over 17 years helping others find balance in all areas of life.
My clinical experiences reach many depths including but not limited to: addictions and substance related illnesses including helping families of loved ones affected by addictions. I engage in family/couples/marital counseling including abusive and controlling relationships. Related areas of codependency and self-esteem issues, anger management, grief counseling, increasing communication and assertiveness can be discussed. As well experience in counselling with teenagers and all manners of issues within those development needs. Lastly I specialize in working with high risk communities such as females and LBGTQ community and concerns and all manners of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
My treatment approach is highly flexible and adaptable to each person’s needs as I truly believe one size does not fit all! My goal is to show empathy and acceptance to all through building a trusting and honest therapeutic environment. I am client centered with approaches such as CBT, Reality based, and solution focused. In other words, I am eclectic in my approach to help each individual gain the strength they need to find balance and fulfillment in life.
Kristen Biancaniello – LPC
My name is Kristen Biancaniello, MSEd, NCC, CMHP. I received my Masters from Duquense University in 2010 in relationship counseling, with a focus on marriage and family therapy. That same year I became a Nationally Certified Counselor.I want to congratulate you for your openness towards relationship counseling. And for taking this first step in making a change in your life.
My experience in mental health centers around family-based therapy. I took a specific focus concentartion on Family Systems Theory and Structural Family Therapy. These techniques help individuals and families struggling with issues of, but not limited to:
Separation and Divorce
Family Member Relationships
Stressors of Daily Family Life
During this time, I became a Certified Mental Health Professional in the field of Structural Family Therapy. I have also attended year-long trainings in both Trauma Informed Care and AF-CBT. This uses CBT techniques with multiple individuals within a family to help aid changes within the family system. I also have experience working with adolescents and families in a school setting, which has also helped me learn to navigate the world of service coordination between treatment providers in Allegheny County. Additionally I have worked extensively with adolescents in the LGBTQ community as they struggle to understand who they are in today’s complex world.
Francisco Betancourt – MSCP, LPC, ICAADC
I am Francisco Betancourt. I obtained my master’s degree in counseling psychology from Chatham University. During my professional training, I was involved in psychological research regarding sibling relationships, healthy bereavement, and gender development. Since then, I have had opportunities to develop specializations in dual diagnosis treatment, death/dying, trauma, solution focused crisis management, depression and anxiety. I consider myself a lifelong learner, and am usually involved with enhancing my knowledge on additional areas of expertise so as to add to my clinical repertoire.
My approach in treatment is eclectic in nature. I believe that no one theory fits any given person, and so I customize my clinical approach based on the needs of a client. The theoretical orientations I readily pull from are person-centered treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, behaviorism, positive psychology, and some forms of gestalt and psychodrama. Therapy, whether it is your first time or not, is a courageous and healthy move towards wellness. Know that I have utmost respect and appreciation for all clients in treatment. I serve as a support on the path towards healing and learning to assist individuals in leading their most optimum lives.
Being new in Pittsburgh is an adventure for me. Born in California and raised in the Harrisburg area of Pennsylvania, I came to Pittsburgh for graduate school. I have settled into the city since my arrival and appreciate all the city has to offer. I am bilingual and aim to assist all clients from diverse backgrounds utilizing a multi-culturally sensitive approach.
Nos vemos pronto!
Crystal Norcott – LPC
“When we talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” – Fred Rogers.
Making the choice to engage in counseling can be a tough decision, but a very rewarding one! Each person is unique and feels experiences differently. I believe through developing a positive therapeutic relationship, we can work together to achieve your personal goals and begin on a path to a more positive state of mind.
My name is Crystal Norcott and I received my Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling from Carlow University. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and a National Certified Counselor. I have been in the counseling profession for 10 years and have had a variety of clinical experiences. My experiences include working with children and adolescents in a variety of settings including residential, school, community, and in the home. I also have worked with adults who may be experiencing a life event that they are struggling with, including but not limited to – addiction, depression, and anxiety.
My counseling technique varies depending on the need and personality of the person, as there is no one technique that works for everyone. Don’t ever feel like you have to deal with life’s difficulties on your own. I will be practicing in our Upper St. Clair Location.
Darlene Friend – MSW, LCSW, EMDR
“You can’t fight the dark. You can wait for the light. You can look for the light. You can share the light. OR you can SHINE!!” – author unknown
I graduated from California University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Social Work as well as an Aging Specialist Certificate in Gerontology. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Pennsylvania and a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in West Virginia.
I began working in Community Mental Health in Pennsylvania as a psychotherapist and then as a supervisor. I expanded my area of service into West Virginia, first as a director of high-intensity services before returning to my passion as a psychotherapist.
I provide individual therapy, family therapy, and couples counseling as well as group services. My preferred client population is people who are 14 years of age and older. I am experienced in a wide variety of mental health conditions ranging from chronic and persistent mental illness to adjustment disorders and grief. My background experience includes assertive/community treatment, outpatient mental health, substance abuse, blended case management, crisis intervention, outreach programs, community outreach, advocacy, and collaboration.
I am specialized in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), therapy utilized for big and little traumas that affect the whole person. I have received training in many areas of behavioral health such as trauma and sexual assault. I incorporate multiple modalities and evidenced-based practices in therapy, such as transactional analysis, cognitive behavioral therapy, and motivational interviewing.
I have the unique perspective of viewing services from both sides of service delivery and compliance. This assures your therapeutic experience will be individually tailored to be the most effective at improving your mental health within the moral and ethical scope of clinical social work practice.
Scott Cunningham – LPC
For the past 20 years, I’ve been providing a safe and supportive environment where people feel comfortable talking about their depression, fears, stresses and hopes for life. Having a collaborative relationship with clients is important to me. We can think together about painful & confusing things that come up in therapy and process them together. I approach my work with positive energy and am committed to helping you move forward.
I bring hope and knowledge into our sessions and provide psycho-education to aid in the effectiveness of therapy. I work with clients coping with issues such as, but not limited to anxiety, trauma, depression, partner-relational issues & phase of life transitions. My experience entails couples, adolescent, family and adult counseling.I am certified in: Chemical Dependency Counseling, ASIST Suicide Intervention, Crisis Intervention Stress Management and Comprehensive Crisis Management. I have earned my Master’s Degree in Counseling Education from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor’s of Science in Christian Counseling from Fort Wayne Bible College.
My goal is to help people struggling with trauma to regain stability and strength as well as insight into their issues. I believe that everyone has an innate ability to grow and learn. I enjoy helping people accomplish that goal and live better and more productive lives.
Jennifer Krause – MS, LPC
My name is Jennifer and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor. I received my Masters of Science Degree from Chatham University. I have over 18 years of counseling experience with a wide range of patients in a variety of treatment settings. These have included: outpatient community mental health agencies, partial psychiatric hospital settings, both inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol facilities, correctional settings, and an outpatient intensive treatment foster care program. My clinical experience has been broad, treating both adolescents and adults struggling with: addiction, trauma, mood disorders, anger management issues, borderline personality disorder, depression, and anxiety. I also have experience with couples counseling, working with families, and group therapy.
I have extensive training in Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Trauma-Focused CBT.
I truly believe that laughter is an essential part of the human experience. While I recognize that resolving issues can be serious and challenging, I know that we can go through this process together, sharing laughter along the way. I strive to build an atmosphere that is relaxed and non-judgmental so that you will feel as comfortable as possible.
Dave Lori – LPC
I have had the honor and privilege of working in the mental health field for the past 20 years. My experience ranges from family-systems work to individualized-focus. My clinical orientation ranges from client-centered, solution-focused, humanistic and Existential approach.
I believe in providing a strength-based, supportive, authentic and non-judgmental approach to the therapeutic process. We all face various challenges and have the ability to reach our personal goals given the independent choices we make each day.
Toni Contestabile – M.Ed, LCSW
Hi! I’m Toni and thanks for reading my bio— I like long walks on the beach, deep conversations..etc.. I’m not your typical therapist. I’m incredibly easy to talk to and very relatable. It’s not easy to bear your soul to a stranger, but I’m told that with me it’s easier than most.
I hold a bachelors degree from Penn State, a master of special education from Pitt, and a master of social work from the University of Southern California. I’m particularly skilled at working with trauma, mood disorders, veterans and their families, depression, and ADHD.
I operate from a neuropsychological perspective and will help you to understand The origins of your concerns, and will work to give you the tools to mitigate them as well. I’m open to working with children, couples, and adults of all ages.
Amber Kottner – LPC
My name is Amber Kottner. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and earned my Master of Arts degree in counseling from Waynesburg University. I have over 10 years of experience in the mental health field. I enjoy working with families, children, and adults. I strive to make the therapeutic process as easy as possible by creating an open and supportive environment.
I enjoy helping others and strive to assist you in your journey. I believe that each individual is authentic and deserves an approach that best fits them. Therefore, I enjoy working from eclectic approaches, including an emphasis on cognitive-behavioral techniques, person-centered therapy, and solution-focused goals.
Therapy is a special partnership. I’m here to help make an improvement in your life. You decide what you want to work on, and together, we will work to get you there in the best and most fitting way possible.
Danielle Schwartz – MA
I am so excited to be entering such a diverse and profound field as a license-eligible professional counselor. I graduated from Chatham University in 2019 with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. While at Chatham, I completed a three-semester internship at a dual diagnosis clinic that treated co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. Having the opportunity to work with people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and identities is something I am passionate about and feel honored to do. I view a person as a whole self rather than a diagnosis – we are more than our labels or symptoms characterize us as. We all have thoughts, feelings, interests, fears, vulnerabilities, and hopes; this is how I see my clients and how I base therapy.
I’m interested in working with adolescents and adults who are navigating through various mental health complexities. I have experience working with depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol use, cancer diagnoses, personality disorders, eating disorders, and trauma. I also love a group setting and would be happy to establish a group that fits people’s needs.
You are more than your diagnosis or hardships. Let’s work together to optimize your life and bring out your various strengths.
Marissa Betancourt – LPC, CAADC
I am Marissa Betancourt. I have a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. After my studies at Chatham University, I became a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor as well as a Licensed Professional Counselor. I have approximately 5 years of experience working with the dually diagnosed population. I work with people who experience depression, anxiety, mood disorders, personality disorders, and substance use. I use a mix of motivational interviewing, behavioral therapy, CBT, psycho-education and gestalt therapy to assist my clients with working towards their goals. I am transparent and assertive in the counseling process, helping clients gain insight into past and current behavior. I look forward to helping you understand your symptoms and working through them at your own pace!
Laurel Wasson – MSCP
My name is Laurel Wasson, MSCP, and I operate under the mind-set that individuals are inherently competent and are their own best resource for change – sometimes we just get stuck in habits that no longer suit us. I use a lot of cheesy metaphors and fidget items. I have a masters level education in mental health counseling from Chatham University, and am currently pursuing my licensure and sex therapy certification. I have focused my training and experiences on delivering quality, compassionate, trauma-informed care and encourage empowerment through strength-based solution-focused strategies.
At Chatham, I was a member of the Gender Research team; I participated in research studies examining girls’ experiences with sexism and resiliency and, separately, the impact of positive psychology and mindfulness on mental health treatment. I happened into postpartum mental health care relatively organically and began to also focus on researching abuse and mistreatment of perinatal women by medical and mental health professionals. My clinical experience has been with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape as a certified sexual assault counselor and at WPIC’s pediatric OCD unit. I am also currently working at Every Child, Inc as a Postpartum Family-Focused Clinician.
I welcome individuals struggling with postpartum issues, anxiety, depression, OCD, trauma, grief/loss, parenting, and relational issues. I thrive on empowering individuals to feel more confident in their sexual orientation and gender identity. I also encourage conversations that help individuals unpack issues such as sex positivity, different relationship structures (e.g. consensual non-monogamy), and the function or dysfunction sex plays in relationships.
Hunter Helsel – MS
Hi! My name is Hunter and I am a license-eligible counselor with a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology degree from Chatham Univerisity.
I view therapy as a collaborative effort, with the therapeutic relationship being the healer. Being able to connect with others in an authentic way is what we, as humans, are wired to do. I view the therapeutic relationship as an opportunity to connect with another person who is both interested and invested in finding meaning in life’s experiences— both good and bad. This is the kind of environment that I like to create in therapy, so that we can work together through whatever you bring to the session. I consider myself to be an eclectic therapist and so I incorporate various techniques in therapy. Most frequently, I utilize cognitive-behavioral, mindfulness, and strengths-based approaches.
I have experience and enjoy working with all ages, but my specialty is adolescents and young adults. My main areas of interest and expertise are addiction, anxiety, relational issues, and trauma.
Michael Breitenbach – LPC
I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. If you want to change, don’t wait until the New Year, make the change today. If you chose to change, make sure you are doing it for yourself and not for anybody else. Therapy is more effective when there is internal desire for change; but with change can bring the fear of the unknown and that’s where the support of an objective therapist can help alleviate the experience. The key to personal progress is the relationship that you have with your therapist. There is no one size fits all approach to therapy, so I have taken an eclectic approach to meet the many needs and demands of life. My expertise falls within the addiction and dual diagnosis realm, but not limited to drugs and alcohol, as addiction can permeate into many other facets of life. In my current position, I provide clinical insight to hospitals and other inpatient programs for individuals with Behavioral Health as well as Physical Health issues ranging from Schizophrenia to Hepatitis C. I help providers and individuals identify barriers to treatment, while utilizing their strengths for personal progress. I may not have all the answers to your questions and problems, but I can certainly point you in the right direction, give you the resources to be successful, and work together to develop a plan for a healthier you!