Meet Our Providers

Psychiatry

Alfreda Grosrenaud, M.D.

Alfreda Grosrenaud, M.D.

I am a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with over 20 years of experience working with children experiencing emotional, social, behavioral, and learning challenges. I completed my residency program in Psychiatry and my fellowship program in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Chicago. Following the completion of my clinical training, I spent 12 years as the Medical Director of Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Outpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program, where I currently continue as a consultant for the clinic. For the past 7 years, I have served as the Medical Director of the Inpatient Unit for adolescent girls at Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center. In addition to my clinical practice, I also enjoy teaching and have had the pleasure of educating a variety of medical students, as well as, psychiatric and pediatric residents in the assessment and treatment of children with emotional and behavioral disorders.

My years of clinical experience in large medical groups left me searching for a new model of more personalized care for children, adolescents, and families struggling with emotional and behavioral problems. In 2007, I embarked on the journey of assembling a team of skilled professionals including psychologists, neuropsychologists, developmental specialists, and psychiatrists to provide comprehensive, scientifically-based assessments and treatments in a supportive and nurturing environment. The result of this journey is AFG Guidance Center. Over the past several years, Afg Guidance Center has rapidly grown into a unique and thriving program that allows our team the opportunity to collaborate and create personalized treatment to each of our patients. I am proud to be a part of this talented group of clinicians and look forward to continuously learn from them, as well as, from my patients.

 

Birju Patel, M.D.

Dr. Birju Patel

I am a Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist experienced with the treatment of emotional, interpersonal, and behavioral disturbances. These areas include depression, anxiety, mood instability, and executive functioning dysregulation. I received my medical degree from Rutgers University-New Jersey Medical School. I completed my general psychiatry residency at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City and my child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

I am drawn to the field of medicine and psychiatry by the prospect and desire to work with children, teens, and their families. I specifically welcome the challenge to work with young adults to implement lasting change and ensure they feel heard, understood, and accepted. I strive to draw out insights from clients, work together toward a shared understanding and discovery, and tailor treatment approaches in a strength-based model.

In the field of psychiatry, medications cannot take the place of support. In child and adolescent psychiatry, we tend to “start low and go slow” with medications. By doing so, children are on the least amount of medication necessary. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a group of diversely and highly trained clinicians, who can evaluate and support the educational and therapeutic needs of our clients. Their perspectives and expertise are invaluable in shedding light on the client’s needs, helping me to learn and grow in this field.

 


Psychologists

Kimberly A. Mula, Psy.D.

Kimberly A. Mula, Psy.D.

As a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, I have been working with many children, adolescents, and their families over the course of the past 20 years. I have gained an understanding of the numerous challenges my clients face in life, but I have also grown personally and professionally as a result of these interactions. I recognize how complicated life can be and how overwhelming it can become when a child or adolescent is struggling. I understand the importance of early identification, assessment, and intervention. I believe that change occurs with the assistance and support of family, friends, and others. I utilize a collaborative approach striving to create a safe and supportive environment for my clients and their families where concerns can be explored, individual, strengths can be recognized and personal growth can occur. I incorporate different modalities of treatment including the use of cognitive and behavioral interventions, art, and play therapeutic interventions to achieve clients’ individual treatment goals. I advocate for my clients’ needs by working together with school systems aiding in the development of educational plans designed to meet a clients’ cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral needs.

I received a Master’s degree in psychology from Concordia University in 1995. I was awarded a Doctoral degree from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Argosy University in 2001. I completed my clinical training at a domestic violence shelter, at a therapeutic and residential program, an outpatient community health program, and completed by internship Advocate Family Care Network an affiliate of Christ Hospital. I worked as a psychotherapist within the foster care program and as a psychologist at Mount Sinai Hospital Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Program. Currently, I am working with an amazing multidisciplinary team at Afg Guidance Center where I continue to be focused on the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents. I have extensive experience working with complex problems specializing in the treatment of depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, parent/child relationships, school refusal, attachment issues, and trauma.

With respect to neuropsychological assessments, testing protocols are individualized for each client focusing on choosing relevant measures to answer the referral questions. As the psychological assessment program at Afg Guidance Center grows, we are specializing in the evaluation of executive functioning delays including ADHD, memory problems, and visual or auditory progressing problems. Additionally, we identify giftedness, academic challenges, and social/emotional struggles.

Finally, I am the director of training for doctoral-level psychology externs and postdoctoral fellows.

 

Yehuda Smolarcik, Psy.D.

Yehuda Smolarcik, Psy.D.

I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and have been working with children, adolescents, and adults in both outpatient and inpatient treatment settings for almost 10 years. I was awarded both my Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, Chicago, and have received focused training in multiple forms of psychological assessment, including neuropsychological, psycho-educational and personality assessments. I have also received extensive training in child and adolescent therapies, and both traditional and “third-wave” models of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Schema Therapy. I completed my pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral fellowship at the United Stand Counseling Center, a not-for-profit organization that provides school-based assessment and intervention services to children and adolescents, and have also trained and worked in multiple other treatment settings, including community mental health agencies, psychiatric hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and private practice.

My approach to treatment is most heavily guided by two principles. The first is that each and every person is a unique and inimitable being, with very distinct strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and personalities. My past work experience has instilled in me a deep sense of appreciation for the psychological, biological and social complexity of human experience, and I strive to translate this appreciation into my clinical work by tailoring each assessment, recommendation, and intervention to the specific needs of the individual, and by doing all that I can to ensure that every person that I work with feels supported, respected and appreciated.

I also believe very strongly that each and every person wants to live the best life possible and to be the best version of themselves that they can possibly be. All parents want their children to succeed, all teachers want their students to succeed, and all children want to be successful. At the same time, parents may be uncertain about what strategies to use to best support the child, teachers may not have the information or resources to help him or her most effectively, and the child may believe that success is unachievable. As a psychologist, I view my primary purpose as being to help children, parents and educators accomplish their goals by recognizing and overcoming barriers to the attainment of success, and by increasing their awareness of strengths and resources that can be utilized to the fullest possible extent.

 

Seth Preminger, Psy.D.

seth preminger psychologist

As a Clinical Psychotherapist, I have a lot of experience working with children and adolescents and their families. Even before graduate school, I worked on a college campus and volunteered with this population, which is what led me to want to pursue my degree. During my training and clinical experience, I have come to understand how children and adolescents function and what they need to succeed at a high level because that is my goal: to provide them with the tools necessary to be the best versions of themselves they can be.

I received my Master’s Degree and Doctorate Degree from Adler University (former the Adler School of Professional Psychology). I completed my clinical training at a college, a psychiatric hospital, and here at AFG. My internship was at Palos Behavioral Health Professionals, a private practice in the south suburbs of Chicago that provides therapy and neuropsychological testing for children, adolescents, and adults. Over the course of my training, my primary interests have been working with children and adolescents and their families. I have gained a unique understanding of the problems affecting these populations and how to best help. My training is mainly in “third-wave” models of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Through this, I understand that children are products of their environment and cannot always change their circumstances. However, they are able to alter their perceptions and gain insights into how best to succeed and functioning in these forever changing environments. Children and adolescents are very resilient and intelligent, they just need guidance and someone to listen and understand them. This is where I come in. I provide my clients with a place to be themselves and not only work through their difficulties but also gain better insights, in a safe and friendly environment. Working here at AFG, I also understand the importance of advocating for children and adolescents. I do this by working with school systems and developing educational plans that meet clients’ emotional, behavioral, and cognitive needs.

Here at AFG, I am honored to work with such an extraordinary multidisciplinary team. I have extensive experience working with complex issues, focusing on treating depression, anxiety, ADHD, parent/child relationships, school refusal, life-transition problems, and general adolescent difficulty. I have a particular interest in working with teens and young adults helping them transition through these challenging periods of their life. I am also one of the individuals who complete psychological assessments. When it comes to neuropsychological assessments, individuals testing protocols are of the utmost importance. Each child is different and must be treated as such, with testing measures focusing on whatever is most relevant to the referral question and what the client is struggling with at the time. Lastly, I assist in the supervision and training of the doctoral level psychology graduate students.

 


Morgan Lasley, Psy.D.

Morgan Lasley, Psy.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow

As a Clinical Psychologist, I have spent the majority of my training working with children/adolescent and young adult populations. I received both my masters and doctoral degrees from Adler University (formerly the Adler School of Professional Psychology) and trained in forensic, neuropsychological, private practice, and therapeutic day school environments. The experiences I have gained across these training experiences has prepared me for culturally-informed and evidence-based treatments.

Although I enjoy all aspects of working within the private practice, my passion lies with both group therapy and psychological assessment. The normalizing and supporting atmosphere that group therapy offers can be unlike any therapeutic intervention that a child experiences. At AFG, I have enjoyed the process of developing and implementing group therapy in the areas of Executive Functioning and Social Skills. In times when more information is needed, I turn to psychological assessment to gain a better understanding of the client’s overall functioning – particularly in situations in which he or she is unable to identify what they are experiencing. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to serve as a liaison between AFG and local school districts to identify and advocate for the educational needs of the child based on psychological testing and in-class observations. In doing so, our practice is able to commit to following the case through to completion, whether that means aiding in recommendations for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), 504, or referrals to additional services.

My treatment approach is based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), though I often implement different approaches (i.e. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT) which allows for further exploration of the tie between thoughts and feelings. Additionally, I work from a strength-based perspective to help the client identify ways in which he or she is succeeding rather than focusing solely on the “problems.” I believe that therapy does not end with the child, and therefore make it a point to include family members in the process, while in turn striving to increase the communication among family members outside of the practice. In doing so, we are able to best support the client in as many ways and environments as possible.

 


Naftali Wein, ABD.

Naftali Wein, PsyD

As a Clinical Psychotherapist, I have experience working with children, adolescents, and their families. Before graduate school, I worked with children and adolescents in New York as a high school and elementary school teacher during the regular school year and then as an Aquatics Director at a large sleep away camp. It was my ability to connect across these environments that led me to pursue my degree. During my training and clinical experience, I have come to understand how children and adolescents function as well as the systems in which they engage. It is my combined experience and training that has shaped my goal, which is to provide my clients with the tools and context within which they strive and succeed.

I received my Master’s Degree from Adler University and am currently waiting on my dissertation defense to complete my doctorate. I completed my clinical training at a psychiatric hospital, an outpatient clinic, and at a community mental health center. My internship was at New Connections Academy, a private therapeutic day school in Palatine, IL. My primary interests have been working with children and adolescents and their families. I have gained a unique understanding of the problems affecting these populations and how to best help. My training is mainly in “third-wave” models of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It is through these models, that I attempt to help children and their families work within their systems and environments to help effect change within them and influence their own environments. I also use existential and humanistic principles when working with clients who have suffered loss and are struggling with meaning making in their lives.

Here at AFG, I am honored to work with an amazing multidisciplinary team. I have experience working with complex issues, focusing on treating depression, anxiety, ADHD, parent/child relationships, school refusal, life-transition problems, and general adolescent difficulty. I have a particular interest in working with teens and young adults helping them throughout various stages of their development. Another area that I take interest in and engage in is psychological assessments. Testing protocols are of extreme import to me because it helps illuminate the individual areas of strength and struggle that each unique client brings to the table. It also allows me to glean insight into the personal struggles of my clients.

 


Therapy

Danette Palomar, MA, LCPC, CDS

Danette Palomar, MA, LCPC, CDS

As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Child Development Specialist, I have been providing individual, family and group psychotherapy for more than 20 years.  I have enjoyed working with children, adolescents and their families helping them develop more productive coping strategies, better communication skills, and building a stronger sense of resilience. I believe that early intervention for mental health is key to preventing potential mental illness or reducing its impact, thus contributing to better mental and physical health, learning and socio-economic outcomes throughout life. I approach each family as a unique entity and utilize a variety of treatment modalities to meet their needs. I have extensive experience with issues related to developmental disorders, ADHD, depression, mood/anxiety disorders, bereavement, and trauma. My proficiency in school advocacy allows me to support parents and their children when collaborating with school personnel in the development of individualized education plans and classroom interventions. Throughout the years, I have provided both trainings and consultation to a variety professionals focusing on issues such as early childhood development, childhood anxiety, effective school advocacy, trauma and forensic interviewing.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Illinois. Immediately following graduation, I completed a 4 month internship at Children’s Memorial Hospital as a Child Life Specialist on the Oncology Unit. Following my internship, I developed and implemented apart-time Child Life Program at Lutheran General Hospital where the focus was on supporting families of children with acute and chronic medical illness. Soon after, I joined Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program as a forensic interviewer/trauma specialist and psychotherapist. In 1999, I received a Master of Arts in Counseling and Child Development with a specialization in Early Intervention from DePaul University. For the past several years I have had the opportunity to work with a wonderful team at Afg Guidance Center where I continue my work as a psychotherapist and Child Development Specialist. Additionally, as the Master’s level training director for Afg, I find great reward and pleasure in sharing my years of knowledge and experience with our interns. I perceive learning as an ongoing process and the opportunity to work with these bright young minds, provides for me, as a clinician, the ability to continue to learn and grow.

Finally, I believe that creative expression is inherent to a child’s growth, development and healing processes, and incorporate my years of formal dance/movement training and experience in the expressive arts to promote healing and well-being.

Ben Spanner, M.A., LCPC, NCC

Ben Spanner

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I have received extensive training in working with children, adolescents, and their families. Prior to pursuing my Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Adler University, I was employed as a Dean of Students at a Chicago college, where I worked with adolescents and young adults in an academic support capacity. This experience spurred my love for counseling and mentoring and prompted my decision to pursue a Masters Degree in counseling to enhance my own personal growth. I completed my clinical training in an inpatient psychiatric hospital setting, and most recently worked at a community mental health agency in the Pilsen community where I performed individual and family therapy with a diverse range of children, adolescents, and adults. I have a broad range of experience working with behavioral health issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, parent/child relationship problems, and family discord, and I also have a particular interest in helping adolescents and young adults navigate the stress of transitional environments (school, college, relationships, and emerging adulthood).

Throughout my work in higher education, clinical training, and psychotherapy, I have gained much appreciation for the value of supportive empathy in helping those who are experiencing difficulties. I strongly believe that each individual desires to be the best they can be, and I see my professional role as being to help that person or family obtain their goals with clear, empathic, and open understanding. I trust in a strength-based approach to psychotherapy, which incorporates elements of Solution-Focused Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Family Systems theories, delivered through a client-centered framework that emphasizes empathy and unconditional positive regard. I believe that children and adolescents are adaptable and full of potential, yet are at times lacking in their abilities to realize and achieve their fullest level of functioning. Additionally, I believe that the family system, with all its idiosyncrasies, imprints lasting values and beliefs among its members. I strive to provide a climate that is trusting, free of judgment, and oriented toward the achievement of goals, and also see my role as a therapist to reinforce the strengths of the family system, and to families navigate the ever-changing landscape of their emotional, behavior, and emotional needs.

I am happy to have joined the team at AFG Guidance Center, as the center has a strong multi-disciplinary dynamic, with specialties designed to help both the individual and the family unit. The work being done at AFG is as inspiring to me as it is intellectually curious, and I am honored to have become a part of this team.

Somer Totheroh, M.A., LPC​

Somer Totheroh, M.A., LPC

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I have worked closely with children, adolescents, families, and young adults in various settings. My clinical experiences have been in a university-based clinic, outpatient community mental health, and private practice. During my pursuit of my Master’s Degree at Ball State University I was able to receive training in various types of therapy, as well as hone my specific interests of treating the young population. I am specifically drawn to assisting older children and adolescents form healthy identities and relationships with others. In each different setting I have worked in, I have treated individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, ADHD, peer relationships, and school/family problems. I believe in the power of empathy and a healthy therapeutic relationship in my client’s treatment. My first goal in treatment is to build a strong therapeutic rapport by engaging my clients in their own personal interests, whether through arts and crafts, sports, or play/games. It is very important for me to establish a calm setting to promote a sense of peace in my clients’ lives. I practice therapy from a Cognitive Behavioral lens, and I also integrate mindfulness into my treatment. In order to understand children and adolescents’ needs, it is necessary to treat them within the context of the family unit. I find that family therapy is often necessary for many children and young adolescents.

At AFG Guidance Center, I have experienced continued training and support from a comprehensive team of psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists. I primarily work from the Lincolnshire office but continue to feel as one team between both locations due to our shared vision for our clients.

Parfait Kanam, M.A., LPC​

As a therapist, I have provided individual and family therapy to children, adolescents, and families. I have always had a passion to work with this population as I understand life’s daily challenges can be difficult to navigate. During my adolescence, I faced multiple changes including moving to the United States, navigating its unique academic system and culture while maintaining my own cultural identity. Experiencing these difficult transitions ignited a desire to pursue a career that will allow me to mentor young individuals through difficult chapters of their lives and help them find empowerment.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and received my Master of Arts in Counseling from Northwestern University.  Additionally, I completed my clinical internship at AFG Guidance Center where I received extensive training with children and adolescents diagnosed with a variety of disorders including Anxiety, ADHD, and Depression. Prior to rejoining the team at AFG Guidance Center, I worked at a private practice where I continued to develop my clinical skills providing therapy to children, adolescents, and their families. Throughout my academic and professional career, I have come to understand how experiences shape maladaptive behaviors, and how self-awareness is a key to making therapeutic change. I have developed a deeper clinical insight into helping families understand relationship dynamics, how these dynamics impact the family system, and helping them develop strategies to move forward in developing healthy, positive relationships.

My style of therapy is based on the concept of flexibility. I use an integrative approach including the use of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Solution focused therapy, and Play Therapy. This allows me to adaptively address an individual or family’s presenting concerns and creatively design a treatment plan based on individual needs. I firmly believe that a healthy family system helps raise a healthy child and find it optimal to include all available members of the family in the treatment process.

I perceive each child and adolescent to be resilient and full of potential regardless of their obstacles or diagnoses. As a clinician, I believe in guiding them to discovering their unique, internal strengths and finding self-efficacy. While adversities can seemingly inhibit the development of these qualities, they also can provide opportunities to achieve growth and healing. Working at AFG as an intern helped hone my skills as a clinician. I am honored to be back as part of this team that ceaselessly contributes to my development.


Neuropsychology

Elena Labkovsky, Ph.D. BCIA-EEG

Elena Labkovsky, Ph.D. BCIA-EEG

I am a passionate scholar-practitioner in the field of Clinical/Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience, investigating neuronal mechanisms of our brains and trying to understand how patterns of the brain functionality determine people’s behaviors.

For over 20 years, I divide my time between clinical practice, teaching, training, consulting, and scholarly writing and research. My clinical work is based on psychological, neuropsychological, and psychophysiological assessment and interventions.

The specific areas include disorders and conditions associated with changes in the brain functioning as a result of developmental issues, genetics, trauma, infection, poisoning, etc., and they include:

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Learning Disabilities (LD)
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Bi-Polar Disorder
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Autism and Asperger’s Disorders
  • Attachment Disorder
  • Tourette’s syndrome and other Tic Disorders, and others.

I also have an extensive clinical experience working with patients in minimally conscious state, vegetative state, “locked-in syndrome,” and coma after severe brain traumas. I received my Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Psychology from St. Petersburg State University, Russia. I continued my education and specialized in Clinical Neuropsychology at Moscow University and later completed my post-doctoral training at Northwestern University, Institute of Neuroscience.

My clinical philosophy could be described in two statements. First, I believe that every patient can be helped. A combination of international training and long-term experience helps me to implement this belief. It is a matter of a correct and timely diagnosis, and tailored treatment to achieve success in helping a patient to overcome a psychological/neuropsychological deficit.

Second, I believe that it is important to be open to new ideas and approaches to treatment. With new achievements in psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience and the expansion of scientific methods, we get advanced and promising tools for dealing with all kinds of psychological problems.

My colleagues and I have developed a comprehensive and innovative approach called “Neurobehavioral Modulation” which allows through utilization of modern advanced neuro-scientific achievements and techniques bring a patient to a new level of neurophysiological functioning and reach peak performance in various areas.

Elena Davydova, Ph.D., Certified Neurofeedback Specialist

Elena Davydova, Ph.D, Certified Neurofeedback Clinician

I have always been fascinated by the incredible potential of the human mind and body. I have made it my mission to learn about and understand human physiology and psychological development.

At an early age in Russia, I challenged myself physically, cognitively, and emotionally as an elite gymnast on the national level. This early childhood experience of pushing myself physically and mentally was the start of my educational and research journey in the areas of psychophysiology and neuropsychology. After completing my undergraduate and master’s degree in Physiology, I entered a doctoral program for Physiology at Shevchenko State University (Ukraine), where my research focused on the physical and psychological learning process of adolescents. Upon completion of my doctoral degree, I returned to my hometown and began teaching undergraduate courses on human development while coaching my first love – rhythmic gymnastics. During this time, I continued my research, expanding my knowledge and understanding of the organic nature of attention, memory, learning, depression, anxiety, and developmental delays.

As a certified neurofeedback clinician (Biofeedback Certification International Alliance, BCIA), I am thrilled to be working with the clinicians and staff at AFG Guidance Center. I believe my work at AFG is further enhanced through my research at Northwestern University and subsequent publications in peer-reviewed journals. I believe that my time spent as an educator, researcher, and clinician has enabled me to provide the highest quality of individualized care to my clients, as well as support to their parents and extended treatment team.

Caroline Gaglio, B.A.

Caroline Gaglio, B.A.

I recently graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in neuroscience, concentrating in human behavior and cognition. I began an internship at Afg under Dr. Labkovsky during my senior year of college, and am thrilled to work with her during my gap years before pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology.

Aside from my work at AFG, I am a behavior technician working with children on the autism spectrum, applying principles of behaviorism to guide social and self-help skill acquisition. I am also a research assistant for the Center for Community Research at DePaul University where I study neurocognitive symptomatology in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

My clinical and research experiences make me a dynamic member of the neurobehavioral therapy team where I provide supportive, innovative, and effective therapy to my clients.

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