Kurtz Psychology Consulting PC was formed in 2014 to serve the needs of children and families facing the emotional, behavioral, and other psychological challenges associated with Selective Mutism. The founder, Dr. Steven Kurtz, is an internationally recognized expert in Selective Mutism (SM) and more broadly in child psychology with specializations in a number of other areas as well, including but not limited to ADHD, oppositional and defiant behavior, anxiety, and educational challenges. He founded the Selective Mutism Programs at both the NYU Child Study Center and the Child Mind Institute. In 2009, he created the Brave Buddies program, an intensive group treatment in a pretend school setting, that is now offered at his NYC location and is replicated at sites in NYC, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Vancouver and even Hong Kong!
In 2016 his team also created WeSpeak – a group intensive treatment for 10-14 year olds with SM. WeSpeak is the first of its kind – and meets the individual and developmental needs unique to tweens and teens.
Dr. Kurtz also developed the Selective Mutism Behavioral Observation Task (SM-BOT), a validated assessment specifically designed for children with SM where we get to observe their speaking with their parents without the undue pressure of them being expected to talk to us! He also developed the Selective Mutism Interaction Coding System (SMICS-R) to provide a window into the adult-child interactions in SM.
Our SM work has been presented at numerous national and regional scientific conferences including SMA, ABCT, and ADAA among others. Their work has also appeared in scientific journals: Carpenter, Aubrey L., et al. “Extending Parent–Child Interaction Therapy for Early Childhood Internalizing Problems: New Advances for an Overlooked Population.” Clinical child and family psychology review 17.4 (2014): 340-356.
He is a Research Advisor to SMA and a former Board Member of SMA. An expert commentator, he has appeared on numerous programs addressing child mental health, including NBC’s Today, CBS’s The Early Show and PBS’s Keeping Kids Healthy. Dr. Kurtz’s Brave Buddies program for SM was also featured on ABC’s Nightline.
Kurtz Psychology Consulting PC provides families and schools numerous treatment and training options including:
- Individual Treatment at our flagship offices in midtown Manhattan. For many families our intensive treatment option is most practical and effective. We presented on these intensive treatments at the 2014 ADAA Conference.
- Mighty Mouth Kids: SM Group Intensive Treatment based on the Brave Buddies model that Dr. Kurtz developed in 2009, while at the NYU Child Study Center. We are thrilled to offer our intensive group for children 3-9 years of age twice each year in the summer and winter. See our website www.kurtzpsychology.com for current dates and registration.
- WeSpeak for 10-14 year olds. Summer and winter sessions. See our website for dates and registration information. www.kurtzpsychology.com
- Intensive treatment where you live. We have the capacity to come to embed with you and your family to provide intensive treatment onsite where you live and where your child goes to school. We have worked with many families in this format which includes our going to school with the child for a week to live with them in school, modeling how others can successfully engage them and teaching the staff how to carry on.
- Distance case consultation: Many children with SM have local therapists who are not specialty trained in SM but who are willing to be coached to advance their SM-specific skills. You as the parent can engage us to work with your therapist. Call for more information about this option.
- Staff training: We can design a staff training to suit your school or agency needs varying from half-day to multi-day trainings. Our focus is on skill development so all of our trainings involve actual practice and coaching of skills in the school or agency setting. We provide follow-up case consultation in a Web-based format as desired.
- Mighty Mouth Kids group intensive for 3-9 year olds
Click here for more information on Mighty Mouth
- WeSpeak group intensive for 10-14 year olds
Click here for more information on WeSpeak
- Individual, family based treatments all ages
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Treatment is provided by Dr. Kurtz and his personally-trained team of staff and student therapists. Fees vary by experience and sliding scale is offered as needed. Our current team includes:
- Dr. Steven Kurtz, licensed psychologist and Board Certified behavior therapist
- Dr. Shelley Avny, Director of SM Intensive Programs and Training Director
- Dr. Alexandra Barnett, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Clinical Psychology
- Dr. Chelsey Rosen, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Clinical Psychology
- Rachel Lacks, EdM, Psychology Practicum Therapist
- Joelle Dorse, BA, Administrative Coordinator SM Programs
- Mivi Joseph, Administrative Coordinator KPCPC
- Jennifer Schild, BS, Research Assistant
The KPCPC Team
Steven Kurtz, PhD, ABPP is an internationally recognized and leading clinician in the treatment of children’s behavioral problems and disorders. He is a renowned mentor and teacher of innovative and empirically-supported treatments for children with disruptive disorders such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder and has been a cutting-edge pioneer in the development and dissemination of evidence-based treatments for internalizing disorders including the social anxiety disorder Selective Mutism (SM). He is a widely respected clinical researcher and child psychologist, one of only 21 Certified Master Trainers in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy endorsed by PCIT International. Dr. Kurtz is a tireless advocate for children with special needs.
As an assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, Dr. Kurtz founded and served for 10 years as the clinical director of the NYU Child Study Center’s Institute for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and Behavior Disorders. He was also the founding co-director of the NYU Child Study Center’s Selective Mutism Program.
Dr. Kurtz was pivotal in the development of the Child Mind Institute where he served from 2010-2014 as the inaugural Senior Director of the ADHD Center and Director of the Selective Mutism Program. During his tenure at NYU and CMI, he created the Brave Buddies Program, a weeklong intensive day treatment program for children with SM. The Brave Buddies model pairs counselors with children, one-on-one, in a simulated, analog school classroom where brave talking is shaped, nurtured, and reinforced while social anxieties are lessened. Our model for treating SM happens twice each year at KPCPC and has been adopted at the NYU Child Study Center, the Child Mind Institute, Boston University, Florida International University, and at Adventure Camp in the Chicago area.
As a PCIT Master Trainer, Dr. Kurtz actively trains clinicians worldwide in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy ~ a gold standard treatment for young children with disruptive behaviors. PCIT is an amazingly innovative and effective treatment model where parents are coached live, via bug-in-ear technology, by the therapist standing behind a one-way mirror while the parent and child practice playing and calm, effective discipline strategies. Dr. Kurtz has also pioneered and published on PCIT adapted for young children with anxiety disorders, including SM, separation anxiety, generalized anxiety and other conditions. Dr. Kurtz also has specialization in the assessment and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Dr. Kurtz earned his PhD in 1985 from Washington University in St. Louis and is Board Certified as a Diplomate in Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology, for which he also serves as a volunteer examiner. He was Chair of the Treatment Adaptations Task Force on the Advisory Board of PCIT International and a board member of the Selective Mutism Group (SMG), the nation’s leading advocacy group for SM. He is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the New York State Psychological Association (NYSPA), the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) and a fellow in the American Academy of Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology.
Dr. Kurtz’s team has also pioneered efforts to bring the teacher equivalent of PCIT to schools in a model called Teacher-Child Interaction Therapy (TCIT). TCIT is a school-based, live coaching model to help teachers with preventive discipline strategies. The aim is to let teachers teach and ensure that disruptive behavior does visited schools to train educators in new discipline strategies and behavior management techniques, an empirically supported approach called teacher-child interaction therapy (TCIT). Dr. Kurtz’s research has shown that teachers trained in TCIT are better able to serve children with special needs in a mainstream, general education setting.
Dr. Kurtz has published numerous scholarly papers and lectured widely; his research on TCIT has been featured at national, regional, and city conferences. Over the course of his career he has also mentored hundreds of psychology undergraduates, graduate students, and psychiatry residents. In 2005, students and faculty at the NYU Langone School of Medicine nominated him for the prestigious Distinguished Teaching Award. In 2006, he was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award by the graduate students of the NYU Child Study Center.
Dr. Kurtz continues to be a significant public voice, dispelling myths about childhood psychiatric disorders and advocating for comprehensive, individualized care for all children struggling with behavioral or other mental health issues. An expert commentator, he has appeared on numerous programs addressing child mental health, including NBC’s Today, CBS’s The Early Show, and PBS’s Keeping Kids Healthy. Dr. Kurtz’s signature Brave Buddies treatment was highlighted on ABC’s Nightline.
Shelley Avny, PhD is a clinical psychologist with expertise in assessing and treating anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. She serves as our Director of Training and the Clinical Director of our two selective mutism camps – Mighty Mouth Kids and WeSpeak. Dr. Avny trained with many of the leaders in the field to be able to provide the best possible care to the children and families with whom she works. She has extensive experience treating the full range of anxiety disorders including selective mutism, separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, specific phobias, and panic disorder, in addition to her sub-specializations treating obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Shelley also has expertise in working with ADHD and disruptive behavioral issues.
Prior to joining KPCPC in May, 2016, Dr. Avny completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Child Mind Institute, where she provided weekly and intensive treatment to children and adolescents with selective mutism, OCD, and other anxiety disorders. She also co-led CBITS ~ a skills-based group intervention in schools aimed at relieving symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety among children exposed to trauma. Additionally, Dr. Avny co-led the DBT multi-family skills group, where she taught adolescents with emotion dysregulation and their parents effective skills to replace problem behaviors.
Dr. Avny completed her pre-doctoral internship at the University of Florida Health Science Center, where she specialized in assessment, treatment, and consultation across a broad range of difficulties, including anxiety, mood, and disruptive behavior disorders; sleep problems; obesity; and adjustment issues related to acute and chronic illness (e.g., Inflammatory Bowel Disease, feeding problems, encopresis).
Dr. Avny received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. She completed training externships at the NYU Child Study Center, COTTAGE, the Child & Adolescent OCD, Tic Disorders, Trichotillomania & Anxiety Group at the University of Pennsylvania, the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania, and at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), providing behavioral consultations within their renowned Pediatric Sleep Center.
Dr. Avny continuously considers and explores ways to optimize treatment outcomes for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders, inspired by a former supervisor who was relentless in his therapeutic efforts. She is most interested in strategies for parents to become the child’s “coach” between therapy sessions to ensure consistent and ongoing practice of the skills in real-world settings. Dr. Avny has co-authored book chapters (Handbook of Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders and Encyclopedia of Adolescence) and scholarly articles, and served as an ad hoc reviewer for several journals. She is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), Selective Mutism Group (SMG), and the Trichotillomania Learning Center (TLC).
Dr. Avny is committed to helping children and families not only reduce their symptoms, but also improve functioning with friends, at school, and within the family. She relies on evidence-based practices to guide her work, while using a flexible and individualized approach to meet each family’s needs. In her free time, Dr. Avny enjoys spending time with friends and family trying different restaurants, traveling, and attending the unique activities and events NYC has to offer.
Chelsey Rosen, PsyD is one of our Post-Doctoral Psychology Fellows. Dr. Rosen also is a certified NY State School Psychologist and was our 2016-2017 Clinical Psychology Intern. She received her Doctoral and Masters degrees in School Psychology from St. John’s University. Chelsey joined Kurtz Psychology Consulting PC after serving as a psychology extern at Montefiore’s Early Childhood Center, where she provided trauma-informed therapeutic interventions for infants, toddlers and preschool age children, and their families, with developmental delays and disabilities. Simultaneously, Chelsey completed a psychology externship at the Child and Family Institute, where she conducted CBT group and individual therapy for children and adolescents with anxiety and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
During her graduate studies, Chelsey has served as a school psychology extern at a public elementary school, where she conducted numerous psychoeducational assessments of students with disabilities for special education classification in elementary levels. She also provided individual and group counseling for children to build both social and emotional skills. Chelsey has worked at the St. Johns Center for Psychological Services, where she conducted individual and family evidence-based psychotherapy to both children and adults. Chelsey has received training at the Child Mind Institute to work with children with Selective Mutism and has experience being a Brave Buddies/Mighty Mouth Program counselor.
Prior to her graduate education, Chelsey received her BS in Psychology from the University of Maryland-College Park. She spent summers working at various sleep-away and day camps and has experience working as an assistant Child-Life Specialist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute’s Department of Pediatrics.
As a certified school psychologist working both in the schools and clinical settings, Chelsey has experience working with a multi-disciplinary team and is committed to collaborating with both the families and the schools when providing therapeutic interventions. Chelsey is a Teacher-Child Interaction Trainer, currently working with the dedicated team at the Parkside School. In her free time, Chelsey enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends.
Alexandra Barnett, PhD is one of our Post-Doctoral Psychology Fellows and a Certified Level 1 PCIT Therapist. Alexandra completed her doctoral work in the PhD Clinical Child Psychology Program at DePaul University where she focused her graduate work on training, coaching, and consulting with parents and teachers to manage disruptive childhood behaviors. Alexandra conducted the first pilot study of Universal Teacher-Child Interaction Training (TCIT-U) using randomized assignment, this in partnership with Chicago Head Start preschools.
Alexandra completed her pre-doctoral clinical internship at Columbia University Medical Center where she received specialized training in Exposure and Response Prevention for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for children with comorbid chronic medical conditions, and Social Skills Groups to promote friendship seeking behaviors and emotion regulation skills in children with Autism and Social Phobia.
Prior to attending DePaul University, Alexandra was a Project Associate at the New York University Child Study Center on a Randomized Control Trial of ParentCorps. This universal intervention adapted from the Incredible Years is currently being offered in partnership with Pre-K for All to programs throughout New York City. Alexandra received her Master of Arts in Clinical Child Psychology from DePaul University in 2013 and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Brandeis University in 2009.
Rachel Lacks, EdM, is a Practicum Therapist. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Human Development, and her Master’s degree from Harvard University in Education. Rachel is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology at New York University. Prior to beginning at Kurtz Psychology Consulting PC, Rachel spent several summers at the Child Mind Institute working in the Anxiety Disorders Center as both a Brave Buddies counselor and a Program Assistant in the Selective Mutism Program. Rachel has also co-led the child portion of an Incredible Years group in the Pediatric Psychiatry department at New York Presbyterian Columbia Medical Center. Additionally, Rachel has assisted in leading social skills group for children with ADHD alongside a licensed social worker. During her previous externship, Rachel was a therapist at Pace University Counseling Center.
While at NYU, Rachel is working on the INSIGHTS project, an evidence‐based intervention focusing on the recognition of temperament differences between children to improve their learning and emotional development. She is interested in exploring the best ways to support children’s mental health, well‐being, and educational outcomes through school‐based interventions and clinical work.
In her free time, Rachel enjoys spending time with family and friends, exploring new restaurants in New York City, and reading.
Mivi Joseph, BS is our Administrative Coordinator and first point of contact for the families we work with. Mivi graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from NYU, where she majored in Applied Psychology, Spanish Language and Literature. Mivi is a research assistant at the Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education at NYU, and has volunteered at Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, a nonprofit that aims to support families in East Harlem.
Her hobbies include reading and all things outdoors!
Joelle Dorse, BA is our Selective Mutism Program Coordinator, PCIT Program Coordinator, Administrative Assistant, and PCIT International CE Task Force Administrative Assistant. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Global Liberal Studies with a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies from New York University.
Joelle completed a senior thesis entitled “The Stigma of Depression in Relation to Mental Health Care” in which she explored the complicated stigma of depression as it exists in the United States and around the world. Through this thesis Joelle discovered her passion for promoting proper mental health care and ensuring access to care in different global contexts.
Prior to coming to KPCPC in June of 2017, Joelle worked in the non-profit industry and in various child educational settings.Personally Joelle enjoys reading, trying new restaurants, and boxing.
Jennifer Schild, BS is our Research Assistant. Jen graduated in 2017 with her Bachelor’s degree from NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development Applied Psychology Program. She graduated with distinction as the Fieldwork Student of the Year in recognition of her exemplary work at Kurtz Psychology Consulting. She has already presented with our faculty at several national conferences including the meetings of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, PCIT International, and the Selective Mutism Association. She continues to work on special projects with Kurtz Psychology while working full time now at Weill Cornell Medical College as a Research Assistant.
In her free time, Jen enjoys perusing New York City’s best bookshops. She is also an avid foodie – providing any and all with wonderful restaurant suggestions!