The Child & Family Institute (CFI) is an interdisciplinary behavioral health center and faculty practice for youth, specializing in integrated group and individual cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), neuropsychological assessment, educational and academic consulting, clinical psychopharmacology, whole health and nutritional counseling, and speech and occupational therapy services for children, adolescents, and young adults with emotional and behavioral disorders. Founded in 2011, CFI was among the first private interdisciplinary CBT centers in the nation exclusively dedicated to youth mental health assessment, treatment, and advocacy. CFI is most notably known for developing innovative treatment programs for youth anxiety disorders, including our new “Brave Voices” Selective Mutism program described below.
The “Brave Voices” Program
“Brave Voices” is an innovative, highly specialized CBT program for Selective Mutism in youth, that was designed to help your child cultivate the resources and skills he/she needs to bravely get his/her voice back. “Brave Voices” employs an individualized, evidence-based treatment approach that uses both individual and group therapy formats, integrating both home and school contexts. Depending on your child’s age, treatment may include:
- Cognitive Restructuring
- Mindfulness and Relaxation
- Coping Skills Training
- Parent Training and In-Session Participation
- Community-Based Exposure Therapy
- Coordination with Your Child’s School
- Selective Mutism/Social Anxiety CBT Group Sessions
- Speech Therapy
Many of our children with SM experience the most anxiety and difficulty within the school setting. Due to this, we spend a great deal of time working with your child’s school. We typically do this by developing a “key person” or one school staff member that becomes our eyes and ears in the school. We will coach them to implement our strategies inside the school walls. They also serve as the coordinator for other school staff that your child comes into contact with on a daily basis. If needed, we also help to develop:
- Structured behavioral plans
- 504 Plans
- Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
Because SM can have a complex presentation, with potential co-occurring diagnoses, we offer a wide range of other services that can be paired with traditional treatment. These include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Groups for Social Anxiety and Social Skills
- Psychiatry and Medication Management
- Comprehensive Neuropsychological Assessment & Educational Advocacy
- Parent Training
- Speech Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
CFI Clinical Faculty & Associate Faculty
Adam S. Weissman, PhD
Executive Director, The Child & Family Institute; Senior Director/Clinician, Brave Voices Selective Mutism Program, DrAdamWeissman@childfamilyinstitute.com
Dr. Adam S. Weissman is the Founder & Executive Director of the Child & Family Institute (CFI) in Scarsdale, NY and midtown Manhatttan, where he oversees the “Brave Voices” Selective Mutism program. Dr. Weissman received his B.A. in Psychology and French from the University of Pennsylvania, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University. He completed his pre-doctoral internship at the NYU Child Study Center/Bellevue Hospital Center and a 2-year post-doctoral clinical research fellowship in child/adolescent psychology under the mentorship of John R. Weisz, Ph.D., ABPP at Harvard University and Judge Baker Children’s Center, Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Weissman is a cognitive-behavioral therapist, trainer, supervisor, and consultant, and an expert in the treatment of a wide range of youth anxiety problems, including selective mutism, social anxiety, separation anxiety, school refusal, generalized worry, phobias, perfectionism, OCD, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress, as well as depressive disorders, ADHD, disruptive behavior problems, tic/habit disorders, high functioning autism spectrum disorders, and related conditions. He has extensive experience treating children and adolescents, and training professionals in the community, using the latest advances in cognitive and behavioral therapies. Dr. Weissman is a nationally recognized expert in a new modular CBT approach designed to address symptoms of anxiety, depression, and/or behavior problems as they co-occur in children (MATCH-ADTC; Chorpita & Weisz, 2009), and has been certified by the treatment developers as a MATCH-ADTC Trainer and Senior Consultant. Dr. Weissman is currently on the Adjunct Clinical Faculty at Columbia University Teacher’s College (www.tc.columbia.edu/ccp/clinical), where he trains/supervises advanced doctoral students in CBT with children and adolescents. Dr. Weissman is also an accomplished clinical researcher with over 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, 3 edited books, and over 50 professional workshops and presentations, the majority focusing on cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety and related disorders and neuropsychological assessment for children and adolescents.
Aimee Kotrba, PhD
A nationally-renown expert and speaker on the identification and treatment of Selective Mutism, Dr. Kotrba is the author of “Selective Mutism: An Assessment and Intervention Guide for Therapists, Educators, and Parents and Overcoming Selective Mutism: A Field Guide for Parents” and supervises and trains our “Brave Voices” SM team here at CFI. Dr. Kotrba is the owner of Thriving Minds, a psychology clinic with locations in Brighton and Chelsea Michigan (www.thrivingmindsbehavioralhealth.com). She is an adjunct faculty member at Michigan State University’s graduate program in educational psychology.
Emily Becker-Weidman, PhD
Senior Supervising Psychologist
Dr. Emily Becker-Weidman is the Director of The Adoption and Attachment Treatment Center in Westchester County and Bergen County. Dr. Becker-Weidman received her B.A. in Psychology and Health and Societies from the University of Pennsylvania, and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University, Fienberg School of Medicine. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at the NYU Child Study Center/Bellevue Hospital and a 2-year post-doctoral clinical research fellowship in Anxiety and Mood Disorders and Autism at the NYU Child Study Center.
Dr. Becker-Weidman is a child and adolescent psychologist with expertise in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for children, adolescents, and young adults and attachment-focused family therapy. She has certifications in CBT from the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, certified in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT), intensively trained in DBT, and is certified by the Attachment Treatment-Focused Institute as an Attachment-Focused Family Therapist and is certified in the practice of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy. She is on the faculty at New York University, where she teaches an undergraduate course on Attachment and Loss. She is also clinical director of the New York City Division of the Center for Family Development.
Dr. Becker-Weidman is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), the American Psychological Association (APA), the New York City Adoption/Foster Care Therapist Network, the New York City Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Association (NYC-CBT), and the New Jersey Psychological Association. She has presented research at several national conferences, co-authored three book chapters on child and adolescent psychopathology, and published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals.
Michele Barton, PhD
Dr. Michele Barton is the Director of CFI-Greenwich, and Clinical Director of the Biofeedback and Virtual Reality Therapy programs at CFI. Dr. Barton is also a primary externship program supervisor, a senior clinician in our Center for Chronic Medical Conditions, and a member of the “Brave Voices” Selective Mutism training team at CFI. Dr. Barton has a warm yet directive approach and has extensive experience using a variety of evidence-based treatments across diverse populations and clinical settings. Dr. Barton is highly specialized in CBT combined with the use of Biofeedback and Virtual Reality Therapies. Dr. Barton focuses on providing functional lifelong tools to children, teens, adults, and families, while working closely with all sources of support to ensure productive, sustainable treatment outcomes.
Dr. Barton graduated with honors from Purchase College with a B.A. in Psychology and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Biological Science. Dr. Barton began her graduate career at Columbia University-Teachers College Masters in Psychology Program, followed by a Clinical Heath Psychology PhD Program at Yeshiva University, where she earned degrees in Clinical Psychology and Clinical Health Psychology. Dr. Barton conducted her doctoral research at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University’s Department of Medical Genetics, where she completed her Doctoral Dissertation studying the genetic contributions associated with children at risk for psychological disorders based on parental diagnosis.
Dr. Barton’s clinical training sites have included Yeshiva University’s Parnes Clinic and Eating Disorder and Weight Loss Center, Lincoln Hospital’s Child/Adolescent Outpatient and Adult Inpatient and Outpatient Units, the Hudson Valley VA System working with Veterans, and the Northside Center for Child Development working with foster children, adoptees, and troubled youth. Dr. Barton completed her post-doctoral fellowship at a private CBT practice on the Upper East Side working with children, teens, adults, couples and families, and was later promoted to Director of Clinical Health, Intern Training Supervisor, and Head of Clinical Outreach. During her post-doctoral fellowship, Dr. Barton specialized in applications of CBT coupled with intensive training in the utilization of non-invasive medical procedures including Biofeedback, Virtual Reality, Entrainment, and Neurofeedback prescribed to successfully replace or supplement medication in a number of psychological disorders including ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, Depression, Addiction, and Specific Phobias (fear of flying, public speaking, heights, animals, performance and social anxiety), among others. Dr. Barton was trained by leaders in the field, using cutting edge state-of-the-art equipment to establish ground-breaking treatment protocols and applications using psychophysiological technology.
Currently, in addition to her many roles here at CFI, Dr. Barton is the Director of Psychology Life Well, a small collaborative private practice, where she works with physicians and other health care professionals to treat clients of all ages suffering from the psychological sequelae of chronic medical conditions.
Melissa Braunstein, PsyD
Melissa Braunstein, PsyD, is a Clinical Psychologist at CFI-Scarsdale and Brooklyn. Dr. Braunstein has extensive experience providing individual and group therapy for children and adolescents across a variety of settings, including outpatient, hospital, and day treatment settings. She uses a combination of cognitive behavioral and play therapy in her clinical work with children. Her approach emphasizes the relationship she builds with children as she helps them identify their needs and find better ways to express them. Dr. Braunstein currently works as a School Psychologist in a center-based special needs preschool.
Dr. Braunstein received her Bachelor of Arts from Pace University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Her interest in psychology and passion for working with children led her to attend Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology’s School-Clinical Child Psychology Program at Yeshiva University. Her clinical training includes a postdoctoral fellowship with the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services at Pride of Judea, a community-based mental health clinic. During her time there, Dr. Braunstein treated children, adolescents, and adults with a wide range of disorders and presenting problems and led groups applying dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for adults facing emotional difficulties and social skills training for boys with behavioral problems. She also received training in trauma focused-cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) for the treatment of PTSD and trauma-related symptoms in children and adolescents. Dr. Braunstein completed a clinical externship at Queens Hospital Center, where she provided individual and group psychotherapy to children presenting with anxiety, mood disorders, learning issues, selective mutism, and behavioral disorders. Additionally, she conducted comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations for school-aged children.
Dr. Braunstein’s other training experiences include school settings at elementary schools on Long Island where she performed individual and group counseling for students and conducted Committee on Special Education (CSE) evaluations. She completed her internship at Joan Fenichel Therapeutic Nursery at the League Treatment Center where worked with preschool-age children with a range of psychiatric and developmental disabilities.
Kristy Castaldo, MA, CCC-SLP, TSHH
Speech-Language Pathologist, “Brave Voices” Program,
Kristy Castaldo is a licensed and certified Speech and Language Pathologist and the Consulting Speech-Language Therapist for the “Brave Voices” program. Kristy has nearly 15 years of clinical experience working with children across a wide range of school and clinical settings. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in speech and language pathology from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. In addition to her role at CFI, Kristy is a part-time speech and language pathologist for a public school in Westchester County servicing elementary school students. She has worked as an evaluator, a CPSE/CSE committee member, and currently conducts private speech therapy for children across home and school settings. Kristy also has a specialty in younger children and is an Early Intervention and preschool age provider in New York for children ranging from birth to five years. Kristy is experienced in working with children with many SM comorbidities, including childhood apraxia of speech, articulation/phonological disorders, social and pragmatic language issues, receptive and expressive language delays/disorders, auditory/language processing difficulties, higher level language skills, and reading/auditory comprehension. She currently lives in Rye Brook, New York with her husband and two young children.
Kelly O’Brien, LCSW
Licensed Social Worker
Kelly O’Brien, LCSW is a part-time psychotherapist practicing at the CFI-Park Slope location. She has extensive experience working with children, adolescents, adults, and families using evidence-based modalities. Kelly practices from an interpersonal psychodynamic perspective, incorporating narrative therapy, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and play therapy into sessions through a trauma-informed and strengths-based lens. She focuses on collaboration between the therapist and client to identify challenges and increase motivation towards change. Kelly has a wide range of experience treating anxiety, depression, ADHD, trauma, interpersonal issues, behavioral concerns, bereavement, and LGBTQ+ related issues.
Kelly graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in Child Development, and then received a Masters in Social Work from New York University. Kelly began her career working in preventive services in Brooklyn before transitioning to a school-based mental health program. In this role, Kelly provided clinical services to students of all ages in several schools, while providing psycho-education and resources to school staff, families, and community members in an effort to combat stigma around mental healthcare. Kelly then worked as a Middle School Social Worker at a charter school through Harlem Children’s Zone. Currently, Kelly provides clinical supervision to early-career clinicians as a Supervising Social Worker for the Mental Health Service Corps. She also works with Rutgers School of Social Work, providing clinical and administrative support to MSW students in their field placements.
Senior Doctoral Fellow
Raquel Rose is a rising third-year doctoral fellow at New York University and a counseling extern in the Counseling Psychology PhD program with a focus on using an evidence-based framework in working with youth and their families. Her clinical and research interests include the prevention and treatment of trauma, the impact of mental health concerns, systematic discrimination and health disparities on future success, and culturally-sensitive evidence-based interventions for marginalized populations, including incarcerated and immigrant youth and their families. As a pre-doctoral extern Raquel has worked across the developmental spectrum with a diverse range of diagnosis. On the RISE Team, Raquel is a graduate student researcher evaluating the ROSES Advocacy Program for adolescent girls. Additionally, Raquel is involved in the development, implementation and measurement of various interventions aimed at youth at risk for justice system involvement in collaboration with community partners in New York City. Raquel earned her bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University, where she studied Psychology and Biology and examined Intimate Partner Violence and its impact on pregnancy; especially among minority women. Prior to enrolling as a doctoral student at NYU, Raquel worked as the study coordinator on the juvenile justice research team at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center and is excited to continue working with this at-risk population.
The Child & Family Institute
Westchester Division: 2 Overhill Road, Suite 400, Scarsdale, NY 10583
NYC Division: 20 East 49th Street, 2nd Floor, NY, NY 10017