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Meet Our Practitioners

Psychotherapy Practitioners

Lauren Altchiler, Ph.D

Clinical Psychologist 
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Lauren Altchiler Ph.D is the founder of “The Mindful Connection of LI.” The evolution toward the launching of this center grew slowly and organically, originating from her intention to have a mind-body center back in her college days. Through over 25 years of experience working as a Clinical Psychologist, and the culmination of life experience raising her daughters, overcoming autoimmune issues, and being attuned to the struggles of our ever-changing society, her inner voice grew stronger as the lessons, mentors, and like-minded practitioners presented themselves. Welcome to The Mindful Connection of LI! May you find it a place to connect to your inner wisdom, peace, and community.


Lauren is a Clinical Psychologist who received her doctorate from Hofstra University in 1992. She has been in private practice in Merrick since 1994, providing individual psychotherapy and group stress management workshops with a cognitive-behavioral orientation. Dr. Altchiler applies a holistic approach to diagnosing and treating patients, with the understanding that mental health issues are non-specific symptoms, just like a fever, which have a variety of possible root causes that must be determined. 


There is no magic pill! Each patient is a unique puzzle. Dr. Altchiler works with patients to identify their own personal paths, guiding with new ways of thinking, coping, relating to others, understanding root cause issues, and connecting and nurturing themselves. The focus is on restoring balance within the complete individual - mind, body, and spirit. Individual psychotherapy, mindfulness, breath work and meditation, stress management workshops, and gut health workshops are all part of Dr. Altchiler’s approach to wellness.


Lauren treats adults and young adults. She’s not in-network with any insurance company, but accepts out-of-network insurance and handles all patient billing.


Through her own healing journey, and her many years as a gluten and dairy-free eater, Lauren created a blog and Instagram called “Crazy For Yuca” where she shares personal recipes and tips for healthy eating and living. Yuca (a.k.a cassava) is a wonderful substitute for wheat, which can be made into anything typically made from wheat. Feel free to follow her accounts. 


Mental and physical symptoms provide opportunities for incredible personal growth that may bring unexpected gifts… if you’re willing to take the journey. 

Lauren can be reached at 631.513.2921 or at

for more information or to make an appointment. 

Donna Cavalluzzi, LCSW-R 

Psychodynamic Relational Psychotherpist

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 I have over 25 years of experience as a therapist, with a specialty in Women and

Adolescent Health. My treatment approach is based on the needs of the individual

client, concentrating in psychodynamic and relational psychotherapy. I work with adults

and adolescents struggling with the challenges and stressors that come with

life. Going beyond technique and theory is what makes therapy work. I’s the realm of the trusting relationship: the ongoing human-to-human connection that provides the foundation for change. I provide a safe and warm environment that allows the client to engage with me in their process of change. Without a therapeutic relationship, there is no therapy. I combine empathy with humor to help the client feel comfortable and bring a humanistic approach into the room. I have advanced clinical expertise in the areas of interpersonal violence and will work with the client to bring back their self-esteem and function in the world independently.


  • Master of Social Work – NYU School of Social Work

  • Certified in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: Adults & Adolescents, Institute for

       Psychoanalytic Education/Affiliated with NYU School of Medicine

  • Adjunct Lecturer in Human Behavior – NYU School of Social Work

  • Advanced Certification in Clinical Supervision


Areas of Expertise include coping with depression and anxiety, recovering from domestic violence and sexual assault, coping with grief and loss, maternal and post-partum depression, adjustment to life transitions (school, work, etc.) relationship issues (divorce, dating, separation, conflict,) coping with the effects of the COVID pandemic, LGBTQ population.


Donna accepts Aetna, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Optum, Oscar, Oxford Health

Plans, United Healthcare as well as Out-of-Network options.


Contact Donna at (917) 670-7915 or to make an




Psychology Today:


Kristin Hafke, LCSW-R, CASAC

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor

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We all need a space to be ourselves.  I want to provide you with that space to learn and grow on your personal journey. It is in this space that one can see their full potential and set aside barriers from internal and external stressors. I truly love what I do and know how valuable this process is. Are you struggling with phase-of-life transitions, relationship concerns, anxiety or depression? Are you or a loved one questioning the extent of their alcohol or substance use? This can all seem overwhelming. Let me help you with the first steps.


Building our connection is paramount, leading us into a range of modalities depending on your needs. I have extensive experience working with adolescents, young adults and adults dealing with trauma, substance abuse and all areas of mental health. I have been able to assist clients in their quest for fulfillment.

We cannot change our past, we cannot predict our future, we can only be here in this present moment. I look forward to hearing from you!        

In network for United Healthcare, Oxford, Cigna, and Oscar insurances. Accepts out of network and sliding scale patients as well.         

Years in Practice: 20 Years / License: New York / 070891

School: Stony Brook / Year Graduated: 2001


Contact Kristin Hafke, LCSW-R, CASAC at 516-308-2188 or


Addiction * Alcohol Use * Anger Management * Codependency * Coping Skills * Depression * Divorce * Emotional Disturbance * Family Conflict * Grief * Obsessive-Compulsive (OCD) * Parenting * Peer Relationships * Relationship Issues * School Issues * Self Esteem * Trauma and PTSD * Women's Issues 

Lauren Johnson, LCSW, LMFT

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

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Lauren Johnson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), an AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist, and a Certified EMT.    


Lauren sees young adults and adults. She has been in private practice for over 8 years helping couples and individuals with their sexual issues, relationship conflicts and their desires for improved communication and intimacy. Lauren also helps clients with depression, anxiety, and PTSD (primarily with first responders).


Lauren is a collaborative therapist who works with clients’ strengths to explore the behaviors, thoughts, communication patterns, and interactional patterns that are associated with the problems presented. After a thorough initial assessment, she works with clients to clarify goals and identify resolutions to the presenting issues.


Lauren accepts BCBS and Aetna insurance, as well as self paying clients.

Lauren can be reached at 347.699.7382 or at

Jessica Micciulli, LMHC

Licensed Mental Health Counselor 

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"Jessica Micciulli is a Licensed Mental Health counselor who has worked in various sectors of the mental health field over the past decade. Jessica has gained much knowledge and experience working with women, men, teens, children, couples, and families experiencing mental health disorders, family conflict, relationship issues, trauma, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, miscarriages, adoption, fertility challenges, depression and anxiety, grief, and bereavement. She uses an integrative approach to counseling, pulling from the techniques seen in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Narrative, Existential, and Psychodynamic modalities. 


Regular feedback and open communication to ensure you are getting what you need out of this experience is vital and encouraged. Jessica  regularly recommends work to continue in between sessions as results in real life are the goal.


Jessica is very passionate about her work, and truly finds it a privilege to have individuals share their life experiences with her.


Jessica accepts Cigna, Aetna, United Healthcare, Oxford Health Plans, Oscar, Optum, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Out-of-Network, and sliding scale out of pocket options available.


Contact Jessica at (516) 285-2481 or for more information or to make an appointment."

Samantha Schlussel, LCSW, CASAC

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor, Divorce Mediator

Samantha is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who received her Master’s Degree from Fordham University. She is a Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work, Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor, and Certified Divorce Mediator. She has been working in the mental health field for over 10 years and currently provides psychotherapy to children, adolescents, and adults.


Samantha specializes in depression, anxiety, addictions, and relationship issues and treats individuals, families, and couples.


Samantha’s experience working in an outpatient substance abuse agency, an outpatient mental health clinic, and the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District has helped shape her ability to provide uniquely individualized treatment for each client.


Samantha can be reached at (516) 458-7782 or for additional information.


Christina Gerdes, MD 

Board Certified Adult Psychiatrist, Addiction Medicine Specialist 

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Dr. Gerdes completed her Adult Psychiatry Residency at Columbia University and served as chief resident during her last year. She went on to complete the Public Psychiatry Fellowship at Columbia University and subsequently became board certified in addiction medicine. Dr. Gerdes has worked at multiple different hospitals on Long Island during her time with Northwell Health. 


Dr. Gerdes provides psychotherapy and medication management for a range of life events and difficulties including anxiety, depression, relationship problems, panic, bipolar disorder, OCD, and substance use problems. 


Dr. Gerdes is skilled in psychopharmacology and a range of psychotherapies including supportive therapy, psychodynamic therapy, dialectic behavioral therapy,  and cognitive behavioral therapy. Dr. Gerdes works together with her patients to develop a personalized treatment plan to meet their needs.


Dr. Gerdes works with individuals 18 years and older. 


Currently Dr. Gerdes is only accepting self-pay clients. 


You can reach her at 516-531-7726 or

Functional Medicine Practitioner

Michael Gruttadauria, DC, DACAN

Functional Neurology

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Dr. Michael Gruttadauria is an internationally renowned clinician who has been serving his profession and patients from around the world since 1992. Dr. Gruttadauria began his quest to be the best clinician he could be as a Doctor of Chiropractic. This training, coupled with his lifelong pursuit of sports and bodybuilding, allowed him to gain a holistic perspective on health which he brings to each and every patient. 


He holds Board Certification in Chiropractic Neurology through the American Chiropractic Neurology Board and is on the Advisory Board of Functional Medicine University.


Dr. Gruttadauria blends his background in nutrition, neurology & sports medicine with years of post doctorate training in Functional Medicine and lifestyle management. He cross-trains his studies to provide a comprehensive and unique approach to his patients’ care. He has most recently taken courses in bio and neurofeedback in Princeton, NJ. He has participated in the postdoctoral program for Traumatic Brain Injury, and has completed advanced studies in the diagnosis and treatment of vestibular disorders through the Carrick Institute for Postdoctoral Education. He is able to assist in the non-pharmaceutical treatment of these conditions in all age groups. He has worked with numerous high school, college and professional athletes in their quest to maximize their neuromusculoskeletal system, and has assisted in their recovery from injuries.


He has worked alongside an integrative psychologist and neuropsychiatrist to develop a comprehensive approach to treating patients with chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression which has been incredibly successful.


His role as CEO and Director of The Optimum U allows him to take people from wherever they are in their healthcare journey to a place of vibrant health and happiness through lifestyle modification, diet, functional medicine, exercise and positive thinking.


Dr. Mike has appeared numerous times in television interviews on healthcare topics such as MTHFR, migraines, depression and autism.


Michael A. Gruttadauria, DC, DACAN   Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist


Dr. Mike can be reached at or 516.351.9372

Mindfulness Meditation Instructor

Rev. Hildur Palsdottir, Ph.D, RMT

Mindfulness Meditation Instructor, Reiki Master

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Hildur is a certified mindfulness meditation instructor, ordained interfaith minister and Reiki Master Teacher. She offers private and group mindfulness & meditation training, as well as Reiki healing and spiritual counseling. She will assist and encourage you to shed harmful habits and cultivate a healthy mindset that balances your nervous system and needs.


Hildur enjoys public speaking, especially lecturing in schools and community centers about mindful and sustainable living. 


Committed to Ecosattva training with One Earth Sangha, Hildur is deeply engaged in her ongoing studies of Buddhist philosophies as applied to modern Western mindset. 


In 2005 Hildur received her Ph.D from the Max-Planck Institute of Biophysics, Department of Membrane Biology, where she studied Cellular Bioenergetics. Hildur was ordained as an Interfaith Minister from Sanctuary of Peace and Harmony in 2016, and completed a 200 hour mindfulness meditation teaching certification in 2019 with David Perrin, Ethan Nicthern and Dr. Shante Smalls as her guides.


Hildur worked as a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and New York University, Medical School, until in 2017 when she founded Sol Center in Port Washington with Adina Dabija.


To arrange a session with Hildur please contact her at 516.506.2218 or


Feel free to join her meditation groups taking place every Tuesday at 12:30 and 6:30. 


“In nature, nothing exists alone.” Rachel Carson, 1962


Tricia Amico

Licensed Acupuncturist

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Tricia Amico L.Ac. Dipl. OM is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist in the state of New York since 2005, and is Nationally Board Certified in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).  


Tricia decided to pursue a career in Acupuncture after discovering the art of Oriental Medicine at the age of 18 while traveling through China. She graduated from Villanova University in 2002, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, which included studies in Chinese culture. She continued her education, earning a Master's Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2005. In 2007, she completed a fellowship from Saint Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan, where she treated a wide range of conditions focusing on Rehabilitation and Fertility.    


With over 15 years of experience as an acupuncturist, Tricia has worked alongside a variety of practitioners including chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, psychologists and nutritionists. Through her diverse clinical experiences, she has been able to relate to an individual as a whole.    


Her treatment philosophy uses acupuncture, tui na, moxa, gui sha, cupping, herbal nutrition, and Reiki to address the needs of an individual from the root.  This treatment not only helps people heal on a physical level, but also on a spiritual and emotional level to bring back balance and rejuvenate a person’s body, mind, and spirit.  


Tricia can be reached at 516.445.2907 or at

Adina Dabija

Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Hypnosis, Qi Gong 

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Adina Dabija is a New York State Licensed Acupuncturist, and is nationally certified in Oriental Medicine by the National Commission for Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She holds a Clinical Masters Degree from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and formal certifications in Medical Qi Gong and Korean physical manipulations (Kyo Jung) from the Institute of Classical Asian Studies. Adina is a passionate herbalist, studying herbal medicine with Daoist master Jeffrey Yuen as well as alchemical herbalism. She is also a Certified Hypnotist specializing in inner child healing, along with addictions, depression, anxiety and stress management.


Adina was a founder of several acupuncture clinics, and co-founded Sol Center, an integrative health and meditation center in Port Washington. She has been a volunteer with You Can Thrive Breast Cancer Foundation in NYC for the past eight years, providing breast cancer survivors Qi Gong and acupuncture. 


Adina has been teaching weekly Qi Gong, and leading nature walks, at the beautiful Sands Point Preserve in Port Washington since 2018.


A published author, Adina helped many create the experience of bringing back the sacred into their lives. When we nurture the interconnectedness of the web of life and tune in with the flow of nature we heal that broken connection between body, heart and mind that creates pain and suffering in today's society, reconnecting to our true selves and purposes.


Mission and philosophy

"When the root is firm, the branch will flourish” - Chinese Proverb.



My approach is top down (from mind to the body) and consists of reviewing dis-ease history and discussing and implementing a personalized home self care program. Each visit will include a series of body adjustments, fine needles insertion in the body, breathing, combined with visualization exercises and herbal/dietary prescriptions to reinstall the balance in the three bodies - physical, metabolic/energetic and mental/spiritual. Ultimately, my method will trigger a self awakening process – called “immunity” when referring to the body level or “consciousness” when referring to the mental aspect – that will restore and regenerate the self regulating mechanisms in one’s body and life. During the first visit to the office I will go over one’s entire medical history and review any lab tests or other medical records. At that time I will make an individual assessment of what specifically is imbalanced and address the root of that imbalance with diet and lifestyle recommendations. Just as each patient is unique, so too is each treatment unique - no two patients receive exactly the same protocol.  


I have a special interest in Inflammation and Degenration, Psychoneuroimmunology, and Neurological conditions. 

Adina can be reached at 917.254.8340 or at adina@Sol.Center to arrange for an appointment.

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