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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:


Michael Hartman, LMHC, CDBT

Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Dialectical Behavior Therapist

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Michael is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor from Long Island with extensive

experience treating clients with a variety of mental health conditions and disorders. Primarily

trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Michael uses compassion, validation,

mindfulness, and an advanced toolset to help his client cope with the stressors and build a more

meaningful life.

Michael graduated from Brooklyn College in 2019 with his Masters in Mental Health

Counseling and worked primarily in Brooklyn at Interborough, a community mental health

clinic that serves clients of all backgrounds and struggles. Michael has gained extensive clinical

expertise in diagnosing and treating a variety of common and uncommon mental illnesses

including Unipolar Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder,

all the DSM-V Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, and Personality Disorders

including Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic

Personality Disorder, and Antisocial Personality Disorder. Michael is a credentialed CDBT,

Certified Dialectical Behavior Therapist, through Dr. Lane Pederson, PESI, and Evergreen

Certificates. Michael also has extensive experience working with young children, preadolescents, teens, and young adults and has early childhood psychotherapy training.

Michael started the Hartman Mental Health Counseling Program (HMHC) in 2022 to

provide DBT to teens of high school age between the ages of 14 to 18. HMHC focuses on higher

risk teens who are struggling with deep emotion dysregulation, suicidal ideation and behavior,

and NSSI or non-suicidal self-injury such as cutting or burning. HMHC provides comprehensive

DBT through weekly individual psychotherapy sessions, family skills group, and 24/7 phone

coaching to help clients and their parents navigate emotional crises in the moment. Individual

sessions currently take place at The Mindful Connection of Long Island and group is located conveniently in Wantagh, NY, a short drive away.

While the DBT program for adolescents is Michael’s current focus, he has availability for

adult patients during the day as well. In these sessions, Michael pulls upon a rich knowledge of

not only DBT, but other treatment modalities to help clients achieve their goals in therapy.

If you are interested in therapy with Michael for yourself or your child, please contact

him at 516-205-5794 or You can find more information about

HMHC’s teen DBT program at

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."


Gayle Parker, Ph.D

Clinical Psychologist

Gayle Parker, Ph.D is an  experienced Clinical Psychologist who offers psychotherapy to help people navigate life’s challenges. Dr. Parker’s specialties include the treatment of anxiety, depression, relationship issues and grief work, as well as managing life transitions and stress reduction. 


In a non-judgmental and empathic environment, she will

help you to address these issues at your own pace. Dr. Parker draws from a variety of approaches including psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral and mindfulness. She will work with you to build a personalized treatment plan, that balances insight and understanding with practical coping strategies and tools.


Dr. Parker received her PhD from the University of Rochester in 1989. Her research during her graduate training on Resilience reflects her interest and emphasis on strength and competency in the face of adversity. She has worked in both inpatient and outpatient mental health settings, and has been in private practice in Forest Hills, NY for 20 years. Dr. Parker is excited to join the Mindful Connection of LI and expand her practice to Long Island. Dr. Parker works with adults. 


She is currently in network for Aetna, Anthem, BC/BS, Empire Plan/NYSHIP, Oxford Health, United Health as well as Out-of Network Options.


For most people, it is not easy to reach out and take that first step to find a therapist. It might feel scary to begin, but it takes just one phone call to start the process. Dr. Parker will sit and talk with you, and help you figure things out, one step at a time. You don’t have to do it alone.


Dr. Parker can be reached at (718) 268-0123 for more information or to make an appointment.

Jodi Wattel, ATR-BC, LCAT 

 Creative arts therapist, psychotherapist 

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 Jodi Wattel (she/her/hers) is a licensed (LCAT) and board certified (ATR-BC) creative arts therapist in New York.  She has been practicing for 15+ years. Prior to going into private practice, Jodi spent 11 years developing the art therapy program at Brookville Center for Children’s Services in Brookville, NY. Jodi previously spent time on the executive board of the New York Art Therapy Association (NYATA) serving as both president elect and president.  She uses a combination of creative art therapies, somatic processing and mindful-based practices to assist her clients in areas such as caregiver burnout, chronic illness, anxiety and depression, trauma, mental illness, peri-natal and post-natal mental health, and PDDs.  

Jodi enjoys a collaborative approach to working with her clients.  Clients are seen as active participants in their therapeutic journey. When not providing therapy, Jodi also enjoys presenting a variety of professional training and support groups for both clinicians and non-clinicians in areas such as caregiver/family support and life transitions for people on the autism spectrum.  


Jodi is available to take clients ages 12-100 both virtually or in-person. *Limited appointments after 3pm on weekdays. No weekend hours available at this time.


Feel free to contact Jodi @ or (516) 308 - 2436



Janet Buckner, MD

Board Certified Adult Psychiatrist

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Dr. Janet Buckner is a board-certified psychiatrist with 25+ years of experience. Dr. Buckner has expertise in treating a variety of conditions, including depression, anxiety, panic, OCD, and bipolar disorder. Dr. Buckner provides a collaborative and supportive treatment experience, and offers guidance and recommendations regarding medication, lifestyle changes, and other interventions or treatment modalities that may be of assistance.


Dr. Buckner was born in NYC and grew up in Brooklyn. Dr. Buckner received her BA in liberal arts from Amherst College in Amherst, MA and received her medical degree from the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Buckner completed a residency in adult psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, NY. Over the course of her career Dr. Buckner has provided psychiatric treatment in a variety of settings, including outpatient clinics, inpatient units, drug treatment programs, homeless shelters, and Assertive Community Treatment teams. Dr. Buckner moved to Long Island in 2001, where she continued providing psychiatric services to adults struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse issues.


Dr. Buckner started her private practice in 2007 and is in fulltime private practice since 2020. She treats adults 18 years and older.


Dr. Bucker is currently in-network for The Empire Plan, EmblemHealth/GHI, UnitedHealthcare and Medicare.


Dr. Buckner can be reached at 516-833-6382 for more information or to make an appointment.

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 in-network for Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield as well as accepts self-pay clients. 


You can reach her at 516-531-7726 or

Sagarika Ray, MD

Board Certified Adult, Child, and Adolescent Psychiatry
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Dr. Sagarika Ray completed her Psychiatry Residency and also completed a Fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from Mount Sinai, Elmhurst, NY. She is a Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and is double Board Certified in Psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Ray specializes in treating a vast array of mental illnesses including ADHD, depression, anxiety and autistic spectrum disorders. She initiates treatment with a thorough psychiatric evaluation, devises a specific treatment plan that is tailored for each individual based on their age and personal needs, offers medication management, individual and family therapy. She takes special interest in treating depression and PTSD in adolescents and women.


Dr. Ray has been actively involved in graduate medical education and training since 2010. In addition to her private practice, she is currently employed and serves as the Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Nassau University Medical Center. She is also the Program Director of an ACGME accredited Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship program at NUMC since 2015 and has been actively involved in educating and training the next generation of Child Psychiatrists.


The decision to seek help for one’s emotional problems requires courage and strength. Dr. Ray will ensure that this journey in seeking psychological help remains rewarding in an environment that provides compassion, enhances faith in one’s self, and improves an individual’s quality of life.


For more information or to make an appointment please contact Dr. Ray at


Functional Medicine Practitioner

Michael Gruttadauria, DC, DACAN

Functional Neurology

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Dr. Michael Gruttadauria is an integrative doctor working with patients to uncover the cause of their health and mood concerns.  


So often, anxiety, depression, gastro issues, headaches and many other problems all co-exist due to a series of stressors combined with imbalances in the body and brain.

Unfortunately, most doctors are not trained to look for imbalance in the body.  Because they do not identify it, they can’t figure out ways to reverse it, so medication is a first line therapy.  Medication certainly has its place, but it generally treats symptoms and never gets to the root cause.


Dr. Mike’s goal is to do a complete consult and exam plus blood, urine and stool tests to get to the root cause of your problems.  He works with the mental health professionals in the practice to help people resolve the underlying issues that may be causing or contributing to the stress related conditions that they present with.


You can see some videos about his work here:


News12 - Stress, Anxiety & the Gut with Dr. Lauren Altchiler


Brandon - Anxiety


Lahshaun - Headaches and depression

To find out more about Dr. Mike’s practice, check out the website or email him directly at or call 516.351.9372

Mindfulness Meditation Instructor / Reiki

Rev. Hildur Palsdottir, Ph.D, RMT

Mindfulness Meditation Instructor, Reiki Master

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Hildur Palsdottir is a certified meditation instructor, Reiki Master Teacher, Eco-minister and the co-founder of Sol Center, a nature-based healing arts center in Port Washington. Hildur took refuge in the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in 2001, while completing her PhD in Cellular Bioenergetics at the Max-Planck Institute of Biophysics, Germany. After post-doctoral research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory she worked as a research scientist at the New York University Medical School. She grew up intimately connected to land in Iceland and feels passionate about rewilding, ecosystem restoration, conservation and care for both the inner and outer environment. Her personal practice is at the intersection where spirituality and science meet in the experience of Deep Ecology. Hildur completed the Shambhala Teaching Mindfulness 200-hr Certification with Dr. Shante Smalls, David Perrin, and Ethan Nichtern. She is a member of the Natural Dharma Fellowship and participates in their Margha program. She sits on the advisory board at the Center for Earth Ethics, whose mission it is to facilitate the needed moral changes in cultural consciousness and policy in order to establish a new and viable value system, based on protecting the rights of nature and well-being of all.

Hildur is an environmental educator, climate activist, community organizer and co-founder of ReWild Long Island. She is a founding steering committee member of Transition Town Port Washington and President of the Board of Trustees at The Science Museum of Long Island, where she participates in stewarding Leeds Pond Preserve, while inspiring future scientists to care for the natural world. She contributes to a weekly environmental column Earth Matters in the Island Now newspaper.

In her free time she enjoys outdoor activities with her family and friends of all species. She especially enjoys bird watching, wildlife tracking and gardening.

Contact Hildur to schedule your private, family, or group meditation session. In person and zoom sessions are available. 

Hildur can be reached at 516.506.2218 or at for more information or to make an appointment.

Anuja Vora

Reiki, Energy Healer

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Anuja Vora is USUI Reiki- Master Teacher,  Certified Pranic Healer, Akashic Records Reader, Crystal Healer and co-founder of a local Crystals business in Merrick, Long Island (Holistic Boutique).

Anuja has earned a Master’s degree in Computer Science and Information Technology and she worked extensively in the field until she was introduced to the world of energy healing and well-being. Over a decade ago she was introduced to Reiki and that was the beginning of her journey. Reiki became a lifestyle; physical healings were mere side benefits. Her thoughts, words, and actions started aligning and brought along some amazing life experiences beyond her imagination. Since then Reiki has been guiding her to become who she is today.

Her profound experience for over a decade has prepared her for her soul mission, not only to live a harmonious life at all levels, but also to share the same with others. Anuja is a voracious learner and keeps adding more depth into her healings and counseling with time. Clients can start their journey back to being whole at the very first session.

Anuja believes in the principal that life should be filled with grace, ease, and flow. We all deserve and have the right to claim this lifestyle. She shares simple yet powerful tools in her sessions which can make life more fun and joyous.

Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, meditating, and learning new skills to be better at what she does and teaching Reiki Workshops. Anuja teaches Reiki Workshops as well offers private sessions for Reiki, Pranic Healing, Crystal Healing and Akashic Reading. 

To find out more about her work or to schedule an appointment, she can be reached

at (917) 892-9377 or


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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