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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 TheMindfulConnectionLI@gmail.com

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 dcavalluzzilcsw@gmail.com to make an

appointment.

 

Website: www.donnacavalluzzilcsw.com

Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/donna-cavalluzzi-brooklyn-ny/376233

ZocDoc: https://www.zocdoc.com/practice/donna-cavalluzzi-56664

Julie Fabio, LCSW-R

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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Julie Fabio, LCSW-R has over 15 years  experience in the field of clinical social work. She specializes in treating all types of trauma using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Julie treats adults mainly, with many having a background of some type of abuse/neglect and having a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, bipolar, or PTSD.

 

Julie is currently working toward her certification as a meditation instructor. 

Her past work as a clinician at South Nassau Communities Hospital outpatient mental health clinic afforded her the opportunity to treat children and adults with varying degrees of mental illness. 

 

We are fortunate to have Julie working at The Mindful Connection of LI on Thursdays and Fridays, while she also has a private practice in Babylon Village.  

 

Julie strives to build a trusting and compassionate relationship with her patients, and gets such pleasure helping them to overcome and heal from past experiences and core negative self beliefs and begin to reach their fullest potential. 

 

Julie currently accepts: BC/BC, NYSHIP, Cigna, GHI, Aetna, Fidelis and Beacon health care plans. She also accepts out of network insurance and offers sliding scale, if necessary.

 

Julie can be reached at 516.322.0723 or at JFabioLCSW@gmail.com 

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 Khafkelcsw@hafke.net

 

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 broadwaymft@gmail.com

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 JessicaMicciulliLMHC@gmail.com for more information or to make an appointment."

Samantha Schlussel, LCSW, CASAC

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

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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 samanthaslcsw@gmail.com for additional information.

Psychiatrists

Janet Buckner, MD

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Board Certified Adult Psychiatrist

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 christina@gerdesmd.com

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

https://youtu.be/pX36_bnH6oo

 

Brandon - Anxiety

https://youtu.be/6x_QlaZhE2Y

 

Lahshaun - Headaches and depression

https://youtu.be/A2jc7ZE6y60

To find out more about Dr. Mike’s practice, check out the website www.TheOptimumU.com or email him directly at Dr.Mike.Gruttadauria@gmail.com or call 516.351.9372

Mindfulness Meditation Instructor

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 RevHildur@gmail.com for more information or to make an appointment.

Acupuncturists

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 Tricia.Amico@gmail.com

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.

 

Method

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.