PhD Therapists

Elnaz J Afousi, M.S., 4th Year PhD Student

Elnaz J Afousi, MS

Doctoral Student

Areas of Interest: As far as theories and ideas: Attachment theory, gender roles, social justice, and internet/social media influence on relationships. My focus mostly involves military families and also the LGBT community. On a more personal note, my interests include travel, music, literature and drawing.

Education/Degree(s): BA in Psychology, Boston University; MS in Marriage and Family Therapy, Eastern Nazarene College; Supervisor-in-training at AUNE.

Experience Working with People: I provided individual, couples, and family therapy at the Couples and Family Therapy Institute at Antioch University New England during first two years of my Ph.D. program; I completed my Master’s internship with North Shore Medical Center in Salem, MA providing outpatient therapy to individuals and families that included crisis intervention, psycho education, using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as well as Post Modern techniques. After which I was hired at Salem Hospital as a psychiatric triage clinician providing severe crisis intervention, psychiatric stabilization and determination of level of care for clients. Currently in Houston, TX completing my Ph.D. internship working with in an outpatient private practice serving individuals, couples and families, alongside with Houston Achievement Place (HAP) working with foster families with children that have undergone severe trauma. I am also currently providing early intervention for children between ages 2-5 at a private school as a part of my internship.


Norja Cunningham, M.S., 5th Year PhD Student

Norja Cunningham, MS

Doctoral Student

Areas of Interest: My areas of interest include Compassion Fatigue’s effect on helping professionals and clergy families, and how these families prevent or heal secondary traumatic stress. The other interest includes the effectiveness of MFT’s in the school setting.

Degrees/Education: BS in Psychology, Trinity College, Hartford, CT; MS in Marriage and Family Therapy, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT

Experience Working with People:  I completed a practicum and internship during my masters program with Klingberg Family Centers in New Britain, CT in the Child Abuse Treatment Services department and in the sub acute unit residential facility. During my doctoral internship, I worked in the outpatient clinic/ family therapy institute as a fulltime clinician. There I provided treatment to children and adolescents with psychiatric/ behavioral concerns and trauma histories. I also worked with Casey Family Services, Bridgeport, CT, as a group clinician and researcher, determining each foster client’s level of permanency and the effectiveness of the clinical group.  As an adjunct faculty, I taught courses for AUNE’s applied psychology department and currently teach for CCSU’s MFT program. I am also a supervisor-in-training with AUNE and Klingberg Family Centers.


Elise Hudson

S. Elise Hudson, MA

Doctoral Student

Areas of Interest: Spirituality; Issues of Social Justice; Substance abuse and mental health issues in minority families and communities; Reading, Gardening, Traveling, Fashion, and Food Connoisseur,

Education/Degrees: MA in Psychology, Kean University, Union, NJ

Experience Working With People: Co-facilitator of group therapy for children ages (5-18) using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC) in Newark, NJ; volunteer as group leader for Girl Scouts of America leader at Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington, NJ; volunteer for Babyland, a community outreach organization committed to early childhood development, domestic violence services, food and nutrition and parent care education, serving minority families in Newark, NJ.


Mirza Lugardo, M.Ed., CAGS, LADC-I, LMHC

Mirza Lugardo, M.Ed., CAGS, LADC-I, LMHC

Doctoral Student

“It is better to build children than repair adults. However, to repair and restore is absolutely possible, beautiful and magnificent, and yes, it can happen, it does happen and it continues to get even better. I am humbly willing to participate in the facilitation of such work, but only if you wish it so.”

Areas of Interest: Children with chronic mental illness; trauma and cognitive issues; women with trauma; substance abuse and mental illness; family dynamics; issues of social justice; accessibility and adaptability in immigrant and minority families


Melissa McVicker, MS

Doctoral Student

Areas of Interest: I am also passionate about sibling relationships, specifically as related to resiliency and supportive factors within the family system. My research interests include resiliency, positive psychology, and supporting factors in family systems and dyad relationships. In addition, I am passionate about supporting diverse groups and working with populations that need a voice, or more so, deserve an amplification of their message and needs- specifically children and siblings of children with a diagnosis. I am also interested in Common Factors (in therapy and supervision), as well as creativity in mental health and supervision.

Education/Degrees: BA in Psychology, University of Texas San Antonio (2004); MS in Marriage and Family Therapy, Purdue University Calumet (2009)

Experience Working with People: My clinical experience included working primarily with clients who presented with problems related to mood disorders, anxiety, adjustment, couple communication, family boundary setting, child behaviors, parenting skills, emotional regulations, assertiveness, self esteem, and coping. I have worked with adults, families, groups, as well as children and adolescents in multiple residential settings; Mental Health Centers; and University settings.  My primary therapeutic approaches are Solution Focused, Collaborative Language Systems, Gottman Method, Play Therapy, and Cognitive-Behavioral. I view clients as experts on their lives, and work with individuals, couples, and families to build on their strengths.


Binh Pham, M.A., 5th Year PhD Student

Binh Pham, MA

Doctoral Student

Areas of Interests: Trauma with women and children, immigration and refugee cultural issues/family processes, interracial couples and families, an emphasis on mental health disparities with marginalized and oppressed populations, both domestically and internationally.

Education/Degrees: MA in Marriage and Family Therapy at Syracuse University. Trained in Multisystemic Therapy and Trauma Focused-CBT with refugees that are victims of torture and trauma and children that are victims of trauma.

Clinical Experiences: Provided individual, couple, and family therapy as a therapist intern at the Goldberg Center and Antioch Center for Individual, Couples, and Families, Clinical Case Manager at Monandock Family Services, MST Therapist at D.A. Blodgett- St. John, Trauma Therapist at Bethany Christian Services, currently working as Clinician/Case manager at Southwest Counseling Solutions.


Jeni Wahlig, MS

Jeni Wahlig, MS

Doctoral Student

“I believe that some of the hardest things we face in life are often the most important ones to our growth as a person and within our relationships. I strive to help people experience safety, connection, and healing within themselves and with the people who matter most in their world, so that they can grow and strengthen those relationships. I believe every person has the potential to experience the kinds of changes that they dare to hope and even long for.”

Areas of Interest: Couple and relationship issues; sex and sexuality; working with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning, and queer community; and emotion-focused therapy. “Personally, I enjoy letterboxing, traveling, painting, reading, and snuggling with my cats.” Previous Education/Degree(s): MS in Marriage and Family Therapy, University of Wisconsin-Stout Previous Experience Working with People: Provided individual, couple, and family therapy at UW-Stout Clinical Services Center; intern therapist at Watercourse Counseling in Minneapolis, Minnesota, providing individual therapy to adults and child-focused individual and family therapy through a school-based program at a Minneapolis elementary school; co-facilitator of a support and discussion group for LGBTQ students at UW-Stout; has been employed in working with adults and adolescents with special needs for over five years