Agathe C. Pierre-Louis, Psy.D
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
One of the greatest lessons I have learned as a clinical psychologist, “No matter the struggles that bring someone in treatment, I can always see their beauty within, entangled in their pain and shame. My role is to hold space for the pain to be grieved, for the shame to be processed and to support their healing in the corrective experience of gifting themselves compassion, empathy and kindness.”
With over 12 years of clinical work, I have provided psychological treatment and assessments to adolescents, adults and geriatric patients with an array of clinical issues, namely: depression, anxiety, relationship issues, trauma, PTSD, anger management, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, infertility, grief, cancer and perinatal mood disorders. I provide treatment in various settings such as inpatient and outpatient psychiatric treatment hospitals, community-based centers, forensic facilities, and short-term rehabilitation centers.
Dr. Louis completed her Master’s in Education and Human Services at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. She later fulfilled her desire to become a Clinical Psychologist at the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University in Orange County, California. Her clinical training was at the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health outpatient and inpatient treatment facilities, a leading clinical training site in the country. She has also participated in extensive training with Postpartum International Support (PSI), a world-renowned organization leading the support and professional training for maternal mental health. Additionally, she has completed a year-long Fertility Counseling Post Graduate course.
Dr. Louis is the founder of EMBRACE Therapy, which focuses on women’s mental health, providing individual, couple and group therapy. The therapeutic modalities she uses in treatment are Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), which is psychodynamically oriented and Cognitive Behavioral Treatment. Both treatment models are short-term and solution-focused. They have been highly researched and proven to be effective in a variety of psychiatric disorders. Her goal is that at the end of the journey in treatment, you will have obtained insight, change in perspective, increase in your self-awareness and have gained newly learned coping skills to improve the quality of your life.
She brings a passion for facilitating workshops to providers or to lay audiences on the importance of mental wellbeing. Her overarching goal is to help decrease the stigma of mental health and to send the message: “it’s okay not to be okay. There is relief in receiving treatment.” She has been invited as a speaker on subjects relating to postpartum depression and anxiety, motherhood, sexual health and spirituality, mental health and breastfeeding, teen dating violence, effective communications skills, secondary trauma of providers in doula training conferences, training programs for doctors, nurses, and social workers.
Dr. Louis recently completed an independent research study on The Strong Black Woman and her experience of Postpartum Depression which was presented at the 30th Annual Postpartum Support International (PSI) conference held at the University of Pennsylvania.
She also hosts the radio show, “Mind, Body and Spirit” on WTBQ/WGHT.
She has published a workbook entitled: Doula Revolution: Transforming your Mind, Body and Spirit. Currently, she is working on her next book entitled: Embracing Her.
Dr. Louis is ardently committed to helping individuals become more productive and functioning beings. With an open and inviting space, she wants to journey with you while you endure and overcome life’s challenges. Believing that her most positive attribute is her undeniable passion for this work. Dr. Louis states. “I will endeavor to reinforce to you that “you” matter by giving you my utmost attention, support, honesty, integrity, and respect through this EMBRACE. “
Christine Oriani, LCSW, RST
The beloved Maya Angelou once said that “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Christine’s greatest passion is to empower others to find the words to tell their story. Telling our story brings heartache into the light where healing can begin.
Ms. Oriani is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York, practicing as a therapist in Orange County. Christine’s experience over the last eight years has cultivated a nurturing and compassionate approach to therapy. She practices a collaborative, strength-based, person-centered approach that integrates motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal therapies. Ms. Oriani has a master’s level education in clinical social work from Adelphi University. At Wheelock College, she double majored for her undergraduate studies in social worker and human development emphasizing on children, families, and cultures.
Outside of private practice, Ms. Oriani worked as a clinical therapist at a non-profit agency and as a behavioral health specialist on an integrative team at a health care center. She has provided clinical supervision to social work students and other professionals. Christine has experience treating children, adolescents, and adults with diverse backgrounds and ranges of concerns.
The biggest lesson Christine has learned from her patients is that gentleness with oneself is the gateway to healing. Christine is a daughter, wife, mama, bereaved mom, and fur-mom. She has two daughters that walk this Earth and an angel daughter who flies.
She lives in Washingtonville, New York with her husband, two daughters, dog, Olive and three cats, Tulip, Pumpkin, and Ivy. Christine enjoys walking, drinking coffee, enjoying the beauty of nature and spending time with her family.
Julie Schwartz, LCSW
Ms. Schwartz states, “I feel forever humbled to be sitting on the other side of each and every one of my clients. My clients are a constant reminder of the power of change as well as the resiliency and courage we all possess inside of ourselves. I am so grateful to be a part of this work.”
Ms. Schwartz has more than 10 years of experience treating individuals, couples and families in community-based social work, and in clinical and educational settings. Julie has treated patients presenting a wide range of diagnoses and concerns, including psychotherapy, foster care, homelessness, 9/11-related trauma, and behavior management.
Julie’s treatment methods are multifaceted. She regularly utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy as well as Family Systems Approach. Ms. Schwartz also incorporates primary Buddhist beliefs into her therapy with certain patients to help manage anger and overall emotion regulation.
Prior to Embrace Therapy, Ms. Schwartz served as a School Counselor at the Hawthorne County Day School, where she provided counseling services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She also practiced for 5 years at the Henry Street Settlement Neighborhood Resource Center in New York City. While at Henry Street, Julie provided short- and long-term counseling to economically disadvantaged adults residing in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, with specialties in assisting immigrant populations and individuals impacted by 9/11.
Ms. Schwartz received her MSW at Adelphi University, and her B.S. in Human Services at the University of Hartford. She also completed post-graduate training at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, where she treated couples and families.
Ms. Schwartz resides in Irvington, New York, with her husband and two children. She is an avid runner and tennis player, and also enjoys Pilates, live music, and outdoor activities.
Edna Shanks Muhammad, LCSW
Ms. Shanks Muhammad encourages others to “Live as though life was created for you”. This quote by Maya Angelou reverberates in her personal life as well as a perspective in therapy for her clients to continue to persevere despite opposition.
Edna has worked for over 17 years in health-related and behavioral health care settings providing direct and indirect therapeutic services, crisis intervention, collaborative care, case management, and advocacy support to individuals, families and the community. She has been providing clinical assessments and intervention services across the age span from young children to the geriatric population.
She has addressed the following clinical issues: Anxiety, Depression, Self Esteem, Personal Development, Trauma, Grief/Loss, Interpersonal Relationships, Coping Skills, Life Transitions, Women’s Issues, Family Conflict and Managing with Chronic Medical Conditions. The therapeutic modalities she uses in treatment are Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), Cognitive Behavioral, Solution-Focused, and Motivational Interviewing.
Ms. Muhammad graduated with a Master’s in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her clinical training during her program included working with traumatized youth in adoption/foster care and with geriatric population with health and transition challenges.
Edna completed a postgraduate certificate program in Mental Health and Aging at Adelphi University. She is also a Resolve Through Sharing Coordinator/Trainer (death/grief/loss process). Edna has developed clinical supervision programs for staff and student interns. She has been a guest lecturer and instructor at various venues with topics that have included: discharge planning/care transitions, creative learning, self-esteem and managing conflict; case management and technology; and advanced care planning.
Edna believes that a therapeutic space should be a confidential, safe, collaborative and non-judgmental place for connection and healing. In therapy, we will work to identify your issues, establish goals and determine the most effective solutions.
Together, we will work to bring out your best self by capitalizing your strengths, developing a better understanding of yourself and overcoming your difficulties.
All emotions are welcome in the room! Ms. Muhammad states: “My patients have taught me that everyone has strengths. Struggles can occur when you least expect it and we all deserve self-care.”
FaLisia Cotten, LCSW
Ms. Cotten reveals, “I often display a supportive therapy base and finds that this is an effective professional approach which blends her honest and loving style of helping clients to recognize the importance of living in their present best life.”
FaLisia is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker practicing in the Campbell Hall office of Embrace Therapy. She received her Master’s of Social Work from Fordham University. and has most recently completed a post-graduate certificate in Mental Health and the Aging Population from Adelphi University. With 30 years of experience, she has experienced many rewarding client interactions. She has found herself drawn mostly to the geriatric population finding that they are often forgotten. She has spent a significant amount of her professional career in an administrative program development role and has had the pleasure of impacting social change for various populations.
Ms. Cotten is well versed in multiple other areas from substance abuse to relationship/marital counseling and a myriad of other life adaptations of the worried well. Her vast knowledge base allows her to feel most comfortable with Interpersonal Psychotherapy and Motivational Interviewing modalities.
She also holds an Integrated Nutrition Health Coach certificate from INN. She believes that because we are the sum of all our parts, what we put into our bodies affects us not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well. In having this diversity in her education tract she helps with the continual evaluation of her clients and helps them on their authentic journey to total wellness.
Ms. Cotten has learned so much from her clients and these lessons have allowed her to continue to show up with her best self for them and their own individual journey. Together we will make the world a stronger place to live in. In her own personal life and in the process of therapy, the following quotes are weaved through the message of hope for betterment. “Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing in it.”- Jesse Owens and “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” — Frederick Douglass
Shakirra McKinley, MS, MHC-LP
Self-compassion is the ability to turn understanding, acceptance, and love inward. In Ms. McKinley’s practice as a clinician, she often finds that clients can extend compassion towards others but find it challenging to extend the same compassion towards themselves.
“In our culture, women are raised and conditioned to place their needs and wants last in their own lives. While we are nurturing women by nature, it is equally as important to nurture ourselves free from guilt.”
Shakirra is a NYS Certified school counselor and mental health counselor. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Mercy College and recently obtained an advanced certificate in mental health counseling from Alfred University. She is a full-time school counselor in Westchester County and continues, through Embrace Therapy, her efforts to heal hearts and minds as a mental health counselor.
Ms. McKinley supports her clients in developing their understanding of self-care, self-worth, and value. She believes that our ability to love others is dependent on our ability to love ourselves. Shakirra strives to provide a supportive, empathic and safe space for her clients, using treatment approaches which include Psychodynamic Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Humanistic Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Positive Psychotherapy.
Throughout her clinical practice, forming a therapeutic alliance and experiencing various emotions along with her clients have been an invaluable lesson to Shakirra. Whether clients are in-person or on a virtual platform, they have taught her the importance of echoing empathy, support, and validation.
A favorite quote by sound healer Jaymie Gerard states: “loving yourself is healing the world”. Shakirra adds, “I couldn’t agree more with this quote, our ability to love and heal others depends on our ability to love and heal ourselves. We can only be the best version of ourselves when we intentionally and unapologetically give ourselves the same care we so easily give to others.”
Shakirra is dedicated to supporting her clients through their self-actualization process. We are a gift to ourselves and those around us and that gift requires the highest level of care and compassion.
Breanna Catucci, MHC-LP
Ms. Catucci states that Virginia Satir’s definition of the role of a therapist guides her practice. Satir once said, “As a therapist, I am a companion. I try to help people tune into their own wisdom”. My goal as a therapist is to create a safe space so I can provide support to my clients so that they may find their inner wisdom.
Breanna graduated from Mercy College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is currently a master’s level student studying Mental Health Counseling at New York University. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Mercy College, Breanna worked in a school setting where she supported children, adolescents, and young adults enrolled in a therapeutic treatment program.
Breanna takes an integrative approach to therapy. She frequently utilizes techniques from a variety of different therapeutic approaches including cognitive-behavioral and narrative therapies. Breanna is also fond of integrating mindfulness-based techniques into her work with clients.
The greatest lesson Breanna has learned from her clients is that individuals are incredibly resilient and capable of growth.
Breanna is certified in nonviolent crisis intervention and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI).
Veronica Vega, LMSW, RYT
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Dr. Maya Angelou
The tenets of Ms. Vega’s practice embrace the above quote. The impact of how one feels while sharing the space with her clients is of utmost importance. Veronica is intentional in providing a therapeutic environment full of warmth, empathy, and authenticity.
Ms. Vega graduated from Long Island University with a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Since graduating she has gained a wide range of professional development skills to support her therapy style. Her primary therapeutic orientations include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Solution Focused Therapy, Grief, and Trauma-Informed Therapy. She has over fifteen years of experience supporting diverse populations across the lifespan in a variety of Mental Health settings. Her specialized areas of interest are: Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Perinatal, Maternal, and Postpartum Support, Anxiety, Women’s Mental Wellness, and Eating Disorders. Ms. Vega’s experience and passion allow her to honor and share a holistic space when supporting her clients towards meaningful recovery.
She has additional training as a School Mental Health Consultant, Trauma-informed Therapist, Yoga Teacher, Meditation Facilitator, and Postpartum Doula. She is currently on track towards completing her Perinatal Mental Health credential with Postpartum Support International.
Alongside the therapeutic process and watching the experiences her clients have allowed Ms. Vega to learn that with effort, time, and support, healing IS possible.
Carol Majewski, MHC-LP
“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.”-Thich Nhat Hanh.
Ms. Majewski believes that we are all a work in progress and there is always more to learn about ourselves in each moment on our road of life. She is honored to sit across from her clients and become a part of their journey.
Ms. Majewski earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from St. Francis College and her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from SUNY New Paltz, with a focus on Lifespan Development and Disaster Mental Health. She has received certificates in Attachment Theory and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.
Her clinical experience working with adults, adolescents, children, and families in various settings has given Carol the skills to adjust to the many challenges that clients present within the therapeutic space. She spent several years in a school setting, primarily with children in the Special Education Program, where she worked with students who struggled with impulse control, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders. Ms. Majewski has spent time in Early Education, where she developed classroom behavioral support plans while also seeing children outside of the classroom for individual and group therapy. Likewise, she trained individuals in parenting skills workshops, where she instructed adults in positive, emotionally aware, and developmentally appropriate parenting techniques throughout childhood.
Most recently, Carol had the opportunity to work in an intensive, home-based adolescent and family program for youth identified as at risk of placement outside the home. During this time, Carol provided individual and family counseling, as well as virtual DBT groups for adolescents and parents.
Ms. Majewski uses an eclectic approach with clients, grounded in Attachment Theory, incorporating aspects of CBT, Mindfulness, and concrete DBT coping techniques. Carol encourages adult clients to acknowledge and explore their emotions, seek those things that align with their values, and practice healthy self-care. While working with children and adolescents, she enjoys integrating art, crafts, music, games, and storytelling which allow a safe space to release difficult emotions. Her passion to work with adolescents and children are highlighted throughout her career. The young in “age” and the young at “heart” have taught her that growth is available at any stage in life. Only one’s willingness is the first step.
Rachel Prager, LMSW, CASAC-2
“You do not need to seek freedom in a different land, for it exists within your own body, heart, mind, and soul.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
Ms. Prager believes that regardless of the challenges, we all have the ability to transform our struggle into purpose, our grief into meaning, and our vulnerability into connection. She considers it her privilege to assist clients in achieving their own personal transformations. Her warmth and genuine love of people is evident from the first meeting. She views everyone as a unique individual and creates a safe space for clients to express themselves freely.
Rachel Prager is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and graduated from CUNY Hunter College. She also graduated from Exponents and completed her training to receive her Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor, Level 2 (CASAC-2). Her expertise in treating clients with substance use and mental health issues including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and stress and trauma disorders. She also specializes in treating domestic violence/intimate partner violence issues.
Ms. Prager applies a person-centered approach to therapy. She frequently uses empathetic listening, humor, and metaphor to build rapport and strengthen the therapeutic connection. She offers psychoeducation and consistently provides trauma-informed care. She skillfully practices Psychodynamic Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Motivational Interviewing (MI). She was also trained to facilitate a therapy group for trauma survivors called Seeking Safety. Rachel has learned many valuable lessons from her clients. Most importantly, she learned what it means to show up for someone.
Rachel laughs when she admits that her mother was right… “You’ll never know unless you try.”
Tiffany Catalano LMSW, CASAC-T, CGCS
“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” – Bessel Van der Kolk
Ms. Catalano states, “It is my experience that my clients know themselves best. They know what hurts, what direction to go, what problems are crucial, and what experiences have been deeply buried.”
Tiffany completed her Master’s degree in Social Work at Fordham University, where she graduated with high honors. Her desire for learning has led her to complete additional training and specialization to be a highly effective clinician in the therapeutic space. She completed post-graduate training through PESI, and is a Certified Grief Counseling Specialist, as well as a Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor. She is also certified in de-escalation techniques such as: Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and Preventing and Managing Crisis Situations (PMCS).
Her clinical experience includes working with the geriatric population, as well as adults with substance use disorders in an outpatient setting. She comes to Embrace Therapy with vast experience in both inpatient and outpatient settings, having worked through with a myriad of diagnoses in mixed population groups.
Ms. Catalano is a trauma-informed clinician, who works diligently on providing a safe environment where clients can begin to heal and feel heard. She specializes in working with trauma, grief and loss, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders. She recently completed a Psycho-oncology training hosted by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, which focused on Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy for patients with advanced cancer.
Tiffany believes that interventions are not a one-size-fits-all, and each treatment must be tailored to the needs of the patient. She often incorporates Trauma-Informed Models, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Art Therapy, Psychodynamic Theory, Motivational Interviewing, and Exposure Therapy. Tiffany brings a unique perspective to the healing process, often utilizing art as a means of expressive communication. When feelings are too difficult to put into words, art can often find a way into the room and allow us to release a part of ourselves that has been yearning to be discovered.
Tiffany’s welcoming and compassionate nature allows her to be able to hold space for her patients, as well as help them navigate through the healing process. One of the most invaluable lessons that she has learned is that individuals have a vast capacity for courage, love, and forgiveness. She has learned many lessons from her clients, which have aided her in being the best therapist that she can be.
Melitza Sandoz, A.A.S.
Ms. Sandoz is an integral part of Embrace Therapy in her role as Medical Biller. Melitza has obtained an associate degree in Applied Science at Hostos Community College, Bronx, NY. She has been a medical biller for the past 6 years working in the same capacity and later assumed the role as office manager for MB pediatrics.
Her interest in working at Embrace Therapy was due to the commitment and perspective on therapy. In addition, she states, “I liked the specialties that help women in different stages in their lives and the fact that there is help for all other family members as well. The therapists can work with kids, adolescents and fathers too.”
Melitza believes that the teamwork atmosphere and mutual respect for one another is a cornerstone of the practice. Despite the challenges of the ever-changing Electronic Medical Record programs, collecting payments and dealing with the insurances, Melitza is exceptional at completing the tasks that are placed before her and is a troubleshooter of the unexpected.
Her role is almost fluid and she has worn many hats in order to allow the clinicians to be as effective as they can be. She embodies what a true team player is!
Sarah Engelskirchen-Bugler, MA, LMHC
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Dr. Maya Angelou
Sarah Engelskirchen-Bugler is a mental health therapist, writer, and educator. As Embrace Therapy’s blog writer and social media content creator, she enjoys bringing together her two greatest passions in life – mental health and writing. Sarah hopes that her content will not only help to end stigma regarding mental health treatment but also that those who read her work will feel seen and gain valuable information about how to better care for themselves and their communities.
In both her professional life and personal life, she aims to live by the esteemed Dr. Maya Angelou’s quote, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”