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Meet the Renewed Hope Family Services Team

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Jackie Benowitz

M.S.

Adults 16+, Couples

Jackie Benowitz is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She comes to Renewed Hope Family Services with a specialty in working with LGBTQI+ clients and with all client populations who present with symptoms of depression, anxiety, mood disorders, anger management, and trauma related issues. She meets with couples, families, and individuals ages 16 and older.

Jackie is a therapist who respects everyone’s journey and guides her clients and stands by their side when they need support to get through life’s challenges. She believes that each person possesses the knowledge within to identify their own path towards happiness. Jackie is dedicated to all of her clients, both long-standing and new, and deeply values the opportunity to join her clients on their journey towards achieving their personal goals.

Licensed Professional Counselor

Darren Blaze

M.A.

Children 5+, Adults, Couples

Darren Blase is a professional counselor who resides in Bucks County. Darren graduated from La Salle University’s graduate program in Counseling and Family Therapy. Previous to working at Renewed Hope Family Services, he gained experience at local agencies such as Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) and Penndel Mental Health. Darren enjoys working with children, adolescents, teens, individual adults and couples of all genders, cultures, religions, and lifestyles.

When working with young children, Darren prefers to engage them in their natural language; play. He seeks to utilize children’s natural creativity and energy by designing collaborative and structured therapeutic play activities. Children can have fun, but also learn to identify their thoughts and feelings as well as practice coping techniques to help them gain greater self-control. By using a child-friendly and collaborative approach, children gain insight about themselves while feeling like they have input into treatment and that what they say matters. When working with adolescents, Darren aims to use their recent intellectual growth as a strength in the therapeutic process while also seeking to keep them engaged in order to hold their interest.

Regardless of the age of the child, parents and caretakers are an important ally in treatment. Caretakers have insight into their children that no one else has. Darren wants everyone to work together (therapist, child, caretakers) to offer support and facilitate growth in a young person’s life. Darren works with caretakers to best understand the child’s developmental level and work to address such problems as Depression, School Performance, Self-Image, ADHD, Challenging Peer Relationships, Academic Success, Parenting Strategies, Anger Outbursts, Coping, Anxiety, Bullying, Trauma & other developmental concerns as they arise.

When working with teens and adults, Darren prefers to blend evidence-based techniques and a client-centered, supportive approach to ensure appropriate treatment but also making sure clients feel heard and understood. He works with his clients to customize treatment plans to best suit each individual’s unique identity and needs. With proper support and opportunities to explore their challenges, clients can find the strength to overcome their challenges and reach their potential. Darren frequently works with adults to overcome challenges with Trauma, Child rearing, Job Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Self-discovery, Low Self-Esteem and a variety of other presenting concerns.
When working with couples, Darren aims to take a supportive and non-judgmental approach, encouraging all present to share their experience in the relationship. He seeks to facilitate communication that often does not occur during conflict and help clients put a voice to the feelings they may have. Rather than placing blame, he looks to identify and help change the patterns or cycles of behavior that cause pain by helping people feel closer to each other and hear the concerns, feelings and hopes that are so often lost when feeling resentment, detachment, or anger.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Anna Crooks

MFT

Children 6+, Adults, Families, Couples

Anna grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and went to the University of Arizona for her undergraduate education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Retail and Consumer Sciences. After 5 years in the corporate world, she realized her true passion was helping other people. She made the choice to go back to school and change her career. Anna received her Master’s from Drexel University in Couple’s and Family Therapy. She has found what she was meant to do, and is thriving as a therapist.

Anna works with clients of all ages and has experience working with trauma, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, LGBTQ adolescents, grief, and illness. She takes a systemic approach to therapy and looks into multi-generational patterns within families. Anna is emotion focused and works to uncover the deeper emotions of her clients. Anna works with individuals, families and couples. She creates a safe space and gets to know each client for who they are without passing judgement.

Pscyhologist

Dr. Sanjay Deendyal

Psy.D.

Adults 16+

Sanjay (“Jay” for short) is a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) who grew up in Yardley and currently resides in Bucks County. He received his doctorate from Holy Family University (HFU), where a large emphasis was placed on integrating multicultural-feminist-social justice frameworks in his clinical work.

Jay obtained a B.S. in General Science from Penn State and a M.A. in Professional Clinical Counseling from La Salle University. This background in the sciences informs his work as he enjoys the scientific method of approaching problems analytically and in an evidence-based manner. Jay completed his pre-doctoral internship at Foundations Behavioral Health, where he worked as a therapist in a residential facility serving adolescents and young adults with developmental disabilities.

In his work with clients, Jay employs a Solutions-Focused approach. As such, he explores clients’ experiences to uncover their answers for their problems. He enjoys working collaboratively with clients and examining where they have previously experienced prior success and possess strengths that will lead to solving their current problems. Jay also incorporates motivational interviewing strategies as he invokes his client’s internal motivation for change. He focuses on the mind-body connection and incorporates the use of physical movement, mindfulness, meditative techniques, and has conversations with clients about sleep hygiene and nutrition.

Jay has extensive experience working in substance abuse treatment at various levels of care and enjoyed purveying this knowledge and experience as an adjunct professor in HFU’s Master’s program. Jay works with clients of all ages and has experience working with adolescents, emerging adults/adults, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, and with individuals experiencing relationship difficulties.

Therapist

Dr. Melissa Genn

PSYD

Ages 5+, couples, individuals

Dr. Melissa Genn is a doctor of psychology (PsyD). She earned her doctorate and master degrees in counseling psychology from Holy Family University. She is a licensed Behavior Specialist in Pennsylvania and certified in Functional Behavior Assessment.

Dr. Genn is a cognitive behavioral therapist who helps clients change their unhelpful thoughts and behaviors to more helpful ones thus improving mood. She has conducted psychological assessments and provided therapy to children, adolescents, and adults with autism, depression, anxiety, selective mutism, trauma, ADHD, and substance use disorders. Dr. Genn has supervised clinicians who provided community-based services for children and adolescents. Additionally, Dr, Genn has taught several undergraduate psychology courses. Her research interests include understanding the impact of nonattachment (such as letting go of thoughts, feelings, and experiences) on mental and physical health in adults.

Therapist

Alexandria Kazandjian

Masters

Children 6+, Teens, Adults

Alexandria Kazandjian is a graduate-level intern from Delaware Valley University pursuing their Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Though they are still developing their clinical niche, Alexandria’s current clinical interests include working with non-majority communities, namely the LGBTQ+ community. Alexandria works with clients of all ages and is interested in exploring work with families and couples. A believer in the interplay between the person and their environment, Alexandria believes the client must be considered within their sociopolitical and familial systems. They acknowledge the uniqueness of all clients and understand that behavior and belief stem largely from the cultures in which clients are involved. Alexandria puts a feminist and multicultural spin on Adlerian and Structural Family therapy techniques to center client beliefs about the self within their social context. They believe therapy should be a collaborative process, and thus they encourage and model communication between the therapist and client. Alexandria believes all clients are capable of growth and is eager to support clients on their journeys.

Alexandria has experience working with children and adults with ADHD, anxiety, and depression. They have also worked with members of the LGBTQ+ community across the lifespan. They are on the Social Justice track within their program and have a passion for advocacy and education. Before pursuing counseling, Alexandria received an Honors B.A. in History at Temple University, where their primary explorations included examining gender and queerness through a historical lens. They have interned in the research and curatorial departments of the Franklin Institute and the Michener Art Museum as well as worked at the Mercer Museum as a historical educator and guide.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Kathleen Nash

Masters in Family Therapy

Children 6+, Adults, Couples

Kathleen Nash is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who received a Master of Family Therapy from Drexel University. Before becoming a therapist, she earned a Master’s of Science in Education from Bloomsburg University. Kathleen worked for many years in the field of special education, becoming expert an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). As a Contextual Family Therapist, her clinical approach centers on healing individuals’ pain by emphasizing fairness, through the consideration of relational ethics. This approach to therapy enhances trust, accountability and loyalty within her clients’ relationships. She primarily works with children, couples, teens/college students, and their families. Kathleen works with a variety of presenting issues including, but not limited to: trauma/PTSD, grief and loss, learning disabilities, medical family therapy and families of youth with ASD.

As an lifelong learner and educator, Kathleen also presents seminars regionally and nationally focused on strengthen relationships between parents, siblings, the extended families of children with ASD. She also has extensive experience as an adjunct professor in the Couple and Family Therapy program at Drexel University, in psychology at Montgomery County Community College and is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor.

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

Mira Patel

MS

Individuals and Families age 14+

From a young age, Mira Patel has always believed in the transformative power of therapy. She was drawn to helping others navigate life's challenges and find their path to healing. Through dedication and hard work, Mira became a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), ready to guide others towards a greater well-being.

After many years of experience, Mira has developed a deep understanding of the human psyche and a passion for providing personalized, compassionate therapy. She has seen firsthand the impact that anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship issues could have on individuals and families. But she has also witnessed the resilience of the human spirit and the profound transformations that could occur with the right support and guidance.

Mira's approach to therapy is rooted in collaboration and empowerment. She believes in working alongside her clients, tailoring each session to their unique needs and goals. Whether through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), art therapy, or mindfulness-based techniques, Mira is committed to providing her clients with the tools and support they need to overcome obstacles and build healthier coping strategies.

Mira's dedication goes beyond just providing therapy. She firmly believes in creating an environment of diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance. She wants her clients to feel welcomed, respected, and understood, regardless of their background or circumstances. For Mira, therapy is not just about treating symptoms but about fostering insight, growth, and positive change for the future.

Business Manager

Nicholas Pinto

BS, MS

Nicholas Pinto is a highly skilled professional with a diverse background in both Information Technology (IT) and Finance. He holds degrees from both Drexel University and LaSalle University, where he honed his expertise in these fields.

With a strong passion for helping others, Nicholas has dedicated his career to providing exceptional service and support. Currently, he serves as a key member of the team at Renewed Hope Family Services, where he assists individuals with a wide range of needs, including billing and insurance questions. Nicholas's extensive knowledge and experience allow him to navigate complex billing and insurance processes with ease, ensuring that individuals receive the assistance they require.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Heather Pinto

Psy.D.

Children, Adults, Couples

Dr. Heather. Pinto is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She earned her Doctorate of Psychology (Psy.D.) with a clinical focus on working with families from Chestnut Hill College. She earned her Master’s in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in working with children and adolescents also from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA.

Dr. Pinto completed her Doctoral Internship with Northeast Treatment Centers in Philadelphia, PA. She completed her Post-Doctoral Internship at Penndel Mental Health Center in Bucks County, PA. Additionally, Dr. Pinto was selected to participate in an Extermship with the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her work has also included providing and developing training for the clinical staff of several mental health agencies. Training topics have included using play therapy with children diagnosed with ADHD, parenting workshops, working with children with difficult and intense behavioral concerns and DIR style interventions for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Dr. Pinto has over 20 years of clinical experience working with individuals and families to addressing concerns ranging from anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Disorder, divorce trauma and loss. When an individual feels disconnected from their family and/or community, feelings of worry, sadness and/or social awkwardness tend to surface. These feelings can also arise when individual or family experiences multiple transitions brought about by job loss, grief, adoption, a traumatic event, social difficulties and/or school difficulties.

Dr. Pinto considers engaging families and developing connections in relationships to be at the center of her work. She works to identify the client’s/family’s strengths, to build a developmental understanding of the child/family’s problem solving strategies and to help all those involved identify new and innovative strategies for change to achieve the desired change.

LMFT

Geraldine Plaisir

Master of Family Therapy

Children 8+, Adults, Couples

Geraldine is a licensed clinician (LMFT) who treats individuals, couples, and families across the lifespan. Currently, Geraldine is also a PhD MFT candidate at National University and attained a Master's of Family Therapy degree from Drexel University.

She is experienced in treating individuals with intricate trauma(s), a range of mental health illnesses and interpersonal relational issues within the context of intimate partners, friendships, and family systems. Clinical treatment may also involve targeting/reducing symptoms of common mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, grief/loss, and substance abuse. Clinical work aside, Geraldine also enjoys teaching as an adjunct professor at Montgomery County Community College.

As a first-generation Haitian American, Geraldine is most passionate about facilitating the empowerment, advocacy and wellness of Black and Caribbean men and women. Similarly, Geraldine aims to dedicate her clinical research to advocating for Black and Caribbean mothers who struggle with maternal depression.

Administrative Assistant

Valerie Spiecker

B.S.

Valerie joined the Renewed Hope Family Services team in 2018. She holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology from West Chester University and is passionate about the field of mental health and the betterment of one's life and relationships. She strives to connect each potential client with an appropriate therapist who will meet both their clinical and interpersonal needs. Call (215) 579-2180 any time to speak with her or leave a message - she returns all voicemails!

Licensed Professional Counselor

Edythe Turner

M.S.

Adults, Couples

Edythe (Ebby) L. Turner, MA, NCC, LPC earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey). She was a graduate assistant in the Psychology Department and earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling from The College of New Jersey and graduated magna cum laude. Ebby is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), License Number PC000786, and she provides supervision for other clinicians working toward licensure. She is a member of the American Counseling Association.

Ebby has extensive experience in community mental health and private practice working with adults struggling with a range of issues including, but not limited to, trauma, depression, mood fluctuations, anxiety, anger, grief, relationship issues, and substance abuse. As you strive to achieve emotional well being and balance in life, her approach in counseling is collaborative, client focused and cognitive-behavioral based.

MFT license eligible

Elizabeth Waholek

MA, LBSC

Children 3+, Adolescents, Parents, Adults, Couples, and Families

A lifelong resident of Berks County, PA, Elizabeth earned her undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in criminal justice from Temple University in 2012, where she also studied abroad in Leipzig, Germany and Dublin, Ireland to experience cultural diversity. She then went on to obtain her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, in 2016. There she learned about the intricacies of depth psychology and how to reach into the heart of a person’s early trauma to heal their soul. She is now prepared to take the examination for licensure to become a fully licensed marriage and family therapist.

Currently licensed as a behavior specialist consultant (LBSC), Elizabeth continues to work with children with autism and other behavioral disorders and their families. Capitalizing on strategies such as sand tray and child-centered play therapy, she is able to engage successfully with children as young as three to promote positive improvement in behavior and teach parents strategies to use at home. Also a parent of a child with autism, Elizabeth practices at home with her own youngster what she shows others at work.

Elizabeth has expanded her clientele to include adolescents, adults, and couples as well as young children and their parents. She believes she has the knack and understanding to work with a variety of individuals to assist them in achieving their treatment goals.

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