J. Stuart Ablon, Ph.D., is the Director of Think:Kids in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also Associate Professor and the Thomas G. Stemberg Endowed Chair in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ablon co-founded the Center for Collaborative Problem Solving where he also served as Co-Director from its inception until 2008. Dr. Ablon is co-author of Treating Explosive Kids: The Collaborative Problem Solving Approachand author of numerous articles, chapters and scientific papers on the process and outcome of psychosocial interventions. A dynamic and engaging speaker, Dr. Ablon was recently ranked #5 on the list of the world’s top rated keynote speakers in the academic arena.
Dr. Ablon’s research has been funded by, amongst others, the National Institute of Health, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the International Psychoanalytic Association, the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Institute, and the Endowment for the Advancement of Psychotherapy. Dr. Ablon received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of California at Berkeley and completed his predoctoral and postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ablon trains parents, educators, and clinicians and consults to schools and treatment programs throughout the world in the Collaborative Problem Solving approach.
Laura Benkov, Ph.D. is the Clinic Director at Think:Kids and Assistant in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Benkov is both a psychotherapist and neuropsychologist who has worked with children, adults, couples and families for the past three decades in a variety of community mental health, private practice, school and hospital settings. She is the author of Reinventing the Family: The Emerging Story of Lesbian and Gay Parents (Crown Publishers 1994) as well as numerous articles and book chapters. She has taught at the Family Institute of Cambridge and Boston University and been an instructor at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Benkov earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at City University of New York and completed her pre-doctoral internship at Children’s Hospital Boston and Judge Baker Guidance Center. Before joining Think:Kids, she was a senior/supervising psychologist at Children’s Hospital Boston, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and New England Memorial Hospital, as well as a clinician at Fenway Community Health Center, Somerville Mental Health Child Services, Tri-City Mental Health Associates and Milton Academy.
Marjorie Berkowitz, Psy.D., is a Licensed Psychologist and Clinical Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and full-time staff clinician at Think:Kids. Dr. Berkowitz has worked with many behaviorally challenging youth in diverse settings which include outpatient, inpatient, and school-based services. Dr. Berkowitz has specialized training and experience in the field of forensic psychology, including the assessment and treatment of childhood trauma and the challenges faced by families connected with the juvenile justice system.
Dr. Berkowitz earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at the George Washington University and completed her internship training at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, in Washington, D.C. She also completed postdoctoral fellowship training in the area of child maltreatment at Hackensack University Medical Center. Dr. Berkowitz completed postdoctoral coursework in both Family/Civil and Criminal Forensic Psychology at Montclair State University.
Amefika Desir is Think:Kids’ Patient Services & Training Coordinator and the first person many of our new partners and patients talk to when they find Think:Kids. As the front desk manager, she assists patients and clinicians in booking appointments, handles inquiries and information requests, and serves as a welcoming presence to all who work with us. In her other role, Amefika coordinates the full slate of New England trainings, overseeing registrations, confirmations and operations at sites across the region. Amefika joined Think:Kids in 2015 after training in the Partners Career & Workforce Development program. She was previously employed in the Campaign Department of the Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), and she is currently completing a bachelor’s degree in Communications.
Larry Epstein, Ph.D., is Director of Training and Implementation at Think:Kids, Assistant in Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Clinical Instructor in Psychology the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Epstein has extensive experience utilizing and teaching the Collaborative Problem Solving across a variety of settings including educational and clinical programs and outpatient practice. For 17 years before joining Think:Kids, Dr. Epstein worked for the Cherry Creek School District in Denver, Colorado during which time he helped develop the district’s intensive treatment program for students with significant behavioral challenges. He is also a nationally certified bullying prevention trainer and helped found the non-profit organization Creating Caring Communities.
Dr. Epstein received his Ph.D. in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver and completed his internship at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.
Daisy Gómez-Hugenberger, LSW, MA is the Outreach & Communications Manager for Think:Kids in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is responsible for developing and managing an overarching communications strategy for Think:Kids.
Prior to joining the team, Daisy directed a diverse portfolio of communication activities for the Massachusetts juvenile justice department in the Executive Office of Health & Human Services. Daisy has served as a Licensed Social Worker in the Psychosocial Oncology Division of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children’s Hospital where she assisted pediatric cancer patients and their families. At the Dana-Farber/Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center, she previously coordinated support groups and programs for adult patients who were parenting with cancer. Daisy has made it her professional commitment to help children and families through challenging moments. She is dedicated to supporting programs that are evidence-based, results-oriented, and compassionately puts the child at the focus of healthy and positive development.
Daisy earned her master’s degree in marketing management from the Extension School at Harvard University, and received a bachelor’s in sociology and public relations from the State University of New York at Geneseo.
Erin Hill, Ph.D., is a Licensed Psychologist and Clinical Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a full-time staff clinician at Think:Kids. Dr. Hill has worked with youth and families in a variety of settings including inpatient, outpatient, residential treatment, and therapeutic schools and summer camps. The primary focus of Dr. Hill’s training has been on providing evidence-based treatment to children and adolescents experiencing acute emotional distress and/or behavioral challenges.
Dr. Hill received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Suffolk University and her master’s in child development from Tufts University. Dr. Hill completed her internship training at Astor Services for Children and Families, in Rhinebeck, NY. She also completed postdoctoral fellowship training at the University of Minnesota.
Naomi Kling, MA is the Program Manager for Think:Kids in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Naomi received her BA and MA in Economics and Finance from Brandeis University. Prior to joining Think:Kids, Naomi served in a variety of other roles at Mass General including Practice Manager for the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program and Project Manager for the MGH Substance Use Disorders Strategic Initiative. Naomi has a passion for supporting innovation and quality improvement in the way we care for marginalized and vulnerable populations.
Alisha R. Pollastri, Ph.D., is Director of Research and Evaluation at Think:Kids. For the last decade, Dr. Pollastri’s research has focused on the identification of neurobiological, social, and environmental factors that contribute to disruptive behaviors, particularly in children. At Think:Kids, Dr. Pollastri is responsible for evaluating how, and for whom, Collaborative Problem Solving works best. Through the analysis of data collected in our clinic and in our partner schools and agencies, Dr. Pollastri strives to promote a clearer understanding of challenging kids and to improve child outcomes.
Dr. Pollastri earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at Clark University, and completed a clinical internship in community and school-based mental health at South Shore Mental Health Inc. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Ben Stich, LICSW, M.Ed is the Director of Certification for Think:Kids. In his role, he supports a wide range of individuals and organizations seeking to learn CPS and integrate the model within organizations. Ben facilitates coaching sessions for schools, residential facilities and community-based providers, and provides Group Supervision to those working toward certification as Think:Kids practitioners and trainers. He also supports the ongoing development of the Parent Mentor program and conducts Think:Kids trainings in the community.
Ben has extensive experience in working with young people with challenging behavior: he worked for eight years as a Program Director at Germaine Lawrence, a residential treatment program for adolescent girls, and six years as an Adjustment Counselor at a Massachusetts high school where he introduced and helped the district adopt CPS. In addition to his work at Think:Kids, Ben has a robust private Mediation and Family Services practice in Natick, MA. He earned an MSW from the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and an M.Ed in Organizational Development from Endicott College.
Jennifer Cormier is the Training and Services Coordinator for Think:Kids in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Jen earned her BA in Corporate Communications at Framingham State University. Prior to joining Think:Kids, Jen worked as a Service Coordinator in home care where she managed a team of over 100 home health aides in the Boston area. Jen has an eagerness to help others and is excited for the opportunity to work with children and their families.
Lu Wang, Ph.D., is a Research Associate at Think:Kids. Dr. Wang has worked on social cognition development in preschoolers, investigating how children understand people’s thoughts and actions, and factors that contribute to the development of children’s social skills. Dr. Wang also earned a master’s in Statistics, with a specialty in educational statistics and measurement.
At Think:Kids, Dr. Wang applies her knowledge in research design and statistical modeling to evaluate how Collaborative Problem Solving works, and to better understand factors impacting CPS treatment effects. Dr. Wang earned her doctorate in cognitive psychology and her master in Statistics at Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Before coming to the U.S. for education, Dr. Wang earned her BS from Peking University in China.
Randi Cooper, M.Ed., is a Clinical Trainer and Consultant for Think:Kids. In her role she provides coaching/consultation and training in the Collaborative Problem Solving model in a diverse range of settings and systems of care. She is passionate about supporting parents and professionals in shifting their mindset in how they view individuals with challenging behavior by viewing it through the CPS lens.
In addition to her work at Think:Kids, Randi is a Behavior Specialist and Special Educator with 16 years experience working with students who display challenging behavior. More than seven years ago, she fully implemented CPS in her self-contained behavior class with excellent results: a significant reduction in chronic challenging behavior and the development of healthy relationships with students and parents.
Randi has also worked as a Behavior Specialist and Think:Kids Certified Professional Trainer for NW Regional Education Service District in Hillsboro, OR and in a special behavior school for developmentally delayed students who lived in residential group home.
Michael Hone, MA, has worked in child and adolescent services since 1988 in a variety of settings including child welfare, youth justice, education and child and youth mental health. He began his career as a child & youth worker, then following receipt of a Masters in Education degree in 1998 became a therapist. Currently he is the Executive Director of a Children’s Mental Health Centre in Ottawa, Canada.
Michael has been committed to implementing the Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) approach across Ontario, and to date has trained approximately 8,000 people in Ontario. This includes the police, fire departments, children’s aid societies, parent organizations, other mental health organizations, and learning institutions (schools, colleges and universities). All of which are working together towards the common goal of improving outcomes for the ever increasing number of children and youth requiring mental health services. He is one of 2 Master trainers in Canada for Collaborative Problem Solving. Michael also is involved with the Advisory Council of Think:Kids at Massachusetts General Hospital
Heather Johnson, LCSW, is a Clinical Trainer and Consultant for Think:Kids. Heather provides coaching and training to various individuals and organizations seeking to learn CPS and integrate the model within their professional practice and organizations. Heather has served as a Behavior Specialist in McMinnville, OR for 10 years and through this time has developed a particular interest in service to young people with challenging behavior in the school setting. Through this role, Heather provides school-based behavior support to students, consultation and training to school staff, and coordinates with building and district administration regarding policy and practice.
Heather also has a small private practice specializing in services to children and adolescents and their families. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education and Human Development from Wheelock College in Boston, MA and her MSW from the University of New Hampshire.
Margaret Johnson, MSW, is a Think:Kids Clinical Consultant and Trainer who specializes in applying and implementing CPS in child welfare settings. A west coast native, Margaret has been working with at-risk families and children since 2000. She earned her social work degree from the University of Southern California.
Margaret is passionate about addressing the impact of social trauma on behaviors and is committed to helping marginalized communities integrate the Collaborative Problem Solving model. She has completed in-depth study and application of trauma-informed care under the tutelage of the National Council on Behavioral Health and has participated in child trauma assessment and case management training with Dr. Bruce Perry. As a writer, artist, and musician, Margaret approaches all aspects of her work and life with creative energy. She is based in Portland, OR.
Erik J. Kola, RN, QMHP is a faculty member in the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and the coordinator of the CPS Project in the State of Oregon.
Erik has been fostering the growth of CPS in the state of Oregon for more than a decade. He is a Certified Master Trainer in Collaborative Problem Solving through Think:Kids at MGH. Erik teaches, trains, consults, and coaches professionals and families in education, mental health, foster care and residential settings in the application of the CPS model. His practical scope of experience includes working in acute psychiatric inpatient programs (adult/youth), special educational settings, juvenile justice programs, community based programs, and system development projects.
Erik is a resource for answering questions about CPS in the state of Oregon, and continues to help re-think the challenges that kids and families are experiencing through promoting the foundational philosophy that all “people do well if they can.”
Ted Layman, LCSW, is a Clinical Trainer and Consultant for Think:Kids who provides trainings and coaching to a wide range of organizations seeking to learn the CPS model and integrate it into their programs.
Ted has been working with at-risk youth and families since 2002 in Ohio and Oregon in a variety of rural and urban clinical settings including juvenile justice, substance abuse, outpatient mental health, schools, violence prevention outreach, foster care, residential, home-based services, clinical supervision and private practice. He has been using the CPS approach for the past five years and was certified by Think:Kids as a CPS trainer in 2014. In addition to his work at Think:Kids, Ted works as a family therapist at Restore Therapy, LLC, a group practice in Portland, OR specializing in helping children and families heal from trauma. Ted earned his MSW from Ohio University in Athens, OH.
Beth Putz, MA, graduated with a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Pacific University in Portland, Oregon. Over the past 20 years she has worked with children and families in a variety of settings including residential, sub-acute and foster care services. Beth served as the Director of Crisis Psychiatric Services for over decade at a community non-profit before stepping into her role at Oregon University of Health and Science University.
Beth currently works as the Co-Coordinator of the CPS Oregon Project which works to promote the use of CPS across systems of care throughout the state of Oregon. Beth has trained and supported hundreds of parents, mental health providers and other professionals in learning the CPS model. In her new role as a Certified Trainer and Consultant for Think:Kids she will be expanding her reach by providing training and coaching services for Think:Kids clients across the globe.
Averi Schaubman, LCSW, BCD is a Certified Trainer and Consultant for Think:Kids. She provides intensive training and coaching support in the CPS approach to schools and community organizations committed to improving lives for kids and families.
Averi worked as a clinical social worker in Cherry Creek Schools in Denver, CO for 27 years with an emphasis on working with adolescents with behavioral challenges. During her time in Cherry Creek, she helped to develop and implement the district’s intensive treatment program for kids and adolescents with severe behavioral challenges, and she served as the program’s director for two years. Averi also helped form the Cherry Creek’s CPS team, providing behavioral consultation and staff training in the schools using the CPS approach. Currently, she has a private practice and works with youth and families to implement CPS.
Averi received her BA in Child Psychology from Clark University in Worcester, MA and her MSW from the University of Denver GSSW. She has been using CPS in her professional work for the past 13 years and is committed to the philosophy and approach in working with all youth.
Jordan Spikes is a Clinical Trainer and Consultant at Think:Kids, providing training and coaching for individuals and organizations interested in implementing CPS in their systems. He earned a BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and has worked in the mental health and special education arenas as a front-line staff, coach and administrator for more than 12 years.
With a goal of shifting mindsets away from conventional “people choosing to misbehave” to a neurobiologically-guided mindset of viewing behavioral challenges as a form of learning disorder, Jordan joins with educators, parents, and caregivers in the responsibility of teaching individuals the necessary skills to meet daily, real-world expectations.
Natasha Tatartcheff-Quesnel, MSW is a Certified Master Trainer and Consultant for Think:Kids. She provides Tier 1 and Tier 2 trainings as well as site-specific consultations in English and in French.
Natasha completed her fellowship for her Master’s in Social Work at Think:Kids in the department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is committed to implementing the Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) approach in Canada and the United States and, to date, she has trained and provided implementation support to numerous sites including police and fire departments, children’s aid societies, parent organizations, mental health agencies and learning institutions (schools, colleges and universities. These coaching and training efforts are aimed at providing compassionate care and ultimately improving outcomes for children and youth with complex needs and their families.
Natasha has worked in child and adolescent services since 1991 in a variety of settings including residential services, secure treatment, youth justice, education, substance abuse, child and youth mental health, as well as in the private sector. She has also reviewed child and youth mental health systems internationally using the SOCPR and presented on the topic at numerous conferences with a specific focus on bridging the gap between System Care concepts by utilizing CPS to actualize those concepts at the level of practice.
Whitney Vail, Psy.D., is a Clinical Trainer and Consultant for Think:Kids. Dr. Vail is a licensed psychologist in Oregon, where she has been a leader in using, teaching, supervising and implementing CPS with children, adolescents, families and adults in a variety of institutional settings including day treatment, children’s psychiatric residential care, children’s state hospital level of care, juvenile corrections (ages 12-24), and the adult psychiatric state hospital. Dr. Vail has been a Think:Kids Certified Trainer since 2011 and is a member of the Oregon CPS Advisory Board.
Dr. Vail earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Pacific University, completing her internship and residency at Trillium Family Services in Portland, Oregon. She earned her Master’s in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University.