nICKY PALMER, B.A, m.S

Nicky Palmer received her B.A (with honors) degree in Psychosocial Studies from the University of East London in the United Kingdom in 1996. She went on to secure a position as an Assistant Program Coordinator at the National Autistic Society in London, which enabled her to focus on ASD early on in her career. During her time at the NAS, Nicky examined the effects autism had on individuals and their families. She focused on developmental treatments to understand this complicated disorder, which has enabled her to support families to grow. Within the last ten years she has worked in California as a family consultant to provide treatment options and direct support to them. Nicky has also supported families in crisis, trained staff and provided professional consultation at various social service agencies. She has been employed at UCLA and FACT, supporting people to enhance their social emotional development.

In 2003, Nicky received her Masters Degree in Marital Family Therapy. She pursued her clinical training at Children’s Institute International to focus on mental health. Broadening her expertise enabled her to examine and treat mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. While obtaining her clinical training, she worked as a supervisor and MFT Intern for a private disability agency. Nicky is a Licensed Marital Family Therapist in the state of California.

MONIQUE LEWIS B.S, PH.D

Monique E. Lewis was born in southern California where she currently resides. She received her Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from the department of Counseling and Family Sciences at Loma Linda University in 2014. She received her Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2004 from LLU. She received her License in 2012. Monique completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine, with a minor in Cognitive Science, where she was a McNair Scholar. Monique has combined her interest in therapy with her love of dance by pursing supplemental educational courses in Alternative Training in Dance and Movement Therapy at Loyola Marymount in 2008. These efforts have resulted in the creation of Motivation through Movement, a movement program started by Monique that uses dance as a therapeutic means to inspire young minority children.Her academic presentations span issues of cultural diversity, notions of gender within couple relationships, and familial well-being. Her publications include a co-authored article and a book chapter, Gendered Power in Cultural Contexts: Part II. African American Couples in Family Relations and Pulling Together: African American Couples Manage Social Inequalities in Couples, Gender, and Power: Creating Change in Intimate Relationships. Her current professional work focuses on families with a person diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and how they can utilize support services and parent consultation. Specifically, she aims is to improve the quality of life of minorities and other underprivileged groups directly impacted by ASD.

Monique’s current training, research interest and career goal can serve to assist minority and underserved families, impacted by ASD in identifying and acquiring support services. She considers that as Marriage and Family Therapy focuses on the systemic implications of mental health conditions, that the field is ideally suited to provide culturally competent quality of care for minority and underprivileged families impacted by ASD. Monique hopes that her efforts can serve as a model for how marriage and family therapists can best address the needs of the minority and underprivileged families and their autistic children. Her experience and studies have demonstrated that minority and underprivileged children with ASD and their families have unique needs and challenges, such as substance abuse, depression and anxiety that require specialized attention from the mental health community. In particular, this group has limited access to effective treatment and quality services. Monique believes that specialized attention is therefore needed to remedy the disparities that continue to plague minority and underprivileged families dealing with ASD.

MARLENE ELIZALDE, PH.D

Dr. Elizalde is a licensed Marital Family Therapist.

She received her B.A. from San Jose State University with a double-major in Behavioral Science and Sociology and minor in Psychology. Marlene received the Dean’s Scholar honors two consecutive years, and graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors. After a year working with children as an after-school teacher, she returned to school and earned her M.A. from Alliant International University in Marital and Family Therapy. Marlene is continuing her education in Alliant’s Doctor of Psychology program for Couple and Family Therapy. Marlene is also teaching therapy techniques labs for the Couple and Family Therapy master’s program at Alliant.

Her clinical interests include families affected by Autism, parent/child relationships, adolescents, and transition-age youth in residential treatment. Her research interests include child/adolescent stress factors, parent-child relationships, and the impact of Autism on different relationships in a family. She is especially interested in the relationship between the parent and child-sibling of the child with autism.

Marlene has experience working with children and their families in various capacities. Her clinical experience includes delivering behavior therapy, based on Applied Behavior Analysis, services to children with Autism for 4 years and providing psychotherapy services to middle school students and their families.

Her future professional endeavors include continuing to work with individuals with Autism and their families, incorporating behavior therapy and also supporting the socio-emotional development of the individual. She would also like to become a clinical supervisor, as well as teach at the graduate level.

TONY ROJAS, M.A LCSW

Tony Rojas has been supporting individuals with developmental disabilities and their families since the year 2000. When serving individuals, he takes a strength-based approach, specializing in supporting individuals on the Autism Spectrum. While obtaining his undergraduate degree in Psychology from UC Riverside he provided direct care for adults within a supported living environment.

There he focused on developing people’s independence, self-esteem and community integration. Upon his graduation he transitioned into providing behavioral/communication support and parent training for individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

He soon became the Program Director of private agency, supervising and training staff members in an eclectic approach encompassing developmental, behavioral and environmental theoretical approaches. In 2007 he returned to school attending California State University of Long Beach to obtain his Master’s Degree in Social Work.

He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker provides individual, couples and family counseling for individuals with co-occurring developmental disabilities and mental health diagnosis. In addition to the direct support he has experience coordinating with school districts, regional centers and other support systems.

Veronica Choi, M.S LMFT

I am a Spanish-speaking licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in treating children and adults on the autism spectrum and their families. I also have experience working with those who have been impacted by trauma. I believe that therapy is a process of working together to explore that which might lead to greater healing and satisfaction in your life.

I completed my graduate practicum at an adult substance abuse rehabilitation program where I saw individuals and couples and led women's support groups and an anger management class. After finishing my M.S. I went on to work at an agency that focused on DIR (Floor Time), a social-emotional therapy for children with Autism where I rose to a supervisor position and had the opportunity to work with many Spanish-speaking families of children with Autism. It was there I also received training in and was able to utilize behavioral strategies with the children and families that I served. Later I worked at a nonprofit counseling children with depression, anxiety, and trauma and with children in the foster care system. My training in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been a valuable tool in helping clients to become "unstuck" from their trauma. 

Alexia Kutzner,

M.F.A, M.A, LMFT, ATR-BC

Alexia Kutzner received her first Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from California State University Long Beach in 2001.  She received her second Master’s Degree in Marital and Family Therapy from Loyola Marymount University with an emphasis in art therapy.  Since 2011, she has worked with teenagers and adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Her passion is to combine art therapy and behavior therapy in her work with clients.  She continues to be an art therapy supervisor in private practice and at Loyola Marymount University.  She has extensive experience working with substance abuse and eating disorders. She also has experience providing couples therapy and working with clients with anxiety and depression.  

Alexia received her board certification in art therapy in 2017.  She currently is working on her doctorate degree in art therapy from Mount Mary University in Wisconsin to further research the benefits of art therapy with ASD clients.  

PHILOSOPHY

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Consultancy supports families, inspires hope and helps your children reach their dreams. We do it through dedication, commitment and a belief that we can help make a difference in the lives of your children. The work we do with your family is influenced by developmental psychology. Understanding typical childhood development is an essential key to unlocking the mystery of ASD. We analyze the disruptions and problems that occur within your child's development. By having an understanding of where your child's development is halted and how this occurs enables our consultants to focus on assisting your child to build relationships and eventually join the path of typical development.

Concerns such as delayed speech, poor eating habits, trouble sleeping, toileting, poor impulse control and other dangerous behaviors can send your family into crisis. Your child is likely to have impaired interactions within their relationships, which can mean a hug, kiss and an "I love you" is so very difficult for them. The lack of connections and friendships can cause isolation, distress and confusion for all of you. We will work with you to address these issues and help support your child to create meaningful, long lasting relationships.

It can be challenging for families to understand and come to terms with the array of issues that having a child with autism brings. Assisting you to refocus your energies can help to reduce stress within your family and restore a sense of normality, hope and joy.

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