OUR DEDICATED STAFF
We have assembled an elite team of clinicians who specialize in high levels of mental health care. Our dedicated staff of board-certified psychiatrists, and licensed counselors and social workers utilize empirically based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and a family systems approach to assist our clients in building a life worth living. Each of our clinicians embody values that center on caring and empowering people. These values are the foundation of Innerspace Counseling and they lay the path for your journey toward holistic wellness.
Ajita Shah, MA, LPC, NCC, ACS
Founder/Program Director at Innerspace Counseling, LLC
Ajita earned her master’s degree from Yeshiva University and a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University with an additional certification in behavioral pharmacology. For the past decade, Ajita has been dedicated to creating and enhancing mental health and counseling programs across New Jersey to ensure that the highest quality of care is provided for all of the populations served. As an LPC, Ajita believes that education, training, and proper supervision are key to ensuring that clients receive the highest quality of care. Her goal in opening Innerspace Counseling in 2014 was to create an environment for clients that allowed them to enhance the quality of their lives in the safest and least restrictive setting. To that end, Ajita has created a strong DBT-based curriculum for all programs. This curriculum, along with the system’s-based approach provided at Innerspace, ensures that clients are learning concrete and usable skills that can be translated into any area of a client’s life. In addition to working with clients individually, the treatment team at Innerspace also regularly and consistently involves families in treatment. This allows for change not only within the client but also within the system; thus providing a platform for true long-term success.
- Recent Awards:
- Innerspace Counseling, LLC:
- 2016, 2017, and 2020 Best of Old Bridge Award in Mental Health Counseling
- Personal Award:
- 2017 Women of Distinction Award Recipient
Hema Vyas, MD
Dr. Vyas is a double board-certified child/adolescent and adult psychiatrist with two decades of experience in the field. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team and clients from her outpatient work as well as her work in intensive outpatient and partial care programs throughout New Jersey.
She brings a holistic approach to her work with children, adolescents, and adults by combining meditation and mindfulness techniques along with medication when necessary. She approaches issues from their core and finds the best approach for each individual patient. She collaborates with Innerspace’s team of therapists and Nurse Practitioners to ensure each patient’s needs are met.
Dr. Vyas has expertise in treating Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, OCD, Mood Disorders, Behavioral Issues, and ADHD. She is a caring and empathetic provider who listens to the needs of her clients and their parents/families, guiding them toward finding long-term healing and wellness.
Ololade "Lola" Ekwere, PMHNP-BC, FNP-BC
Lola has practiced for over 12 years in various capacities in healthcare serving patients and their families. After graduating with an undergraduate degree in Nursing, Cum Laude from William Paterson University in 2009, Lola began her career as an Intensive Care Unit nurse, catering to patients and families at their most vulnerable in the hospital.
Seeking advancement in her career and expanding her breadth of knowledge, Lola returned for further education and obtained a Masters Degree in Nursing from Rutgers University - UMDNJ, graduating with honors in her chosen concentration of Family practice/Primary care.
While practicing as a primary care advanced practice nurse (APN), she observed that several of her patients needed significant mental health care as part of their overall treatment and wellness maintenance plans. This led her to pursue additional training and certification in Psychiatric and Mental Health care from Maryville University, where she also graduated with Honors.
During her career and education, Lola developed comfort in treating individuals with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, sleep disorders and other common psychiatric disorders. Because she understands the interconnectedness of mental and physical health, she works collaboratively with each patient to prioritize and meet their mental health needs. Additionally, she is empathetic, listens and practices using evidence-based guidelines in order to provide the best available care for her patients.
Courtney Stone, MA, LPC, NCC
Assistant Program Director, Licensed Professional Counselor
Courtney earned her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Caldwell College, and she has several years’ experience working in a variety of therapeutic settings. Through her hard work and dedication to clients’ served, she has empowered children and adolescents to create positive change in their lives.
In addition to her experience in the intensive outpatient and partial care settings, Courtney has also worked in community-based foster care programs with young children and their families. She has helped children through play therapy as well as other cognitive approaches (i.e. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy). She is a compassionate and professional mental health counselor who uses a variety of theoretical perspectives in individual, family, and group settings. Courtney strives to help individuals achieve the goals they have in mind for themselves and she enjoys engaging people in the process of positive change.
Francesca Enriquez, LPC
Francesca received her graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Georgian Court University in 2012. She believes in meeting clients where they are at and using a Strengths Based Approach to help them feel positively about their therapeutic journey.
Francesca is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has an eclectic treatment background. She has worked in various treatment settings from foster care, private practice, traditional outpatient & partial care, to substance abuse and school-based programs. Francesca works with young children to adolescents and adults and is bilingual in English and Spanish.
Her approaches to counseling are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Strengths Based, and Client Centered. Francesca strives to assist her clients in identifying their challenges as well as finding realistic solutions that work for them to ensure they reach their personal and therapeutic goals.
Anthony Zazzarino, PhD, LPC, ACS, CPRP
Per Diem Therapist
Anthony Zazzarino, PhD, LPC, ACS, CPRP is a per-diem group therapist with Innerspace Counseling since 2016. Dr. Zazzarino uses an integrative approach when supporting clients, grounding his work from a strengths perspective. Additionally, Dr. Zazzarino is an Assistant Professor with Rutgers University, School of Health Professions, Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions where he is a core faculty in the master’s program in Rehabilitation Counseling and the doctoral program in Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Additionally, Dr. Zazzarino is the field experience coordinator for the Counselor Education and Supervision track. Dr. Zazzarino is actively presenting at local, state, national, and international conferences related to affectional and gender minorities; multiculturalism; psychiatric rehabilitation methods; counseling services; housing; and supervision practices. In addition to his work at Innerspace Counseling and Rutgers University, Dr. Zazzarino provides outpatient counseling services at his private practice and clinical supervision for counselors who need supervised clinical hours in New Jersey.
Danielle “Dani” Savvis, LAC, NCC
Dani obtained her master’s degree in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling from Georgian Court University. She is a firm believer in growing alongside of her clients, and takes a humble and relatable approach to providing support for those navigating through the obstacles life can present. For personal growth and development is a continuum, and Dani's motto is to always stay authentic, and above all else acknowledge that we are all human, sharing a very human experience.
Dani has experience working in an outpatient setting, providing support from acute to more substantial mental health difficulties. She has experience working with all ages and a broad range of cultural and ethnic populations. Dani utilizes an eclectic approach between CBT, DBT, Person-Centered therapy, and Existentialism when providing individualized treatment for clients. This is to ensure that each client is met with an individualized treatment plan that pertains specifically to their needs upon assessment.
Dani takes great pride in helping encourage a positive environment that fosters growth, compassion, and enlightenment.
Taylor Strothmann, MA, LAC
Taylor earned her master's in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Children and Adolescents from Montclair State University. She also has a master's in Counseling Psychology from Felician University. Taylor has experience working with children who were patients of the Pediatric Subspeciality Hospital at St. Joseph's Hospital. She has also worked with adults who suffer from a dual diagnosis of severe mental health disorders and substance abuse in a partial hospitalization program. She also has experience as a community support service professional. Taylor’s approach includes an eclectic person-centered theory that focuses on changing your thoughts to reduce the frequency and intensity of symptoms. She is also very interested in psychoanalysis and inner child work. Taylor is excited to be working in this level of care so that she may help our clients reach their goals and improve their overall wellness.
Kirsti Harju, MA, LAC
As a former 911 dispatcher and throughout her years as both a substance abuse counselor and adolescent clinician, Kirsti has had a great deal of experience working with various diagnoses, situations, and histories. Kirsti believes that while we may not be able to prevent bad things from happening to us, we all have the ability to transform our pain into personal growth. As a therapist, she takes a person-centered, trauma-informed, solutions-focused approach to mental health treatment while utilizing Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) techniques. Her goal is to provide a warm and welcoming space for her clients to speak their minds and learn new ways to cope through kindness, empathy, and a little humor. We all have the potential to bounce back and become better versions of ourselves and Kirsti is eager to work together with her clients to help them find theirs.
Kellen Polito, LSW
Per Diem Therapist
Kellen received his Master’s degree in clinical social work with a concentration in family and children studies from Monmouth University. Prior to earning his Master’s degree, Kellen received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Montclair State University. Kellen is actively working towards his licensure as a licensed clinical social worker. Prior to and along with his work at Innerspace Counseling, Kellen has a decade of experience working with dual-diagnosis adults in a supportive housing setting. Kellen also volunteers with children who are living with family members who are actively seeking treatment. Kellen strongly believes that the best approach to successfully working within mental health is a client-centered therapy, highlighting each individuals uniqueness and individual strengths. Kellen utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy approaches when working with our clients.
Brianna Schepisi, MA, LAC, NCC
Per diem Therapist
Brianna graduated in December of 2020 with her masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Rider University. Prior to her masters, she graduated with her bachelors of art in Criminology with concentrates in Sociology and Psychology. While at Rider University, Brianna was secretary of Chi Sigma Iota, a counseling honor society, which hosted events to bring awareness to mental health in local communities. While in school, Brianna interned at a halfway house and a substance use facility, where she worked with individuals of all ages and diverse needs. Brianna has also worked in higher levels of mental health and substance use with both teens and adults. Brianna is actively working towards her licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Brianna utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.
Melissa Maranzano, M.A.
Director of Program Development & Quality Assurance
Melissa earned her Master’s Degree in Child Advocacy & Policy from Montclair State University. Her undergraduate degree is in English literature from the College of Staten Island. Melissa has nearly 20 years of experience in social services working in foster care and preventive services, as an advocate, behavioral assistant, parent coach, and volunteer & community partnership coordinator. She has experience in training, program planning and evaluation, and case management. She is dedicated to building strong community relationships to promote positive health and well-being and is committed to improving outcomes for children and families affected by abuse, mental health issues, and poverty. She utilizes her expertise to evaluate and improve programs and to share Innerspace Counseling’s mission and offerings throughout the community, assisting families, patients, and colleagues with mental health needs and referrals.