I’ve been with The Kingsbury Center since 2013. In my work as a psychotherapist, I help students struggling with depression, anxiety, relationship and family problems, anger, aggression, behavior challenges, and ADHD. I also really enjoy the complicated work of helping students work through problems they don’t fully understand, like feelings of emptiness or loneliness.
Recently I launched the Kingsbury Transforms blog, which continues to provide our community with fascinating stories and resources to help youngsters develop into healthy adults. My own articles on the blog explore psychological research, books, parenting, therapy, and the general practice of good living. I am also leading the effort to improve the emotional intelligence of students and adults at The Kingsbury Day School through a program called RULER. Developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, RULER is an acronym describing the healthy process through which we learn to control our emotions. In our healthy minds, we hope to Recognize, Understand, Label, Express appropriately, and Regulate our emotions.
I earned my Master’s and Doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the American School of Professional Psychology, where my research examined the relationship between attachment and post-traumatic stress. Before deciding to become a psychologist, I was a classically trained pianist with a Bachelor of Music degree from James Madison University.
When I’m not at Kingsbury, I like to spend my time outdoors backpacking and running, catching up on my reading list, or playing the piano. I live in Washington DC with my wife, Elizabeth, who is a performance pianist and music educator in the area.
In my earliest recollection, I declared to my mother that I would work with children. Much of my career has been child-centered within the school setting; I have been trained as a Special Educator of children with Emotional Disturbances and subsequently a School Psychologist. I have been a member of the Kingsbury staff since 2003. My work centers on a cognitive behavioral approach to social skills development; I find that children often have skill deficits in areas that adults can overlook. Teaching specific steps to help children get along with others and manage their responses is an important aspect of supporting social and emotional development. I believe that the most effective way to treat a child is from a holistic standpoint, considering the impact of family, history, health, and education.
I completed my undergraduate work at the University of Virginia in Psychology. I then earned a master’s degree at American University in special education, and completed my teaching internship at the Rose School of Washington, DC under the Community Mental Health Department. I spent ten years as a special education teacher working with emotionally disturbed and learning disabled students in Northeast Washington, DC. I also worked as an administrator at Father Flanagan’s Boys Town of Washington. I went on to earn my doctorate in school psychology from Howard University, and my internship with D.C. Public Schools gave me the opportunity to conduct grief groups in local schools in association with the William Wendt Center. In addition to my current psychotherapy work at Kingsbury, I conduct psychoeducational evaluations for the Children’s National Medical Center Pediatric Mobile Clinic. I also enjoy giving talks and seminars in the community.
In my free time, I enjoy mentoring young people with my husband Michael, watching sports with my sons Joshua and Christian, being actively involved with my church family, cooking southern foods and getting behind the wheel for day trips in the Maryland and Virginia areas.
As a psychologist, I’ve always been fascinated with the scientific-practitioner aspects of clinical psychology. The discipline continues to develop at a rapid pace and I endeavor to stay abreast of the newest developments and trends in the field. Although eclectic in theoretical orientation, I have strong leanings in cognitive behavioral and interpersonal psychology. Over the years, I have been fortunate to work in a variety of settings, including private practice, psychiatric, educational, medical, and community health. I have worked extensively with child, adolescent, and adult populations. From the very beginning, I’ve always been interested in the conceptualization and treatment of depression, anxiety, and chronic anger from a cognitive behavioral perspective. I am particularly interested in helping adolescents, especially African-American males, develop healthy self-esteem as they successfully navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood.
I joined the staff at the Kingsbury Center in 2000, after working as a senior psychologist in a program for students with learning and behavioral challenges. A native Floridian, I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a Master of Science degree in clinical psychology from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. I worked as a master’s level psychologist in community mental and led the effort in establishing mental health services in Eatonville, Florida, one of the first African American municipalities in the United States. Desiring a change of venue, I moved to Washington, DC to complete my doctorate in clinical psychology, with a minor in biological bases of behavior from Howard University’s Clinical Psychology Program. I completed my clinical internship at Homewood Hospital Center of the Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore, Maryland. The internship was an intensive training experience with a heavy concentration in behavioral medicine, geriatric psychology, psychotherapy, and clinical assessment.
When I’m not actively engaged in the challenge of being a professional psychologist, I enjoy reading, writing, watching classic black and white movies, expanding my iTunes library, and playing my guitars and congas.
In my work as a psychologist, I focus on children, adolescents, and young adults, particularly those on the autistic spectrum or who struggle with anxiety. I work with each child to determine their goals and help them practice the strategies they need to make progress. I take a collaborative approach with parents as well, as you are the expert on your child; together we can help this precious person become their best self. Most kids who come into my office would report that I do play therapy because of my extensive Lego and toy collection. Only the older clients realize that they are learning cognitive behavioral skills, social interpretation and social skills, and authentic relationship skills while we talk and play.
My years at Kingsbury have afforded me the privilege of building on my doctoral training from the University of Maryland at College Park. I completed my internship at Springfield Hospital center and also worked at Sinai Hospital. I have worked with children and adolescents in several school settings, including a long-term residential program for youngsters with serious cognitive and/or emotional disabilities.
My personal interests include politics, traditional folk arts, spiritual development, and time with family and friends.
I’ve been a part of the Kingsbury team since 2012, and I’ve loved the wide range of experiences I’ve had in this community. I conduct neuropsychological testing, admissions testing, psychotherapy, and parent guidance. Testing can often be overwhelming for individuals, especially parents, but I find that the depth of information that can be uncovered is invaluable to promoting success in life and learning. In my psychotherapy work, I’ve developed a soft spot for young children with ADHD and mood challenges, but I also enjoy adolescents. I incorporate aspects of relational, psychodynamic, and cognitive behavioral theory in my work. It is amazing to see how technology can help the therapeutic process – which is counter-intuitive, because we often want kids to put the phones and laptops away. But joining kids and teens in their virtual worlds can provide more fodder for therapy than I thought possible!
I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, where I studied psychology and philosophy. I then completed my doctorate at the George Washington University, and I gained experience in public schools in D.C. and Maryland. I also worked with younger children at a preschool in Virginia. My predoctoral internship took me to a community mental health clinic in Queens, New York, where I worked with a diverse population of children, adolescents, and adults.
Outside of Kingsbury, I love road trips, restaurants, music, and watching my young daughter grow. I also love taking in all of the local flavor that D.C. and its surrounding areas have to offer!
Speech and Language Therapists
Sasha Grunza is a Master’s graduate of Galludet University with a degree in Speech-Language Pathology and alumnus of West Chester University with a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Disorders and Early Childhood Education. This is Sasha’s second year as a part of the Kingsbury family. Born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Sasha has a passion for working with young students and integrating speech and language therapy into play. She regularly practices yoga, using principles of mindfulness and movement to support students’ development of receptive and expressive language, as well as social skills and literacy.
Alex Sullivan is a graduate of The University of Maryland with a degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She is certified and licensed in Washington, D.C. She volunteers weekly in our community to promote literacy development for children in D.C. As a therapist who currently works with our high schoolers, she often collaborates with our OT’s, Psychologists, and Teachers in order to best meet our student’s needs. Alex conducts weekly Wilson Reading groups with many of her students. She is dedicated, hard-working, and innovative in her methods of helping to maximize every student’s potential. Alex was born and raised in Baltimore, MD, lives in DC, and is working at Kingsbury for her sixth year.
As speech pathologist at the Kingsbury Center I am part of a team of professionals that works to “Transform” the lives of the clients we serve. I look forward to continuing to make a difference in our community.
I have been a certified and licensed Speech -Language Pathologist for ten years and love my profession. “My Home by the Sea” Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia is near and dear to my heart and is where I completed my undergraduate education. To develop my expertise in communication disorders and special education, I completed my graduate studies at Washington University and Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri and received Master’s Degrees’ in Speech-Language Pathology and Special Education. I have completed training with the Learning Disabilities Association of America and the International Dyslexia Association. I am certified in the Wilson Reading Intervention System to address decoding, encoding and comprehension skills. I am also certified in See the Sound- Visual Phonics. As a lifelong learner, I have taken continuing education coursework in a variety of areas.
I have worked at various public and private schools in Washington, D.C. and Maryland with students of all ages. I have been working at the Kingsbury Center for the past five years with students in Middle School and High School. I practice integrated therapy models to collaborate with teachers and families to support the needs of the students. I work to develop vocabulary, expressive and receptive language, and literacy and social skills within the classroom. I believe that students benefit from strategies to help them develop confidence and independence. In private practice and health care settings, I have worked with adults with cognitive communication disorders such as TBI, aphasia and dementia. I also have worked with adults to address issues related to swallowing disorders (dysphagia) and dysarthria.
I am fluent in American Sign Language and am licensed to practice in DC, MD, & VA. I am a native of New Jersey and have lived in the DMV area for the past 10 years. I currently reside in Alexandria, VA with my husband. We enjoy traveling, music, concerts, comedy and volunteering in the community. I am active member of ASHA and DCSLHA. I am a member of ASHA Special interest group for School Based Issues.
I can still remember the moment that I knew I picked the profession that was meant for me. I had been a therapist for about 2 years and was actually debating if I should go back to school to further my education in the medical field. I was working with a 4 year old boy and right in the middle of a very challenging session he stood up from the table we were working at, gave me one of the best hugs I have ever received, and said, “Thank you.” From that moment I had no doubts that I was meant to be an occupational therapist and to work with children. Over the years my experiences have provided me with the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, including homes, schools, and private clinics. I have developed a strong interest in providing therapy for children with learning differences, particularly those with sensory challenges and those on the autistic spectrum.
After completing my education at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania and receiving my Bachelors of Science to become a registered and licensed Occupational Therapist, I spent the early part of my career working in Early Intervention within the Pennsylvania Special Educational system. It was during this time that my trainings began in sensory integration and praxis. After several fulfilling years in early intervention, I then relocated to the Washington, DC area, which brought me to the Kingsbury Center in 2001. Being director of Occupational Therapy has provided me with the fortune to expand daily on my therapeutic skills, perform outreach to the community, and collaborate with amazing families and staff. Extensive training in sensory integration, processing and motor skills, and in the Therapeutic Listening and Astronaut Training Programs has allowed me to address the needs of the whole child and promote independence.
In my free time I love spending time with my husband Chris and daughter Kate, especially traveling to as many National Parks as we can. When close to home, we can usually be found in the kitchen baking sweet treats, or playing with our Maine Coon cat, Echo.
“You did it!” Those three words might be my favorite ones to say. Helping people to maximize their level of independence is one of the many reasons I pursued a career in the field of physical therapy. Seventeen years later I find the same satisfaction and joy in helping others overcome obstacles and reach their goals, whether it is crossing the monkey bars, rejoining a sports team, or hiking over uneven terrain with their families on a Saturday afternoon.
After receiving my Masters of Physical Therapy from Boston University in 1999, I started working with both adult and pediatric clients in the Metro DC area in outpatient and school settings. In my role as the Director of Physical Therapy at The Kingsbury Center, I work with children and their families to identify goals and develop detailed, individualized treatment strategies. I love working on gross motor skills in functional settings and I am just as easily found in the stairwells or on the playground at the Center as I am in one of our therapy gyms. I truly believe that skills are best learned when the time is taken to break them down into smaller pieces. Those building blocks can then be put back together and practiced in “real life” settings. Over the years I have taken extensive professional development courses in many areas, but I find myself most drawn to issues of motor planning and praxis, pediatric vestibular disorders, and core strengthening.
On the weekends I can be found on the sidelines of one of the many sports fields or pools in Northern Virginia cheering on my two children. I also enjoy reading, being outdoors with my family, and exploring the many cool places that Washington DC has to offer!
I have been a certified and licensed Occupational therapist since March 2010. I received my undergraduate degree and my Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Howard University in Washington, D.C. I am a member of AOTA and enjoy attending conferences to see what’s new in the area of occupational therapy and to network with fellow therapists. I have been a part of the Kingsbury Center since 2009. I completed my final clinical rotation for occupational therapy here and have been a part of this community ever since. I have a passion for helping high school students succeed and find their independence in the areas of executive function and organization. I also enjoy assisting students with social and physical skills by coaching Kickball and Girls Varsity Basketball.
I was born in D.C and raised in Maryland. The DMV area is close to my heart. I enjoy watching and playing sports, volunteering in the community and attending concerts especially those with a live band.
I’ve been providing school based occupational therapy since 2011. I received my Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy and my Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Science from Saint Louis University. I’ve had the privilege of working with children in a variety of areas including sensory processing and self-regulation, sensory motor, fine motor, visual motor integration, and executive functioning.
I enjoy staying up-to-date on the latest research and participating in continuing education to expand my range of practice. I’m a member of AOTA and have completed continuing education in sensory-based handwriting programs including Handwriting Without Tears and First Strokes, sensory processing and self-regulation programs including: The Alert Program, Sensory Chef, and SIPT training, as well as social thinking, and reflex integration. I am also a certified provider for Interactive Metronome.
I have a passion for working with kids of all ages. I have recently been certified as a children’s yoga instructor and have been volunteering at schools in the D.C. area to bring yoga to underserved kids and teens. I have a special interest in aerial yoga, especially using it as a tool in my occupational therapy practice.
Lisa Sessions has been a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant for the past 34 years. She has an Associates of Science degree from Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon. She has additional training in the areas of: adaptive equipment; handwriting; keyboarding; self-regulation; executive functioning and sensory processing. She has worked in a variety of settings including: Home Health; In-patient/Out-patient Hospital; Community Mental Health and Rehabilitation. For ten years, she was an adjunct Professor in the School of Occupational Therapy at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. She has worked in Public, Private and Charter schools for the past 15 years. Lisa is Nationally Certified and licensed in Washington, D.C. Lisa has been working for the past 6 years with students in the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools at The Kingsbury Center. She has experience working with students that have a variety of diagnosis including: ADHD,ADD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sensory Processing and Sensory Motor Disorders and Cerebral Palsy. enjoys providing Occupational Therapy services to students one-on-one, in small groups, as well as, pushing into classrooms to support students in their academic subjects. Lisa appreciates collaborating with teachers and other related services professionals to provide therapeutic innovations that best support students individual needs and unique learning differences. Lisa was born and raised in Washington State. She relocated to Maryland with her husband and two children in 2010. Lisa enjoys traveling, cooking, biking and spending time with her family.