About Us

Front Door

Columbus Park is committed to an inclusive environment where all can feel welcome, safe, valued, and understood. Eating disorders affect individuals of all different body shapes and sizes; our client population reflects this diversity.

 

We serve clients of all ages and genders and are dedicated to providing LGBTQIA+ affirming care. We are steadfast in maintaining an encouraging space for all races, nationalities, and ethnicities and for individuals from a wide range of educational, professional, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Our Team

Melissa Gerson, LCSW

Melissa Gerson, LCSW

Clinical Director & Founder

I started Columbus Park, the first private eating disorder day-treatment program in NYC, in 2008. Since then, Columbus Park has evolved into the leading outpatient eating disorder treatment center with a robust national reputation, delivering evidence-based treatment with the highest level of skill and exceptional outcomes.

I’m a native New Yorker who transplanted to Miami, Florida at 18 to dance with the Miami City Ballet. This background set the stage for my very personal understanding of the challenges of having to control one’s body shape and size to meet an impossible aesthetic – and sparked my interest in eating disorders. After seven years, touring with the MCB company, I retired from ballet and received a Psychology degree from Columbia University. I went on to earn a master’s degree in social work at New York University. In private practice, I developed more and more of an interest and expertise in disordered eating. I benefited from years of individual case consultation and supervision, working with experts like Judith Brisman, PhD, Julie Goldfein, PhD, Lucene Wisniewksi, PhD and faculty from the NY State Psychiatric Institute. I completed the two-year post-graduate training program in psychodynamic psychotherapy at NYU’s Psychoanalytic Institute. I also completed trainings in ED-specific treatment at the Center for the Study of Anorexia and Bulimia, NYC and the Eating Disorders, Compulsions and Addictions program at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis & Psychology.

Among my proudest achievements, I became a Certified Family-Based Treatment Therapist, after completing advanced training and extensive consultation in Family-Based Treatment (“Maudsley) through the Training Institute for Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders. FBT is the gold-standard treatment for childhood and adolescent eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia; I am thrilled to be able to support families so effectively in beating these potentially devastating illnesses.

This year, I launched my3square virtual meal support which is a video meal coaching platform for adult eating disorder patients anywhere in the country. I conceived of my3square as a far-reaching and affordable service that breaks down the barriers for people to gain access to quality eating disorder care.

In Columbus Park and with my3square, I’ve created a true center of excellence, with a robust team of skilled and engaging clinicians. I’m grateful for the impact we’ve had on so many lives thus far… and look forward to continuing to make a powerful mark in the field for many years to come.

Elizabeth Byrnes, LMHC, LPC

Elizabeth Byrnes, LMHC, LPC

Therapist and Parent Coach

I graduated Summa Cum Laude (B.A. in Art Therapy) from Lesley University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and received my M.A. in mental health counseling (GPA 4.0) from Brooklyn College in 2015. I’m currently licensed in both the state of New York (Licensed Mental Health Counselor) and California (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor). Early on in my career, I worked at St. Vincent’s Psychiatric Hospital in Westchester, NY where I delivered DBT, CBT, and anger management training to people suffering from serious and persistent mental illness, including personality disorders and substance abuse. In 2017 I completed the complex and demanding DBT training though BehavioralTeach, co-lead by DBT Experts, Adam Payne, Ph.D. & Francheska Perepletchikova, Ph.D. After joining Columbus Park in 2018, I began ongoing supervision and consultation from Lucene Wisniewski PhD, world-renowned eating disorder expert, another expert at BehavioralTech. This ongoing consultation allowed me to hone my skills and expertise in both standard DBT and in implementing adaptations to DBT for use specifically with eating disorders.

In 2019, my personal life prompted a move across the country to San Diego, California. In spite of the distance, however, I’ve remained a remote treatment provider on the Columbus Park team. With the move to San Diego, I had a unique opportunity to expand my adolescent DBT expertise by working at DBT Center of San Diego (DBTCSD), alongside Dr. Milton Brown, who was mentored for many years by Dr. Marsha Linehan, the creator of DBT. Since 2019, co-employed by both DBTCSD and Columbus Park, I’ve been providing CBT and DBT for adolescents and young adults with severe emotional dysregulation problems (including self-harm, chronic suicidality, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders, and severe anxiety disorders). I facilitate individual therapy, DBT Skills groups, and Family DBT Skills Groups for adolescents, parents of children with chronic behavioral issues, and adults.

Sofia DiSanti, LCSW

Sofia DiSanti, LCSW

Therapist, Child and Adolescent

I received my BA from New York University and my Master’s in Social Work from Touro College. Early in my career, I provided psychotherapy to adolescents and families at an outpatient mental health clinic in Upper Manhattan. I then provided trauma-informed care to survivors of 9/11 at Bellevue Hospital’s World Trade Center Clinic, and later implemented an evidence-based depression treatment program at Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s primary care practice. I simultaneously completed a two-year psychodynamic psychotherapy certificate training program at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy. I developed an interest in the treatment of eating disorders through my work in the field as a social worker and in private practice, where I encountered adolescents and adults from all walks of life struggling with eating and body image issues. I went on to obtain ED-specific training in CBT-E and training in DBT through Behavioral Tech (DBT Skills Training: The Essentials). I obtained a certificate in Family Based Treatment for Adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa from the Training Institute for Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders with Dr. Daniel Le Grange, and engage in ongoing consultation with Dr. Kerri Boutelle of the UCSD Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research. At Columbus Park, I provide Family Based Treatment (The Maudsley Approach) to adolescents and families.

Danielle Magen, LMSW

Danielle Magen, LMSW

Therapist

I graduated from Tel-Aviv University with my LL. B in Law and BA in Psychology before earning my Master’s Degree in Social Work at the Columbia University School of Social Work (CSSW) as a fellow in the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Training Program. During my time at CSSW, I studied under Dr. Andre Ivanoff, President of Behavioral Tech, and completed the Intensive DBT training facilitated by Behavioral Tech trainers Randy Wolbert and Gwen Abney-Cunningham

During my clinical training at CSSW I was placed at Seamen’s Society for Children and Families in Staten Island NY, where I worked with parents and survivors of domestic violence dealing with trauma, eating disorders, emotion dysregulation, and suicidality. During my time at CSSW, I also trained at the Victim Services Unit at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, where I worked with survivors of trauma and provided long-term supportive psychotherapy and short-term support for court appearances. Prior to joining Columbus Park, I worked as a primary therapist at Park Avenue Psychotherapy utilizing both Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and DBT to work with adults coping with anxiety, depression, relationship and intimacy difficulties, and trauma.

Since joining Columbus Park, I have received comprehensive training and ongoing clinical supervision in Enhanced Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT-E), an empirically supported treatment modality for eating disorders. In my role as a primary therapist at Columbus Park, I conduct individual sessions, lead DBT skills groups, and facilitate meal supportive services. My goal is to listen and provide a place where individuals feel safe and understood as we explore one’s own unique experiences of strengths and challenges. 

Julie Pappalardo, LMHC

Julie Pappalardo, LMHC

Intake Coordinator & Therapist

I received my Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from CACREP accredited Mercy College and my BA from Iona College. I’m also a proud member of the NY Mental Health Counselors Association. Prior to joining the team at Columbus Park, I worked at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Westchester, NY providing group and individual therapy for individuals with a wide range of mental illness.  At St. Vincent’s, I also facilitated relapse prevention services for patients treated for substance abuse. Since joining Columbus Park, I have pursued more advanced DBT training through Behavioral Tech: A Linehan Institute Training Company and completed the rigorous DBT Foundational Training with Francheska Perepletchikova, PhD, and Adam Payne, PhD.  I continue to advance my knowledge of DBT and CBT-E during team consultation with Lucene Wisniewski, PhD, an international leader in both eating disorders and DBT. I strive to bring an effective blend of experience, expertise, clarity, and action to the counseling process. My therapeutic approach is nonjudgmental and genuine, utilizing a collaborative approach with clients. I create a warm trusting environment while delivering evidenced-based treatments in order to maximize outcomes and provide genuine healing and wholeness to individuals.

Michaela Turnbull, LMSW

Michaela Turnbull, LMSW

Therapist

I received my Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW), and graduated from Oberlin College with my BA in Psychology. While pursuing my MSW, I participated in CSSW’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Training Program and Lab, where I studied under Dr. Andre Ivanoff, President of Behavioral Tech. I also received my DBT Intensive Training through Behavioral Tech, facilitated by trainers Gwen Abney-Cunningham Randy Wolbert.

I completed my clinical placement at NYU’s Counseling & Wellness Services where I worked with students experiencing a diverse range of concerns, including problems of pervasive emotion dysregulation, suicidal ideation, self-harm, relationship and intimacy difficulties, as well as eating disordered behavior. Prior to and throughout my time at Columbia, I also worked for Planned Parenthood of New York City’s Clinical Training and Research Initiative, where I coordinated clinical research trials and provided LGBTQIA+ affirming patient counseling and education related to sexual and reproductive health.

Since joining Columbus Park, I have received comprehensive training and ongoing supervision in Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-E), an empirically supported modality for the treatment of eating disorders. I also receive continuing consultation from Lucene Wisniewski, PhD, an expert clinician specializing in DBT for eating disorders, in order to further strengthen my skills as a practitioner. In my role as a Primary Therapist at Columbus Park, I conduct individual sessions, facilitate DBT skills groups, and lead supported meals services. I am dedicated to providing effective, compassionate psychotherapy that allows individuals to develop empowered relationships with their bodies and mental health. Clients have described my clinical approach as validating, genuine, and non-judgmental.

Evidence-Based Treatment at Columbus Park

Columbus Park is an evidence-based treatment practice which means that we utilize interventions (“treatments”) that are supported by published research demonstrating effectiveness (the “evidence”). We work from an anti-diet, Health at Every Size® (HAES) perspective which translates into celebrating body diversity, respecting body autonomy, and supporting our clients in moving beyond weight and food preoccupation to more affirming and fulfilling pursuits.

 

For more information about HAES, click here.

For more information about Evidence-Based Treatments for eating disorders, click here.

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