At Columbus Park we’ve assembled a team of experts, exclusively focused on treating eating disorders and their co-occurring conditions such as depression and anxiety. Working with clients of all ages – adults, adolescents, and children – our active, skilled and engaging therapists deliver the best evidence-based treatments available.
Columbus Park clinicians are recruited through a deliberate and thorough vetting process. Most therapists come to us with intensive training and experience in behavioral therapies. Once part of the Columbus Park team, the providers are given further specialized training in the leading eating disorder treatments and benefit from ongoing intensive professional development and consultation. The result is a team of the most talented, impeccably trained and well supported clinicians in the field.
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.
Madelyn Bart, LCSW
Clinical Supervisor and Therapist
I received my BA with honors in psychology from George Washington University before graduating from Columbia University with my master’s degree in social work. I completed both the Intensive and Advanced Intensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) trainings, facilitated by Behavioral Tech trainers, as part of Columbia University’s year-long DBT training lab. Prior to joining Columbus Park, I received clinical training as an intern at St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital’s Child and Family Institute, where I provided outpatient treatment to children, adolescents and their families utilizing both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and DBT. I also worked as a primary therapist at The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, providing trauma-focused therapy to adolescents, young adults and their families in a residential setting. In addition to training and practice in DBT, standard CBT and trauma-focused therapy, I received comprehensive training and extensive supervision in Enhanced CBT (CBT-E), the modality of choice for most eating disorders. Since early 2017, I have benefited from regular individual and group consultation from Lucene Wisniewski, PhD, an international eating disorder treatment leader and DBT expert, who has helped me enhance and refine my skills as an eating disorder and DBT clinician. To further my expertise as an advanced DBT practitioner, I completed intensive training in the DBT Prolonged Exposure Protocol by Dr. Melanie Harned and Dr. Lori Ritschel. DBT PE has been found to be highly effective at treating PTSD. As a Clinical Supervisor at Columbus Park, I train and oversee new clinicians as they enter the practice. In my role as Primary Therapist, I conduct individual and family sessions along with supported meals and weekly DBT Skills Groups. In all of these settings, I deliver evidence-based treatments with my personal therapeutic style of curiosity, compassion and warmth.
Liz Byrnes, LMHC
I received my master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Brooklyn College and my BA in Art Therapy from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Prior to joining Columbus Park, I spent several years at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Westchester, NY, conducting individual and group therapy for people in recovery from serious mental illness and co-occurring disorders. After some training and experience in Dialectical Behavior Therapy at St. Vincent’s, I pursued more advanced DBT training through Behavioral Tech: A Linehan Institute Training Company and completed the rigorous DBT Foundational Training. While at St. Vincent’s I concurrently worked in private practice, providing outpatient treatment to adolescents, college students, and adults, working from a relational model of therapy and incorporating various CBT and DBT techniques. Since joining Columbus Park, I’ve advanced my knowledge of DBT and CBT-E via team and individual consultation with Lucene Wisniewski, PhD, an international leader in both eating disorders and DBT. Further, I’m one of two Family-Based Treatment providers at CP, working specifically with children, teens and their families impacted by eating disorders. In this regard, I engage parents via Maudsley/Family-Based Treatment in targeted coaching to support them in taking control of the eating disorder and restoring health to their child. I strive to create a collaborative working relationship with my clients by eliciting honesty, acceptance, and self-exploration. I’d describe my therapeutic style as warm, compassionate and creative. I’m proud and privileged to be a part of a team so committed to providing the highest level of care to our clients.
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.
Courtney Levy, LMHC
I received my master’s degree in mental health counseling (MHC) at Brooklyn College and my BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a graduate student, I gained clinical experience working with adolescents at the Institute for Community Living’s school-based mental health clinic at IS 220. Prior to joining Columbus Park, I worked in a private practice setting providing outpatient therapy to adolescents and adults using a blend of DBT, CBT and psychodynamic modalities. I also spent two years as a clinical coach at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists where I provided one-on-one meal support and clinical coaching to patients in eating disorder recovery. I have been comprehensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) through Marsha Linehan’s Behavioral Tech, completing a foundational training led by Francheska Perepletchikova, PhD, and Adam Payne, PhD. I completed intensive training in the DBT Prolonged Exposure Protocol by Dr. Melanie Harned and Dr. Lori Ritschel. DBT PE has been found to be highly effective at treating PTSD. Since joining Columbus Park, I have received regular consultation from Lucene Wisniewski, PhD, an international eating disorder treatment leader and DBT expert, who has helped me strengthen my skills as a clinician. At Columbus Park, I provide individual therapy, facilitate group meals and lead DBT therapy groups. I would describe my therapeutic style as warm, compassionate and genuine.
Liz O'Connell, LCSW
Associate Clinical Director & Therapist
I received my master’s degree in social work from New York University and my BA from Brown University. As a graduate student, my interest in working with eating disorders was sparked through my internship with New York State Psychiatric Institute’s inpatient eating disorder research unit. I also received training at The Training Institute for Mental Health, an outpatient psychoanalytic clinic where I helped clients work on a broad range of challenges, including depression and anxiety disorders. I also completed the Columbus Park Behavioral Health specialized eating disorder training program for clinicians prior to joining the practice as a therapist. Since joining Columbus Park, I’ve been comprehensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) through Marsha Linehan’s Behavioral Tech and completed an advanced intensive training in DBT led by Kelly Koerner & Charlie Swenson. Since early 2017, I’ve benefitted from regular consultation from Lucene Wisniewski, PhD, an international eating disorder treatment leader and DBT expert, who has been instrumental in helping me and my colleagues at CP grow and refine our skills as eating disorder clinicians. To further develop my practice and skills as an advanced DBT practitioner, I completed intensive training in the DBT Prolonged Exposure Protocol by Dr. Melanie Harned and Dr. Lori Ritschel. DBT PE has been found to be highly effective at treating PTSD. In addition to my DBT training, I have received advanced training through Columbus Park senior leadership in eating disorder-specific modalities like CBT-E and Family-Based Treatment (“Maudsley”) for adolescents. As Columbus Park’s Associate Clinical Director, I oversee the development and implementation of our programming to help ensure that we deliver the highest level of care to all our clients. In my role as a Primary Therapist, I work with individuals, facilitate group meals, and lead group therapy sessions. Clients have described my style as a therapist as warm, thoughtful, and caring.
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
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.