Columbus Park has been providing cutting-edge, evidence-based eating disorder treatment since 2008, guiding recovery for individuals of all ages and genders throughout the state of New York.
We are committed to an inclusive environment where all can feel welcome, safe, valued, and understood. We always strive to approach patients with compassion, acceptance, and a non-judgmental stance with respect for individual choice and self-determination. We serve individuals of all ages, genders, races, sexual orientations, sizes, and abilities. We battle harmful attitudes and messages that promote societal ideals that harm us all and that imply that our personal value and worth are based on physical characteristics (or other arbitrary features, for that matter). We are a fat positive and anti-diet team and operate in confidence that health is possible at any size.
Our Treatment Team
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.
In 2017, 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, LPCC
Associate Clinical Director
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).
I began my career 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 Foundational DBT training through Behavioral Tech, co-lead by DBT Experts, Adam Payne, Ph.D. & Francheska Perepletchikova, Ph.D. I started at Columbus Park in 2018 as a Primary Therapist and promptly joined the team weekly training and consultation groups led by internationally recognized eating disorder and DBT expert, Lucene Wisniewski Ph.D. Years of this intense consultation developed my expertise in both standard DBT and in implementing adaptations to DBT for use specifically with eating disorders. At Columbus Park, I also had the opportunity to train in Family-Based Treatment by Columbus Park’s Founder and Certified Family-Based Treatment Provider, Melissa Gerson.
Over the years, I pursued additional trainings beyond those offered directly through Columbus Park. My interest in effective treatment of PTSD, inspired me to pursue advanced trauma-based training with Dr. Melanie Harned, completing her intensive training in the DBT-Prolonged Exposure protocol. I also completed both the Basic and Advanced Training in PMT (Parent Management Training) through the PMT Institute.
In 2019, my personal life prompted a move across the country to San Diego, California. There 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. In 2021 I returned to the east coast and to a full-time role at Columbus Park as Associate Clinical Director. In additional to my program development and supervisory responsibilities at Columbus Park, I continue direct practice, delivering CBT and DBT to adolescents and young adults with severe emotional dysregulation problems (including self-harm, chronic suicidality, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders, and severe anxiety disorders). Within the context of my therapist role, I facilitate individual therapy, DBT Skills groups, and Family DBT Skills Groups for adolescents, parents of children with chronic behavioral issues, and adults. I have a special interest in parent coaching and have trained several of my Columbus Park colleagues in both DBT and PMT techniques for maximizing parental capabilities and empowerment.
I see myself as a very active behaviorally-oriented therapist who balances empathy and validation with a direct and honest approach.
Emily Kaplan, LMSW
I received my Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW), and graduated Summa Cum Laude (BA in Psychology) from the University of Connecticut. While pursuing my MSW, I began studying within the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Intensive Training Program at Columbia, created by Andre Ivanoff, Ph.D. and Marsha M. Lineman, PhD, ABPP. Additionally, I was intensively trained in DBT through Behavioral Tech, facilitated by Gwen Abney-Cunningham and Randy Wolbert.
I completed my clinical placement at Columbia Irving Medical Center, Advanced DBT Program. I worked with adults of all ages suffering from severe emotion dysregulation. My role as a clinician was to help our patients unlearn maladaptive coping behaviors and replace them with healthier ones. I led several DBT skills group weekly as well as conducted individual DBT and CBT sessions. I also worked as a Clinical Research Assistant within the Developmental Affective Neuroscience Lab at Columbia. I conducted research reliable clinical interviews and cross coded them with clinical team members.
Since joining Columbus Park, I have received comprehensive training in both Enhanced CBT (CBT-E), an empirically supported treatment modality for eating disorders and Family-Based Treatment, the leading outpatient treatment for anorexia nervosa in adolescents. In an effort to continue growing, I engage in ongoing training and case consultation through weekly meetings with Lucene Wisniewski, PHD and Amy Kalasunas, LPCC-S, NCC, DBT-LBC. With my clients, I aim is to create a nurturing environment that facilitates growth through balancing acceptance and change.
Danielle Magen, LCSW
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
Director of Admissions
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.
I received my master’s in social work from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College (CNUY). Before joining Columbus Park, I trained and worked with primarily young adult and adult populations facing serious and/or chronic trauma including severe PTSD resulting from various forms of violence and abuse such as sexual violence, carceral violence, systemic violence, discrimination, and oppression. I have worked with populations including veterans transitioning from the military to civilian life, incarcerated individuals, individuals involved in the criminal justice system, LGBQ, T/GNB, and sex worker survivors of sexual and/or interpersonal violence. I have extensive training in conducting both individual and group therapy sessions and have worked in public college, non-profit agency, and private practice settings including Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) Veterans Resource Center, Project for Renewal and Opportunity in Veterans Education (PROVE), Brooklyn Defender Services, and The Anti-Violence Project NYC.
Before attending graduate school for social work, I enjoyed a 15-year career as a professional chef during which I received extensive training in a wide array of health, nutrition, diet, and culinary approaches; itself an inquiry spurred by my interest in the body-mind connection, training as a yoga teacher, and experiences as a meditation and movement student. I am a practicing artist and received a BFA from Maine College of Art where I studied interdisciplinary sculpture, performance, and feminist art theory. My coming to Columbus Park is the long culmination of career and educational paths that bridges my commitments to social justice, anti-oppression with a vested creative and theoretical interest in what it means to be embodied, and how this and our relationships to health, food, nutrition, and survival are shaped by larger historical, cultural, and political themes and values.
Since joining Columbus Park, I have received comprehensive training and ongoing clinical supervision in Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-E), an evidence-based practice model specifically designed to treat patients with eating disorders. I am currently receiving Foundational training in DBT from Behavioral Tech, and receive weekly supervision, expert consult and ongoing group supervision as part of this training on top of my clinical supervision with Columbus Park. In my role as a primary therapist at Columbus Park I conduct individual sessions, facilitate an emotional process group, as well as supportive meal services. My approach to therapy is grounded in intersectional, anti-oppressive, fat justice, queer, feminist, and gender theories, as well as my own experiences as a non-binary (they/she) queer person. I strive to offer an affirming space for all race and gender identities, sexual orientations, and bodies sizes.
Our Advisory Team
Kristen Dahlin, Ph.D.
Adolescent DBT Consultant
Kristen Dahlin, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist at the DBT Center of San Diego, where she specializes in providing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for adolescents and young adults with severe emotion dysregulation problems, including self-harm, chronic suicidality, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders, and severe anxiety disorders. She received six years of intensive training and supervision in DBT and CBT from DBT expert Milton Brown, Ph.D., and has been providing DBT since 2011. Her research interests include trauma, dissociation, and interventions for severe emotion dysregulation and she has presented findings at national and international conferences and co-authored several book chapters on trauma treatment. Dr. Dahlin also serves as adjunct faculty at Alliant International University, where she teaches courses on Mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and DBT to clinical psychology doctoral students.
Rachel Millner, PSY.D, CEDS-S, CBTP®
Health At Every Size (HAES) Consultant
Rachel Millner – Rachel Millner Therapy – is a psychologist, Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Supervisor, and a Certified Body Trust® provider. She has been in practice for over 15 years, graduating from the California School of Professional Psychology in 2004. She works nationally and internationally with consulting clients and doing supervision and works in therapy with clients located in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Viewing herself as both a therapist and an activist, Rachel has spent her career working with people struggling with all forms of eating disorders and disordered eating, including those wanting to break free from diet culture. She offers individual therapy and FBT for adolescents and individual therapy for adults. Her work is trauma-informed, fat-positive, anti-diet, and rooted in feminist theory, relational theory, social justice, and body liberation.
Amy Kalasunas, LPCC-S, NCC, DBT-LBC
Amy Kalasunas, Director of DBT Training and Services at the Center for Evidence-Based Treatment Ohio, is a trained behaviorist with over 20 years’ experience using evidence-based treatment models. Intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy in 2002, she has completed over 150 hours of advanced training, including the DBT-Prolonged Exposure Protocol for treating PTSD in clients with Borderline Personality Disorder, Radically Open DBT, Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, DBT supervision models, and consultation team adherence practices. Amy is also a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinician™. A highly sought-out teacher and trainer, Amy has provided consultation, supervision, and instruction on such topics as DBT and Eating Disorders, Prolonged Exposure and Eating Disorders, Parenting Stuck Young Adults, and DBT adherence. Professionally, Amy has developed, implemented, and evaluated treatment program outcomes on inpatient psychiatric units, Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs, outpatient clinics, community-based treatment centers, and private practices.
Lucene Wisniewski, Ph.D., FAED
Adult DBT Consultant
Lucene Wisniewski, Ph.D., FAED is a clinician, trainer, and researcher whose interests center around using empirically founded treatments to inform clinical practice. Lucene, an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, has taught more than 150 workshops, lectures, and presentations on Cognitive Behavioral and Dialectical Behavior Therapies internationally and has over 40 publications in peer-reviewed journals and invited book chapters. Lucene has been elected fellow, has served on the board of directors, and is the co-chair of the Borderline Personality Disorder special interest group of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED). In 2013 the AED awarded Lucene the Outstanding Clinician Award to acknowledge her contribution to the field of eating disorder treatment. She is the owner and founder of The Center for Evidence-Based Treatment Ohio (www.cebtohio.com), which offers therapy, training, and consultation in evidence-based approaches to mental health conditions via traditional and teletherapy platforms.
Gender and Sexuality Consultant
Sula Malina (they/them/theirs) is a Therapist in Training at The Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center in New York City, and an MSW candidate at the Columbia University School of Social Work. Their writing on providing affirming care for transgender and non-binary populations has been published in The New England Journal of Medicine and Annals of Family Medicine. While attending Columbia, Sula works with undergraduates through the Columbia University Multicultural Affairs team, developing and delivering training on disability justice to students, faculty, and staff.
Our Collaborating Team
Lauren Kotcher, MD
Dr. Kotcher is board certified in general psychiatry and in child and adolescent psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She received her MD from New York University School of Medicine, graduating as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. She completed her general psychiatry residency and her child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the NYU School of Medicine. She received his BA summa cum laude, with distinction in the biological basis of behavior, from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Kotcher currently maintains a private practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Dr. Kotcher is a member of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Doris Pastore, MD, CEDS
Physician, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine
Doris Pastore, MD, CEDS is passionate about connecting health to the entire person and providing comprehensive treatment with attention to detail. As a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist, Dr. Pastore is passionate about supporting individuals and families struggling with an eating disorder.
Dr. Pastore is a graduate (summa cum laude) of St. John’s University and the New York Medical College. She completed her residency in pediatrics at Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and her fellowship in adolescent medicine at North Shore University Hospital, Cornell University Medical College.
Dr. Pastore is the Medical Liaison for the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, New York Chapter, and provides leadership advancing the understanding of its medical complexities. Additionally, Dr. Pastore is the recipient of Castle Connolly Top Doctors and Super Doctors awards and has served on the National Executive Board of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and regional health committees for the American Academy of Pediatrics. As a faculty member of the Icahn School of Medicine, she has trained over 20 fellows in Adolescent Medicine.
Elbert St. Claire, MD
Elbert St. Claire, MD is an Internal Medicine Physician who specializes in treating people with eating disorders. Dr. St. Claire majored in psychology at Vassar College and earned both his medical degree and a master’s degree in public health from Tulane University School of Medicine. He completed his medical training and residency at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in NYC. Dr. St. Claire joined the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP) in 2014 and became an Approved Supervisor in 2018. Dr. St. Claire built a successful private medical practice in NYC where his deep expertise and sensitivity in eating disorders made him the invaluable “go-to” physician for the local eating disorder community. Dr. St. Claire is thorough and thoughtful and takes a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to care.
Hayley Miller, LPCC, RD, CDN
Hayley Miller, LPCC, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian in NY and CA and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in the state of CA. Ms. Miller is the owner of Hayley Miller Counseling/Nutrition which provides psychotherapy and nutritional counseling with specialties in eating disorders, substance abuse, and trauma. With specialized training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Ms. Miller focuses on the whole needs of the client and provides a person-centered approach to both psychotherapy and nutritional counseling. Ms. Miller uses her own eating disorder recovery to inform her work. She works from a Health At Every Size approach and promotes intuitive eating for those clients who are ready to tap into internal cues for hunger and fullness.
Michelle Pillepich, MPH, RD, CDN
Maiken Wiese, MS, RD
Nicole Naggar, MD
Nicole Naggar, MD is a premier board-certified psychiatrist providing concierge psychiatric care. Trained by leading experts in the field, Dr. Naggar integrates her expertise in psychopharmacology with different therapeutic modalities including CBT, DBT, ACT, short-term dynamic, and supportive treatment approaches. She treats a wide range of conditions including but not limited to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and attention deficit disorder. Dr. Naggar offers one-stop shopping by providing a personalized approach to medication management concurrent with psychotherapy. She also frequently collaborates with other therapists and medical providers to augment patients’ established working relationships and improve treatment outcomes.
Dr. Naggar draws from the breadth and depth of her professional and personal experiences to connect with her patients and create a safe and welcoming environment to explore patients’ struggles. Her compassionate and friendly bedside manner reliably separates her from other providers and allows patients to comfortably work to achieve their therapeutic goals. Early in her career, Dr. Naggar served as an assistant professor at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital where she trained Psychiatry Residents and Columbia University Medical students. Additionally, she worked as an assistant professor at Yeshiva University Ferkauf Graduate School where she trained psychology graduate students. Her rich experiences in academic settings translate into a physician who is able to distill complex medical issues so that her patients feel informed, empowered, can participate in their care, and even advocate for themselves outside of this treatment setting as appropriate.
Karen Rosewater, MD
Physician, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine
Juliane Zenn, MD
Juliane Zenn, MD is a Board-Certified Adult and Adolescent Psychiatrist with nearly thirty years of experience in the treatment of eating disorders and other co-occurring mood and anxiety disorders. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Johns Hopkins University and received her Medical Degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she stayed on to complete her Psychiatric and Chief Residency. She completed a fellowship in Eating Disorders at the Fair Oaks Hospital in Summit, NJ, and a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in Psychoanalytic Principles of Eating and other Compulsive and Addictive Disorders at the William Alanson White Institute in NYC.
Dr. Zenn maintains a private practice in New York City and Summit, NJ. She has experience working at the Inpatient and Partial Hospitalization levels of care, providing individual, family, and group psychotherapy, along with pharmacotherapy. Her integrative therapy approach spans psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, and supportive modalities. Dr. Zenn is a member of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP), Binge Eating Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA).
Dr. Zenn believes that recovery should be a collaborative effort, uniquely tailored to meet the individual needs of each patient. Most importantly, treatment must be based on trust, mutual respect, compassion, and empathy.
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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