Meet the Staff

All of our clinical staff are generalists with a variety of areas of expertise, and all are experienced working with a diverse student body.

Michael J. LaFarr, PsyD, is the executive director of Health and Wellness and oversees the Health Center and the Brandeis Counseling Center. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Denver. He specializes in treating anxiety disorders, depressive disorders and functional pain. He has advanced training in treating people of color, GLBT individuals, and other marginalized populations. He is a member of the American Psychological Association, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, and the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors.

Joy von Steiger, PhD, senior associate director/clinical director, earned her doctorate from Derner Institute at Adelphi University. She trained at Beth Israel Hospital (now known as Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) and McLean Hospital in treatment with children, adolescents, adults, couples and families with special emphasis on trauma. She developed a specialization in the treatment of bipolar illness while at McLean, particularly young adults having their first episode of illness, as well as women and trauma. She sees undergraduate and graduate students and has a special interest in multicultural issues as well as issues of gender and sexuality. Dr. von Steiger has experience treating those who have experienced traumatic events.

Liz Barcewicz, PsyD, earned her doctorate in psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, specializing in child, adolescent and family therapy. She also trained in motivational interviewing, an evidence-based approach to effective health behavior change, and has worked with a diverse group of young adults with substance use and other mental health concerns. She received specialized training in eating disorders in her post-doctoral fellowship at Cambridge Eating Disorder Center.

Jennifer D. Brown, ATR-BC, PsyD, earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University. She completed her pre-doctoral training at Boston University Medical Center, a master’s degree in art therapy from New York University and a clinical fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She is also trained in crisis response and psychological first aid through FEMA. She has worked as a counselor and victim advocate with Cambridge Health Alliance’s Victims of Violence Program. She has provided mental health services for youth and adult survivors of community trauma and disasters. She has worked extensively with children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, individually and within groups, and is an experienced provider of clinical therapy, bereavement counseling, suicide prevention, treatment for depression, expressive therapies, stress management, assistance with life changes, and relationship counseling. Dr. Brown has experience treating those who have experienced traumatic events.

Stephen Buck, PsyD, earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. During his clinical training, he worked with a wide range of clients in public middle school, inpatient hospital, and college counseling settings. He currently works at the counseling center at Tufts University in addition to Brandeis. His clinical interests include depression, anxiety, relational dynamics, issues of diversity and inclusion, gender roles, change process, creativity, career selection, and the developmental issues faced by college-aged students and those related to emerging adulthood.

Roberta Caplan, PhD, director of training, earned her doctorate from the University of Michigan and was a post-doctoral fellow in college mental health at the University of Rochester. She also has post-graduate specialized training in couple/family therapy. Her clinical interests include the impact of "difficult" family members, impact of loss, divorce, parental illness, living with chronic illness, couple relationships.

Noel Coakley, MEd, LMHC, earned his master's degree in clinical mental health counseling from Lesley University, a second master's degree in Special Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a yoga/meditation teacher certification from South Boston Yoga. His areas of expertise are in mindfulness-based psychology, holistic health, and in treating individuals who experience anxiety, depression, and challenging relationships with substances.

Denise DeSesa-Smith, PhD, earned her doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston College and a master’s degree in college student development form SUNY Albany. She completed an internship in the treatment of physical and sexual trauma survivors at Charles River Hospital, a post-doctoral fellowship in brief psychotherapy and behavioral health at Harvard Community Health Plan, and additional training in mind-body medicine at Beth Israel Hospital. Areas of expertise include anxiety, depression, relationship issues, physical and sexual trauma, stress management, health psychology and mind-body medicine including mindfulness meditation and spirituality. Dr. DeSesa-Smith has experience treating those who have experienced traumatic events.

Amy Engel, MSW, LICSW, earned her master’s degree in social work from the Simmons School of Social Work. Amy completed post-graduate training at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Her areas of expertise are in grief — complex, acute and long standing – and trauma, including survivors and perpetrators of sexual and other violence, and in treating individuals with depression, anxiety, gender identity and eating disorders. She has experience treating those who have experienced traumatic events.

Nick Forti, PsyD, earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. During his clinical training, he worked with a wide range of clients in public elementary school, state prison, inpatient hospital, and college counseling settings. He has expertise in psychological assessment and the impact anxiety has on projective testing, as well as the pervasive influence it can have on clients' functioning. Other treatment interests include childhood trauma and neglect, shame, negotiating relationships, and the developmental issues faced by college-aged students and those related to emerging adulthood. Dr. Forti has experience treating those who have experienced traumatic events.

Donna Fromberg, PsyD, earned her doctorate in psychology from the University of Denver. Donna has worked in hospitals, community settings, colleges and private practice. Her interests include working with young adults, the psychology of women and psychoanalysis. Dr. Fromberg has experience treating those who have experienced traumatic events.

Laura Horn, PsyD, received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology with a certificate in Latino Mental Health. She also has specialized training in mindfulness, spiritually integrated psychotherapy, mind-body perspectives, and the treatment of trauma. Other areas of interest include interpersonal neurobiology, attachment theory, and cross-cultural perspectives. Dr. Horn has experience working with individuals and couples.

Amy S. Krentzman, MSW, LICSW, earned her master’s degree in social work from Catholic University of America. Amy completed post-graduate training at Boston Institute for Psychotherapy. She has experience in private practice, community, and hospital settings. Her areas of clinical interest are bipolar illness, depression, relationship issues, divorce and blended families.

Aileen Lee, PsyD, earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. Her clinical training includes working with Asian American and Asian immigrant individuals and their families.  She specializes in working with individuals with trauma, cultural adjustments, emotional struggles and developmental issues.  She uses a wide variety of techniques to help individuals understand their struggles and develop healthy choices in life.  She is interested in helping individuals develop a healthier and stronger sense of self; negotiating cultural barriers and values.  She has worked with many public agencies to increase cultural awareness and develop culturally appropriate resources for the Asian community. Dr. Lee is fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin. 

Catherine Mitchell, MSW, LICSW, earned her master’s degree in social work from the Boston University School of Social Work. Her experience includes working with students who have difficulties with depression, anxiety, academic issues, autistic spectrum disorders, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse. Her primary interests include mindfulness techniques for managing stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as a strong emphasis on relational models of therapy that prioritize self-expression and self-acceptance.

Jonathan Moran, MD, MBA, earned his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine. A board-certified psychiatrist, he finished post-graduate training at the MGH McLean Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program and completed additional training in psychotherapy through the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute fellowship. After residency, he completed a fellowship in addiction psychiatry through the Partners Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, a joint program with MGH, Brigham & Women’s Hospital and McLean Hospital. His clinical interests include co-occurring addictive and psychiatric disorders in young adults and psychotherapy. He is a member of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, American Psychiatric Association, and Massachusetts Psychiatric Association.

Tal Nir, PhD, earned her doctorate from Boston University. She completed her pre-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital and her post-doctoral training at Tufts University. She also trained in cognitive behavioral therapy at the Boston University Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. She specializes in anxiety and eating disorders. She is fluent in Hebrew and English.

Julia Rickey, MSW, LICSW, earned her master’s degree in social work and certificate in group-work specialization from Boston University School of Social Work. She has trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. Her particular area of focus includes working with students who have survived various types of trauma, particularly sexual violence. Her additional experience includes working with students to manage their depression, anxiety, academic issues and suicidal ideation. She utilizes the empowerment model, cognitive behavioral interventions and dialectical behavioral therapy techniques to support students’ increased ability to manage emotions effectively.

Maria Pia Rogines Velo, MD, PhD, earned her MD/PhD at the University of Buenos Aires. A native of Argentina, she completed her adult psychiatry residency and child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Tufts Medical Center. During her training, she gained skills in psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and trauma therapy. She treated a variety of patients with different cultural backgrounds. She is member of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Massachusetts Psychiatric Association.

Amy Scobie-Carroll, MSW, LICSW, earned her master’s degree in social work from Portland State University in Oregon. She has trained in control mastery theory, dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, emotional freedom technique, and mindfulness approaches. She specializes in treatment of eating disorders and body image issues, depression, anxiety, and issues related to life transitions, sexual orientation, and gender identity. She is a member of the National Association of Social Work, Multi-Service Eating Disorder Association and the Academy for Eating Disorders.

SuMing Sullivan, MSW, LICSW, earned her master's degree in social work from Boston College. Her areas of expertise and interest include trauma, issues of diversity, cross-cultural challenges, refugee, disaster and international work, and mind-body interventions. She has worked in hospital emergency departments, schools, outpatient clinics and private practice.