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Our Eating Disorder Treatment specialties, at our Southport, CT a residential center specializes in Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, & Orthorexia Recovery.

Eating Disorder Treatment Team | Southport, CT

Deandra Christianson, MA, LCPC, NCC, CCMHC, CDWF

Deandra Christianson, MA, LCPC, NCC, CCMHC, CDWF

National Director of Operations, Residential Eating Disorder Division

Deandra Christianson received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and then continued on to receive her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. While in her Master’s program she earned a Counseling Specialization and focused on treatment of children and adolescents. She is currently completing her PhD in Organizational Leadership at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Deandra has been with Center for Discovery in many capacities, both clinical and administrative, since 2013. She has been afforded many opportunities to speak at conferences and other engagements throughout the country. Deandra has worked with individuals with eating disorders, self-injurious behaviors, mood disorders, and other co-occurring issues in both residential and outpatient treatment settings. Additionally, she has worked with schools in program development and implementation that focuses on student leadership and bullying prevention and intervention. Deandra is passionate about her work, as well as, eating disorder awareness, advocacy, and treatment.

Andrea Ciarlelli, LMFT

Andrea Ciarlelli, LMFT

Assistant Director of Operation, East Coast, Residential Eating Disorder Division

Andrea Ciarlelli is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders for adolescents and their families. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University and later earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the same institution.

Ms. Ciarlelli has worked with adolescents and adults in various levels of care including Residential Treatment Centers, Therapeutic Group Homes, Intensive Outpatient Programs, Crisis Stabilization Programs and Outpatient Mental Health Clinics. Ms. Ciarlelli has extensive experience treating adolescents with complex psychiatric issues including: eating disorders, psychotic disorders, mood dysregulation, self-injurious behaviors and trauma. She approaches therapy utilizing a structural family therapy framework and believes that the support and inclusion of families in treatment is critical to the healing process. Ms. Ciarlelli is also an adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University in the Psychology Department, where she teaches Infant and Child Development, Adolescent Psychology and Abnormal Psychology as needed.

Julia Cassidy, CEDS-S

Julia Cassidy, CEDS-S

Director of Dietary Services - Adolescent ED RTC

Julia Cassidy is the Director of Dietary for Center For Discovery where she has worked for over 13 years. Julia is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and a Licensed Body Positive facilitator. Through her passion for nutrition, food, positive body image and eating disorder recovery, Julia has developed the nutrition program used with all clients in the adolescent residential programs at Center For Discovery. Seeing her clients take the path and make changes in their life from the time of admission to the time they discharge is the greatest reward of her career. The core ingredient for success for patients with eating disorders can be summed up in the words of Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Kara Becker, LMFT

Kara Becker, LMFT

PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Kara Becker attended Quinnipiac University and received her undergraduate degree in Management. Kara earned her Master’s Degree from Southern Connecticut State University in Marriage and Family Therapy with a concentration in Gestalt Therapy. At SCSU, she developed and facilitated a body acceptance group for female students.

Kara has experience working in an outpatient setting, as well as in a therapeutic school. Kara’s primary focus is in working with family systems. Kara believes that family experiences have a significant impact on the growth and development of an individual. She has experience working with personality disorders, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and autism spectrum disorders. She has worked with children, adolescents, families, and couples.

While completing her master’s degree, Kara worked in Center For Discovery’s residential program. Kara is happy to be returning to Center For Discovery as New Haven’s outpatient primary therapist.

Amy Patnode, MS

Amy Patnode, MS

Facility Manager

Amy graduated from the University of New Haven with bachelors in Legal Studies and History. She went on to receive her Master’s in Education at the University of Bridgeport. Amy is a certified teacher who has worked with adolescents with varying degrees of behavioral concerns. Amy’s combined passions of learning and teaching others provided her with the Teacher and Counselor dual role at Center for Discovery. Throughout her experience with Center for Discovery, Amy has continued to mentor and guide others, leading her to her new role as Facility Manger and the Educational Liaison Supervisor. She looks forward to training new employees and fostering the discovery culture.

Alexandria D’Aurio

Alexandria D’Aurio

Primary Therapist

Alexandria D’Aurio has received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Long Island University as well as her Master’s degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling with a Graduate level certification in Laban Movement Analysis from Columbia College Chicago. Alex’s passion for movement and mental health began in high school and continued with her through her undergraduate studies eventually leading her to combine her two passions in her Master’s studies. Alex has a background working with children, adolescents, and adults in individual and group settings with substance abuse, developmental disabilities, autism, and behavioral and emotional difficulties. Alex is excited about bringing a movement based approach to her work here at Center for Discovery.

Stacie Handel

Stacie Handel

Program Therapist

Stacie has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Stacie is passionate about working with families and practices from a systemic lens when working with families as well as individuals. Stacie was a senior counselor at Center for Discovery before being promoted to becoming the Primary Therapist. She has run several therapeutic groups at Center for Discovery including dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) Group, Multi-Family Group, Shame Resilience and Relapse Prevention Group. Stacie has experience working with children, teenagers, adults, families and couples. She has previously worked in Youth and Family Service programs collaborating with social services agencies and schools. Stacie believes in promoting growth and recovery in the individual as well as the family. Stacie works from a cognitive behavioral approach and believes that thoughts and behaviors are strongly connected. With Center for Discovery client’s and families she works to empower the family system and fostering family communication.

Nicole Ferri, RD, CD-N

Nicole Ferri, RD, CD-N

Registered Dietitian

Nicole Ferri is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist in the state of Connecticut. Nicole completed her education at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire, receiving a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Health Science-Nutrition. Her research experience includes studying the effects of garden-to-table education on preschool age children, as well as analyzing the use of government nutrition programs in New Hampshire childcare facilities. Nicole has been working with the eating disorder population and with Center For Discovery for nearly 3 years to effectively promote weight restoration, appropriate attitudes toward food, and an overall healthy lifestyle to clients seeking treatment. Nicole is currently working towards attaining her certification as an eating disorder specialist to further her knowledge and education of this specialized population.

Dr. Llana Karpenos, MD

Dr. Llana Karpenos, MD

Psychiatrist

Dr. Llana Karpenos is the Psychiatrist at Center For Discovery’s Southport location. Dr. Karpenos graduated with Cum Laude honors and a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science at the City College of New York. Dr. Karpenos received her MD at New York State University and completed an internship at the North Shore University Hospital in pediatrics. Dr. Karpenos began her training in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.

In addition to working at Center For Discovery, Dr. Karpenos also works with clients at her private practice in Westport. Education is very important to Dr. Karpenos and she provides consultation to the surrounding school districts in Fairfield County, CT. to ensure appropriate educational services are provided to all children.

Marcie Schneider, MD, FAAP, FSAM

Marcie Schneider, MD, FAAP, FSAM

Physician

Dr. Schneider is board-certified in Pediatrics and in the subspecialty of Adolescent Medicine. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of its Committee on Nutrition. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and was a member of its Committee on Nutrition from 2005 to 2011. Dr. Schneider is also an active member of the Academy of Eating Disorders.

Dr. Schneider graduated from Brown University and attended medical school at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She did her pediatric residency training at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, and her fellowship training in Adolescent Medicine at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York.

Sara Buchdahl Levine, MD, MPH, FAAP

Sara Buchdahl Levine, MD, MPH, FAAP

Physician

Dr. Levine graduated from Yale University and attended medical school at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She did her pediatric residency training and her adolescent medicine fellowship at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, New York. In addition, Dr. Levine earned a Master of Public Health from Columbia University.

Dr. Levine is board-certified in Pediatrics and in the subspecialty of Adolescent Medicine. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a member of the Society for Adolescent Medicine and the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. In addition, Dr. Levine is a program committee member and faculty member of the Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Education Program, sponsored by Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health and multiple other medical organizations.

Dr. Levine has published original research and reviews in the areas of asthma, substance use and menstrual issues. She lectures to parents, teenagers, and the medical community about adolescent growth and development, risk behaviors, and reproductive health.