Diana Kral, LPC, LADC, EMDR certified
I am a Connecticut Licensed Professional Counselor and Alcohol and Addiction Counselor, who has been trained in counseling children, adolescents, and adults. I earned my Master's Degree in 2008 from Fairfield University and received my B.A. in Counseling and Human Services, from The University of Scranton. Prior to 2014, when I started Live Free Therapy, I had the privilege of working with a diverse population of individuals through an elementary and middle school, an inpatient psychiatric hospital, a methadone clinic, and at an IOP/Outpatient substance use and mental health facility.
Seeking therapy is a sign of strength, courage, and motivation. When we are motivated to change, we can begin to improve our quality of life and relationship with others. My goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment where clients feel empowered to unearth old patterns and learn new, healthier coping skills in order to create a better quality of life. While offering support and guidance, I aim to increase self awareness so clients are able to feel safe working through past issues, current stressors and future worries.
My professional passion is the EMDR approach where I have achieved certification through the EMDR International Association. The bulk of my work revolves around dealing with the effect of trauma on the development of various psychological, physical and emotional conditions (such as depression and anxiety) in children, adolescents, and adults.
Emily Day, LCSW
Kintsukuroi is a Japanese art form which means “to repair with gold.” When a piece of pottery is broken, a gold lacquer can be used to put the pieces back together again. What is ultimately created is stronger and more beautiful than it was before—because of and in spite of its imperfections. In becoming whole again, there is a new story to tell. Human beings are much the same. We wish never to have moments when we feel broken or lost. In the face of real pain, however, having a compassionate and empathic presence alongside us can bring about hope, deep healing, empowerment and a fullness of life.
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I graduated with my Master’s in Social Work in 2013 from New York University and received my Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts from SUNY Purchase in 2010. I am certified in Early Childhood Development.
I have worked at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, CT, for 7 years. During this time, I have worked with a broad range of men, women and adolescents who suffered from substance abuse, self harm, anxiety, depression, trauma, borderline and bipolar personality disorders, schizophrenia and psychosis. I have experience at The Women’s Center in Danbury, CT, as a Sexual Assault Hotline Crisis Therapist and ER First Responder. I was also a clinical therapist within the Stamford, CT public school district and with Astor Child and Family Services in Bronx, New York. I am a mother of five children and am part of a blended family with both biological and adopted children. Throughout my career, I have felt deeply inspired by people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds who have trusted the power of the therapeutic process.
Gorana Klaric, MA in Psychotherapy and Art
I have over fifteen years of experience working with adolescents and young adults who are struggling to manage their depression, self-esteem, anxiety, and mood disorders. My goal is to help adolescents regain balance in their lives, deepen their understanding of self and achieve a level of awareness that alleviates helplessness and creates choice and ultimate change. All the resources and healing potential you search for is innate and already exists within, sometimes we just need someone to help assist us in experiencing our fullness.
I earned My Master's Degree in 2007 from Albertus Magnus College, focusing on psychotherapy and art therapy. My undergraduate degree, a B.A. in Art History, was obtained from Southern Connecticut State University. Between 2001 and 2007, I worked at Keystone House as a Program Manager. Here, I focused on educating and supporting individuals who have mental health issues and who are struggling with succeeding to their fullest potential. At St. Vincent's Behavioral Health in Westport, CT, I facilitated adolescents and young adults to become more empowered, confident, and independent. I helped them to establish the healthy tools to be able to go out in the real world and to evoke verbal and nonverbal expression as a means of treatment of emotional and behavioral issues.
Elaine Soto, LADC, LMSW
Many of us had to cope with situations in our lives as best we can. These experiences can make us feel frustrated, sad, and anxious, in addition to many other feelings. Sometimes it helps to find a safe place to slow down and get to know what is really happening and to learn to listen to your body's natural wisdom. I believe everyone has the potential to change, grow, and heal. I can help you view different perspectives and move into the direction of successes and self-empowerment in a confidential, non-judgemental, supportive atmosphere.
Over ten years ago, I started working in the mental health field assisting individuals with individual therapy and facilitating appointments with their prescribers. I have also worked as a Domestic Violence advocate in the Bridgeport Court. My work consisted in educating individuals on the Domestic Violence laws as well as empowering them to face their situations. Not only am I a bilingual (Spanish and English) therapist, I specialize in substance addictions, relationships, co-dependency, trauma, anxiety, depression, life changes and spirtiual fulfillment. I have been in human services since the year 2000 and have experience working with those who are diagnosed with mental health, substance use and developmental disorders.
Katie Rende, LCSW
I am a Connecticut Licensed Clinical Social Worker. The majority of my career has focused on work with adults and adolescents. I graduated from Fordham University with my Masters in Social Work in 2012 and received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from SUNY Purchase College in 2006. I am most notably trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing and specialize in working with adults with Co-Occurring Disorders. I have worked extensively with individuals with mental illness in treatment for varied diagnoses including Depression, PTSD, Schizophrenia and Anxiety Disorders. I also possess a background in addiction counseling and have significant experience working with individuals and groups towards recovery. I have worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings and have substantial experience working in community health centers. My experience in community work includes supervision of other clinicians, seeing clients on an individual basis for therapy, group therapy work and Intensive Case Management.
My professional goal is to provide individuals with a supportive and safe environment that will empower them and provide them with the tools necessary to be able to cope with life’s challenges. I believe that everyone has the ability to change and grow and deserves the opportunity to live a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Connie Johnson, LPC
I received my Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Fairfield University. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked with adolescents and adults from many different economic, social and cultural backgrounds. I have experience with the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, bi-polar disorders, adjustment disorders, and phase of life issues. I’m passionate about helping people find peace and inner strength using cognitive behavioral therapy and brief solution focused therapy.
I have gained my experience through counseling college students at Fairfield University, adolescents and families at the Child and Family Guidance Center, and with adults in private practice. I also founded a group for women going through divorce and other life struggles many years ago and understand how difficult this process can be.
I believe we all could use nonjudgmental and compassionate guidance in different phases of life for a variety of reasons. I chose this profession because I am able to deliver these qualities to those seeking help; to be a therapist who gives this to my clients by believing positive change and personal growth is possible in all of us.
Melonie K. Bland, LPC
I am a licensed-professional counselor, a certified brief-strategic family therapist and supervisor with over a decade of experience working with at-risk youth and families. I have experience working with adolescents on probation, families in distress, individuals struggling with low self-esteem, anxiety, identity issues, suicidality, self-injurious behaviors, depression, trauma and PTSD. I love working with individuals and families to identity interpersonal goals while helping them to achieve those goals through person-centered therapy. I truly believe that therapy is extremely beneficial when individuals are viewed as individuals, with unique understandings, and perspectives; allowing for an organic and strength based therapeutic relationship to be formed to allow goals to be achieved.
In 2005 I earned my Bachelor’s Degree from Albertus Magnus College in Communications and Psychology. And earned my Master’s Degree from the University of New Haven in 2007 in Community Psychology. My work experience includes in-home family therapy, clinical coordinator at an all-girls residential program, emergency mobile psychiatric therapist and clinical supervisor.
Allegra Straus, LMSW
I am Connecticut Licensed Social Worker who has been in practice working with children and families for 20 years. I received a Bachelors degree in Sociology from Northeastern University and a Masters degree in Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work. I also work as a Life Coach, having been certified by the International Coaching Federation.
I have extensive and varied experience working with adolescents and adult individuals as well as families and groups. My focus and expertise is on supporting clients struggling with depression, anxiety, behavior management, relationships, family dynamics, substance abuse, and their overall functioning within society. I use a variety of clinical approaches and interventions that work to help clients develop self-awareness and insight to barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential.
While I have many skills, years of education, training, experience and clinical approaches, my most valuable asset is a unique ability to connect with and engage even the most skeptical and resistant clients in the therapeutic process. This is accomplished by building trust, using a non-judgmental approach, humor when appropriate and creating a venue for clients to feel comfortable exploring their own strengths and possibilities for discovering their best selves.