Dr. Nicole Vaccaro has a Master’s degree in Counseling from St. Edwards’s University in Austin, Texas and holds a Doctoral degree in Counselor Education from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. She has worked as a mental health counselor in a variety of settings such as insurance, DUI and Drug courts, private practice, a Traffic Safety program just to name a few. She has also taught counseling classes to Master’s level students and supervised Master’s level students during practicum, in addition to teaching practicum courses. Dr. Vaccaro works with adult clients and her areas of interest are the following: Chronic illness, depression, anxiety, Hormonal issues (women), and life transitions (divorce, career change, and the like).
On a personal note, she hails from the Washington, D.C area. Dr. Vaccaro spent her childhood living abroad in such various places as The Philippines, Vietnam, France, and Switzerland. She has traveled all over the world as her father worked both for the army and then later for the Federal Government. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, movies, travel and is passionate about health and fitness. Dr. Vaccaro also loves animals and has a cat named Callie.
“My therapist [Vaccaro] always makes me smile.” – Anonymous
“I am very happy with my experience [with Dr. Vaccaro].” – Anonymous
“My therapist Dr. V is knowledgeable and so unbelievably helpful.” – Anonymous
“This is by far the best Dr. I’ve ever talked with. I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder by another Dr. and after I started to see this Dr. I’ve been able to learn new skills to help me with everyday tasks at my job.” – Anonymous
Dr. Jelyn Young is a Licensed Psychologist. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of California in San Diego. She received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in San Diego. Dr. Young has extensive experience working with adults, children, adolescents and families, serving populations within inpatient and outpatient, juvenile rehabilitative programs along with other multidisciplinary programs. Additionally, she also has experience working within school systems to address educational challenges, including adjustment, learning disabilities, and ADHD.
Dr. Young’s personal statement: My work is based on the belief that people want to have balanced and fulfilled lives and that they have within themselves the resources to achieve these goals. I believe that psychotherapy can help individuals effectively use resources within themselves to increase self-understanding, to improve decision-making, to resolve problems, and to create new paths to the lives they want. I strive to collaborate with clients to understand their unique situations in a culturally sensitive and competent manner. Whether it’s with the individual or entire support systems, we can all work together to make things better.
Major theoretical approaches I utilize include Cognitive Behavioral, Behavior Modification, Solution Focused, Emotion-Focused, Person-Centered, Motivational Interviewing and Existential.
These approaches are used to address: Depression, Anxiety, Children and Adolescents, Chronic Impulsivity, Coping Skills, Social Skills, Developmental Disorders, Family Conflict, Grief, Learning Disabilities, Parenting, Peer Relationships, Relationship Issues, Self Esteem, Adjustment, Acculturation Conflict, and Testing and Evaluation.
“I want to personally thank you [Dr. Young] for your help during our time of grieving. May the lord bless you and your family.” – Anonymous
Dr. Crystal Blair is a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. She received her Master’s in Nursing at the University of Florida and completed her Postmasters at Florida International University. A majority of Dr. Blair’s professional nursing career has been within the VA Healthcare system. Dr. Blair’s practice philosophy is that of holistic care. She believes in order to keep one well, attention must be given to the interconnection of the physical, mental and spiritual beings. Crystal is continuing her Doctoral studies at the University of Florida, where her capstone is a policy analysis on Florida’s new Controlled Substance Act.
“Dr. Crystal Blair has been the most understanding and helpful compared to many other health resources experienced. The team is caring and resourceful with improving and solving your healthcare needs.” – Anonymous
Dr. Tracey Taylor is a licensed clinical psychologist. She received her Master’s degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, KY. Her doctoral degree was earned at Argosy University in Tampa, FL. Dr. Taylor has experience with all age groups, including children, adolescents, adults and elders. She has provided services in both inpatient as well as outpatient settings, including work with rural and under-served populations. She completed her post-doctoral training through James A. Haley VA Hospital, where she provided psychological services at one of the hospital’s community based outpatient centers. Her post-doctoral training also allowed her to be involved in research at the Florida Mental Health Institute’s Department of Aging and Mental Health. Although much of Dr. Taylor’s clinical work has been with the adult population, she also received pre- and post-doctoral training through the Hillsborough County School System where she completed both educational and psychological assessments. Additionally, she has experience providing consultation and treatment with residents in long-term care facilities, including the evaluation of capacity.
Dr. Taylor’s areas of expertise including difficulties with adjustment, mood disorders, grief and loss, anxiety, substance abuse, and those issues naturally inherent with cognitive decline. She utilizes techniques and strategies from cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, and Adlerian therapy. Although she believes that challenging one’s thoughts and core beliefs is crucial for behavior change, she also recognizes that developing a safe and trusting relationship between the therapist and client is an essential part of the change process.
When not working, Dr. Taylor enjoys engaging in activities with her friends and her church. She is an avid animal lover, and is a member of a supporters club for her favorite sports team. She also spends time learning about the use of food as medicine, and finding natural remedies for common ailments.
“Made me smile. :)” – anonymous
“I look forward to meeting with Dr. Taylor and my appointments each time I visit. She is absolutely wonderful and I am very thankful to have found her.” – Anonymous
Dr. Julie Rubler-Jones is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Florida, and received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Carlos Albizu University in Miami.
Dr. Jones has worked with clients in the school setting from preschool through elementary school age, adolescents in the juvenile correctional system, adults in the correctional system, chronically mentally ill adults living in the community, and geriatrics in assisted living and nursing home settings. Working in both the school and correctional settings, Dr. Jones has learned the importance of advocating for the needs and rights of her clients.
Dr. Jones has experience with individual and group therapy as well as crisis intervention, competency evaluations and case management as well as supervision of other clinicians.
On a more personal note, Dr. Jones is a wife, mother and animal lover. Living with her husband, three sons, a bearded dragon, a leopard gecko and four cats, Dr. Jones understands that there is no perfect person or perfect life. She feels strongly that with the right motivation, effort and support, most people can make amazing positive changes in their lives.
Dr. Christy McElroy is new to the Tampa area and recently moved with her family from Illinois. She is a graduate of the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Schaumburg where she received her doctorate in clinical psychology. She works with children, adolescents and adults.
My approach to therapy is integrative and geared toward each individual’s specific needs. I have worked in several outpatient and inpatient settings in primary care facilities providing services for children, teens, young adults and families, as well as adults. My aim is to help people of all ages feel more in control, resourceful and self- assured.My specialties are eating disorders, bariatrics, self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and chronic illness/pain.
A major focus of Dr. McElroy’s work is her involvement in eating disorder awareness and advocacy that incorporates body positive approaches. She regularly collaborates with hospitals, dieticians, physicians as well as consults with other eating disorder experts. She has extensive experience working with eating disorders, anxiety, bulimia and binge eating. Dr. McElroy is also trained in Clinical Hypnosis through the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. This can be a useful adjunct to therapy in a variety of areas such as compulsive behaviors, chronic pain, and anxiety. Dr. McElroy incorporates hypnosis and mindfulness to assist clients in managing and reducing their level of distress.
Antoinette Watson is a native of North Carolina and relocated to Florida in 2016 to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2015 after studying Adult – Gero Acute Care. She recently completed training to obtain a Post Master’s Certificate in Psych Mental Health from the University of Miami.
Watson has a passion for mental health across the lifespan and believes in finding the potential in each patient.
In her spare time, Watson enjoys spending time with her two young children and exercising at the local gym.
Dr. Maryam Behdarvandi, PhD, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the state of Florida with over 25 years of experience in India, Iran, and the United States. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pune, one of the most prestigious universities in India, and has completed additional training in behavioral medicine, psychotherapy, and counseling at the University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital. She has considerable experience in international and multicultural issues, particularly with college students, having served as the Liaison between the Counseling Center at USF and International Student and Scholar Services. Dr. Behdarvandi has strong communication and interpersonal skills and is fluent in both English and Farsi, offering therapy sessions in both languages.
Dr. Behdarvandi’s areas of specialty include depression, stress, mood disorders, anxiety, grief, relationship concerns, parenting issues, PTSD, and OCD. She welcomes individuals of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and works with a wide range of patients, offering therapy to individuals, couples, and families through the entire age spectrum including children, adolescents, adults, and elders. Her approach to therapy involves principles from CBT, behavioral therapy, rational-emotive therapy, and acceptance-commitment therapy. Her style is collaborative, using a personalized approach tailored to the needs of each patient to help them to become more mindful, insightful, and harmonious. Dr. Behdarvandi provides a safe and supportive environment for her patients and their families with the highest standards of confidentiality and privacy. She provides a warm, supportive, and non-judgmental space so you can feel respected and comfortable discussing your concerns to achieve your goals and move forward.
Dr. Behdarvandi thinks of her work as a way of helping patients make friends with themselves. She believes that we torture ourselves by holding onto our painful memories. We play endless “recordings” in our minds that create anxiety, depression, or compulsive and destructive behaviors. She views mental health as an approach to promoting wellness, not just relieving mental illness. Dr. Behdarvandi believes that living well has to do with developing the skills and tools needed to face life’s challenges. Happiness is not the absence of problems. Rather, it is the ability to deal with them effectively. If you want to feel better, Dr. Behdarvandi would love to work with you to develop greater resilience, bring healing to painful wounds, and help you create a healthy and meaningful life in an atmosphere of respect and trust.
Jamie Jones is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. He received his Master’s degree from Troy State University in Tampa, Florida. He is also a Nationally Certified Counselor and a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor through the National Board of Clinical Counselors. He is pursuing his PsyD., doctoral degree, through California Southern University. Jamie has experience with several groups, including children, adolescents, and young adults and couples. He has focused in the area of complex trauma along with ADHD and ASD. He has provided multiple level mental health services including work with at-risk youth and border line personalities. He completed his post-graduate training through the Polk school system, Hillsborough school system- at risk schools, Pepin Schools to name a few where he provided psychological services and case management. Jamie is also a 31-year retired Officer of the U.S. Army, Special Forces with multiple world wide and combat deployments.
Jamie’s areas of expertise including difficulties with adjustment, mood disorders, grief and loss, anxiety, complex trauma, and behavioral work with neurobiological disorders. He utilizes techniques and strategies from cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, dialectic, play, attachment and bonding anxiety associated therapy, and Adlerian therapy.
When not working, Jamie is the owner and operator of a Martial Arts School and enjoys engaging in activities with his students. Jamie is also an avid “closet” chief and enjoys cooking for his family.
“In today’s times our youth are in need of services that are designed and provided directly for and to them. The youthful client has a barrage of complex problems in front of them that was not a factor in the past.” -Jamie
Heather Whitefield is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She received her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling at Nova Southeastern University. Heather has extensive background and experience working with groups of all ages, adults, children, adolescents and families, providing individual, family and group therapy in outpatient, inpatient, and in-home settings. She has experience with collaborating services with DCF, DUI/Drug/Family Courts, Targeted Case Management and Law Enforcement as Family Intervention Clinician, working to reunify families struggling with substance abuse, trauma and negative family dynamics by guiding parents to utilize appropriate parenting strategies. Additionally, she has extensive experience and training in trauma/abuse, crisis stabilization and conflict management, working as a Licensed Trauma Clinician at Baycare Behavioral Health, First Responder/Licensed Crisis Intervention Specialist with Pasco Mobile Response Team Baycare, as a Suicide Line Counselor and Trauma/Sexual Abuse First Responder on the S.A.R.T Team at The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
Her areas of clinical focus include trauma/abuse, PTSD, suicidal ideation, self-harm, anxiety, depression, grief, LGBTQ, anger management, substance abuse, domestic violence, non- offending caregiver therapy, ADHD, self-esteem building, coping with bullying, gifted children, assisting with developing positive social interaction strategies and with developing positive parenting strategies, and family conflict management.
Heather utilizes a variety of treatment approaches including CBT, DBT, Mindfulness, Play Therapy, Circle of Security Parenting, Motivational Interviewing, Brief Strategic Family Therapy, Brief Solution Focused Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Anger Management, Active Parenting, and specifically for trauma/abuse, TF-CBT, Child Parent Psychotherapy and EMDR interventions.
Heather is originally from Colorado and the mother of 2 teenage sons. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering with United Way, SPCA and serving as a Disaster Mental Health Counselor with the Red Cross.
Shavel Sistrunk was appointed office Manager in Early 2018.
She is passionate about finding ways to improve efficiency, productivity, & overall patient satisfaction. She manages both the Tampa & Lutz locations. Coordinates interviews, staff meetings, events, schedule changes. She is also the direct point of contact for testing services, payment plans. She enjoys listening to podcasts and audiobooks during her daily commute or anytime!
Marissa Kinsler has been a part of our office staff since 2013. She recently graduated with her BS in marketing from USFs Muma College of Business. Branding and creative directing are among her many passions; also, her career goal is to own her own business.
Zoey Grey is a member of our front desk staff. She hails from Rasmussen College and holds both an AS in Human Services and a BA in Criminal Justice. She has always worked in the human services field and thus brings a strong knowledge base to this position from that area. Most recently she worked in the capacity of a Life Skills Trainer for a facility that served clients with traumatic brain injuries. She is often the voice you hear doing our initial phone screenings for prospective clients.
Zoey enjoys working with people and helping them. She has a strong commitment to offering exceptional customer service. In her free time, she can be found playing with her young son, reading, spending time with close friends, and listening to music.
Ashley Guerra is a member of the front desk staff. She is in pursuit of a Health Sciences degree. Ashley has worked in a customer service environment for over three years. She has an enthusiastic personality, management experience, and is strongly committed to customer services. In her free time, she enjoys exploring hidden local gems in our city, spending time with her dog, and window shopping.
Macie Roberts is a member of our front desk staff. She has a Bachelors Degree, from USF, in psychology with a minor in Deaf Studies. Currently, she is in pursuit of obtaining her PhD/PsyD in clinical psychology.
Macie has a passion for helping others and a commitment to excellent customer service. She has been providing excellent customer service for over 4 years. She often conducts our initial phone screenings for our Lutz Office. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, practicing American Sign Language (ASL) and going to Universal Studios.
Melissa Rogers is a member of our front desk staff. Her 13 years of experience in customer service has shaped her passion for having a positive impact on everyone she meets. Melissa attended Pasco Hernando State College’s phlebotomy program, contributing to her interest in nursing and providing compassionate care and support. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and tackling diy projects.
Victoria Bissessar is from Queens, New York and is a member of our front desk staff. She is responsible for resolving issues in our office, such as benefit eligibility and claim discrepancies. With previous work experience in the medical field and 7 years of implementing excellent customer service, she is able to help make our patients feel at home. She is working on getting her associates degree as a medical assistant. In her free time, she is normally found playing with her son. She also enjoys expressing herself through different art forms such as, painting and photography.