Trainers & Consultants

May Ambrogi

MSW, LSW, FFT National Consultant, PA State Supervisor


May Ambrogi is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Pennsylvania. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Kutztown University and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Marywood University. May is trained in both FFT and EMDR.

May began her career as a foster care caseworker then, after graduate school, began providing in-home therapy to children and families in which substance abuse and mental health issues were of primary concern. In the same agency, she also facilitated a few women's parenting psycho-educational groups in the county prison system and provided in-school mental health counseling to teens and young children. May became a Functional Family Therapist in 2003 working with youth and families referred by the county child welfare and juvenile probation offices, schools, self-referrals and other community organizations. For 12 years, May worked for a wonderful non-profit agency as part of the FFT team, with her last seven years as the Program Supervisor. She has been and continues to be involved in PA state discussion on sustainability and is knowledgeable in starting up and maintaining a successful FFT program, as well as navigating Medical Assistance as a funding source.

Currently, May enjoys work as an FFT National Consultant, and has since 2008. She also provides individual and family therapy to adults and children on a part-time basis at a group practice.

"I was drawn to FFT philosophically - as a social worker, it felt like a perfect fit. I had been in another program and in seeing the work they were doing in FFT, I all but begged to be trained! Once I was trained, I never looked back. Not only did I see positive outcomes with my clients, I also FELT like it was good work. I felt proud to practice a model whose primary principles are based on respect and non-judgment of all people while still addressing real problems, and years later I still feel that enthusiasm!"

 


Kellie Armey

LISW-S, FFT National Consultant, FFT National Trainer (Replacement Training Series, Clinical Training 1, Advanced Clinicals, Supervisor Training 1), FFT National Supervisor, FFT National Externship Trainer, Ohio State Coordinator


Kellie received her Bachelor’s of Social Work at Colorado State University and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Denver and retains a LISW-S.

“I have spent my career working with at-risk youth and their families with special interest and a primary focus on homeless or street youth. Some would say I have attempted most methods of intervention working with what has been considered to be “kids who fall through cracks in the system”. However, I have found most success working with FAMILIES and young people and found FFT to not only be effective with this population, but to sincerely provide young people with a voice in their future.”

Kellie currently resides in the ever popular State of Ohio which some believe is “The Heart of It All”. She lives with her husband; Tim a published poet and high school teacher. Together, they are raising two fearless Jedi Masters; Tristam (9) and Charley (4).

 


Deborah Babcock

MA, LPC, FFT National Consultant


Deborah lives in Highlands Ranch, CO just south of Denver. She did both her undergraduate work in Psychology and graduate studies in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Colorado. She's worked in a variety of community mental health settings with individuals and families, ranging from the adult SPMI population to early childhood.

“I was initially trained in FFT at a community mental health clinic in Littleton, CO. I was drawn to FFT because of my prior experience working in early childhood. I had more success on cases where I was able to involve the families in the therapeutic process. Once trained, I really appreciated the strengths-based and relational approach, along with the structure of specific goals and phases."

When Deborah is not providing consultation and traveling for FFT, she's at home with her two pre-schoolers, Max and Jackson, testing out those specific behavior change targets!

 


Jennifer Bonness

LMHC, FFT National Consultant


Jennifer is the Clinical Director for FFT programs at Camelot Community Care, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jennifer has been working with this non for profit agency for over 11 years, where she was first introduced to the FFT model. Since this time, Jennifer has been practicing as an FFT home-based therapist primarily working with diversion and child welfare cases. She became an FFT supervisor 7 years ago and her love for FFT continues to grow. Jennifer received both her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Florida Atlantic University.

“FFT was the first evidence-based model that I was introduced to and it provided me with a structure to think through clinical decisions, while still allowing for creativity and flexibility which is important to me. FFT encourages therapists to bring their unique style “into the room” and emphasizes matching to and respecting all families. Throughout life, our relationships and families bring us both joys and challenges. However, many of the families we work with are stuck in the hurt and pain which is expressed in misguided ways that bring them into the system. By focusing on the family relationships, FFT allows families to begin the healing process and experience one another in a different, more positive way. It’s very rewarding to see the transformation within their relationships and actually feel the difference.”

Jennifer expresses herself through art and dance. She also enjoys spending time with her dog, Lola, who is a member of Dog Scouts of America.

 


Rosanna Dichiro

National Consultant

Rosanna is FFT Site Supervisor for 2 teams in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, and has been doing FFT as therapist and supervisor for 4 years. The FFT teams receive referrals from both probation and our mental health clinic. Rosanna received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

“Right after Hurricane Katrina, I took a job with Covenant House. Covenant House is predominantly a homeless shelter for youth 16-22 years that also provides therapy, job training, and GED classes. I found while working there, that traditional therapy was not very helpful with this population and that most of the youth at Covenant House had had many years of therapy before becoming homeless that was also unsuccessful. When I become introduced to FFT, it seemed as though this was the answer to many of the issues that these clients had, as FFT addresses the root cause of teenage homelessness, that being family dysfunction. I am very glad to now be able to work with families in a different way that could prevent a lot of teens from becoming homeless in the first place, by helping families to resolve their relational issues and thus having a greater impact”.

Rosanna resides in New Orleans, and is an avid Saints fan.

 


Elisa Doebler-Irvine

PhD, LPC,FFT National Consultant


Elisa is the Executive Director of Homestead Youth & Family Services, Inc. in Pendleton, Oregon. She is an instructor for Eastern Oregon University, a Member-At-Large of the Blue Mountain Community Dispute Resolution Program Board of Directors and has a private practice. She has her Master’s in Counseling Psychology and her Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, an AAMFT Clinical Member and an ATSA Clinical and Research Member.

“I have always been keenly interested in adolescent development and delinquency and was drawn to family therapy as my preferred mode of clinical practice. In the mid-1990s, I became increasingly interested in evidence-based practice after hearing colleagues conclude that “nothing worked” with delinquent adolescents. It was about this time that I learned about an approach called Functional Family Therapy with encouraging outcome data coming out of Utah. Shortly after this, I began active efforts to develop an FFT team in my agency.”

 


Julie Elmenhurst

MSW, LICSW, FFT National Consultant, WA State Coordinator


Julie has a Master’s in Social Work from Walla Walla University, and is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). She resides in Kennewick, Washington with her partner, Allison. Julie practices FFT as a contractor with the Benton/Franklin and Yakima Counties Juvenile Courts, and the State of Washington Children’s Administration.

“I was a juvenile probation officer for over 10 years before becoming an FFT therapist. Although the transition from probation to FFT was immensely difficult, the FFT core principles and skills have allowed me to help families in ways that were not possible as a probation officer. It is an honor to use a family counseling model that treats all families with dignity and respect, sees hope in every person, never gives up, and empowers people to make lasting change.”

 


Kim Lee Fitzpatrick

MSW, FFT National Consultant


Kim attended SUNY Brockport, where she received a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and Syracuse University where she received a Master's Degree in Social Work. Kim became an FFT therapist as a member of a three person team in Syracuse, NY. Kim later joined the established FFT program at Cayuga Home for Children and was promoted to Assistant Director. Kim has experience in developing new FFT sites and working on administrative and clinical issues. Kim brings this knowledge to the teams she works with as a national consultant.

“My prior work experience includes providing group therapy to an inpatient stabilization facility with children and adolescents as well as various aspects of preventive services. I was initially drawn to FFT because the clinical structure and the phasic approach to creating family change. I continue to appreciate the strong family focus and the ability to create long lasting changes that will be supported by the entire family system.”

Kim lives in the Adirondack region of upstate New York with her husband and stepson. She is a Les Mills Body Pump instructor and belly dance instructor and performer.

 


Sidney Germinio

LMFT, FFT National Consultant


Sidney Germinio is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a AAMFT Approved Supervisor in the state of New York . She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Le Moyne College and her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Syracuse University.

Sidney began her career as a Functional Family Therapist at The Salvation Army Syracuse Area Services and has worked her way up the ladder to become their Functional Family Therapy Site Supervisor and now she is the Director of Child Welfare Services at the Salvation Army. She is passionate about community based work and social justice. Her work with FFT in the Syracuse community has expanded over time to touch many at populations including child welfare, high risk gang involved and affiliated youth, juvenile justice, and youth and children’s mental health.

Sidney is also passionate about dog rescue and has a rescued pit bull as a certified therapy dog. In fact she is possibly best known for her side kick and best friend, Roxy, who heals through unconditional love and acceptance while her owner handles the rest.

“I can best articulate my love for FFT in an analogy about dogs…of course… I feel that FFT enables me to help family members see themselves and each other in ways that they were previously unable, although not necessarily unwilling. You see that’s how dogs see us, dogs see the disarmed and vulnerable person who is trying their best. I believe it is the complexity of relationships, social and emotional context and often times survival that gets us stuck in these rigid, distrusting and negative views of one another. Ironically enough I also believe it is these same relationships and or new ones that ultimately heal. FFT provides the structure and the context for this healing to occur. “

 


J.R. Griffin

LCSW, FFT National Consultant


J.R. Griffin graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Masters in Clinical Social Work from Boston College. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and certified in licensing supervision, adoption counseling, and social work student field instruction in New Jersey. He has worked at Robins' Nest, Inc., in Glassboro, NJ for the past 11 years, the last 8 as the Program Director for FFT.

"I was drawn immediately to FFT as a family therapy and evidenced-based model, as I even do my "individual therapy" with children and adolescents with a parent or guardian present. Philosophically, I think everyone deserves the best treatment possible for whatever ailment they have, including in the mental health field. It still sometimes surprises me that so many people can be slow to embrace evidenced-based treatments. Why wouldn't we want everyone to have the best care available for themselves and their loved ones?

What I love about practicing and training others in FFT is showing its ability to bring joy and happiness to the lives of any family, even the "impossible" cases that everyone else has given up on. The FFT model provides us with the playbook, then challenges us to use our creativity to figure out how to make the model work for every family. FFT makes the impossible possible, and I will never get tired of seeing and hearing about families having "ah ha" moments during their FFT experience."

J.R. currently lives in Sewell, NJ, just outside of Philadelphia, with his wife and two young kids. He is originally from the suburbs of Detroit, MI.

 


Amy Hollimon

Ph.D, Licensed Psychologist, FFT Senior Clinical Trainer, Annie E. Casey Blue Sky Project Faculty, Contingency Management Training Coordinator, FFT Research Associate


Amy has worked for FFT LLC for 13 years in multiple roles and currently works as a senior clinical trainer and researcher. Her specialty in FFT is contingency management for substance abuse and she oversees a CM consulting team that trains a FFT-CM protocol she co-developed. She helps support multiple research projects--FFT-Gangs, FFT-Child Welfare, FFT-CM. Amy is the FFT faculty member of the Annie E. Casey Blue Sky Project in New York City and consults with the NYC Administration for Children's Services to support enhancements to the juvenile justice and child welfare systems in NYC. She got her Bachelor’s degree in Biology/Chemistry from the University of Mississippi in 1997, her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2000, and in 2004 she received her Doctorate from Indiana University. She is a Licensed Psychologist.

“The reason I was drawn to FFT was because I believed as a therapist I could have a greater impact on adolescents if I worked with the entire family. I was tired of just working with kids one-on-one and seeing no sustainable changes. That was the hook for me initially. What sustained my interest in FFT as a therapist were the relationships I had with families, the renewed relationships they created with each other, and seeing them make positive changes in their lives".

As a trainer and consultant, I am still intrigued by the model and how much the principles of respect, humility, and motivation play a role in all the work that I do. It’s rewarding to start off with a room full of strangers and watch them as they learn the model and get excited to help families by providing FFT. It's also rewarding to work with entire city and state systems both in the United States and outside the US to make changes that impact thousands of lives. I do not currently practice the model and continue to be in awe of the dedication and enthusiasm of the FFT clinicians that do the hard work to make provocative changes in families' lives. Every level of this work keeps me invigorated and renewed." Amy lives Fairhope, AL on Mobile Bay with her daughters Sophia and Lilly.

 


Marnie Huffman-Green

MSW, LCSW, FFT National Consultant


Marnie worked at the Mental Health Center serving Boulder and Broomfield Counties for over 12 years in a variety of roles. She was trained in the FFT model in 2004 and served as the FFT site lead for almost seven years. She served as a Detention Therapist/Assessment Specialist, FFT Clinical Supervisor, FFT Home-Based Therapist, and Youth Advocate Supervisor. In her last three years working for MHP, she worked with IMPACT where she specialized in working with multiple agencies around change management and championing the successful implementation of multiple evidence based programs. IMPACT is a nationally recognized collaborative model that works with at risk youth in Boulder County. IMPACT was integral in bringing FFT to Boulder County.

She got her Bachelor’s of Psychology from Amherst College and attended Smith School for Social Work where she received her Master’s of Social Work degree.

“I feel so committed to this kind of work and FFT specifically; the ability to work with families and help families see their strengths and their abilities and help highlight those strengths and empower families. I am extremely committed to helping the system see families and youth in different ways: helping systems to shift their "lens" and see families through their strengths and abilities rather than the deficits. I love the quote by Carl Jung "we are not what happened to us, we are who we choose to become". This is what I think FFT is all about; helping families understand this and see their future, one that is full of hope and the ability to overcome the challenges and struggles that life can bring. FFT is not just a philosophy or modality of a treatment. It is a way of being and seeing in the world, a way of seeing the potential and nobility in anything or anyone.”

Marnie enjoys anything outdoors in the West; running, hiking, biking, and snowboarding. She also enjoys nature and Yoga.

 


Jose Malave

LCSW, FFT National Consultant, FFT National Trainer


Jose Malave Jr. was born and currently resides in the borough of Bronx, New York. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of New York. Jose acquired his Bachelor of Science degree (BSW) from New York University (NYU) School of Social Work in 1998 and in 1999; he received his Master’s of Social Work (MSW) from New York University. His clinical experience has led him to work primarily in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry with experience working in a psych ER, inpatient unit, and community based outpatient clinic.

“What has drawn me to FFT as a therapist, supervisor, consultant, and trainer is the fact that FFT relies on a foundation of true respectfulness of culture and diversity. FFT relentlessly seeks to respect and understand families on their own terms with our non-judgmental, strength-based, relational approach. Being able to courageously “hang in there” with the families we work with during their troubling times and being able to help them build the strength and hope to make it through now and in the future in a short period of time makes our work so rewarding. FFT is a true family therapy model which in principle, philosophy, and practice views the family as the client.”

 


Kim Mason

MSW, LCSW, National Consultant


Kim serves as the Clinical Coordinator for the Florida Redirection Project. She received her Bachelor's in Social work from Central Missouri State University and her Master's in Social Work from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Florida. Her work prior to coming to FFT included work with youth in crisis, residential services for girls who had been sexually abused, development of after school programs, development and facilitation of therapeutic groups for adolescent girls and hospice.

“I was drawn to FFT due to my belief that families are essential and too often left out of services for youth.”

Kim lives with her husband and two children in Northern Florida.

 


Jason P. Medina

MABS, LMHC, FFT National Consultant, FFT Washington State Consultant, FFTCW National Consultant


Jason has a Bachelor’s in the Psychology of Religion, a Master’s in Applied Behavioral Science and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Washington. He is the President of Medina Group Consulting, LLC, providing much of his time towards a variety of FFT projects./p>

“I was introduced to FFT via Functional Family Parole programs in Washington State. FFT provides me with a clear structure for working with challenging clients and offers services to diverse populations. It is a relief to work inside a model that strives to be as effective as possible, as quickly as possible, with as many unique family systems as possible all while using evidence-based systems of practice.”

Jason is a Marriage Consultant and officiates weddings.

 


Helen M. Midouhas

L.P.C, N.C.C., FFT National Trainer, Site Certification Specialist, FFT CM Consultant


Helen has been involved with FFT since 2002 in different capacities, all of which make her work exciting and challenging. Her interest is in the implementation of FFT and in larger system development. She is both a Nationally Certified Counselor and a PA Licensed Professional Counselor. Her Masters is in School and Community Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to FFT she worked in roles involving administration, program implementation and clinical supervision.

“My training at Penn focused on research, outcomes and prevention. The concept of evidence-based programming was taught and discussed as a possible trend. Around 1995, there was talk of focusing mental health initiatives towards a prevention angle but little happened at the local level. It wasn’t until I was introduced to FFT through an opportunity to implement it that I saw outcomes and prevention become a reality, and this began my love affair with the model. Over the years I have had the fortune of watching ideas turn into realities, through youth and families experiencing improved relationships and less conflict, and organizations encountering success in their delivery of the model, to states generating larger system impacts and cost savings using FFT.”

Helen lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two children.

 


Annie Niermann

MSSW, LCSW, FFT National Consultant


Annie received a Master’s of Science in Social Work from Columbia University in the City of New York and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York State. As the former Director of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) FFT Program, she oversaw the implementation of FFT Re-entry programs serving adjudicated youth returning home from institutional care in the Bronx, Manhattan and Rochester, NY communities. Annie was initially trained as an FFT therapist while working in a community-based mental health clinic serving the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. She has been a National Consultant, on both clinical and administrative levels, for a variety of FFT teams, including the New York City based Blue Sky program and other juvenile justice and child welfare initiatives.

“I am passionate about FFT due to its enduring belief in the strength of ALL families, its ability to uncover noble intention in patterns of maladaptive behavior, and in its ability to bring hope and change to those perceived as the most “treatment resistant.” I was also drawn to FFT because of its ability to positively transform systems of care. As a National Consultant, I especially enjoy helping new FFT therapists learn the model and succeed in their work.”

 


Lisa Otto

LCSW, FFT National Consultant


Lisa is the director of home-based services for Child and Family Agency, a non-profit social service agency in Southeastern CT. She received her Bachelor’s degree in history from Wesleyan University and her Master’s of Social Work from Bryn Mawr College and is currently an LCSW. Immediately after graduate school, she went to work for the state of Maryland as a Child Protective Service worker, a job she kept for 7 years. Although her agency worked extraordinarily hard to keep children safe, she became increasingly concerned about the long-term impact of their involvement on many of the families they encountered. While they could detail their mistakes for them, they had few tools available to help them grow stronger and safer.

“When my husband and I relocated to CT, I was offered a job in a fledgling FFT program. Although I knew very little about FFT, it seemed to hold the potential to offer hope and the possibility of new solutions to many of the same sorts of families I had worked with in MD. I was pretty overwhelmed and confused the first six months that I tried to practice FFT, but even during that time, there were a few exciting glimmers. With increasing frequency, I’d see that one of the interventions I tried resulted immediately in family members looking at each other differently, and, often for the first time in years, appreciating their family and believing that they could resolve their own problems. For me now, the magic of FFT is twofold. First, it is an incredible experience to watch a family change and grow in ways that family members never thought were possible. Second, while it is often incredibly hard work, it is also very exciting. FFT requires me to use a great deal of energy, flexibility, and creativity, which always keeps the work interesting. I enjoy the consulting work that I do for FFT both because I am completely committed to the gifts that this model can give our families and because I love helping other therapists learn the model and grow excited as they see the impact that they are having on their clients.”

 


Joanna Pearse

FFT National Consultant


Joanna is a qualified Psychiatric Nurse, Social Worker and Systemic Psychotherapist, she also has training in Video Interactive Guidance and EMDR.

Joanna has worked for the past 30 years in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She started in in-patient settings, then became clinical lead for an adolescent forensic team working with young people with sexually harmful behaviours and then moved on to home-based therapy with families at risk of eviction due to persistent anti -social behaviours.

Joanna also provides training and supervision for people who are training to become systemic psychotherapists, she has worked for the Institute of Family Therapy, The Institute of Psychiatry and is currently a visiting Lecturer at the Tavistock.

Joanna has been doing FFT since 2008 and was the site lead for the first UK based FFT team. She is now a National Consultant and has been involved in the training, supervision and supporting implementation of all the UK FFT teams.

“I have worked as a systemic psychotherapist for many years and have always felt very strongly about providing therapy for families who have traditionally been seen as ‘hard to engage’

FFT has been like a breath of fresh air providing a conceptual frame that allows me to bring dignity, compassion and hope to families that other people have often given up on.

I have loved seeing the way that the model has supported families to make changes in their lives. I have also loved seeing the way newly trained therapists have been excited by the way the model has changed their practice and made a tangible difference to the success they have in helping families.”

 


Dayna R. Price

MLPC-S, FFT Program Supervisor, FFT National Consultant


Dayna is the FFT Program Supervisor for Options for Independence in Houma, LA, and has been doing FFT since 2009 as a therapist and a supervisor. Dayna has been working for this non-profit agency for the past 17 years. Options for Independence offers a vast amount of services to children and adolescents and Dayna has been a part of almost every program that the agency has offered children. Dayna has a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences and a Master’s degree in Psychological Counseling; both were obtained at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA. Dayna is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Louisiana LPC Board-approved clinical supervisor.

"FFT was the first evidence-based model program that I worked with and I so appreciate the fact that the entire family receives services. I have also supervised other evidence-based models, but FFT has been more effective in addressing everyone’s needs in the families that I have worked with thus far, in my opinion."

Dayna currently lives in Thibodaux, LA. She enjoys spending time with her beloved pooch, Lewey, shopping, and sports.

 


Dagfinn Mørkrid Thøgersen

FFT Scandinavian Director of Operations


Dagfinn Mørkrid Thøgersen is a clinical psychologist from the University of Oslo, Norway and has later continued with a specialty training in clinical family psychology.

Dagfinn has worked as the Norwegian Center for Child Behavioral Development since 2006, where he has led the national implementation of FFT in Norway. Dagfinn is currently working part-time at the research department of the Norwegian Center, where he will look at the effects of FFT in Norway based on a randomized controlled trial of FFT in the Norwegian State Child Welfare. Dagfinn has also been involved with the implementation of FFT in Denmark, where he now lives with his family, and works actively to promote and spread the use of FFT in Scandinavia and Europe.

“Working with FFT has provided me the chance to make a big impact for families in deep need of help. With a background in clinical family psychology, FFT has felt like «coming home» in my work with families, providing both a humanistic philosophical stance and a clear structure for treatment and interventions. As a trainer/consultant within FFT, I love helping other clinicians to provide a high quality service to troubled youth and their families, and I am proud of the difference we make for the families we serve.”

 


Erin Wertheimer

FFT National Consultant


Erin earned her Master’s degree in Social Work in 2007 from the University of Denver. Upon graduation, Erin worked as a FFT Therapist and then FFT Supervisor for a non-profit agency in Denver, CO and Auckland, New Zealand. Erin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor. She is the co-director of Fostering Healthy Futures at Aurora Mental Health Center in Aurora, CO working with youth in the foster care system.

“FFT is a model that captured my attention early in my career. I have seen the magic of FFT and how the interventions of the model has the ability to transform family relationships. I feel so fortunate to have been able to practice FFT not only in the States, but also in New Zealand. I have seen firsthand how transferrable this model can be towards working with various cultures. I could be delivering FFT with a family in Denver or Auckland and similar impact with families can occur!”