About you, About us

Our doors are open...virtually. During the coronavirus pandemic our therapists are continuing to see clients. Sessions are conducted in a virtual format so that we may honor and practice social distancing while also meeting our client's needs. We are accepting new virtual clients that have UC SHIP insurance.

About You, and About Us

We are a group of  licensed therapists who are passionate about working with young adults (18 years old-33 years old). Our expertise is providing holistic counseling to overwhelming life transitions. We offer a compassionate approach, combined with dynamic collaboration to help you develop skills and tools to apply immediately to your life. 

Photo: Kerena Saltzman

Kerena Saltzman

 Founder,  LCSW #20934

Kerena created 20’s Creating Connections to support 20-somethings navigating major life transitions. She gathered a group of highly skilled licensed therapists to provide holistic counseling to this emerging generation.

Kerena works  with a limited number of clients per year.  She specializes in working with transition related issues: first generation students, death of a loved one, break ups, illness, divorce, and graduating seniors' anxiety around what is next for them. She works with graduate students experiencing burn out, stress, and who are wanting to get more direction and clarity professionally. She is trained in EMDR.

Language: English

Photo: Persephone Gonzalez

Persephone Gonzalez

 LMFT #100405

Persephone Gonzalez, LMFT, provides psychotherapy in English and Spanish. Her specialties include complex trauma, major depression, anxiety, issues of gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, sexuality and intimacy. She is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, as well as current studies in Relational Gestalt Therapy.

Persephone considers how structural, political and representational intersectionality shape clients’ access to status, health and power, bringing sociocultural contexts into the room. Persephone has an interest in working with clients who are exploring the borders of bi-cultural identity and historical and inter-generational trauma. 

Persephone is a graduate of The University of California Santa Cruz.

Language: English, Spanish

Photo: Martha aguilar

Martha Aguilar

 LMFT #108963

Since 1999, Martha has worked with youth and young adults navigating major life transitions and the challenges that can come with developing independence and self-identity, especially for those from marginalized communities. Her specialty is working with first generation college students from migrant or recent immigrant families, and those from families struggling with addiction or similar challenges. She has extensive experience working with depression, anxiety, oppression trauma, body image, low self-esteem, grief, and loss. She offers online counseling in English and Spanish.

Martha has been trained in: Assertive Communication, Trauma Focused CBT, Mindfulness-Based Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents, Motivational Interviewing, and Cara y Corazon modalities including Xinachlti, and Joven Noble.

Martha completed her BA in Multicultural Psychological Counseling from Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA; and her MA in Counseling Psychology from Palo Alto University.

Language: English, Spanish

Photo: Kim Prohaska

Kim Prohaska

 LCSW #24158

Kim brings a direct, practical, and caring approach to working with clients. She specializes in working with anxiety, depression, PTSD, mood disorders, students in the LBGTQ community, students coping with immigration and first generation challenges, and students experiencing major life transitions.

She has been trained in Forensic Social Work, DBT, CBT, Family Systems, Brief Therapy, TF-CBT,  Attachment Therapy, Trauma based therapies and other evidence-based models. Utilizing a strengths-based developmental approach, her practice focuses on helping others achieve both short and long term goals.  She has practiced in a variety of settings including inpatient psychiatric, outpatient clinics, forensic assessments and private practice.  Additionally, she has provided clinical supervision for both interns and those working towards licensure from The Citadel, MUSC, Tulane University, UCLA and San Jose State.

Kimberly Prohaska, LCSW, JD completed her MSW in 1995 at Rhode Island College and Juris Doctor at Loyola University, New Orleans in 2003.

Language: English

Photo: Dima Dashevsky

Dima Dashevsky

 LMFT #82579

Dima is a holistic therapist who works relationally as well as somatically and provides a safe space for you to be able to get in touch with your inner wisdom and intuition as a way to guide you through whatever challenges and struggles you may be experiencing. Dima’s work is also rooted in intersectionality, restorative justice, cultural humility and queer theory.

As an immigrant as well as a queer, non-binary, transgender human, he holds a special place in his heart for working with folks affected by displacement and struggling to find a sense of community and belonging. By looking together at how the multiple layers of your identity and life experiences have shaped you, we can reflect on your strengths and resiliency, and support you in moving towards becoming your most empowered self and creating the life that you want.

Dima has been a therapist for more than a decade in multiple settings, including agencies, schools, providing community-based services, as well as private practice. He specialized in providing trauma-informed services to youth, children and families involved with child welfare, as well as providing gender affirmative care to youth and adults in the LGBTQQI+ community. Dima has also enjoyed combining traditional talk therapy with other modalities, such as Expressive Arts Therapy.

Language: English, Russian 

Photo: Melissa Villalobos

Melissa Villalobos

LCSW #88903

Melissa Villalobos, LCSW, provides a safe and supportive environment to explore your feelings and concerns. Her goal is to help you live and maintain a fulfilling, healthy, authentic, balanced and meaningful life. She holds a degree in Psychology from UCSC and earned her Masters degree in Social Work from San Jose State. She has over 15 years in the mental health field and has worked with children, adolescents and adults to improve overall quality of life.

Melissa has worked in a variety of settings, including residential facilities, psychiatric hospitals, non-profit community agencies and government. She specializes in working with mood disorders, depression, anxiety and first-generation challenges. She works to provide each person with a tailored treatment plan using a blend of theoretical orientations.

Language: English, Spanish

Photo: Ritta de los Santos

Riitta de los Santos

LMFT #105830

Riitta specializes in anxiety, depression, life transitions, chronic stress, and complex trauma. She has experience working with youth and adults of diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds in private practice, educational, county mental health, and forensic settings.

Riitta’s own experience as an adult immigrant from Finland has helped her understand how our cultural stories shape how we think, feel, behave, interact, and experience the world.  Riitta uses a combination of approaches including talk therapy, somatic modalities, and energy psychology to address multiple aspects of you. She believes that our personalities are composed of various parts. For example, you may find yourself wondering why a part of you wants to make changes in your life while another part can be critical and self-sabotaging of the changes you are trying to make. Welcoming and working with all of your parts and conflicting emotions in therapy provides an opportunity for deeper self-awareness and the discovery of inner resources for healing.  

Riitta earned her Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Palo Alto University.

Language: English, Finnish

Photo: Amanda Nisewaner

Amanda Nisewaner

LCSW #75342

Amanda Nisewaner is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked with young adults and adolescents navigating transitions for the past decade. She takes a holistic and collaborative approach to identifying treatment goals and strives to create a calm and safe space for individuals to express themselves. She pulls from a variety of therapeutic modalities and will utilize narrative therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family systems, mindfulness, and has recently explored the benefits of nature therapy. She specializes in working with mood disorders, depression, anxiety, first generation challenges, grief and loss, and those looking to make healthy lifestyle changes. 

Amanda received her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz and her masters in Social Work from Boston University. She spent her training years at Children's Hospital Boston with an emphasis on trauma and working with recently arrived refugees and immigrants. She understands the needs and challenges that young people are faced with in today's society and enjoys exploring the political and cultural climate that impact our well-being.

Language: English

Photo: Edward Olvera

Edward Olvera

LMFT #22240

Edward Olvera provides strength-based and solution-focused assistance with an emphasis on:

- Assisting you in focusing your attention, inner strengths, and abilities on your present circumstances in order to address counterproductive thoughts and behaviors so you can realize a more satisfying, enriched, and desired future!

- Past experiences can carry an emotional charge that can be like a powerful  “undertow”, however the goal is to learn to build new skills, strength, and focus to enhance or amplify your resilience, resourcefulness, and resolve to become your "Best You" living a lifestyle of your design and desire!

- The approach is intended to coach, guide, encourage, question, advocate and collaborate in order to help you achieve desired goals. "Partnering" with you emphasizes solutions to overcome patterns of behavior and thinking that are counterproductive, unsatisfying, or otherwise detrimental to your well-being, happiness, and life goals. 

Edward brings more than four decades of experience and practice in a variety of settings including Crisis Mental Health, Emergency room settings, private practice, Telehealth, and  UCSC CAPS. 

Language: English

Photo: Uzma Nazir

Uzma Nazir

LCSW #27572

Uzma specializes in helping individuals with depression, anxiety and other behavioral illnesses, as well as interpersonal problems and issues related to cultural identity. She offers a safe, nurturing, and nonjudgmental environment to help you work through painful thoughts, feelings, and memories so you can choose with awareness how you want to lead your most fulfilling life. She will work collaboratively with you to determine the best way to get there, and while working toward change is serious business, humor also has its place in her sessions. 

 Uzma uses evidence-based approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you gain new coping skills and change old ways of thinking. She brings a wealth of knowledge and insight that she has acquired through her studies, training, and life experience.  

“It is an honor to hold space for my clients as they discuss some of their most intimate life details and allow me to accompany them on their journey of self-improvement.” 

Language: English, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi

Photo: Virginia Ballantyne

Virginia Ballantyne

LCSW #98267

Virginia Ballantyne identifies as a bi-racial woman and her pronouns are She/Her. Her specialties include working with people who have experienced intimate partner violence, trauma/PTSD, anxiety, and depression, or who grew up in an environment where they were negatively impacted by a family members’ substance use or mental illness. 

Virginia provides a sex positive environment where issues around sexual intimacy, sexual identity, and sexual desires can be discussed without judgement. She considers herself to be an LGBTQ+ affirming therapist and an ally for LGBTQ+ individuals and sexual/gender minorities. Virginia also works with disadvantaged populations and values social justice, authenticity, and each person’s right to self-determination.

She is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, as well as Solution Focused Therapy. Virginia practices from a strengths-based, client-centered approach that focuses on empowering each person to access their inner wisdom and move toward mental wellness. Her counseling style is non-judgmental and her theoretical orientation is best described as humanistic/eclectic and unique to each person’s situation and background.

Virginia graduated from San Jose State University with a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in health/mental health. She has many years of experience providing mental health services in the non-profit sector and county services.

Language: English

Photo: Madelein Morales

Madelein Morales

LMFT #121770

Madelein Morales is adept at working with depression, anxiety, grief and loss, self esteem, and life transitions. She is particularly interested in working with clients who are exploring issues of ethnic identity and acculturation, and is informed by her own experience as a first generation Latina and first generation college student. She offers online counseling in English and Spanish. 

Madelein’s focus is client-centered and she tailors her therapy to the needs of each individual. “What guides my therapeutic approach is understanding the complexities of the Intersection of our identity with our morals and values. My goal is to make sure you feel safe, heard, understood, and to honor your story.” 

Madelein received her undergraduate degree from Saint Mary’s College of California in Sociology and Women’s Studies, and her master’s from Santa Clara University with a Latino emphasis. Madelein has worked extensively with adjudicated youth, those from troubled families, and youth in the foster care system.

 Language: English, Spanish

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Phone: 831-566-3495