At Howard County Psychological Services, we hope to help you achieve greater self-awareness, self-acceptance, and overall happiness so that you can live a more satisfying and comfortable life. As you work on yourself you may also develop healthier and more meaningful connections with others.
Therapy is an evolving process. Your therapist will strive to create a space that is free of pressure or expectation to feel better within a certain time frame. We value following your lead and pace while also maintaining active involvement in your therapy. One of our main goals is to create positive therapeutic relationship, in which you feel safe, nurtured, validated, and understood. Your therapist will work with you to gently guide and challenge you towards deeper insight, self-understanding, and emotional expression. Through exploration and emotional awareness, behaviors will change and you will start to feel happier and more fulfilled in life. Meet our wonderful clinicians below:
Dr. Donna Beck
Dr. Donna Beck completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Alabama in Psychology and Criminal Justice. She earned her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Towson University. She then completed her Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Loyola College in Maryland. Dr. Beck is a dedicated clinician with over 20 years of experience conducting individual, group and family therapy services working with youth and families in diverse practice settings.
Dr. Beck is highly skilled in the areas of complex trauma and abuse, attachment and development, crisis intervention, and family therapy. Her areas of expertise include working with children, adolescents and young adults with emotional and behavioral disturbance and sexual behavior problems. Utilizing primarily psychodynamic and interpersonal perspectives, her special interests include working with clients struggling with anxiety, eating disorders, work place stress & professional burn out, identity development, divorced & blended families, and relationship difficulties. Dr. Beck’s nurturing, non-judgmental and challenging approach supports clients in developing insight into disordered thinking, attitudes and behaviors that influence and maintain maladaptive and destructive patterns in self-care and relationships.
Dr. Beck uses a number of evidenced based interventions to include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), & Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD (CPT).
Dr. Shemika Brooks
Dr. Shemika Brooks completed her undergraduate degree at Spelman College as a double major in Psychology and Philosophy. She then began her graduate studies at Boston University School of Medicine, where she completed a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine. Subsequently, she earned a Doctorate (Psy.D. degree) in Clinical Psychology at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Dr. Brooks has engaged in clinical work in a variety of college/university counseling centers, as well as community agencies serving children and adolescents, couples, and families. She also has a passion for group psychotherapy, and has recently been granted the Certified Group Psychotherapist (CGP) credential by the International Board for the Certification of Group Psychotherapists.
Some of Dr. Brooks’s clinical interests include issues of social justice and equity; diversity, multiculturalism, and intercultural awareness; relationship issues; first-generation college students; issues of child abuse, neglect, and permanency (e.g., foster care, kinship/legal guardianship); interpersonal trauma and recovery; identity development; and women’s issues. She thinks dynamically, takes an integrative approach to therapy, and is open to working with all client identities.
Julie Fischer, LCPC
Julie Fischer earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Education from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2010 and went on to complete her Master’s Degree from Loyola University Maryland in School Counseling in 2012. She pursued licensure at Loyola University Maryland and became a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in 2018. She is currently studying to become a trauma-informed practitioner and will be certified by Fall 2022.
Julie has spent the last 10 years as a Middle School Counselor for the Howard County Public School System. In addition, Julie has worked part-time for the National Family Resiliency Center (NFRC), working with children and families experiencing separation and divorce. In the 7 years she has spent at NFRC, she has worked as an individual therapist, family/co-parent consultant, group facilitator, and co-facilitator for co-parenting and KidsConnex seminars.
Julie enjoys working with teens and adults who are struggling with interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, anxiety, life transitions and stress. With her experience in the school system, and working with families at NFRC, Julie has worked with a variety of issues and welcomes all clients into her office with judgement-free, radical acceptance. She has extensive experience in counseling for adolescents, especially issues related to depression, anxiety, trauma, school stress, peer and family conflict, and academic and future planning.
Julie’s psychodynamic approach to counseling is rooted in strength-based and solution-focused techniques – with a dose of humor! She believes that her clients are the experts on their own lives, and her job is to support them, help them identify “blind spots”, and challenge maladaptive thought processes and unhealthy coping strategies. Together, Julie and her clients will celebrate the victories (big and small), process the setbacks, try new techniques, stay focused on the client’s goals, and help them find the happiness that they deserve!
Dr. Ericka Jenifer
Dr. Ericka Jenifer completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia, with a double major in Psychology and African and Afro American Studies. She earned her Masters and Doctorate (Ph.D.) degrees in Clinical Psychology at Howard University, with specializations in Neuropsychology, Health Psychology, and Women’s Studies. Subsequently, Dr. Jenifer earned Masters degrees in Public Health and Business Administration from Benedictine University.
Dr. Jenifer engaged in clinical work in military, veteran, and community mental health outpatient settings. She has multiple years of experience providing individual, couple, and group therapy and conducting psychological assessments. Dr. Jenifer also has experience with conducting mental health disability evaluations for veterans.
Some of Dr. Jenifer’s clinical interest include recovery from trauma, anxiety, depression, substance misuse/abuse, relationship issues, military-related issues, diversity, multiculturalism, and cultural sensitivity. Dr. Jenifer is passionate about helping people from a wide variety of backgrounds and identities to heal and to learn to cope in healthy ways with the challenges they face in everyday life. She believes in meeting her clients where they are and takes a person-centered, motivational, and integrative approach in therapy.
Dr. Brett Kirkpatrick
Dr. Brett Kirkpatrick completed his undergraduate degree at Davidson College with a bachelor’s of science in psychology. He completed his master’s degree at Loyola University Maryland after which he completed his PhD at the University of Kentucky’s APA-accredited counseling psychology program.
Prior to returning to graduate school to pursue his life-long goal of becoming a psychologist, Dr. Kirkpatrick worked in corporate America for 10 years at a large insurance company and financial institution.
Dr. Kirkpatrick’s clinical work has ranged from college and university counseling centers to an in-patient psychiatric hospital, a state prison, and a community mental health agency. Dr. Kirkpatrick primarily works with adults and focuses on presenting problems that include depression, anxiety, panic attacks, trauma, identity development, relationship issues, and issues pertaining to masculinity and other men’s issues. Social justice, equity, diversity, and multiculturalism are values and ideals that Dr. Kirkpatrick strives to recognize in his daily work.
Dr. Kirkpatrick utilizes an integrative approach that combines evidence-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal process in therapy (IPT) with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). In general, Dr. Kirkpatrick emphasizes and values building strong therapeutic relationships with his clients and working on cognitive flexibility, emotional regulation, and overall acceptance.
Dr. Melissa Lean
Dr. Melissa Lean completed her undergraduate degree from The University of Maryland, College Park in Psychology with a minor in Special Education. She earned her Masters and Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from George Washington University.
Dr. Lean has experiences providing individual therapy, group therapy, and mental health outreach services in community mental health settings and university counseling centers in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore metro areas.
Her clinical interests include life transitions, interpersonal relationship concerns, and identity development. Dr. Lean is integrative in her therapeutic work, drawing from psychodynamic, developmental, and multicultural perspectives. She is also passionate about mental health advocacy and the reduction of stigma related to mental health services.
Dr. Emilie Lawson
Dr. Emilie Lawson completed her undergraduate degree from Loyola University Maryland with a major in psychology. She earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from The George Washington University. She has experience providing therapy in community mental health and private practice settings, and she has worked for nearly 10 years in college counseling centers in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore metro areas.
Dr. Lawson enjoys working with a variety of mental health difficulties, and her special interests include relationship and identity issues, supporting multicultural/diversity and LGBTQ concerns, as well as grieving infertility and pregnancy loss. She also has a particular interest in providing group therapy. She approaches therapy primarily from psychodynamic and interpersonal perspectives, integrating other modalities as needed.
Dr. Rachel Menditch
Dr. Rachel Menditch completed her undergraduate degree from The George Washington University in Political Science and Communications. She began her graduate work at Towson University where she received a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology. She then went on to earn her Masters and Doctorate of Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) degrees from The George Washington University.
Dr. Menditch has experience conducting therapy and psychological assessments to patients of diverse backgrounds and presenting issues. She has also worked in a range of mental health treatment settings across the greater Washington, DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas including academic settings and community mental health centers.
Dr. Menditch’s clinical interests include interpersonal relationship concerns, self-esteem and self-worth issues, and grief and loss. She generally approaches her therapeutic work from a psychodynamic perspective and has had extensive training in this approach to therapy. However, she also appreciates implementing techniques from a variety of schools of thought in order to best meet her patients’ needs.
Angela Pietrowiak, MSW, LCSW-C
Angela Pietrowiak completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park with Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Criminal Justice. She completed her Master of Social Work at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work in Baltimore, MD.
Mrs. Pietrowiak, MSW, LCSW-C enjoys working with a variety of clients, and has previous experience working with adults seeking treatment for anxiety, depression, substance abuse concerns, interpersonal and relationship issues, anger management, parenting, and problems stemming from stress management and life transitions. She has several years of experience with both individual and group therapy, and has primarily worked with adults involved in the criminal justice system. This experience has afforded her the opportunity to work with individuals from all walks of life and with a wide range of presenting concerns. This work has fueled her passion for social justice, advocacy, and promoting equity.
Her approach to therapy is rooted primarily in a psychodynamic perspective, while also incorporating techniques and strategies derived from attachment theory, cognitive-behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, with a client-centered approach. Mrs. Pietrowiak recognizes the importance of respecting the client’s goals for therapy and integrates a holistic approach to assist the client in reaching those goals. She views therapy as a collaborative process between the therapist and client, and strives to provide a supportive, empathic, and non-judgmental environment ideal for growth.
Dr. Jillian Solomon
Dr. Johanna Clay Souder
Dr. Johanna Clay Souder completed her undergraduate degree from Salisbury University in Psychology. She earned her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Morehead University in Kentucky. She later went on to complete her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University of Washington, D.C.
Dr. Souder has over thirty years of experience providing therapy and psychological assessments in a wide variety of clinical settings and with diverse populations. Her clinical interests include neurodegenerative disorders, substance use disorders, mood and/or anxiety disorders, trauma, grief and loss, and multicultural issues. She approaches therapy from a cognitive behavioral perspective utilizing a biopsychosocial and holistic approach.
Dr. Souder is passionate about assisting individuals and their loved ones through the unique challenges associated with the aging process. She enjoys working with individuals and families from adolescence through the geriatric population. She has extensive experience working with individuals who have alcohol and/or drug abuse concerns. Dr. Souder seeks to integrate the environmental, lifestyle, health, educational, social, and psychological aspects that contribute to one’s mental health.
Dr. Andrea Xisto
Dr. Andrea Xisto (she/her) completed an undergraduate degree from Princeton University where she majored in Sociology. She went on to complete a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development.
Dr. Xisto has experience working in university counseling settings and community mental health. She is passionate about creating inclusive spaces, and has trained graduate students, predoctoral interns, and licensed mental health professionals in multicultural issues.
At HCPS, Dr. Xisto provides individual therapy services and specializes in the treatment of adults ages 18 and older. She has extensive experience working with young adults as they navigate the unique challenges and opportunities of this time in life. Some of Dr. Xisto’s professional interests include cultural identity development, racial trauma, adverse religious experiences, self-exploration, anxiety, academic and career stress, and relationship concerns. Dr. Xisto specializes in working with clients from historically excluded and marginalized communities, and she uses an integrative
approach to therapy with a strong multicultural and intersectional lens. Her style is
warm, compassionate, strengths-based, and empowerment-focused. A hallmark of Dr.
Xisto’s work is her value of collaboratively building a therapeutic experience where
clients can show up in their truth and feel seen and valued.