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Two Dried Leaves

MEET THE TEAM

Herkimer, NY Team

RENEE COMSTOCK
LCSW-R

Renee Comstock is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW-R) and clinical supervisor. She uses compassion and empathy within her practice and promotes a comfortable, non-judgmental environment to help clients feel supported in their counseling journey.

Renee obtained her undergraduate degree from SUNY Empire State College and her Master’s in Social Work from the University of New England.  Renee has several years of experience working in different settings with culturally diverse populations, including both long-term and brief interventions.  She has worked with refugees in a community health clinic setting, as well as with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families in a non-profit organization and private practice.  She is eclectic in her therapy approach tailoring it to the unique needs of each client and describes herself as a prescriptive therapist.  Renee has experience working with anxiety, depression, oppositional defiance disorder, ADHD, addiction, Adjustment Disorder, grief, and much more. She primarily uses Solution-Focused therapy (SFT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), play therapy, and PCIT (parent child interaction therapy). In addition, Renee is an OASAS approved provider who administers OASAS assessments for impaired driving offenses.   

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VANESSA PERRY

Licensed Master Social Worker

Vanessa Perry is a Licensed Masters Social Worker and has been in the human service field since graduating with her Bachelors in Social Work in 2011. Vanessa received her Master’s in Social Work in 2019 and has worked in the field as a therapist. She enjoys working with both adults and children to help meet their current needs. She is trained in Parent Child Interaction Therapy and looks forward to implementing the skills learned to better serve families in our community. 

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VANESSA PERRY
Licensed Masters Social Worker

Vanessa Perry is a Licensed Masters Social Worker and has been in the human service field

since graduating with her Bachelors in Social Work in 2011. Vanessa received her Master’s in

Social Work in 2019 and has worked in the field as a therapist. She enjoys working with both

 

adults and children to help meet their current needs. She is trained in Parent Child Interaction

Therapy and looks forward to implementing the skills learned to better serve families in our

community.

ALEXANDRA PALMER

MSW, CASAC

 

Alexandra graduated with her undergrad in sociology from SUNY Oneonta in 2015. She began her career working with at risk youth within the County PINS Deprtment. Shortly after, she began working with individuals struggling with substance abuse and eventually earned her CASAC after 3 years of counseling. In 2020,  she decided to pursue her MSW through the University of New England to be able to serve a wider population of individuals. All of Alexandra’s experiences leading up to beginning her MSW journey allowed her to fall in love with helping others. She enjoys assisting her clients in reaching their fullest potential by giving them a safe space to process and grow.  While working towards her MSW degree, she began providing psychosocial services to local children through Cuda Counseling. Alexandra graduated with her MSW in the summer of 2022 and is currently studying to take her licensing exam. She was raised in the Mohawk Valley where she currently lives with her husband and their two dogs. 

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CHRISTINA HOYT

 LCSW-R

Christina Hoyt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker committed to working with individuals, couples, and families.  Some of her clinical interests include managing life transitions, relationship issues, working through family of origin, trauma, improving self-esteem, and bereavement experiences, improving self-esteem, and working with those impacted by mental illness.

Christina’s approach is eclectic, pragmatic and direct, tailoring treatment to meet the collaboratively-defined goals and needs. She incorporates warmth, genuineness, and humor into her work, aiming to create a space where diverse client systems feel comfortable engaging in critical thinking and introspection. Christina believes in the importance of integrating past and present experiences, helping clients feel strengthened and more satisfied both individually and in relationships with others. She helps clients access greater understanding to create long-standing, meaningful change. 

Christina received her Master’s Degree in Social Welfare from University at Albany in May 2012. In addition to her extensive clinical training, Christina has many years of experience working with children and adults impacted by mental illness. Christina has training in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. Christina is the current Children’s Single Point of Access (SPOA)Coordinator for Herkimer County. 

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EVAN SMITH

LMSW

Evan was born and raised in Upstate New York and has lived in the Mohawk Valley region since he was 12 years old.  As a child Evan saw how counseling helped both himself and his family which is why he decided to go into the field.  He attended Roberts Wesleyan College where he received a master's degree in social work and has been working as a counselor since graduating in 2015. Evan has experience working with a wide range of ages both individually and in a family setting.  He especially enjoys being able to help people heal from past hurts and traumas.  If he is not at work you can usually find Evan out in nature in the Adirondacks or playing music with his faith community.  

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JOHN OSSOWSKI

LMSW

John earned his undergraduate degree at Utica University and his masters of social work at Portland State University. John practices from a cognitive behavioral, strengths-based perspective with mindfulness techniques to promote growth and healing. John believes his clients are the only ones who can define their 'why' - and they possess the capacity to create a life worth living. In his spare time, John is a fiber artist who creates unique works using yarn, textiles, and sometimes found objects. He also shares his love of the craft with others by teaching them what he knows. John lives in the Mohawk Valley with his husband, two dogs, and a senior cat.

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Rome, NY Team

TRACY ZARATE

Licensed Master Social Worker

Tracy is a Licensed Master of Social Worker (LMSW) in the state of New York. Tracy graduated from Stony Brook University with her graduate degree in Social Work. She has a Master’s Degree in Education from St. John's University as well.
 

Tracy has six years of experience working with children and families providing case management and crisis de-escalation. For the past three years she has worked with the aging population and is comfortable working with all ages.

 

Tracy considers herself a life-long learner and is continuously seeking to gain more skills and broaden her education. Most recently, she became a Certified Care Manager.

Tracy believes that helping a client achieve their goals happens when given the guidance they need to utilize their strengths and realize their potential. Tracy wants her clients to live fulfilling lives and strives to provide an environment of compassion and support.

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SARA BESSETTE

Mental Health Counselor

Sara is a Mental Health Counselor who was formerly a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Texas before moving to New York in November of 2018.  Sara obtained her Master’s from Texas Woman’s University in Counseling and Development after getting her Master’s from the University of Texas at Dallas in Human Development and Early Childhood Disorders.  She has been working with children and families for over 10 years, with a focus on mental health since 2016.  Sara has worked with children, families, couples, adolescents and individuals and has experience working with child abuse, domestic violence, trafficking, anxiety, depression, PTSD, attachment disorders, nonfinite loss and grief (related to disability), children with disabilities - ADHD, Autism spectrum, behavioral disorders, and problematic sexual disorders.  She is trained in Child Centered Play Therapy and Child Parent Relationship Therapy and is working towards her certification as a Registered Play Therapist.  She has also completed the basic training for EMDR and is building her skills in this evidence based approach, along with training in the Gottman method,  Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery approach, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and  play-based assessments of developmental delays.  Sara utilizes a trauma-informed integrated approach that addresses the unique individual needs of her clients and is constantly seeking new information and opportunities to help each person reach their goals.

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Robert VanMeter

LCSW-R

 

Holding a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from Syracuse University, Bob is currently a licensed Clinical Social Worker (R) with over 38 years of clinical experience.  His professional expertise includes outpatient community mental health, crisis intervention, structured outpatient programming, inpatient psychiatric services, and private practice psychotherapy.   As an Intensive Case Manager with the New York State Office of Mental Health for over twenty-eight years, a private therapist at the Professional Counseling Center in New Hartford for over twenty years and now a therapist with Cuda Counseling since 2020, Bob has touched many lives.  This includes social work students, interns and fellow professionals to whom he has provided clinical and administrative supervision.

Bob’s clinical experience spans a very broad range which includes working with individuals and groups  in the following areas:  Depression;  Bi-Polar Disorder;  Anxiety;  Behavior and Discipline Challenges; Self Harm Behavior; Complicated Grief Reaction; Anger/Stress Management; Trauma Abuse;  Family Relationship Issues;  Chronic Mental Illness; Couples Conflict;  Adolescence Issue; Self–Image/Self Esteem Issues; Suicide Assessment; Suicide Risk Reduction. His clients have included children, adolescents, families and adults.

He emphasizes a more integrative, dynamic and holistic approach to mental health. This relies on the mutual development of goals for therapy with his clients, as well as providing on-going evaluation of the therapeutic approach.    Bob is trained in a variety of treatment modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy and Crisis Intervention.  He continues to seek ongoing updates to his skills and knowledge base in an effort to best meet the needs of the individuals that he works with.

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PARIS PEARSON

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

 

Paris L. Pearson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the state of New York. Paris obtained her undergraduate degree in Education from Utica College of Syracuse University and is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany with a Masters in Social Work. She has been in the Human Services field her entire career, practicing as a Social Worker for over a decade serving a diverse population. Paris has extensive knowledge working with children, adolescents, and their families. She has experience with diagnostic evaluations, assessments, and treatment planning, including brief interventions and long-term strategies. She utilizes a various treatment modality to meet the specific, individual needs of each client; including but not limited to Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Solution- Focused Therapy (SFT), and play therapy techniques. Paris’ experience includes treating depression, anxiety, grief and loss struggles, relationship issues and assisting others to acquire the skills needed to resolve social, emotional, and behavioral concerns. Paris’ approach is always trauma informed, culturally sensitive and strengths based.

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ANDRE CUDA

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (R)

Andre Cuda grew up in Upstate New York and went on to attend Ithaca College where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree. In 2009, Andre completed a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) at the University of New Hampshire. After completing his MSW,  Andre returned home to help his community and be closer to family. 

 

Andre Cuda is independently licensed in New York State as an LCSW-R.  He has over 12 years of experience working with individuals, families, and children. In addition, he has collaborated with a variety of local agencies to increase his impact on the local community.

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JENNIFER HAND

Office Manager

Jennifer Hand has been the Office Manager at Cuda Counseling since its opening in June of 2017 and has over a decade of outpatient office experience. Jennifer is usually the first contact for our clients and she is personable and knowledgeable. She is also adept at answering insurance and billing questions, which can be a difficult vortex to navigate. Jen always happens to be a wonderful listener with a good sense of humor; she is the machine that keeps the office running.

Telehealth Team

STACEY SMITH

Licensed Master Social Worker

Stacey L. Smith is a licensed master social worker. Stacey is interested in helping those struggling with mental health to find a safe place to process their feelings, explore coping patterns, and reach mental

health goals. Stacey has experience working with individuals that have diagnoses such as depression, Anxiety, bipolar depression, and explosive anger. Stacey's skills set include Cognitive behavioral therapy, person-centered therapy, strength-based therapy, and solution-focused therapy. Stacey received her bachelor's degree from the College at Brockport in 2015 graduating with a dual degree in psychology and health science with a Drug and Alcohol concentration. While at Brockport Stacey engaged in several research opportunities and internships to accompany her education. Stacey then when on to the University at Buffalo where she received a master's degree in social work in 2018. In the process of gaining her Master's degree, Stacey worked as a school social worker at a high school in Erie County, as well as completing an internship with a rights advocacy agency in Buffalo New York. Stacey has worked as a Care manager for several years, helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities get access to needed resources. she has also been working as a social worker at a doctor's office in Rochester NY that focuses on assisting adult clients with child onset diagnoses.  Stacey has currently been a part of the Cuda Counseling staff since June 2022. Stacey offers telehealth sessions in the evening with some availability on weekends when needed.

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KRISTEN EBERLY

Licensed Master Social Worker

Kristen Eberly is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in the state of New York. She graduated with a bachelors in social work from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a masters in social work from SUNY Binghamton. Kristen has a variety of experience through internship opportunities and employment, including working with individuals at an inpatient mental health unit, jail, IOP for substance abuse, school, in-home therapy and non-profit community clinic. 

Kristen utilizes a multifaceted approach while working with clients to improve their mental health and overall well being. She believes a great deal of change occurs through fostering people's strengths and building on the courage and hope they contain. Some of her favorite intervention models include motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive processing therapy (CPT), the emotional freedom technique (EFT), and internal family systems (IFS). 

She is eager and motivated to gain more knowledge and wisdom in the field of psychotherapy to better serve and help others improve their lives. Kristen is passionate about reaching people across the state of New York by providing accessible care through telehealth, and currently provides telehealth services for Cuda Counseling part-time while living in the North Country with her family. 

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