At NorthStar Counseling & Wellness, we strive to serve you with guidance, encouragement and direction, so that you may achieve your goals, discover your authentic self, cultivate self-compassion, develop an increased self-awareness and grow creatively by providing mental health services, counseling and psychotherapy, and integrative care.
Get to know our staff!
Nicole is a Licensed Certified Social Worker – Clinical (LCSW-C) in the state of Maryland. With 10+ years of experience, Nicole has provided mental health therapy and counseling services in Community Programs, School Systems, independent Healthcare Practices, and a large Hospital Network. She has provided care in various settings including outpatient mental health clinics, school-based services, community programs, crisis intervention services, psychiatric rehabilitation programs, and intensive outpatient programs. Nicole has worked with a diverse population of clients from children to adults experiencing a wide variation of diagnoses, as well as working with individuals who have experienced trauma. She has extensive experience working with children, adolescents, parents, and families, but enjoys working with individuals of all ages.
Nicole uses trauma informed practices and integrative trauma modalities to address the unresolved symptoms of trauma, like anxiety, feelings of guilt and shame, dissociation, nightmares, flashbacks, relationship conflicts, chronic fatigue, depression, addiction, eating disorders and self-harm or self-injury. Nicole believes in the importance of practicing therapy, using self-compassion, while creating a safe space of non-judgment for authentic healing.
Nicole practices using a strength-based and trauma-informed approach with an attachment-oriented perspective. To best address the needs of her clients, she also utilizes integrative therapy, which combines different therapeutic tools and methods, to create a more individualized therapeutic approach. Nicole has training and experience in Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, Theraplay techniques, play therapy, sand tray, expressive modalities, mind-body modalities and mindfulness. Nicole will incorporate creative and expressive methods into her therapy practice including art and play therapy techniques, movement, and yoga.
Nicole holds advanced postgraduate Certificates in Advanced Trauma Treatment (Level I & Level II) from the Ferentz Institute; Theraplay & Marschak Interaction Method (MIM) (Level I & Level II) from The Theraplay Institute; Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (Level I) from the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute; Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT); Trauma Focused – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT); Trauma Narrative Art Therapy (Level I).
Nicole earned her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BSW) and her Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) from Salisbury University. After achieving her Master’s Dregree, Nicole has focused on growing as a professional by attending a wide variety of trainings and receiving several certifications, along with applying her knowledge and abilities in various therapeutic settings. She continues to focus on the impact of trauma, developmental psychology, social-emotional development, strengthening parent-child relationships, family engagement, and building secure attachments. Nicole has provided consultation to community-based and school-based programs on providing trauma-informed services to children and adults, as well as presenting professional development information to educators and mental health workers.
Jackie is a Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical, Board Approved Clinical Supervisor in the state of Maryland, and a Registered Play Therapist. Jackie has provided mental health services in community based agencies, a large hospital setting, school based program, and in private practice to a diverse age range from 3-60. She has dedicated her career to providing a safe space for vulnerable individuals and promoting trauma informed care throughout all aspects of one’s life.
Jackie uses an integrated treatment approach supported by her formal training in Play Therapy, Theraplay, Sandplay Therapy, TF-CBT (Trauma Focused-CBT), Mindfulness, Sensorimotor, IFS (Internal Family Systems), Animal Assisted Therapy, and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing). Her areas of focus include complex trauma, PTSD, anxiety, social skills, frustration tolerance, self-esteem, communication, and adjustment periods to include loss and family separation/conflict.
Jackie received her Master of Social Work from The Catholic University of America in D.C. with a clinical concentration. She is a member of the following associations: Association for Play Therapy and Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Workers.
Meagan Whitfield is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and Board Approved Supervisor in the state of Maryland. She received her Bachelor of Science from Bowie State University and her Master of Arts from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Washington, D.C. With 10+ years of clinical experience, Meagan integrates a variety of modalities and therapeutic interventions to support all clients through presenting concerns.
A part of who we are is a result of our previous experiences. As a proud “Navy baby” I was afforded the privilege of identifying home domestic and international soil. The opportunity to be immersed in various cultures and befriending people with perspectives unique from my own cemented the value, the necessity of appreciating and internalizing diversity. Global citizenship enabled me to embrace my wonderfully complex dynamics without temerity. I am a Black, cisgender, faith-based female and fiercely loyal sports fan. I am also a clinician who experienced various expressions of systemic oppression. While our courses in life may be distinct, empathy is shared. My experiences impress the necessity of meeting people wherever he/she/they/it may stand. Inclusion and diversity informs my clinical perspective not the reverse.
While I specialize in child and adolescent development, I enjoy working with clients of all ages. I primarily conceptualize from an Object-Relations perspective and frequently integrate trauma-informed care, Dialectical Behavioral therapy, expressive and creative strategies, motivational interviewing, and strengths-based interventions. As a physical fitness instructor, personal trainer and certified yoga instructor, I recognize the benefits of movement-oriented interventions on emotional and psychological wellbeing. In collaboration with and consent from the client and medical physician, I frequently integrate physical exercise into individual and group therapy.
People from all walks of life encounter triumphs and challenges. I believe the most impact support clinicians can offer to clients is humility, transparency within appropriate boundaries, and understanding his/hers/its/their social and familial milieus. Choosing to work in private practices, school and home-settings, community mental health, and inpatient/residential care deeply enriched my compassion for others and broadened my clinical repertoire. In addition to my clinical experience and participation in numerous clinical training programs, I paneled several mental health symposiums, presented at APA and affiliated conferences. Cultivating relationships with prestigious academic institutions throughout DMV afforded an invaluable and deeply rewarding opportunity to learn from and invest in new clinicians. Of my many responsibilities held in previous leadership roles, I most valued providing supervision to clinicians and interns.
Karina is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in the state of Maryland, as well as a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Karina completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor degree in Social Work before obtaining her Master’s degree in Counseling/Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Professional Counseling at Seton Hall University. Karina has experience working with clients in outpatient mental health setting. She has worked with a diverse client population, including children and adults, providing individual and family therapy.
Karina has experience providing care to individuals experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as individuals managing symptoms related to mood disorders and difficulties related to substance abuse. Karina utilizes an integrative, person-centered, holistic approach in working with clients. She believes each individual is unique and will tailor the therapeutic process based on the needs of each individual. Furthermore, Karina uses different therapeutic orientations and various therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Person-Centered Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), Solution-Focused Therapy, Family Therapy, Expressive and Creative Therapies, and Psychoanalysis. Karina has experience using a family systems approach, as well as a collaborative approach to best evaluate the client’s needs. She believes in the importance of guiding clients to build the skills they need to truly manage and cope with life’s stressors. Karina feels the relationship between the client and the therapist is the most important part of the therapy process. Karina focuses on building rapport within the therapeutic relationship to provide clients with a safe and comfortable therapeutic space to process, discuss, or explore their personal life experiences.
During undergraduate studies, Karina chose to study abroad for a semester at the Universidad de Buenos Aires in Buenos Aires, Argentina to expand her cultural competency skills, while providing services to people with other cultural experiences. Karina has assisted in the administration of research focused on cognitive functioning and presented research for mental health professionals about the ethical dilemmas surrounding social media use. While achieving her Master’s degree, Karina completed her counseling internship at a day program for adults with neurodevelopmental disorders, including learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, and developmental disabilities. Karina was responsible for implementing and leading daily life skills groups, cognitive skills-based groups, psychoeducational groups, social skills groups, and self-esteem groups to support individual participants to develop skills needed to achieve additional personal independence within their daily lives. During the internship, Karina learned to design creative methods, implement behavioral interventions and constructive techniques to meet the needs of clients, while allowing her to acquire extensive experience and obtain advanced knowledge in providing care to clients diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder(s).
Sara is a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor (LGPC) in the state of Maryland. After completing her undergraduate degree in human development, Sara advanced her academic studies by receiving a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with emphasis in Licensed Professional Clinical Counseling. She has worked in a variety of settings and enjoys working with children, adolescents, young adults, parents, and families. Sara is committed to working with her clients in the pursuit of mental wellness.
After receiving her Bachelor’s degree, Sara started out her career working as a Toddler Teacher. She was responsible for monitoring and facilitating important aspects of the children’s development including, social-emotional development, motor skills, cognitive abilities, language skills, literacy skills, and physical development. While pursuing her graduate degree, Sara completed her counseling internship at an outpatient mental health facility. She gained valuable experience working with clients of all ages from diverse backgrounds. By facilitating individual counseling and group therapy, she provided services to individuals experiencing anxiety, depression, mood disturbances/disorders and problems related to substance-abuse. Her academic background and work experience have supported and provided a comprehensive understanding of the unique dynamics within family systems and interpersonal relationships, while learning a holistic approach to provide treatment to those struggling with wellness.
Sara is a strong believer of Person-Centered therapy and its three main principles: unconditional positive regard, empathetic understanding, and transparency. Rather than adopting one treatment modality for all individuals, she uses an integrative approach, which combines evidence-based treatment such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, Motivational Interviewing, Support, and Play-Oriented therapy techniques. She strives to create an exceptional therapeutic environment to best address client needs and goals. She works to gain the trust and confidence of her clients, while encouraging a meaningful therapeutic relationship. As she expands professionally by working with children and adolescents, Sara draws from her unique background helping children develop self-control, self-efficacy, and self-regulation through circle time, playing games that require impulse control, setting appropriate time limits, praising effort and strengths, establishing achievable goals, talking about emotions using an appropriate yet wide vocabulary, maintaining a daily routine, and helping children self-soothe by providing comfort while being a calm and supportive presence.
During her own journey through life, Sara discovered a passion for helping others, which led to her determination to pursue mental health therapy. She takes great responsibility in supporting others through various challenges in life and providing guidance on the path to wellness. Sara provides a customized approach, based on proven techniques, to address the needs and goals of the individual.
Laura is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in the state of Maryland. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Goucher College and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from The University of Maryland School of Social Work, with a specialization in behavioral health. Laura has experience providing individual and group mental health services to adolescence (ages 12-17), adults, and families. She has provided services through different care settings including outpatient mental health clinics, residential settings, and substance use clinics.
Laura focuses on developing individualized treatment plans and goals to better address each client’s individual needs. She works with client’s through a trauma informed lens. Laura’s therapeutic approach incorporates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Mindfulness as well as having experience using Aggression Replacement Training in a group setting. Her previous experience includes working with diagnoses related to Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Bipolar Disorder, and Substance use Disorder. Additionally, she worked as a crisis text line counselor, primarily for adolescence, providing crisis intervention. In this role, Laura used reflective listening, person centered, solution focused interventions, and problem-solving techniques to support individuals through crisis. She has participated in trainings on Mental Health First Aid.
Laura enjoys working with diverse populations, at any stage in life, including individuals who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Laura is interested in expanding her experience working with youth, with the goal of helping them understand and work through the uncertainties of life. She has been an avid equestrian for twenty-two years and wants to work towards her goal of combining her love for horses and therapy. Laura believes in advocating for her client’s needs and is aware of the importance of creating a collaborative and safe environment for her clients.
Caroline is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in the state of Maryland. They earned their Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Meredith College and their Master’s Degree in Social Work from North Carolina State University, with a focus on clinical practice. Caroline has experience providing individual and group mental health services to children (ages 3-13), adults, and families. They also have experience providing parenting support through a social emotional lens. These services have been provided through different care settings including outpatient mental health clinics, substance use clinics, homeless shelters, and the broader community.
In High School Caroline was heavily involved in the inclusion of their peers, ages 14-21, with intellectual and developmental disabilities into both academic and social environments. They continued their work with those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, this time ages 3-6, while enrolled in college. Shortly after earning their Undergraduate degree Caroline began working in the field of early intervention where they provided developmental therapy to children 0-3 and their families. Their passion for working with children and families expanded over the course of their graduate program where their client base became more diverse.
While in their graduate program, Caroline focused heavily on the mental health needs of underrepresented and underserved communities. Primarily, they supported children and families experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. Through these experiences Caroline was introduced into the world of mental health through a lens of intergenerational trauma, systemic oppression, and traumatic transitional phases. Their work with these clients helped solidify their belief in the importance of strengths based, culturally competent, and trauma informed mental healthcare. Other underrepresented and underserved communities on which Caroline focused their education include people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Caroline enjoys working with young children and their families as well as providing support to new, overwhelmed, and single parents of children of all ages. They also look forward to expanding their experiences with adolescents by applying their previous experiences guiding clients through impactful transitions of other stages of life.
Usman is is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in the state of Maryland. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Morgan State University and his Master’s Degree in Social Work from Morgan State University, with a specialization focus in gerontology. Usman has experience providing individual and group mental health services to adolescence, adults, families and elderly populations through various care settings including outpatient mental health clinics, residential settings, substance use clinics and correctional facilities. His diverse experiences have promoted culturally competent practices with urban families, groups, organizations, and communities.
Usman has experience providing care to individuals experiencing issues of complex trauma, poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage, interpersonal and community violence, substance abuse, life and role transitions, and mental health problems, social injustice, and discrimination. Usman uses a trauma-informed care, person-centered and multicultural approach to address the specific needs of each client during the therapeutic process. Usman utilizes various therapeutic orientation and modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), Strength-Based and Recovery-Oriented Therapeutic Interventions.