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Connections Counseling Services LLC

Stroudsburg 570-424-5100 | Marshalls Creek 570-730-4211

Our Team

Happiness is not something outside that you bring in. It is something inside that you bring out.

 Kristen Marsar-Perez, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Owner 

Kristen has a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University and received her Bachelor’s degree from DeSales University. With over 20 years of experience in Residential Treatment Centers, Group Homes, Schools, home settings, community, and private practice, she brings a high level of expertise to her practice.

She has a Certificate in Children and Adolescent Mental Health from Rutgers University and Trauma Certificate from Drexel University. Kristen also has certificates in Intensive Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), Intensive Trauma Treatment Behavioral Therapy and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) and attends Study Days and International Conferences on DDP.

Kristen has training on gender identity, depression, anxiety, intensive trauma treatment, attachment, and suicide prevention assessment, among others. She attends trainings each year to continue to increase her knowledge and better assist her clients, including the National Attach Conference and Psychotherapy Networker Symposiums.

Some of Kristen’s experience highlights include: Presenter on various mental health topics; Member of the Board of Suicide Prevention Coalition of Monroe County and Co-Chair of the Education Sub-Committee; Behavior Specialist Consultant (BSC) for 13 years; Clinical experience with children of all ages and various mental health concerns including Autism; Provides clinical supervision to LSW and LPC’s in Pennsylvania; Part-time Adjunct/Lecturer at Marywood University for their Master in Social Work (MSW) Program; Faculty Liaison and Field Instructor at Marywood University.

Kristen opened Connections Counseling Services, LLC in 2013. A second location was added in August of 2017. The practice was originally opened to address the need for children with attachment and trauma issues but has developed into a practice that addressed all mental health needs. Many mental health concerns are from previous and current trauma issues. Her goal is to provide a level of consistency and continuity of care to all clients through a therapeutic relationship that will provide a process for change, healing, and adaptation.

Cheryl Torres, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker
(Bilingual – Spanish)

Cheryl Torres is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). She specializes in individual, family and couples psychotherapy utilizing cognitive behavioral, solution-focused and psychodynamic treatment approaches. Her main focus and specialty is in trauma treatment. Her drive is to help people who have been through a traumatic or stressful experience. She works with patients and families of all ages as she helps them find a healthy perception of themselves while working towards coping with the effects of trauma.

Cheryl holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Montclair State University and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University. She has received specialized training in Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, and in the areas of trauma treatment. She holds additional training in gender identity, suicide assessment, prevention, depression, anxiety, advanced trauma treatment along with various other diagnoses. In addition, she continues to participate in continuing education to further her knowledge base in working with children, adolescents, couples, adults, and families.

Shahida (Shae) Jones, LSW

Licensed Social Worker

Shahida (Shae) Jones is a licensed social worker. She received her Masters Degree in Social Work from Fordham University and has advanced training in trauma and attachment therapy modalities. Shae is passionate about working with children, adolescents, and adults that have experienced traumatic events in their lives. She is creative, compassionate, playful, and empathic in her approach. Moreover, she is caring and kind. When working with adoptive and foster children, Shae likes to find the hope that many have lost. She has certificates in Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy and TF-CBT and hopes to one day own an animal shelter that allows her to engage clients through animal-related therapy.

Matthew Hooper, MS, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

Matthew Hooper is a board-certified counselor licensed in the state of Pennsylvania as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Matthew also holds a license through the Pennsylvania medical board as a Licensed Behavior Specialist which is designed specifically for clinicians supporting minor clients on the Autism spectrum.  He received a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University and has been working in the field of mental health for over 10 years in a variety of settings including: at-risk boarding schools, emergency rooms, outpatient counseling, home-based wrap-around services, community-based programs for victims of domestic violence, school-based emotional support, individuals struggling with the unique issues of poverty comorbid with mental health concerns, transitional housing, crisis, geriatric patients as well with adolescents working on successful transfer into collegiate environments.  The bulk of his work, however, has been spent supporting persons looking for freedom from pain coming in the forms of both physical and emotional trauma.  As a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Matthew is able to work with clients in a holistic approach understanding that many people cannot benefit from talk therapy alone.  Sometimes clients are in need of unique interventions designed to address the whole body.

Matthew has spent numerous hours in completion of research and trainings in how both outward and internal traumas directly affect how a person thinks, acts, and speaks.  People often become frustrated with their place in life while ignoring the distinct impact that traumatic experiences have dictated their expressions.  Not only do traumatic events have the ability to derail our desire for a more productive position in the community, but sometimes people just feel stuck.

At this point, Matthew will utilize an integrative approach to counseling asserting that individuals are all unique and possess within themselves the strength to change.  Techniques involving solutions as a consequence become the focus rather than circulating in a problem saturated story.  Matthew will work with you to change your narrative and passionately work in collaboration of a more desirable outcome. While hereditary and societal issues are often influential, they are not necessarily deterministic.

Matthew’s experience is with children, adolescents, adults, and has specialized trainings to work with older adults. Furthermore, he has received moderate to advanced training in: Attachment disorders, PTSD, Trauma, Personality disorders, Mood disorders, ADHD, Depression, Grief, Emotional regulation, Anxiety, Dementia.

Theologically-based sessions are available if requested.

Matthew is working towards board certification in hypnosis through the National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists.

Phillip Long, LCSW, MPA

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

​Phillip has a Masters’ degree in Social Work and Public Administration from Marywood University, and a Bachelors’ degree in Psychology from Indiana University of Bloomington. He has spent 20 years working in the mental health and education fields as an administrator, counselor, therapist and advocate. He has provided successful services to a wide-range of populations in a wide variety of settings.

Phillip has a particular interest in family dynamics, and the legacy traumatic experience has on family functioning.  In his exploration of the topic he has pursued advanced training in Eco-systemic Structural Family Therapy.  He is also an institute trained Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist.  His past practice has resulted in a strong clinical background in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). 

Phillip’s approach to therapy is highly client centered and informed by empirically driven practice.  The overarching objective in facilitating change is creating an environment of curiosity to process and explore past behavioral and cognitive patterns that no longer serve the individual or family in the present.  In short, individuals and families have a remarkable capacity to heal, and as a therapist Phillip considers himself fortunate to be able to support this capacity.

Kay Pollard, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Kay Pollard is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with over 20 years experience working in both New York City and Newark, NJ school providing counseling services to children, adolescents and families. She has a Masters Degree in Social Work from Hunters College and a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Lehman College. She has specialized training in trauma, anxiety, non-suicidal self-injury, panic disorders and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

She is a caring, compassionate clinician that holds a strong belief that the individuals she works with possess the potential for positive change and healing. She adheres to a “whole person” approach that focuses on one’s mind, body and soul. She specializes in helping individuals manage stress effectively through the use of techniques including mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy and a strength-based approach.

Zlata Berezhna, LSW

Licensed Social Worker

Zlata Berezhna is a Licensed Social Worker and Behavioral Specialist in the state of Pennsylvania. She received her Masters’ Degree in Social Work from Marywood University and her Bachelors’ degree in Social Work from Bloomsburg University. She has been working in the field of mental health for over 6 years in a variety of settings including: schools, home settings, community, and outpatient agency.


Zlata believes in creating a safe and non-judgmental space for clients to share and work towards their goals. Zlata’s therapeutic approach is to provide support and counseling to help clients effectively address their personal life challenges. Zlata’s approach to therapy incorporates cognitive behavioral and strength-based approach. Areas of interest include anxiety, ASD, depression, trauma, life transitions, and communication issues. Zlata is bilingual and can conduct therapy sessions in Russian. She is committed to assisting each individual to build on their existing strengths to live their best possible life. 

Nicole Updegrove, LPC, ATR-BC

Licensed Professional Counselor, 
Board Certified Art Therapist

Nicole is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Board-Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC). She is also a Certified Child and Adolescent Trauma Professional (CATP). Nicole received her Masters’ degree in Art Therapy and Counseling from Drexel University and her Bachelors’ degree in Psychology & Art Studio from Bloomsburg University. Nicole has experience working in a hospital setting, after school mental health program for children & adolescents, an alternative school for children & adolescents with emotional and behavioral diagnosis and elementary schools within the Philadelphia area. She has experience working with a range of mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, trauma, and grief.


Nicole is an empathetic and caring clinician who believes she can help her clients discover, communicate, and express themselves through the use of talk therapy and art therapy. She believes that everyone has the innate ability to grow and heal. Nicole is committed to helping guide clients through challenging times and provide life skills to improve one’s life and meet personal goals.

Dina Cervasio, LSW

Licensed Social Worker

Dina Cervasio is a Licensed Social Worker in the state of Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelors degree in Psychology from East Stroudsburg University and her Masters degree in Social Work from Marywood University. She has been working with various populations within the mental health field for over 8 years. She has worked with both children and adults in the home, community, crisis residential and emergency room settings. She has experience with wrap-around services, case management and crisis intervention.


Dina’s approach is easy-going and empathic with focus on assisting clients with identifying patterns that may be hindering growth and a more positive outlook. Dina’s therapeutic style is to meet the individual through elements of positive psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused therapy and client-centered techniques. She is committed to helping each individual along their journey of being their best possible self.

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