Meet Our Team
Meredith, Gina, Angela, Christine & Erika
Meredith Strauss, LCSW RYT
Founder of Light Street Psychotherapy
At Light Street Psychotherapy we work with adults, adolescents and their families who suffer from trauma, anxiety, depression, Dissociative Identity Disorder, divorce, relationship issues and anger management. Meredith’s therapeutic approach helps clients learn the skills to stay centered in a stressful and fast paced world. She finds appropriate solutions to problems and enhances interpersonal relationships.
At Light Street we are a collaborative team. We work closely with schools, providing psychiatrists, learning specialists, behaviorists, and other healthcare providers. In addition, we meet as a team to discuss cases in order to provide the best care possible.
Meredith graduated undergraduate from Washington University in St. Louis and earned her graduate degree with honors from Rutgers University where she received her Masters in Social Work. She merges eastern psychotherapy approaches with traditional western psychology to create an innovative, holistic approach toward healing.
Meredith specializes in trauma. She helps individual who have experienced any kind of trauma (sexual abuse, physical abuse, grief, domestic violence, traumatic car accident, medical trauma, childhood developmental or attachment trauma etc.) She is a certified EMDR practitioner and a Level One trained IFS therapist.
Meredith also has a passion for working with teenagers to help them improve social skills, self esteem, find their purpose and improve relationships with peers and family members.
Meredith uses a wide variety of treatment modalities and interventions that are client specific which include:
Internal Family Systems
Family Therapy (trained in Structural Family Therapy)
Short-term solution focused therapy
Parent coaching & training
Gina Totino, LCSW
Gina Totino, LCSW graduated with honors from Rutgers University where she received her masters in social work. Gina’s therapeutic approach is simple: she believes balance in one’s life leads to clarity and inner peace. She uses a strength-based approach, and evidence based modalities to assist her clients to achieve their goals and appreciate the value of their lives.
Using the foundation of mindfulness, Gina collaborates with clients to improve interpersonal relationships and helps them to understand how to implement skills that provide long-term results. These skills include: emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and mindfulness. The development and strengthening of these skills opens clients to reach their goals. In addition, Gina advocates for children, adolescents, and teens with special needs. She assists in helping families navigate the chaotic world of Special Education (IEPs, section 504 plans, and garnering the support and testing these clients need.)
Gina’s therapeutic approach is informed by Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT is a cognitive behavioral treatment originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals. Since then, DBT has expanded to treat other populations. Research has shown that DBT is effective in treating emotion dysregulation, substance dependence, depression, and eating disorders. Gina trained with Behavioral Tech, a training institute created by the founder of DBT, Marsha Linehan. Gina takes the foundation and strategies of DBT and uses an informed approach to help clients reach their goals; this is not a comprehensive DBT approach to treatment, which would include skills group among other elements.
Gina uses a wide variety of treatment modalities and interventions that are client specific which include:
Informed DBT therapy
Short-term solution focused therapy
Parent coaching & training
Assistance with understanding and navigating Special Education Services
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Dr. Angela Gonnella, Psy. D
Dr. Angela Gonnella is a New Jersey licensed psychologist specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, trauma, adjustment difficulties, as well as treating “emotionally sensitive” individuals who often feel like their emotions are intense, rapidly changing, and difficult to control. Her clinical work is driven by the evidenced based framework of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and is adapted as needed to meet each individual’s unique needs. Dr. Gonnella’s approach to therapy involves a direct, non-judgmental stance that offers genuineness and humor. She is dedicated to providing her clients with a balance of acceptance and change to help them build a life worth living: Accepting current circumstances and experiences, while at the same time building skills to change problematic behaviors.
Dr. Gonnella received her Psy.D from the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP). She completed an accredited doctoral internship at Trinitas Regional Medical Center and continued post-doctoral training there. She has also worked in school settings, outpatient clinics and hospital settings during her training. Dr. Gonnella has intensive training and experience in conducting DBT (individual therapy and group skills training) with adults and adolescents, prolonged exposure and trauma focused CBT for PTSD, as well as CBT for anxiety, panic, OCD, depression and social stressors. Dr. Gonnella was intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and DBT - Prolonged Exposure combined protocol through Behavioral Tech (a training institute founded by the creator of DBT, Marsha Linehan).
Dr. Gonnella received her master's degree in school psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University and holds NJ certification as a school psychologist. She has extensive experience in conducting psycho-educational evaluations, assessing the impact of learning and emotional challenges on academic functioning, and navigating NJ special education programming.
Christine Kohutic LSW
Christine received her graduate degree from Rutgers University where she earned a Masters in Social Work. She provides psychotherapy in a deeply supportive environment to individuals, couples and families facing a vast array of issues. Her varied professional and life experience brings a unique perspective to the therapeutic relationship she creates with her clients, as she helps them cope with stress, anxiety/depression, and trauma, successfully and gracefully navigate their way through difficult life transitions, and strengthen and deepen their significant relationships.
Christine is committed to creating a safe space where clients feel comfortable and understood during sessions. She utilizes an eclectic therapeutic approach deriving from several theoretical models including Psychodynamic, Relational, and a Systems perspective. She integrates methods and techniques to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to individual needs. Christine is active, empathetic and transparent, focusing on collaboratively assisting clients to change patterns of thought and action, leading to a happier and more satisfied life.
Erika Hurtado, MSW, LCSW (pending)
Erika received her master’s degree in Social Work from Rutgers University and her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Montclair State University. Her treatment approach is informed by a wide range of treatment modalities including but not limited to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Erika utilizes a client centered approach aimed at individualizing the needs of each client and/or family. She incorporates a mindfulness-based approach allowing clients to access resources within themselves. This approach assists her clients to understand their emotions with increased clarity helping to create a healthy and stable environment for themselves and their loved ones.
Erika’s experience focuses on a wide range of services for children, adolescents and adults. Her work includes individual, family, group and couple’s therapy which is dependent on the client’s needs. She has worked in a variety of placement settings including, outpatient, intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization. Erika is a bilingual therapist and provides services in both English and Spanish.
Erika is committed to creating a safe and authentic environment where both her client and their families can feel empowered while embarking on their healing journey.
"Nobody listens to me and understands me the way Meredith does. She knows me better than most people do, and she continues to be straightforward with me while showing me care. I know it's her job, but she does it so naturally. She hears me out and does not misinterpret what I’m saying. She can see past all my faults and continues to believe in me as a person. She continues to see the good in me like some people can't. I can never thank you enough, because without you i don't know if id still be alive. Without someone to offer me insight, perspective, reassurance, and care. . Thank you for helping make me feel whole, and be whole."
Union County, NJ Adolescent
"I want to thank you. As you know we have been doing therapy for a long time with a few different therapists and I have to say, this past week has been very eye opening for me. I really feel everything is beginning to “click” and come together. I think your approach, all you hard work with us as a family, and your guidance in helping us see things with a different perspective has really made me start to put the puzzle pieces together. I am feeling so optimistic and I am looking forward to the journey we will take with you to get there." Union County, NJ Parent of a Adolescent client
“Meredith brings the “real life” into therapy, not just the book answers." -JD Union County, NJ Adult
“EMDR has not even fully begun yet and I am already feeling a sense of empowerment which motivates me to better care for my well being. Because therapy in the past has been an unsuccessful and a waste of money. I have learned more in a few months with Meredith than I have in almost 10 years of on/off psychotherapy. I love the waiting room, with the tranquil music, and warm inviting vibe. Keep up what you are doing!!!”
-SF Union County, NJ Adult
“It has helped clarify things and let me see a different perspective from my daughter’s point of view. Meredith is very perceptive and patient. This is the only waiting room I know of with coffee and snacks and I love the Bulletin board with pithy sayings.”
Father of Adolescent client
"As a family member and a patient, therapy has helped us see problems and issues more clearly in a better light. Therapy is beneficial we get more insight and have learned how to approach issues and problems in different ways. Resolutions can come!!! We are all works in progress. Meredith always sees us in a timely manner and is easy to talk to. Roselle Park, NJ Legal Guardian of Adolescent
I just wanted to thank you for all that you have helped me overcome this year and all the wonderful tools you have provided me with to cope with my difficulties. Ever since I started the chants and mantras my life is finally taking a turn for the better, I have more abundance in my friendships, family and soon to come money. Im stepping in the right direction. Clifton, NJ Adult
"Therapy with Meredith has helped me handle daily life better than I used to. I've been shown tools and how to use them. I like the waiting room and I am always seen in a timely manner. " Scotch Plains, NJ Adult
Light Street Psychotherapy does not contract with any insurance companies. Services are provided on a private pay basis, and therefore, we are considered “out of network.” Most health insurance plans provide some form of coverage for outpatient psychotherapy. In-network benefits cover psychotherapy with professionals who sign contracts with the insurance company to provide services at a set rate. The insurance company oversees the treatment, authorizing the number of sessions allowed for a particular condition. The total number of sessions covered is usually limited to 20 or 30 sessions.
Out-of-network benefits cover psychotherapy with the professional you choose. Most plans require the patient to pay a deductible, and then reimburse a certain percentage of the fee after that, typically 75 or 80%. Some plans limit the number of sessions or the dollar amount that are reimbursable each year. The psychotherapy is not managed, and authorization is usually not required.
Although you are free to submit claims to your insurance company yourself, please be aware that Meredith Strauss, LCSW does not become involved in this process. As a courtesy, Ms. Strauss will provide you with the necessary billing and diagnosis codes in order for you to receive the benefits you are entitled. It is very important that you find out exactly what mental health services your insurance policy covers. Even if you submit the claims yourself, you may not be reimbursed for services. In addition, once an appointment has been scheduled, you will be expected to pay for the time allotted unless you provide 24 hours advance notice of cancellation.
Call your insurance company and tell them you would like to go out of network for behavioral health. Some questions to consider:
1) What is your current yearly deductible?
2) How much of this deductible has currently been met?
3) What is the reimbursement rate for an out of network provider (once your
deductible has been met)?
4) How do I to submit reimbursement?
5) Are there are any limitations of amount of sessions or amount paid out?
6) What are my mental health benefits?
7) What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
8) How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
9) Is pre-approval required from my primary care physician?
Although obtaining psychotherapy on an out-of-network basis may seem more expensive, there are many benefits. Insurance companies require regular treatment plans to be submitted by their network providers in order to continue to authorize sessions. There can be a lack of clarity and/or after-the-fact decisions about what they will cover, resulting in surprise balances billed to patients. Finally, insurance companies can and do audit in-network psychotherapists’ records, further compromising confidentiality.
Obtaining psychotherapy on an out-of-network basis avoids all of these issues that compromise confidentiality and autonomy of treatment. All treatment decisions are made solely between patient and therapist, including the type of therapy used, its length, and who should or should not be consulted.
Light Street Psychotherapy currently accepts Checks, Cash or Credit cards (Visa/Mastercard). There is a 3% fee on all credit card transactions.
Please note that we do not contract with any managed care plans or accept payment from insurance companies. We will do our best to help you obtain reimbursement through your out of network benefits, but payment is due at the end of each session.
We support, collaborate with, and highly recommend
A SPECIALIZED THERAPEUTIC CENTER
a collaboration of providers offering comprehensive Educational, Psychological, Psychiatric and Occupational Therapies.
If the situation is potentially life-threatening, get immediate emergency assistance by calling 911,
available 24 hours a day.
1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat
If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress
contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline .
Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network.
These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
Other United States Helplines
Suicide Prevention Services Crisis Hotline | 800-784-2433
AAA Crisis Pregnancy Center | 800-560-0717
Child Abuse Hotline – Support & Information | 800-792-5200
Crisis Help Line – For Any Kind of Crisis | 800-233-4357
Domestic & Teen Dating Violence (English/Spanish) | 800-992-2600
Parental Stress Hotline – Help for Parents | 800-632-8188
Runaway Hotline (All Calls are Confidential) | 800-231-6946
Sexual Assault Hotline (24/7, English/ Spanish) | 800-223-5001
National Child Abuse Hotline | 800-422-4453
National Domestic Violence Hotline | 800-799-SAFE
National Youth Crisis Hotline | 800-448-4663