• Light Street Psychotherapy

    "Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” – Author Unknown








    830 Morris Turnpike - Suite 405 - Short Hills, NJ 07078

  • 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

    Interpersonal Therapy

    Couples counseling

    Family Therapy (trained in Structural Family Therapy)

    Short-term solution focused therapy

    Parent coaching & training

    Yoga Psychology

    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

    Couples counseling

    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.


  • Services

    Light Street Psychotherapy offers a variety of therapeutic modalities to assist our patients. We take each person's individual needs into consideration in order to provide the best treatment plan for our clients.

    Individual Therapy

    Light Street Psychotherapy offers individual therapy for adults and adolescents. Our therapist's focus on the individuals strengths and create treatment plans that cater to the individualized need of each client. This integrative approach, views individuals as part of their larger context. We provide case management and collaborate with families, schools, and medical providers to ensure progress toward treatment goals.

    Family Therapy

    Light Street Psychotherapy specializes in working from a strength based Family Systems approach. This approach incorporates family members into therapy sessions to create stronger interpersonal relationships within the family and to help create harmony at home.


    Family Therapy sessions focus on understanding each individual’s perspective of a problem within the family and how to solve it as a collaborative team. Meredith works with the entire family to treat the emotional problems of an individual by looking at that individual as they relate to their family. Light Street Psychotherapy hones in on families strengths and their ability to manage difficult problems, rather than focus on the negative effects and what they are doing wrong. Her approach utilizes mindfulness to help families focus on the present, while using the past to inform the present so that healthier connections can be fostered.


    Family therapy believes that each family is unique in its communication patterns, values, moral, and beliefs. We help coach and teach parents and children the skills to interact in a more productive way.


    Throughout the process families will learn

    • Problem Solving skills
    • Emotional Intelligence
    • Communication skills
    • Stress Management skills
    • Anger Management
    • Behavior Modification Strategies
    • To navigate change

    Families that may benefit from family therapy:

    • Families whose child has behavior problems
    • Families going through a divorce
    • Families with a child diagnosed with a psychiatric illness or disorder
    • Children who are prescribed medication
    • Families who feel disconnected from one another
    • Families who are experiencing trauma from sexual abuse, domestic violence or physical abuse
    • Families who are currently experiencing the loss of a loved one or traumatic grief.


    Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) methodology is a form of adaptive information processing which may help the brain unblock maladaptive material.  It also appears the EMDR may avoid some of the long and difficult work often involved in the treatment of anxiety, sexual abuse, physical abuse, panic attacks, PTSD and other traumatic experiences. EMDR is used to treat the memory networks that are the underlying basis of pathology.  Memories are stored in associative memory networks and are the basis of perception, attitude and behavior.  Trauma can cause a disruption of normal adaptive information processing which results in unprocessed information which is dysfunctionally held in the memory networks.


    Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress. For more information on the clinical definition of EMDR please visit:  http://emdria.site-ym.com

    Yoga Psychology

    Yoga Psychology (YP) seeks to balance the internal and external levels of consciousness that lead to a holistic unity of the mind, body, and spirit. YP can assist clients to reduce anxiety, depression, reactivity, anger, and to improve relationships. YP provides skills to maintain equanimity, and to achieve a stronger connection to spirituality. With this understanding, clients learn to be an objective witness to their behavior and to achieve peace during difficult times. YP teaches clients how to study and incorporate the “8 limbs of yoga” as part of the treatment.


    The ultimate goal of yoga is to unify the body, mind and spirit. Yoga Psychology teaches that human beings live in an impermanent world where our bodies, thought processes, emotions, and environment are constantly changing. The only constancy we have is the ability to witness these fluctuations, which yogis define as pure consciousness. Meditation, a common intervention, can assist clients to witness fluctuations of thought, realize they are not controlled by them, and consequently reduce symptoms.


    The application of Yoga psychotherapy is an integrated practice that uses behavioral modifications and interpersonal strategies to increase self-awareness. Clients learn a new perspective: they detach from negative behaviors and roles. Once clients cease their judgmental and critical evaluations, change may occur relatively quickly.


    As a Yoga psychologist, I teach my clients that difficult obstacles can be great teachers. Once clients become mindful of this there is an opportunity for spiritual growth. Pranayama, the study of breath is another common intervention. YP incorporates mindfulness meditation as a core intervention. It is be taught in session and used as a homework assignment. By focusing on the breath, clients are distracted from disturbing thoughts dictated by the mind. They are also taught to become non-judgmental of negative thoughts as they become a witness to their own. In addition, YP encourages patients to change negative thought patterns and replace them with positive ones. Though this can be difficult and requires practice, the results can be beneficial. Other breathing techniques include: Nadi Shodhi or “alternate nostril breathing” which balances both hemispheres of the brain, creating a relaxation response in the nervous system, Ujaii breathing or “victorious breath” which brings heat to the body and helps clients to focus on their breath and Kapalabhati breathing or “skull shining breath” a cleansing breath that purifies the lungs and brings fresh oxygen to the bloodstream.


    Techniques such as repeating a mantra, praying for a specific desire, or focusing on the heart during meditation are alternative methods that can assist patients to slow the mind and cultivate self-awareness. Visualization and imagery meditations can be tailored to the client’s individual interests and needs.

    Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

    Informed Approach

    Dialectical Behavior Therapy is an evidence-based cognitive behavioral treatment that incorporates mindfulness and acceptance based strategies. DBT was developed and designed to treat individuals with pervasive patterns and histories of ineffective coping strategies. These patterns include: suicidal behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, and individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). People who struggle with often experience chaotic relationships, describe feeling like they are on an emotional rollercoaster, and find it almost impossible to see things from another person's perspective. Individuals who attend a comprehensive DBT program learn mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance skills in a weekly skills class. In addition, they attend individual therapy, and have access to phone coaching from their therapist.


    A DBT Informed approach applies the same DBT skills and strategies that assist client's in coping with emotion dysregulation. However, elements from the comprehensive DBT program are missing. While individuals may receive individual therapy that may be similar to A comprehensive DBT therapeutic approach, they are not attending a skills group or receiving phone coaching. For this reason, not everyone is a candidate for DBT informed therapy. Therefore, we perform a comprehensive assessment that provides our client's with a recommendation for EITHER informed or comprehensive DBT. Often, Individuals who may be appropriate for a DBT informed approach are those who have completed a comprehensive DBT program and are at a later stage in treatment. These Individuals prove to be emotionally vulnerable, However, they are not actively suicidal, and could benefit from a balance of acceptance and change, That the DBT INFORMED APPROACH provides.

    Assistance For families with a Special Needs Child

    Did you recently receive information from a school, doctor, or therapist that your child has a developmental delay, medical condition ore learning disability?

    Do you sense that your child's behavioral issues are related to something other than just lacking the coping skills to regulate his/or her emotions? This can be scary, confusing, and daunting.

    Where and how to begin the process?

    What are your child’s rights?


    Managing your child’s care often increases stress in the home. It can be frustrating trying to work with a school district on understanding the difference between I&RS, section 504 plan, and an IEP.


    At Light Street Psychotherapy, our approach is to help demystify the alphabet soup of special education and teach you how to advocate effectively on your child’s behalf while addressing your own emotional needs.

    We use a three pronged approach to these special services:

    1. Address the individualized needs of the child
    2. Help you to understand your child’s behavior in order to develop and implement a behavioral plan using evidence based practices.
    3. Support the family system to restore peace and normalcy in the home.

    Internal Family Systems (IFS)

    The Internal Family Systems Model (IFS) is an integrative approach developed by Richard Schwartz. It explores the view that the mind is made up of many different personalities that model a “family” living inside each individual. The Internal Family Systems Model refers to these personalities as “parts”.


    Each individual part has its own perspective, a job to fulfill, interests, and memories. Some parts may hold a memory that other parts may not recall. IFS teaches that every part has a positive intent for the person, even if its actions or effects are counterproductive or cause dysfunction. Example of some of these behaviors may be: addiction, self injury, anxiety, disassociation, anger, internal critics or suicidal tendencies. Because each part has a role that is protecting the person in some way, this means that there is never any reason to fight with or try to eliminate a part; the IFS method promotes internal connection and harmony.


    In addition to these parts, IFS teaches our clients that at the core of all human beings lies a Self that can help lead the parts toward a more integrated whole by offering perspective, confidence, compassion, and acceptance of all the parts. The goal of IFS is to have a cooperative and trusting relationship between the Self and each part.


    In working with traumatized clients, IFS teaches the client how to access the Self and witness traumatic memories without being overwhelmed. In this way the memory is revisited and processed so it can be healed without the danger of re-traumatization. At Light Street Psychotherapy, we use IFS model in combination with other modalities to provide a safe, effective way to explore all our client’s personalities and their individual traumatic events. For more information on this model please visit www.ifs-institute.com


    Professional Supervision

    The importance of having an objective voice of a trusted colleague during our professional lives is paramount. At Light Street Psychotherapy we provide a private, supportive environment to discuss the challenges that come about while practicing psychotherapy.


    Meredith Strauss, LCSW has a Certificate in Supervision from the ACAP Institute and is certified to supervise LSWs as of January 2020. She provides Clinical Supervision focusing on supportive feedback to supervisees that will meet their needs during an exciting time of growth within the profession. Her professional career as a Licensed Clinical Social worker, and Approved Clinical Supervisor provides supervisees a varied perspective. Meredith is trained as a trauma therapist, where she utilizes various therapeutic modalities of Internal Family Systems, EMDR, Structural Family Therapy, Interpersonal therapy, and Yoga psychology, which offer an alternative holistic approach to treatment.


    While supervising those new to the profession, she follows the NASW requirements and guidelines. Her goal is to build a relationship with supervisees that will be a continued resource throughout their career. To discuss supervision and your needs as a growing professional call Light Street Psychotherapy at 973-544-8617.



  • Contact Us

    Leave us a note or drop us a call!

    Short Hills: (973) 544-8617

  • Short Hills

    830 Morris Turnpike Suite 405 
    Short Hills, NJ. 07078

  • Testimonials



    "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

    Millington, NJ

    "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



  • Insurance

    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.

  • Referrals

    We support, collaborate with, and highly recommend

    Dr. Leopold Bolona

    Psychiatrist, md

    Dr. Sari Lehrhoff

    Psychiatrist, md

    Better Everything


    a collaboration of providers offering comprehensive Educational, Psychological, Psychiatric and Occupational Therapies.


    Emergency Resources 

    Emergency Medical Services - 911

    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



  • Media & Public Relations

    Please listen to my interview with Jennifer Bronsnick on bold brave media. Great insight to the modalities I practice and information about EMDR and Yoga Psychology. The episode is show #5 and can be heard on the link below.

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