First and foremost, I listen. Listening to my clients is essential, since I want to customize a plan that meets your needs. Second, I use evidence-based models, but I translate what we know from research into easy-to-understand language and easy-to-follow steps. Third, therapy should be temporary. We’ll dig into skills and tools that can help you move through your situation, and we’ll set milestones to note improvement. We’ll adjust to help ensure our conversations are as effective as they can be.

With your motivation and my skills, we can transcend anxiety, OCD, life during transitions (such as divorce) and get you through the rough spots. Making therapy as fun and creative as possible is essential — especially for kids — because our whole purpose is to learn how to thrive. Change doesn’t have to be boring. (In fact, it works better if it’s not.)

Specialized training

Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE)

If your child has anxiety, you may feel frustrated and exhausted. If your child doesn’t want to go to therapy, or “doesn’t have time” for it, there are other options. Developed at the Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center, this evidence-based program gives parents back their power. Evidence supports that parent skills training is highly effective in addressing the anxiety problem at the family level and is a great alternative, or addition, to individual therapy. We’ll plan out our steps in a loving and supportive way, and your newfound skills will indirectly lead to behavior changes in your child.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

The most effective treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is known as Exposure and Response Prevention. ERP is the gold standard for treating OCD, and I’m one of a few therapists in Northeast Ohio with expert training and consultation in it.

ERP empowers you to face the distressing thoughts without engaging in rituals or compulsions to avoid the anxiety. By facing your fears repeatedly and without rituals, you practice being uncomfortable and tolerating it, disconfirm fears, and learn to ride the wave of anxiety — skills everyone could use!

For more information about treatment and the importance of ERP, please visit the International OCD Foundation.

A bit about me

Research continues and techniques evolve, so I make it a priority to stay on top of the latest developments. Throughout my career, I’ve found that this helps me give effective care aimed at producing measurable results.

  • Master of Social Science Administration, Case Western Reserve University
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Services, Cornell University
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker, Ohio
  • Cognitive Therapy, Cleveland Center for Cognitive Therapy
  • 20+ years as a social worker, therapist, and researcher
  • 5+ years teaching at undergraduate and graduate levels

Specialized Training:

  • Exposure and Response Prevention trained
    • BTTI certified in Pediatric OCD (Behavior Therapy Training Institute)
    • ERP training done at the Center for the Study and Treatment of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE)
  • Gestalt Institute’s Coach Certification, expected May 2019
    (an International Coach Federation Accredited Coach Training Program)

What people have said

These unsolicited comments are a testimony to what happens when motivated people learn effective skills and tools.

Mother of a Client with Severe Anxiety

My husband and I will be forever grateful to Joanna as she supported and guided us on one of our most difficult journeys. The skills she taught us gave us the courage and strength to follow through with tasks that eventually allowed us to get our radiant, spirited and passionate daughter back. She facilitated discussions that allowed us to feel safe and not judged at the turmoil that had become our norm. I am so thankful that God led us to such a warm, intelligent and empathetic professional. She was just what we needed when we needed it most.

Seeking Help with Life After Divorce

I sought help after my divorce because I was feeling lost, sad and fearful of “what’s next.” Joanna helped me to move from inaction to action. We figured out what was important to me, and what I needed to do to build a different life than the one I had. She taught me to stop avoiding and to move toward what I feared. She was compassionate and honest, and I needed that.  I’m really glad that I made the decision to seek help.

Former Client

Mom of an 11-year-old with moderate-to-severe OCD

Thank you again for everything. We are really grateful that we found you and that she was able to receive your great care and expertise to help her recognize and fight back her OCD. Her working with you has truly made a significant positive impact on her quality of life — and we are truly thankful.

Mom of an 11-year-old with moderate-to-severe OCD after 15 sessions of Exposure and Response Prevention

10-Year-Old Client with Severe Anxiety

I just wanted to tell you that I miss you so much! I have been doing so good, all thanks to you! Everything that I’ve accomplished has been partly because of you. You have meant so much to me for the past few years, and if my children ever have a terrible problem, I will bring them to Mrs. Life-Changing Joanna. You deserve a round of applause right now for what you have done for anyone that has come through your office. I just wanted to catch up and make sure you’ve been doing okay without me. Because, I mean, I’m an angel!

Former Client with Profound Anxiety

My sessions with Joanna are always so helpful. She supported me through working on things that I was very afraid to face and now I feel much less anxious. I appreciate how she always pushed me a bit farther than I was willing to go which helped me face my fears and finally feel better. I am so thankful for the time we worked together.

Thankful Parent

I cannot tell you how much we appreciate that you have gone beyond anything any other professional we have seen to help our son and to help our family.

Former Client with Severe Anxiety

I have been doing so well, all thanks to you! Everything that I’ve accomplished has been partly because of you. You have meant so much to me for the past few years, and if my children EVER have a terrible problem, I will bring them to “Mrs. Life Changing Joanna.” You deserve a round of applause right now for what you have done for anyone that has come through your office.

Former Colleague

Joanna provides Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that is goal-driven and collaborative. She keeps her clients on track with the problem behaviors that they want to change. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Joanna for 12 years and am proud to be her colleague. We have collaborated on complex cases, and I always appreciate her thoughtful input, which is consistent with her commitment to evidence based treatment.

Parents of Adolescent with an Eating Disorder

Joanna has helped our family during the most challenging time we have faced, battling an eating disorder. It was with her guidance that we were able to come out on the other end of the nightmare. Joanna helped us move through the treatment plan, giving us the skills needed to fight the disease and the ability to support [our daughter] in the best way we could. It was three years of ups and downs, but Joanna was the constant force moving us forward. We really do not think we could have done it without her. She is amazing.

Previous Program Manager, The Emily Program

As a colleague of Joanna’s for a decade, I can speak to not only her exceptional clinical skills but also her unwavering dedication to clients. Throughout our time working together, I have watched firsthand Joanna’s clients gain the skills necessary to transform lives previously full of anxiety and avoidance. When I refer a client to Joanna, I know that they will receive quality, compassionate evidence based treatment that will give them the tools to build the lives they deserve. She is a go to referral source for me and it is a privilege to know her both personally and professionally.

Melinda Waggoner, LISW-S