EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND DIRECTOR OF CLINICAL SERVICES
Jill Backfield, Ph.D.
With her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University, earned after completing Master of Science and Master of Philosophy degrees from Columbia, Dr. Backfield has taught and supervised in the doctoral (Ph.D.) program at Columbia for many years. Prior to assuming her position at the Center for Living, Dr. Backfield was the Senior Clinical Psychologist at the International Center for the Disabled, conducting assessments and treatment with children, adolescents, and adults contending with co-occurring psychological, substance dependency, and medical problems. In her private practice in New York City, Dr. Backfield has had extensive experience treating and assessing adults, adolescents, and young adults with addiction issues and their families, and she is an experienced organizational consultant. Dr. Backfield has specialized in treating individuals with co-occurring addiction and mood, affective, and personality disorders and has also published in this field. She completed a three-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Inpatient Psychology at State University Hospital of New York, Downstate, and is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Personality Assessment, the Society for Psychotherapy Research, and the International Collaborative Research Network. Dr. Backfield has presented her research on mentoring patterns in the professional development of psychotherapists in the US and in Europe. Prior to beginning her education and training as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Backfield was a managing administrator at a law firm in New York City, and she also attended the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League and is formally trained in fine arts and media design.
Lisa Donath, LCSW
Lisa Donath completed her graduate studies at New York University, where she received her Master’s degree in clinical social work. Since 2006, Lisa has been working with adolescents and young adults struggling with addiction and co-occurring disorders. As the Assistant Director at Phoenix House IMPACT program, she was focused on engaging adolescents from culturally and economically diverse families, in individual, family, and group therapy. At IMPACT, Lisa had the opportunity to develop and implement specific groups for teens dealing with the challenges of having dual diagnoses, as well as for young women struggling with issues that relate to body-image, relationships, and trauma. In 2010, Lisa was hired as the Program Director at the New York Center for Living, where she has been involved in treatment, prevention, and program development.
Maryanne Chai, M.D.
Marianne Chai, MD is board certified in general and child and adolescent psychiatry and is board eligible in addiction psychiatry and integrative and holistic medicine. She completed her residency training in general psychiatry at New York University, followed by fellowships in child and adolescent psychiatry, at the New York University Child Study Center, and addiction psychiatry, at New York University Medical Center Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. Dr. Chai earned her Doctorate in Medicine from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and her Bachelors of Arts from Barnard College of Columbia University.
Dr. Chai holds clinical instructorships at New York University’s School of Arts and Sciences, where she developed and teaches an undergraduate course in Complementary and Alternative Mental Health, and at the School of Medicine, where she supervises general psychiatry residents in child and adolescent clinical work. Dr. Chai maintains membership in The American Psychiatric Association (APA), The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and the American Medical Association (AMA).
Dr. Chai formerly worked as a psychiatrist to the student counseling center at New York University, where she focused on the identification and treatment of mental illness and addictive disorders in young adults. Her clinical interests include expressive and creative arts therapy, spirituality, and integrative approaches to mental health.
James K. Ellis, Ph.D.
Seamus McEntee, LMSW
Seamus received a BA in Psychology from Hofstra University with an emphasis on child development. He continued his education at SUNY Stony Brook University, where he completed his Master of Social Work degree. He has been practicing as a Licensed Master Social WOrker in New York since 2004.
Prior to joining the NYCFL team, Seamus worked for the NSLIJHS in an intensive outpatient program for over 6 years. While working for the NSLIJHS, he gained clinical experience in working with adolescents, young adults and their families. He also developed and implemented a young men’s program. His professional experience includes working with individuals, groups and families who struggle with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder in conjunction with substance abuse. He has extensive experience working with borderline personality disorder and prodromal schizophrenia as well. While at the NSLIJHS program, he collected and presented data for a NIDA conference on the dissemination of research based treatments. In addition, he served as a member for the Nassau County Department of Social Services Advisory Council for families and children.
Seamus’ approach and strengths come from a strong emphasis on 12 step philosophy and the disease concept of addiction. He also utilizes his training in motivational interviewing to engage ambivalent clients. His expertise is working with children of alcoholics and adult children of alcoholics.
Rachel Jacobs, LMSW, CASAC
Rachel Jacobs received her Master's in Social Work at New York University, with a focused concentration in studying addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. As a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor, Rachel is trained in counseling clients with various addiction and codependency. Prior to joining the team at NYCFL, Rachel spent two years working with adolescents and adults in outpatient substance abuse programs in Queens and Long Island. Rachel utilizes family systems, cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, gestalt, motivational interviewing, and mind-body techniques in her work with her clients. In addition, Rachel completed a Post-Master’s program in Spirituality and Social Work at NYU, which deepened her knowledge and appreciation of the practices of meditation and 12 step philosophy in the treatment of addiction.
Stephanie Sterling, LCSW, Director of Family Services
After receiving her MSW from New York University, Stephanie began her career at Alternatives Adolescent Counseling, a private group practice, where she specializes in adolescent and family counseling. During the course of her tenure at Alternatives, Stephanie worked at St. Vincent's Hospital as an Adolescent Specialist, and then at Bellevue Hospital Center in the psychiatric department, the culmination of which prepared her for her position as Director of Family Services at the New York Center for Living.
Joseph Mutz, MS, RD
Joseph is a Registered Dietitian who completed his graduate degree at NYU, receiving his Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Joseph believes food is more than “fuel” and a meal is far more than just something that is rushed to put on the table, rather food and nutrition is the foundation of physical and mental well being. Joseph’s approach to food is from a functional stand point. Through his practice he has found that an individual’s daily food choices have the ability to prevent chronic disease, elevate mood, improve concentration, enhance sleep, and promote overall well being. Joseph’s goal is to educate and guide people in making more nutritious choices. Advocating for a minimally processed, nutrient dense diet, he also recognizes that a proper, well balanced diet is an integral component of recovery. Joseph also works as a dietitian for the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs and holds an undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Food Studies from NYU.
Agustin McCarthy, Yoga Instructor