Our Professional Staff

John Lieberman, MA, Executive Director

“I want people to do more of what they love to do,” John Lieberman said when speaking about his new position as Executive Director of The New York Center for Living. “I am committed to helping NYCFL continue to thrive, to grow and to succeed as an adolescent and young adult intensive outpatient treatment service. The New York Center for Living is a clinically driven program that provides comprehensive treatment to individuals and families in a 12-Step, abstinence-based model. The foundation of my work and expertise in the treatment industry mirrors that of NYCFL and I am proud to represent the program and further its growth as it continues to impact the lives of many people.”

John began his career in the treatment industry in 1985 at age eighteen, following his own extended stay in a treatment and recovery center where be began a life of sobriety. Over the past 32 years, John has held many positions within the treatment industry at several reputed facilities. During the past 14 years John has been the Director of Operations, the Group Home Administrator and the Chief Operating Officer at Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers. John was a major force in the success and growth of Visions during his years there. He describes, “When Visions started, there were six beds and one program that dealt with dual diagnosis and substance abuse. Currently, there are twenty-eight beds and five different programs, including the first private sober recovery high school, and the first licensed extended care treatment for adolescents in the state of California.”

John holds a Master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and chooses to focus his skills specifically on improving company culture by maximizing staff and individual assets within an organization. John is committed to helping clients and their families heal and recover from the damages of addiction and co-occurring disorders and recognizes that NYCFL staff can create this kind of stability needed to achieve that goal. John added, “ I love to facilitate the magic that happens when many individuals, coming from different backgrounds and cultures, all work together for the good of the clients and their families.” “I am looking forward to working with Elizabeth Kabler, the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees; she works tirelessly to promote NYCFL. I also am eager to work with the Board of Trustees, to spend time with the staff, and to continue to learn more about the Center, its clients and their families,” he added. One of the goals he has for NYCFL is to have it “become a voice for teaching, training and leadership in New York for professionals, families and educators who are working with those struggling with substance abuse and addiction.”

John and his wife, Cindy have relocated from Southern California to Westchester County and are looking forward to experiencing season changes and East Coast life. John is quickly becoming an expert in the art of commuting to Manhattan and can already tell you where to find the best cups of coffee in the city.

Marianne Chai, M.D.

Medical Director

Marianne Chai, MD is board certified in general and child and adolescent psychiatry and is board certified 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 develops 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).

Peter Newland, CASAC

Clinical Director

Peter’s twenty-five years of experience in the field of chemical dependency first began at Phoenix House as a Case Manager working closely with adolescents. With a breadth of experience as a clinician, supervisor and administrator, as Director of Adolescent Services at Phoenix House Peter supervised peer groups, multi-family groups and individual sessions. At Harlem East Life Plan, Peter helped develop a chemical dependency program which assessed and treated individuals with the goal of abstinence from alcohol and drugs. At Realization Center, Peter was the Coordinator of Adolescent Services, co-facilitating family groups, peer groups, and family workshops.

Peter has conducted numerous seminars and presentations to schools, parent groups, hospitals, and mental health professionals. Topics have covered substance abuse and teens, detecting early warning signs for a teen in need of an intervention, how to engage a teen and his/her family in treatment, and strategies for long term recovery.

Rachel Light, LCSW, CASAC-T

Head of Admissions, Primary Therapist

With over seven years of experience in the field, Rachel provides both individual and group therapy to adolescents and young adults through a combination of motivational interviewing techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, family systems and psychodynamic therapy. Prior to joining NYCFL, she gained valuable experience as a psychotherapist at Carmichael Psychology private practice, and completed extensive trainings at STAR Health Center SUNY Medical Center, Aging in America Community Services, and the Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training, before spending four years as an addiction counselor and coordinator of the Professionals in Recovery program at the Realization Center in New York. Rachel holds a MSW from New York University’s Silver School of Social Work and a BA from New York University.

Caroline Hill, LMHC

Primary Therapist

Caroline is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) who graduated with her Masters in Mental Health Counseling from Adler University in 2013. Caroline has experience working in numerous facets of the substance abuse and mental health fields. From inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, individual and group counseling, school counseling and sober living, Caroline has worked with young people in nearly every stage of recovery. Caroline is passionate about helping adolescents and young adults achieve personal growth and build the foundation for a life of holistic wellness and recovery. Caroline integrates cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and positive psychology in order to help clients cultivate greater self-acceptance and compassion for themselves while working to build skills to cope with the challenges of early recovery. Caroline is primary therapist at New York Center for Living and works with clients individually and facilitates groups for both the adolescent and young adult populations. ​

Walker Milligan, MHC-LP

Primary Therapist

Walker has been working in the addiction treatment field for over four years. He has worked with adolescents, young adults and families. He earned a Bachelors Degree from the University of Colorado, as well as a Masters in Counseling Psychology and an EdM in Mental Health Counseling from Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Walker began his career working at Authentic Recovery Center, a substance abuse facility in Los Angeles that houses a medical detox, inpatient, continuing care and outpatient programs. There he learned the importance of breaking the cycle of addictive behaviors, and the importance of addressing co-occurring disorders. He has also worked directly with adolescents with substance abuse issues and defiance disorder diagnoses at a residential facility in Norman, Oklahoma. Directly before coming to New York Center For Living, Walker worked at Inter-Care, an outpatient substance abuse facility in New York City. There he ran several weekly groups including the professionals group and a group for men with multiple years of sustained sobriety, as well as working individually with clients and their families. This work helped him to develop skills in teaching sober coping mechanisms, goal development and implementation and tools to maintain long term sobriety.

Walker has clinical training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Acceptance Commitment Therapy. He applies all of these skills to his work with his clients at the Center, helping them to address their substance use issues, and also to develop the self-esteem, personal agency and tools necessary to live the effective lives they see for themselves.

Evin Lawson, LMSW

Primary Therapist

As a graduate of New York University Silver School of Social Work, and a New York State Licensed Master of Social Work, Evin has established a career of helping individuals and their families understand addiction through mindfulness and self-compassion.

Evin’s interest in working with adolescents and their families developed during her experience at a behavioral and mental health inpatient unit, working with adolescents who had difficulties tolerating distress and regulating their emotions. Recently, her work has focused on group psychotherapy with adults at Inter-Care, an abstinence-based outpatient substance use treatment facility. Evin imparted skills to enhance resilience and encouraged growth at various stages of recovery. Understanding the mechanisms underlying substance abuse has led her to incorporate strategies in working with survivors of trauma and individuals who present with a range of mental health disorders.

Through her eclectic approach, she addresses the individual’s relationship with the substance by implementing practices such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing. Evin believes that change happens when people draw on their own experiences and cultivate their strengths to learn how to become comfortable with themselves.

Joseph Mutz, MS, RD

Dietitian

Joseph is a Registered Dietitian who completed his graduate degree at NYU, receiving his Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Joseph believes food and nutrition are the foundation of physical and mental wellbeing. Through his practice Joseph 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 individuals in making more nutritious choices.

Joseph advocates for a minimally processed, nutrient dense diet. Joseph 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

Agustin has been leading Yoga and Mindfulness Sessions at the New York Center for Living since 2011. An Advanced Certified Yoga Teacher, he has seen through first hand experience how the practices of yoga and meditation can foster a greater sense of ease and balance. Agustin completed the Yoga of Recovery certification with Durga Leela at the Sivananda Ashram where he trained in using Ayurvedic practices to help those in recovery. His teaching has been strongly influenced by the meditation retreats he has attended with Pema Chodron and Tara Brach. He is currently studying with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach in the Power of Awareness program, a mindfulness training focused on bringing the intrinsic qualities of heart and mind into our daily lives. ​

Valeria Koutmina, MPS, ART-BC, LCAT

Art therapist

Val is a Creative Arts Therapist and artist. She is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts Art Therapy Master’s Program with over five years of practice internationally and locally. Val has honed a multimodal approach for addressing symptoms of dissociation, attachment/relationship issues, mood and personality disorders, dependence and addiction, with a focus on trauma-informed techniques. Her practice is built on joining and guiding clients in the metaphorical journey toward meaning and growth.

In art therapy groups, Val employs the tools of visual art, gesture/movement, poetry, narrative, and humor to inspire insight, group cohesion, and positive change. Often words are not enough to describe experiences or bring relief. The potential for non-verbal and symbolic communication, as well as immediate action, makes art therapy a unique offering. Sensory integration, personal meaning, trust and play are significant to healing. Val invites clients to safely and gently explore unconscious content, externalizing felt experience to promote recovery and well-being.

Jamel Robinson

Creative Arts Facilitator

Jamel is a poet and self-taught visual artist who started his career after being asked to paint a poem on a canvas for a group exhibition in the winter of 2011. Since then Robinson has appeared in several charity auctions, solo exhibitions and group shows in New York, Los Angeles, Paris and in Copenhagen. His paintings, drawings and sculptures have sold to a variety of prominent collectors and gained Robinson quick notoriety internationally. Jamel is represented by the Ivy Brown Gallery in New York, the EFERYA Gallery in Paris and Gallery Von Schmordenfaden in Copenhagen and is based in Harlem, New York where he was born, raised, lives and works.

Cassidy Litvack, MHC-LP

Vocational Instructor

Cassidy graduated from Columbia Teachers College with her Masters of Education in Mental Health Counseling in 2015. She has worked in a variety of recovery settings including chemical dependency outpatient treatment and sober living.

As a consulting therapist at New York Center for Living, she leads a weekly vocation and education exploration group and also works one on one with clients to address their individual education, career and professional goals, which can include resume and cover letter support, subject tutoring and standardized test preparation. She values helping adolescents and young adults balance their lives in recovery with their academic and extracurricular interests and reach their full potentials.

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