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Dena studied Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Johns Hopkins University. She has experience working on a wide range of clinical and life problems. Through evidence based interventions, such as CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, DBT, Dialectal Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness techniques, Dena has a way of helping you stay grounded in the present while you explore and express your struggles. She specializes in the treatment of anxiety, depression, ADHD, and helping individuals navigate relationship or divorce struggles. She is passionate about helping individuals find their voice, become more assertive, increase self-esteem, and find their path in order to  start working on their life goals.


Prior to working in a private practice setting, Dena gained a great deal of experience working at an intensive outpatient setting providing therapy to adults, adolescents, and children. And prior to working in the mental health field, Dena graduated from Towson University with a Bachelors degree in Elementary and Special Education. She spent eight years as a Montgomery County Public School educator at a National Blue Ribbon School. She has experience coaching high school adolescents, teaching, working with students with special needs, as well as consulting parents. 

Dena Alalfey, MS, LCPC


In her free time, Dena enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and son. She loves being outdoor in nature (well the park) and spending time anywhere near water. 

"I am eager to provide you with compassionate support as you express and explore current struggles, expand your awareness of internal and external obstacles, and support you as you pave the way towards deep and lasting change. Take a look at range of services we offer for both individuals and groups, and our blog for resources and skills for coping with stress, anxiety, depressions and mental health struggles you may be facing."



Sarah completed her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology at Loyola University Maryland.Sarah has been trained to provide Integrative Treatment of Complex Trauma, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Child-Centered Play Therapy, and Gottman Method Couples Therapy.


You will sense Sarah's gentle and compassionate demeanor the second you meet her. Some of the concerns that Sarah can help adolescents, adults, and children address include depression, anxiety, low self esteem, eating disorders, trauma, attachment disorders, self-harm, adjustment disorders, negative self-image, panic attacks, and interpersonal difficulties.


Prior to working at A Step Forward, Sarah spent a few years teaching English in Korea. She then went on and gained a great deal of experience treating children & adolescents by providing therapy at The Care Clinic of The University of Maryland Medical Center. Additionally, Sarah provided behavioral therapy at The Theodore House in Baltimore to adults overcoming substance-abuse. She has also gained experience providing in-home services to adults with Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Schizophrenia. She enjoys helping parents implement positive parenting techniques as well as treat attachment concerns.

Sarah is currently seeing children 8+, adolescents, adults, and couples virtually and In-person.

Apart from therapy, Sarah enjoys painting, hiking, and traveling with loved ones. She is incredibly passionate about helping others to realize their strengths and achieve their best possible lives.

Sarah Ofrecio, MS, LCPC


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Laurie graduated with a Masters in Clinical Social Work from The Catholic University of America.

She has training in a variety of interventions including CBT, DBT, and mindfulness and uses a

strength-based approach in order to assess what modality will work best for each individual


Prior to joining the team at A Step Forward, Laurie worked as a Care Coordinator in wraparound

services throughout Montgomery County, as well as a school-based Mental Health Therapist at

a school for students with social, emotional, and behavioral disorders.

Through these services, she's gained experience working with clients of all ages, both in individual and family settings, and specializes in anxiety and depression, ADHD, eating disorders, trauma, and family/relationship dynamics.

Laurie is currently seeing children, adolescents and young adults virtually and in-person. 


When Laurie is not working, she enjoys reading, going to football games, and spending time

with her husband and daughter.

“Through joint collaboration and exploration, we will work to heal wounds, identify your

personal strengths, and develop new coping skills unique to you.”

                                                                                 - Laurie


Laurie Weitzman, MS, LCSW-C


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Dr. Miriam Elizabeth Bowman, PhD, LICSW, LCSW-C


Dr. Miriam Elizabeth (Beth) Bowman, earned her doctorate in Social Work at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. She is also currently a professor in the Master of Social Work Program within the Social Work Department at Gallaudet University.

She enjoys applying techniques of expressive therapies, including art therapy, and trauma-informed yoga. She has experience working with adults, adolescents and children, but primarily focuses on work with adolescents and adults in clinical practice. 

Prior to working at A Step Forward, she was a former District of Columbia Child Welfare Social Worker and Supervisor for nearly 10 years, during which time she provided clinical crisis intervention and supervision with a trauma-informed focus.


As a mother of two teenagers, Dr. Bowman enjoys spending time with her son and daughter whenever they are not out with friends or watching YouTube videos. She loves baking with her daughter and gardening with her son. She is a strong advocate of self-care, as a former child welfare worker and long-time single mother, and enjoys long walks with girlfriends, yoga and mindfulness practices, and napping whenever possible!

Dr. Bowman is fluent in sign language.

Dr. Bowman is currently seeing adolescents and adults in-person and virtually.

Jackie studied clinical social work at University of Maryland, School of Social Work with a behavioral health concentration. With deep compassion, Jackie finds the best approach for each individual client in order to meet their needs in therapy. 

Through various evidence-based approaches, including, but not limited to, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), Solution Focused Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing, Jackie can provide a safe space for managing intense feelings and stress. She is passionate about helping clients find peace and strength within themselves on their journey to recovery and happiness. 

Prior to joining A Step Forward, Jackie has experience working with adults and teenagers experiencing anxiety, depression, ADHD, adjustment disorders, PTSD, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder through intensive outpatient therapy. Jackie also worked with families, providing in-home therapy to both teens and their parents.  She has further experience providing case management and therapy to those experiencing schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder, in a hospital setting. Jackie has been trained to provide intensive support for those struggling with trauma and a history of abuse.

When not at work, Jackie loves spending time with family and a quiet evening at home, cooking a meal or reading a book. She has a passion for the outdoors, hiking, and is not afraid of a challenge, having completed the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. 

Jackie is currently seeing adolescents, adults and couples in-person and virtually.


Jackie Lynott, MS, LCSW-C


Micah Brady studied Clinical Social Work at University of Kansas where she received her Master’s degree and Clinical license. She has a diverse background in child and family systems, inpatient, sub-acute and residential youth settings, supervised interns and master’s level graduates in child welfare and medical social work settings, was a field Instructor with Howard University, provided therapy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to veterans and family members, and outpatient provide practice care to children, teen, and adults.

Micah specializes in anxiety, trauma, and couples’ therapy and also has much experience with depression, stress management, family conflict, ADHD, self-harming behaviors, OCD, crisis intervention, and relationship concerns. She uses a variety of evidence-based treatments depending on the need of the clients which may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Gottman Method Relationship Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, Emotionally Freedom Technique, Mindfulness Training, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Play Therapy.

Micah is passionate about helping others learn and grow, conquer their anxieties, and build on their strengths to get the most out of their lives and relationships. She is compassionate,responsive, and an “outside the box” thinker with a sense of humor.

In her personal life, Micah enjoys the great outdoors, fitness and dance, eating tacos or anything taco-related, photography, concerts, stand up paddle boarding, and staying up too late.

Micah is currently seeing young adults, adults, couples and families in-person and virtually.

Micah Brady 


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Karol completed her Master’s degree in Social Work from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.  She has experience working with diverse populations and varying presenting problems.


She is particularly skilled and interested in helping individuals and families with depression, anxiety, ADHD, behavior problems, and emotional regulation. Karol approaches therapy as a cooperative partnership between client and therapist.  Karol provides a safe and supportive environment that encourages individuals  to express their feelings and explore their inner strengths in an effort to promote positive change.


Karol utilizes a variety of treatment models including Play Therapy, Insight-oriented Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, and Family Systems Therapy. She tailors these approaches to meet the individual needs of children and families while promoting positive changes and family cohesion. 

 Prior to working at A Step Forward,  Karol worked as a School Social Worker as part of a multidisciplinary team providing counseling and case management to students with varying needs. She has gained experience treating children and adolescents living with depression, anxiety, school refusal, behavioral challenges, and learning disabilities. Karol also  worked as a therapist at Family Services Inc. through the Linkages to Learning Program treating children and families. Karol has also worked for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Montgomery County (NAMI MC), where she provided psycho-education on a variety of diagnoses to family members and the community.

When she is not working, Karol enjoys spending time with her family,  baking, reading and traveling. Karol speaks fluent Spanish. She has provided therapy in Spanish throughout her career.

Karol is currently seeing adolescents and adults virtually.


Karol Espejo, MS, LCSW-C

Michelle studied clinical social work and graduated with her Master's degree from Salisbury University's School of Social Work. Michelle approaches every client with understanding and will work with them to develop individualized goals to meet their needs in therapy.


Michelle utilizes various clinical methods to meet client's needs including, but not limited to, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectal Behavior Therapy, Structural Family therapy, Solution Focused therapy, and Motivational Interviewing. Through these strategies, Michelle will work with clients as a team in order to engage in progress towards the client's treatment goals. Whether you are coming to therapy for additional support, trying to decrease presenting symptoms, want to work through life's daily challenges or a recent life transition, or process experienced trauma, Michelle will work with her clients to meet their needs. Her approach is genuine, direct, and warm with some humor to build connections and work with clients collaboratively.


Before joining A Step Forward, Michelle has experienced working with adults, teenagers, families, and couples experiencing life adjustments, changes, anxiety, depression, adjustment disorders, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder through in-home, community, and outpatient settings. Michelle has received certification providing Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to individuals who have experienced trauma in their lives.


Outside of the office, Michelle enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, working out, and playing with her puppy Boss. She loves hiking, music, podcasts, the beach, and cherry coke.

Michelle is currently seeing adolescents, adults and couples virtually and in-person.

Michelle Rizk, MS, LCSW-C


Mark studied Clinical Social Work at University of Maryland- Baltimore’s School of Social Work with a concentration in Families and Adolescents. Mark finds that every person and situation is different, believes that his approach with any individual will be molded to best fit the person and their exact needs. He has experience from working in medical field setting, school based social work and outpatient therapy.


Mark has experience working with children, teenagers, families and adults. Mark specializes in anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, family conflict, stress management, OCD, mood related disorders and relationship concerns. He uses a variety of evidence-based treatments depending on the needs of the client, which include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Psychodynamic Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, as well as Play Therapy. 


Before joining A Step Forward, Mark has experienced working with children, teenagers, adults, families, and couples experiencing anxiety, depression, mood disorders, self-esteem problems, OCD, adjustment disorders. PTSD, stress management and relationship concerns. Mark also worked with families, providing in-home therapy to children of all ages and their family. He currently works for MCPS as a social worker, while previously conducting outpatient therapy to help children with problems experienced at their school. 


When not at work, Mark enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and creating new memories. He also enjoys the outdoors, whether it be hiking, playing sports or fishing. 


Mark is currently seeing children, adolescents and adults in-person and virtually

Mark Macauley, MS, LCSW-C

Alaina Kahn MS, LMSW


Alaina studied social work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, with a focus on clinical behavioral health. Utilizing values work, ACT, dialectics, and a heavy dose of validation, Alaina focuses on allowing your goals and interests to guide the treatment. Alaina knows from her experiences as both a clinician and a client that the therapeutic relationship alone can be a powerful influence in growth and self-discovery. 


Alaina specializes in improving relational patterns, anxiety and procrastination cycles, grief and trauma work, and adolescence. She is passionate about working with gender and sexual minorities as individuals navigate identity exploration, coming out, coping with discrimination, or building relationships within the community. 


Prior to joining A Step Forward, Alaina worked in a full DBT program and has received extensive training in dialectics as well as emotion regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness. During her time as a DBT clinician, Alaina effectively treated self-harm, chronic suicidality, eating disorders, and relational trauma. Using DBT, Alaina provided skills-based training as well as insight-oriented therapy to support clients as they expanded their repertoire of ways to response to distress and dysregulation. 


After the work day, Alaina can usually be found watching sitcoms with her partner and her dog Mojo! She also enjoys singing, traveling, photography, and crafting.

Alaina is currently seeing adolescents and young adults in person and virtually.

Carol is your client care concierge. Carol's gentle and soothing voice will be the first one you hear when you call. She will take the time to get to know you or your child's needs in order to match you with the best fit therapist. She will be available to you and check in periodically during your treatment to ensure your experience is exceptional. 


She specializes in mental health care administration and digital marketing and has been working in healthcare settings for almost 15 years. She studied digital marketing at GW and became a tutor for the University of Toronto over the pandemic.


Prior to working with A Step Forward, Carol worked at Children's National Medical Center for 8 years where she was the point of contact for mental health and surgical patients in a specialized clinic. She is passionate about assisting and supporting clients throughout their therapy journey.


Carol enjoys spending her time hiking or anywhere outdoors and near water as well as working on her garden with her partner. She is also an avid hobby photographer. 

What our Community Thinks

Carol Gonzalez
Client Care Concierge

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We have 5/5 stars from 28 reviews on Google. 

We have 5/5 stars from 12 reviews on Facebook.

We're "HIGHLY RECOMMENDED" on Alignable.

We received The Best of 2019 Gaithersburg Award.

We received The Best of 2020 Gaithersburg Award.

We received The Best of 2021 Gaithersburg Award.

We received The Best Children's Therapist/Psychiatrist & Practice in the Washington Family Magazine in 2021.

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