Dr. Richard Bernstein, MD - Psychiatrist
“Dr. B” is a board certified psychiatrist who was a career faculty member at the University of Vermont School of Medicine and an Attending Psychiatrist at Fletcher-Allen/UVM Medical Center, where he directed the Psychiatry Residency Training Program, the Inpatient Psychiatry Unit, and the Outpatient Services Program. He has served as an examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry, a reviewer for the American Journal of Psychiatry, and as President of the Vermont Psychiatric Association. Currently, Dr. B serves as a Physician Member of the Vermont Board of Medical Practice as well as Vice President of the Board of the Richmond, VT Rescue Service. He joined Spruce Mountain Inn as our in-house psychiatrist to keep himself busy after his retirement from UVM, and deeply enjoys his work with our residents and staff. He and his wife are the proud parents of four children and seven grand-children. For fun, he writes stories, cuts wood, plays golf and is struggling with the cello.
Amy Emler-Shaffer, MA, LCMHC - Psychotherapist
Amy received her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Antioch University New England. Amy lived and worked on both the East and West Coasts before coming to Spruce. In addition to her experience working with young adults, Amy has provided clinical services for Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice, a medical office, and has a private practice where she works with individuals and groups. Her therapeutic approach is client driven, with an emphasis on mindfulness-based CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). Amy is also trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing). When she’s not working (and even sometimes when she is), Amy likes to be outside.
Karen O’Hara, MS - Psychotherapist
Karen began her work as a Psychotherapist at Johns Hopkins’ Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland where she also earned her Master’s Degree from Loyola University Maryland. She has also spent several years working in Johns Hopkins’ Partial Hospital program, and in their Outpatient Department offering individual and family therapy. A native Vermonter, Karen moved back to Vermont where she worked as a Clinician with youth for C.H.O.I.C.E. Academy before coming to Spruce Mountain. Karen is trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and trauma interventions including Cognitive-Processing Therapy (CPT). Karen is passionate about animals, and enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, especially when she can get out on a lake water skiing.
Jim Hessler, MSSW - Clinical Case Manager
Jim came to Spruce with extensive experience working in mental health and developmental services. He earned his MSSW at the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2004, where he participated in a pilot program promoting independent living for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Jim brought the program to Vermont in 2006 and coordinated its implementation and development through the Howard Center in Burlington, VT, before coming to Spruce Mountain. When not in the office, Jim can be found on the soccer field, getting slivers in his wood shop, or trying to keep up with his two young boys.
Sarah Watkins, MSW - Clinical Case Manager
Sarah joined the Spruce Mountain Inn team in 2008, shortly after she moved to Vermont and hiked the Long Trail. Sarah has a diverse background in clinical and experiential work in various parts of the country, including serving as a Program Coordinator and Lead Instructor for Outward Bound in Florida, Unit Director for the Boys and Girls Club of America, and as a mental health and substance abuse counselor on an Indian reservation in Taos, New Mexico. Sarah is DBT Certified and her work experience includes case management and advocacy for victims of domestic violence and directing a camp program for children with cancer and their families. Sarah is the proud mama of three and thus has no “spare” time, but she loves to be outdoors enjoying Vermont’s amazing natural resources.
Ashley Zavalko, MS, LADC - Case Manager
Ashley earned her Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Southern Connecticut State University, is licensed as a Professional Counselor and is also a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor in the state of Vermont. Prior to coming to Spruce, Ashley lived and worked in Connecticut and has had extensive experience there as a clinician for outpatient and intensive outpatient programs as well as community mental health organizations and MAT (medication-assisted treatment) programs. Ashley supervised a Court Support Services Division contract with the Connecticut court system and provided both individual and group therapy to young adults and adults involved with the criminal justice system. Spruce Mountain Inn felt like an great fit for Ashley, as she is a firm believer in offering a holistic and client-centered approach to therapy. Ashley is extremely passionate about animals, enjoying time outdoors and spending time with her husband and two dogs.
Lynn Rockwell, M.Ed - Parent Coach
Lynn is one of Spruce’s most senior staff, having served as a Clinical Case Manager here for more than 17 years prior to “retiring” into her current part-time role as Parent Coach. Her experience spans not only her work here, but extensive work in educational and community-based programs as well. Lynn holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of Vermont. In 1991, she received the Vermont Department of Mental Health’s Individual Award for her outstanding contributions to the field of mental health. Lynn enjoys her retired farm animals, mentoring a teenager, camping, and especially spending time with her grandchildren.
Tom Novak, MBA - Career & Education Development Coordinator
Tom holds a BA and MBA from Temple University, where his Master’s studies focused on Human Resource Administration, before completing Doctorate of Education coursework in Vocational Education. He brings more than 20 years post-graduate professional experience in career services and academic advising, most recently serving as the Director of Career Services for Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine. In his free time, Tom enjoys reading memoirs and the daily newspaper and spending time with his wife and son. He credits golf with making him a happy human being.
Gail Mears, MAC, LADC, ADS - Addictions Counselor
Gail holds a BA in Psychology from Trinity College as well as an MA in Applied Psychology from Antioch N.E. Graduate School. She is a licensed Alcohol/Drug Counselor, an Acupuncture Detox technician, a Rostered Psychotherapist in Vermont and holds a Teaching and Learning Certificate from Norwich University. She has worked in high schools, Lamoille and Washington County Mental Health Centers and at Norwich University. Gail created and directed an interactive prevention theater program “In Your Face Gorilla Theater” that has been active since 1998 and won several state-wide awards. At Spruce, in addition to meeting individually with clients, Gail facilitates a number of groups including: Addictions and Compulsions, Healthy Tech, Sober Living and Gorilla Theater. Gail is proud to be a native “Vermonter” and lives in Barre with her husband, son and dog.