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About My Associates


Christie Demarest, LCSW

Christie Demarest

Christie Demarest, LCSW is a graduate of New York University with 17 years experience working with adolescents, adults, couples and families. She has built a solid reputation as both therapist and clinical supervisor in Bergen County, NJ. Christie is highly regarded for her expertise in trauma treatment, of both sexual assault and violent crime victims. Her approach is solution- focused, because clients want and deserve solutions for their issues so they can feel better quickly.

“I bring my lifetime of experiences to my work”, Christie states. “All of us struggle from time to time, and each and every one of us share times when we are overwhelmed, in pain, and feeling alone.” For her, therapy is a safe place for clients to be able to work through those issues and feelings. “Many of us discover that we are stronger than we know, that our experiences can be valuable teachings leading to very positive changes in our lives”.

Christie enjoys using humor in sessions—a wonderful antidote to the “seriousness” of our problems. This is certainly true of her attitude towards her own life. She strives to keep things simple, focus on what works, and moving forward. “This too, shall pass” is Christie’s favorite mantra, because it is so true. Nothing stays the same forever.

Christie is thrilled to report she is recently married. For her, this is a great example of the dramatic positive shifts that can happen in life—changes we might never be able imagine when feeling in a darker place. To keep it simple, “Life is good”! Christie looks forward to helping her clients reach that place, too.

Dina Niewood, LCSW

Dina Niewood

Dina is a licensed clinical social worker with 20 years of experience working with adults and teens in different cities across the country, as well as internationally.

“I really enjoy helping people tap into their inner strengths in order to succeed with major life transitions, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder”. Dina uses a positive, solution-focused approach with her clients, based on the idea that they already possess many tools for self-healing and greater life satisfaction. She also uses cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness techniques depending on what the individual needs because “one size doesn’t fit all”.

Dina continues “I am forever fascinated by people and their stories”. She finds transitional periods to be especially compelling and rewarding to work with in both individuals and couples, as they are the greatest growth spurts we can have as human beings. “I will help you focus on the obstacles you face in your life by providing a warm, caring, and safe environment. Together as a team, you and I will work to find the best solutions to improve your life and relationships. The feeling I convey in every session is warm, safe, and inspiring.”

Dina also enjoys spending time with her husband of almost 17 years, three young daughters and two bulldogs.

Stephanie Shapiro, MSW

Stephanie Shapiro

Stephanie has an MSW in clinical social work. She is equally skilled helping children age six and older, teens aw well as adults. Her emphasis is building a strong set of coping skills to succeed with anxiety, depression, other mood issues, and OCD, Since her very first psychology class as an undergrad, Stephanie knew that psychotherapy was her calling. She comments, ” I’m happy and grateful to have found a career that I am truly passionate about.” Graduating from Montclair State University with a BA in psychology, she went on to earn her MSW from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. She is now completing her dissertation to earn a PH.D. in psychology.

Stephanie is also very proud to have contributed to major advancements in the mental health field. She was directly involved in developing the Diagnostic and Symptom Calculator [DSC], which has revolutionized the way accurate diagnoses are established around the world.

For Stephanie, every client’s needs and aspirations are unique, and deserve the utmost individual attention to help them reach their goals. She states “I am very confident that together you and I can reduce your stressors and design a personalized treatment program to maximize your strengths, reduce your stress, and deal effectively with your challenges I will guide you to regain a sense of control over your life, and to feel inspired about living it.”

Stephanie is blessed with 3 great children, and a wonderful spouse of 10 years. In each of the roles she has as a wife, mother and therapist, she is guided by very strong moral values. Stephanie takes pride in teaching her family the importance of ‘giving back’ to others, and volunteers her time at her children’s school. She also loves to cook and travel.

Melissa Ferra, LCSW


Melissa Ferra LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker and graduate of Columbia University’s School of Social Work. “I have always known helping others was very important to me”, she says about one of her greatest passions. Melissa brings a wealth of experience to Dr. Sam and Associates; she has done extensive work with children, adolescents and adults with cognitive, behavioral, and emotional problems in various settings. Working with clients who have experienced some kind of trauma is a special passion for her. Melissa also does results driven and inspiring work with anxiety and mood disorders (such depression and bipolar). In her words, “My goal is to work collaboratively with clients though what they are facing. I truly value and appreciate the time we will be spending together, and I am excited about the opportunity to help them reach their goals.

Melissa also has a busy private practice herself in Wayne, New Jersey.

On a personal level, my relationships with family and friends are very important to Melissa. She enjoys traveling to new destinations to expand her knowledge of other cultures, new people, and great food. Melissa is also the proud “mom” of two cute little Maltese puppies, Romeo and Athena, who love their walks and playing fetch!

“What lies behind us and
what lies before us are
tiny matters compared to
what lies within us.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson