STAFF BIOS

Treatment Expertise


The SAFE Program is comprised of an experienced team with diverse clinical and professional backgrounds.  Our program faculty and staff are listed below.

David Kolko, PhD, ABPP

Dr. Kolko

David Kolko, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Pediatrics, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He is board certified in Child and Adolescent Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology and a fellow of the American Psychological Association. At UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, he directs the Special Services Unit, a program devoted to the development and dissemination of evidence-based treatments for use in diverse community settings and systems serving children, youth, and families, including pediatric primary care, juvenile justice, child welfare, and mental health. He is also director of Services for Adolescent and Family Enrichment (SAFE), a treatment program that collaborates with probation officers from the Juvenile Court to serve adolescents adjudicated of a sexual offense. He developed Abuse-Focused CBT for child physical abuse which has now been expanded into “Alternatives for Families: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” (AF-CBT; www.afcbt.org) for use with families involved in conflict, coercion, and/or physical aggression/abuse. His books include Assessing and treating physically abused children and their families: A cognitive-behavioral approach (2002, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA) and the Handbook on Firesetting in Children and Youth (2002, Academic Press). A sample of Dr. Kolko’s clinical-research activities and articles may be found online.

Eunice Torres, MS

Eunice Torres

Eunice has been a member of the SAFE Program since 2000. Eunice is the diagnostician, clinical supervisor, and SAFE Program Manager. She has advanced clinical training and experience in diagnostic assessment and in the treatment of child and adolescent sex offenders and other behavior problems as well as affective symptoms including ADHD, ODD, CD, Depression and Anxiety. She conducts training seminars and workshops in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. Eunice is a native from Puerto Rico and is fully bilingual (Spanish/English). She completed her undergraduate degree in psychology and sociology at The University of Puerto Rico (UPR).

Eunice is a culturally skilled clinician who has demonstrated effectiveness in working with culturally different populations. She understands how race, ethnicity and culture can affect help seeking behavior, the expression of psychological disorders, personality formation, and the appropriateness or inappropriateness of counseling interventions. Her research and clinical interests are in the assessment of Juvenile Sex Offenders, the utilization of assessment results for the identification of treatment targets, and for the development of sound treatment plans, the incorporation of a strengths based approach to the assessment and treatment of JSOs, the use of an ecological framework which require paying attention to the multiple forces that shape children and adolescent’s adaptation and development and the developmental progression of child and adolescent problem behaviors as well as the desistance of problem behaviors. After graduating from UPR she moved to Pittsburgh where she completed her Masters Degree in the Child and Family Development Program at the School of Social Work in the University of Pittsburgh. Ms. Torres completed four years of coursework in the Doctoral Program of the Developmental Psychology Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Jessica Gahr, MA

Jessica Gahr

Jessica Gahr is a treatment clinician at the SAFE program. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Arkansas. Jessica attained her Master of Arts degree in clinical psychology from the University of Toledo. She completed an internship at the University of Toledo Children's Hospital, The Cullen Center, where she provided treatment to children who have experienced trauma. Jessica has experience using evidence-based treatments for a variety of clinical issues such as trauma, anxiety, and problematic behaviors. She values open communication and family-involvement when providing services. In addition, she strives to understand a child's symptoms within the greater environmental context.

Patrick McCormick, MA

Patrick McCormick

Patrick McCormick is a treatment clinician at the SAFE program. He received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Duquesne University and his Master of Arts degree in forensic psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He completed a clinician internship in the Forensic Diagnostic Unit at Downstate Correctional Facility. Patrick has been a member of the WPIC community since 2014, transitioning into the SAFE team from WPIC Acute Adolescent Partial Hospitalization and Re:Solve Crisis Center. Patrick has experience using evidence-based treatments for a variety of clinical issues such as trauma, anxiety, depression, lethality and problematic behaviors. Patrick is also a member of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP).

Michelle Hernandez, LSW

Michelle Hernandez

Michelle Hernandez is a treatment clinician at the SAFE program. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Political Science from Stony Brook University and her Master of Social Work from Fordham University. She is a native from New York City (NYC) and fluent in English and Spanish.

During her time in NYC, she worked as a case manager at HELP USA’s supportive housing program providing services and advocacy to adults with mental health and substance abuse issues, as well as their respective families. Additionally, she completed two internships at the Association to Benefit Children, interning for their Mobile School-Based Response Team and outpatient mental health clinic.

As a first-year intern at the school-based response team, she provided brief counseling to middle school aged students, crisis intervention, behavioral management, and classroom support. As a second-year intern, she provided individual psychotherapy to young children and adolescents struggling with mental health issues and complex traumas. Michelle has experience using evidence-based treatments for an assortment of issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and behavioral issues. She is currently a licensed social worker in the state of Pennsylvania.

Caroline Barensfeld, MA

Caroline Barensfeld

Caroline Barensfeld is a treatment clinician at the SAFE Program. She received her undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Barnard College of Columbia University. Caroline received her graduate degree in Counseling Psychology with a focus in Community Mental Health from the California Institute of Integral Studies. She completed an internship at Citywide Case Management, a division of University of California San Francisco’s Department of Psychiatry, as a mobile social work intern, outreaching clients who struggle with severe mental illness, substance use, and homelessness. Caroline completed a second year-long internship at The Clinic Without Walls in San Francisco, providing therapy to children, families, adults, and couples. Caroline’s most recent work engagement prior to the SAFE Program was working as a social work associate at a supportive housing site in San Francisco where she provided counseling and case management to the residents. Caroline has experience using evidence-based practices and believes in a strengths-based and collaborative approach when working with clients.

John (Jack) Rozel, MD, MSL

Dr. Rozel

Dr. Rozel is the Medical Director for UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital's re:Solve Crisis Network, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Teaching Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and Affiliate Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Bioethics and Health Law.

Dr. Rozel has been working in emergency mental health for over 20 years and has been the medical director of the re:solve Crisis Network since 2010. He is a board certified general, child and adolescent and forensic psychiatrist. As the medical director of re:solve Crisis Network, he leads a team of 135 crisis professionals providing 140,000 services a year to the residents of Allegheny County through phone, mobile, walk-in and overnight programs delivered in a person centered, recovery oriented manner.

As a teacher, Dr. Rozel regularly provides clinical and didactic training to medical students, residents and fellows at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; mentors graduate students through the Center for Bioethics and Health Law; co-teaches the Mental Health Law course at the School of Law; and teaches regional law enforcement professionals through the Crisis Intervention Team training program.

Dr. Rozel is the supervising psychiatrist at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center in Allegheny County, a clinic operated through re:solve Crisis Network and WPIC. He has worked in a variety of correctional healthcare settings in Pennsylvania, New York, and Rhode Island with juveniles and adults including specialized programs for fire-setters and sex offenders.

Dr. Rozel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Ethics and his MD at Brown University. He received a Master of Studies in Law from the University of Pittsburgh. He completed his general, child and forensic residency and fellowships at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital.

Dr. Rozel is a Board Member of the American Association of Emergency Psychiatry. He chairs the Legislative Affairs Subcommittee of the Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. In addition to being a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, he is also an associate member of the Health Law Section of the American Bar Association and the Physicians’ Section of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Kristen L. Eckstrand, MD, PhD

Kristen Eckstrand

Dr. Eckstrand is a fellow in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. She holds her M.D. and Ph.D. in neuroscience from Vanderbilt University, and is nationally recognized for her leadership supporting the health of LGBT communities, and research on child and adolescent neurodevelopment.

She is the founding chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges' Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Sex Development, co-editing and -authoring the ground-breaking text Implementing Curricular and Institutional Climate Changes to Improve Health Care for Individuals Who Are LGBT, Gender Nonconforming, or Born with DSD. Dr. Eckstrand is also the founder and former director of the Vanderbilt Program for LGBT Health, chair of the World Psychiatric Associations' LGBT Education Mental Health workgroup, and former vice president for education of GLMA. She has published two additional clinical textbooks on LGBT healthcare: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Patient Health: A Clinical Guide to Preventative, Primary, and Specialist Care and Trauma, Resilience, and Health Promotion in LGBT Patients: What Every Healthcare Provider Should Know.

Her clinical work and neuroimaging research focuses on the neuropsychiatric underpinnings of trauma and resilience in children and adolescents, with an emphasis on minority communities and vulnerable populations. Dr. Eckstrand has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and speaks nationally on the importance of diversity and identity in mental health and neuroscience. Her research has been recognized by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association. Her commitment to diversity has been recognized through awards from the American Medical Association, American Medical Student Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, World Psychiatric Association, and the Tennessee Medical Association.

Michal Shalev Binnun, MCSW

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Michal Shalev Binnun is a treatment clinician at the SAFE program. She received her undergraduate degree in social work from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. Michal attained her Master Clinical Social Work degree from the Jerusalem University, Israel. She has worked in bording school, where she provided treatment to children who have experienced trauma. She has worked in an afterschool program for cognitively disabled children and worked in a child and family center where she provided family based therapy to children and their families. Michal often incorporates play, art, and drama into her therapeutic style. She has experience working with a variety of clinical issues such as trauma, anxiety, and problematic behaviors. She values open communication, flexibility and family-involvement when providing services. In addition, she strives to understand each child's symptoms within the greater environmental context while tailoring the services she provides to each child’s individual treatment needs.

Abbey Friedman, BS

Abbey Friedman

Abbey is a recent graduate from the University of Pittsburgh receiving a Bachelor of Science honors degree in psychology. Throughout her time there, she completed 2 and a half years of research in externalizing disorders through the Pitt Parents and Children lab and an honors thesis entitled Individual and Contextual Factors that Predict Juvenile Engagement in Violent Antisocial Behavior, under the advisement of Dr. Daniel Shaw. She also previously interned through Dr. David Kolko’s SAFE and SAFETY programs, associated with the UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital's Special Services Unit. Additionally, Abbey worked with the Newham Youth Offending Team in London helping service juveniles convicted of various offenses through co-leading group discussions about victims, empathy, and the children’s individual crimes.