Clinical Associate /
Independent Contractors


Dr. Mitch Spero is the owner and director of Child & Family Psychologists. All of the following Mental Health Professionals on this Areas of Specialization List are Independent Contractors and not Employees of Child & Family Psychologists. Each and every one of the Clinical Associates who work at Child & Family Psychologists conduct their own individual practice of Psychology on our premises, but their treatment is not directed or controlled by Dr. Spero and/or Child & Family Psychologists. Patients seen at Child & Family Psychologists agree that Dr. Spero and Child & Family Psychologists are held Harmless with regard to Professional Liability related to Psychological Evaluation and/or Treatment provided by any and all of the Independent Contractors listed below.

Dr. Mitchell E. Spero

Psy.D.  —  FL License #PY0004098

Dr. Spero, a Licensed Psychologist was the Director of Child & Family Psychologists of Plantation and Child & Family Psychologists of Weston and in 2016 consolidated these two offices to the White Seahorse entrance to the Sawgrass Mills Mall in the Sawgrass Medical Center. Dr. Spero was the 2000 President of the Child, Adolescent and Family Division of the Florida Psychological Association. He served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Psychological Association as the 2005-2007 Treasurer, The Bylaws & Policy Review Committee Co-Chairman and was the 2001-2003 Membership Chairman. He was the 1993 President, the 1998-1999 Treasurer, the 2004-2006 Ethics Chairman, and the 2002-2004 Child, Adolescent and Family Chairman of the Broward County Psychological Association. Dr. Spero served on the Executive Board of Directors of the Broward County Psychological Association for over eighteen consecutive years beginning in 1989. For five years, from 2002-2007, Dr. Spero served on the Board of Advisors of Nova Southeastern University, Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Counseling Association. In July of 2001 the Florida Psychological Association presented Dr. Spero with an award “For Outstanding Work In The Profession of Psychology: The Child, Adolescent and Family Division.” The following year in June of 2002, the Florida Psychological Association recognized Dr. Spero for his “Outstanding Contributions to Psychology In The Public Interest For Outstanding Work In The Practice of Psychology For The Public”, and again in June of 2004 Dr. Spero was recognized with the award for “Outstanding Contribution to Psychology in the Public Interest For Exemplary Work In Serving The Public Through Psychology”. In 2006, Dr. Spero was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by The Broward County Psychological Association. Since 1983, Dr. Spero has developed a specialization in the treatment of emotional and behavioral problems of children and adolescents. As a Licensed Psychologist he has extensive experience in dealing with Emotionally Handicapped and Learning Disabled Children, Children of Divorce, Custody Evaluations, Stepfamily Adjustment Issues and Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Dr. Spero was the Supervising Psychologist of Clinical Services, and 1989-1993 Staff Psychologist of Cross Roads School in Davie, Florida. Dr. Spero created and has presented “Broward Bully Busters” since 2001. His work with adults has focused on Marriage and Family Therapy, Substance Abuse Counseling, and Individual Therapy for Depression and Anxiety. Dr. Spero is also a Certified and Court Appointed Family Mediator by the Supreme Court of Florida, and a Certified Member of the American Board of Certified Managed Care Providers. He has thought Counseling Psychology on the Master’s and Bachelor’s level. He was the Vice President of the Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Inc. a Statewide Multidisciplinary Integrated Mental Health Delivery Network of Psychiatrists, Licensed Psychologists, and Licensed Master Level Therapists. Dr. Spero co-founded the Stepfamily Association of America, Inc., Broward County Chapter and was also the South Florida Council for Self-Esteem Support Group Facilitator. Dr. Spero was a Member of the American Psychological Association from 1988-2010, and The Academy of Family Mediators since 1993. He is listed on the National Register of Health Services Providers in Psychology #40648. Dr. Spero is well known for his mentoring of others, media work, and public speaking. Dr. Spero was recognized by the Florida Psychological Association by receiving The Distinguished Psychologist Award in 2006, and in 2006 he was also awarded the Michael B. Spellman Award for Ethical Contributions to Psychology. In 2019 Dr. Mitch Spero was selected as an Honored Member of Trademark Top Doctors of America Honors Edition. Top Doctor awarded Dr. Mitch Spero as the 2018 and 2019 Top Licensed Psychologist in Florida, the 2017 and 2018 Top Child & Family Psychologist in Sunrise, Florida and also in 2016 as the Top Child, Adolescent and Family Psychologist in Plantation, Florida. He is also the Owner and Director of Stable Life, L.L.C. and author and game producer of Florida The Turtle Who Thinks He’s A Dog Finds His Feelings and A-D/HD GUIDE FOR DRIFTERS IN A SQUIRREL MOMENT: Testing, Diagnosis, and Treatment of A-D/HD published by EducaVision, Inc. Telephone: 954-968-7433 Email:

Dr. John Maurer

Ph.D., F.P.P.R.  —  FL License #PY0003444

Board Certified Diplomate in Psychopharmacology, Psychotherapy, Counseling, and Severe Mental Disorders
Dr. John Maurer is a Licensed Psychologist. Prior to working at Child & Family Psychologists as a Clinical Associate/Independent Contractor in May 2010, Dr. Maurer worked at Florida Neuropsychiatric Institute. Dr. Maurer was employed by the Dade-County School System for 35 years as a School Psychologist.

He is also licensed as a School Psychologist as well as a Marriage & Family Therapist. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Florida Institute of Technology, which is a program approved by the American Psychological Association. He has completed post-doctoral work at the prestigious International Academy of Behavioral Medicine, Counseling and Psychotherapy wherein he received two Diplomates (Counseling & Psychotherapy). He recently received two additional Diplomates in Psychopharmacology and severe Mental Disorders at the Prescribing Psychologists Register.

Dr. Maurer has over 35 years of experience working with emotionally handicapped and behaviorally disturbed children, adolescents and adults. He has been an Expert Witness in the Court System at the local, state and federal levels. His expertise includes psychodiagnostic testing and the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, marriage counseling, divorce adjustment counseling, family therapy, clinical hypnosis, alcohol and drug abuse counseling, child custody evaluations, and mental competence assessment. He has received training under internationally renowned psychologists such as Jack Watkins, Albert Karsen, John E. Exner, Stanton E. Samenow, James N. Butcher, Irving B. Weiner, Scott Porland, and Donal Meichenbaum.

Laurie E. Philipson

M.S., L.M.H.C.  —  FL License #MH0004855

Laurie Philipson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She became a Clinical Associate/Independent Contractor at Child & Family Psychologists in February of 2011. She received her Master of Science Degree in 1993 from Nova University. Ms. Philipson has provided crisis intervention sessions, and has also treated women coping with depression, anxiety, divorce adjustment and self-esteem issues.

Her areas of interest include helping children and the parents of these children and adolescents with disabilities, ADHD, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, anxiety and depression. She also helps families to cope with divorce.

Ms. Philipson’s main objective is to provide a safe and non-threatening environment for her clients so that they feel comfortable enough to discuss their issues and find healthy and productive ways to resolve them. Since all clients are unique; each approach is different as she utilizes a combination of therapeutic approaches, including but not limited to Play Therapy, Family Therapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Ms. Philipson has a flexible schedule and is available for appointments week days, evenings and Saturdays.

Dr. Jodi Samuels Shir

Ph.D.  —  FL License #PY0005887

Dr. Jodi Samuels Shir is a Florida Licensed Psychologist and has over twenty-five years of experience in treating individuals, couples, and families for a variety of mental health issues. Dr. Shir received her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees graduating with the distinction of high honors from the University of Florida. She completed her internship at Nova Southeastern University with a specialization in child trauma and family violence. Since 1991, Dr. Shir has developed a focus on the treatment of emotional and behavioral problems of children and adolescents. She was the founder and Chair of the Child and Adolescent Division of the Broward County Psychological Association in 1997. She has had extensive experience in dealing with Emotionally Handicapped and Learning Disabled Children, Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Victims of trauma/abuse, Addiction and substance abuse, Domestic Violence, Eating Disorders, and Oppositional-Defiant children and adolescents. While Dr. Shir has developed her expertise in treating children and adolescents, she also enjoys working with adults and helping couples. Dr. Shir has had training in couples therapy and enjoys helping people with their interpersonal and communication skills as well as more complex emotional problems. Dr. Shir has worked in substance abuse facilities and has knowledge in dealing with addiction and dual diagnosis-related issues. Dr. Shir also has a strong Forensic background and was a Diplomat of the American Board of Forensic Examiners. She has served as an expert witness in the Broward County Courts and was listed as an examiner on the Broward County Court Projects roster. Additionally, Dr. Shir was a Certified and Court Appointed Family Mediator by the Supreme Court of Florida. She has expertise in family mediation and related issues. Dr. Shir has also enjoyed teaching and writing and has several published articles in the areas of domestic violence and eating disorders. Dr. Shir was acknowledged as a Certified Clinical Telemental Health Provider in 2020. She is currently in the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology #44552 and maintains flexible hours to accommodate the needs of her clients.

Amie Eisenberg

M.S., L.M.H.C.  —  FL License #MH0002895

Amie Eisenberg, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Ms. Eisenberg earned a Master’s of Science Degree in Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in 2009. After graduating from Nova Southeastern University, she worked with an agency, serving as a child and family therapist. Since then she has worked in private practice dedicating herself towards helping individuals, couples, and families develop healthy skills needed to resolve issues.

Ms. Eisenberg enjoys working with couples towards improving communication, conflict resolution, and enhancing their emotional connection. In addition, she helps patients improve self-esteem, set goals, and develop their passions. Ms. Eisenberg has a flexible schedule and is available for appointments week days, evenings, and Saturdays. Amie Eisenberg, L.M.H.C. began working as an Independent Contractor at Child & Family Psychologists in October of 2016.

Ann Schlachet Garfield

L.C.S.W.  —  FL License #SW001461

Ann Schlachet Garfield, L.C.S.W., a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, has worked as a Psychotherapist for over 40 years.

She holds a Master’s degree in clinical social work from Adelphi University, New York. Ann is a dynamic and insightful psychotherapist. She specializes in the enhancement of relationships and work with traditional couples, non-traditional couples, individual family members, or any combination of people. Ann enjoys assisting persons in clarifying their values and improving communication skills, as well as teaching strategies that will enable them to navigate difficulties and arrive at positive and workable solutions in order to increase successful functioning and pleasure in the quality of their lives. Ann has worked extensively with both children and adults and has a special interest in Individual Empowerment.

She treats depression, anxiety, grief, trauma and employs creative methods to help patients heal, get unstuck, move out of ruts, develop new skills as needed, especially when faced with serious changes in their lives such as divorce, death, illness and other transitions. She does this with a positive spirit to rebuild and appreciate her patients’ talents and abilities. Ann has a special affinity for holocaust survivors and children of holocaust survivors. She is a firstborn ‘2G’ 2nd generation of holocaust survivor parents so is intimately acquainted with the issues related to this family experience. Ann was a Medical Social Worker in New York prior to becoming a Psychotherapist.

She is also a published writer of poems and essays, as well as original songs which she has performed in local concerts, community centers, schools, personal growth workshops and other group settings, including the intensive seminars of Virginia Satir, Lori Gordon and Sid Simon. Ann Schlachet Garfield, L.C.S.W., became a Clinical Associate/Independent Contractor working at the Plantation office of Child and Family Psychologists in 2007.

Sunil S. Thomas

L.M.H.C.  —  FL License #MH0007951

Mr. Sunil Thomas is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. He has been practicing for approximately seventeen years. He earned his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling at Nova Southeastern University and his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

He is a member of the American Counseling Association. Mr. Thomas utilizes a multi-modal approach to helping others, consisting of traditional psychotherapy from various disciplines and creative forms of therapy, such as Art Therapy, Journaling, and Play Therapy techniques. Mr. Thomas has a wide range of experience in the treatment of children, adolescents, and their families in the community setting.

His special treatment areas of interest include: ADHD, parenting issues, school concerns, posttraumatic stress disorder, anger management, and bereavement and loss issues. He actively engages children and teenagers with games and techniques drawn from Play Therapy. It is noteworthy to mention that Mr. Thomas completed a Play Therapy training workshop at the Institute for Child and Family Health in 2012. Mr. Thomas also works with adults and provides psychotherapy for depression, anxiety, trauma, anger management, domestic violence, career counseling, and bereavement and loss issues. Mr. Thomas has experience in treating substance and alcohol abuse patients, and has worked with this population mostly in residential and outpatient settings. He understands that recovery is a life-long process, and that individuals benefit most from the assistance of others in rebuilding their lives.

In September of 2015 Mr. Sunil Thomas became an Independent Contractor/Clinical Associate working at Child & Family Psychologists. He is available for appointments weekdays and evenings as well as on weekends for the convenience of scheduling for his patients. Mr. Thomas works on a Sliding Fee Scale, never compromising his professional approach due to the financial circumstances of his patients. He can be reached at Child & Family Psychologists: 954-349-2777, and 954-587-7520.

Dr. Narendra H. Patel

M.D., J.D.  —  FL License #ME0063468

Dr. Patel has been Board Certified in Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology since 1992. In 1993, he was certified as an American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians.

Dr. Patel also completed his Law Degree at Nova Southeastern University in 1999. His Florida Bar Number is #0195367. Since 2003 Dr. Patel has been a Medical Director of Cigna Behavioral Health, Inc. From 2000-2003 he was the Medical Director of Henderson Mental Health Center, Inc. From 1994-1996 he served as a part-time Psychiatrist with Apogee Affiliates for Evaluation and Treatment, Inc. He began Private Practice in 1982, and since 2002 has been the President of Psychiatric Consulting and Counseling, Inc. in Plantation, FL. From 1994-2001 he was a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Nova Southeastern University in the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. Patel is a Professional Member of the American Psychiatric Association, The Florida Psychiatric Society, The Broward County Psychiatric Society as well as the American Bar Association. He is well respected and known in the fields of Psychiatry and Law. In July of 2017 Narendra H. Patel, M.D., J.D. began working as a Tenant at the Sunrise, FL office of Child & Family Psychologists as a Psychiatrist. He is available for Psychiatric Evaluation and Medication Management on Thursday evenings from 5 P.M. to 10 P.M. His professional fees are reasonable and affordable.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Patel call 954-693-0630 and say that you were referred by Dr. Mitch Spero, Licensed Psychologist, to be seen in the Sunrise office of Child & Family Psychologists.

Jaye DeCapua

L.M.H.C., M.C.A.P., S.A.P.    FL License #MH0007225

Mrs. Jaye DeCapua is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and Master Level Certified Addictions Professional. She has over 20 years of experience in the Mental Health Field. Mrs. DeCapua works with a wide variety of issues, among her areas of specialization includes the treatment of behavioral issues, adjustment disorders, adolescents, anxiety depression, dual diagnosis, harm reduction, mood disorders and substance abuse.

She believes that most people can benefit from psychotherapy at some point in their lives, and takes this responsibility very seriously. Each person is treated like the individual that they are, no two courses of treatment are ever identical. Jaye DeCapua, L.M.H.C., M.C.A.P., S.A.P. began working as an Independent Contractor/Clinical Associate at the Sunrise, FL office of Child & Family Psychologists in 2017. She has a flexible schedule to accommodate those seeking help.

Steffani Levi Jaffe

M.S., L.M.H.C.  —  FL License #MH0005384

Steffani Levi Jaffe is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and has been a practicing psychotherapist since 1999. Mrs. Jaffe became a Clinical Associate/Independent contractor working at Child & Family Psychologists in 2001.

She received her Bachelors Degree from Florida State University and her Masters Degree from Nova Southeastern University. She was a Guardian Ad Litem for four years in the Family Law Division. Ms. Jaffe has extensive experience working with domestic violence issues both victims and batterers. She facilitated batterer intervention groups for 5 years.

She has a broad range of experience helping individuals, couples, families and children. Ms. Jaffe’s special areas of interest include relationships, divorce issues, stepfamily adjustment, parenting, grief and loss, trauma (abuse), parental reunification, anger and stress management. She has helped to provide relief for clients who suffer from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and co–dependency. She is a life coach and does psychological clearance for bariatric surgery. Ms. Jaffe is a provider for the Broward County Court to conduct premarital counseling. She is available days and evenings for the convenience of those seeking counseling.

Dr. Howard Marcus

Psy.D.  —  FL License #PY00005651

Dr. Marcus is a psychologist with over 30 years of experience treating clients of all age groups in an array of care settings and dealing with a broad range of disorders and clinical issues.

Prior to working at Child & Family Psychologists, Dr. Marcus worked for Visiting Mental Health as a Clinical Director, where he performed evaluations and psychotherapeutic treatment of elderly adults residing in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Previously, he worked at Counseling Care Center, where for over 10 years he diagnosed and treated adults, adolescents, children, and families. Dr. Marcus also has deep expertise in a variety of areas, including Attention – Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorders and related difficulties, learning disabilities, giftedness, private adoption, custody and time sharing schedules, dementia, gastric bypass surgery, child abuse and neglect, incest, and rape.

He has provided expert testimony, crisis intervention, including Baker Act Examinations, and in-home psychological intervention and behavior management, and has consulted to corporations, physicians, attorneys, the legal system, and the Florida Department of Children and Families. Dr. Marcus also specializes in the administration of psychological and psychoeducational testing, and he has participated in public and private school staffings focusing on educational planning, accommodations, and placements. Dr. Marcus received his Specialist in Education and Master of Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, Illinois.

He is a professional member of both the American Psychological Association and the Florida Psychological Association. Dr. Marcus is an avid fan of a number of Florida professional sports teams and enjoys playing tennis and spending time with his wife and three children. Dr. Howard Marcus became and independent Contractor working at Child & Family Psychologists in September of 2013. His schedule is flexible and is able to accommodate weekday, weekend, and evening appointments.

Dr. Joanne P. Pecuch

Psy.D. / L.C.S.W.  —  FL License #PY0007759

Dr. Pecuch began working as an Independent Contractor/Clinical Associate working at Child & Family Psychologists in October of 2006.

She received her Masters of Social Science Degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She worked for twenty years as a Clinical Social Worker with families and children. In October of 1997 she received her Doctorate of Clinical Psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Pecuch taught Psychopathology at the University of California in Long Beach, California. She specializes in the treatment of Depression, Anxiety, Stress Related Disorders with adults. She also provides Psychotherapy to children with emotional and behavioral disorders, issues of abuse, divorce related issues, and Psychological Testing for ADHD. Dr. Pecuch is a member of the American Psychological Association and Florida Psychological Association. She is in the process of building from a part-time private practice to full time status at the Plantation office of Child & Family Psychologists.

Victoria Harne

L.M.F.T.  —  FL License #MT0003768

Victoria Harne is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, L.M.F.T. She received her Master of Science Degree from the University of Miami in 2017. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, she takes a holistic approach to understanding each individual’s mental and emotional problems within the context of their family system. Ms. Harne has worked with individuals, couples, and families that want to improve their mental health and relational dynamics.

Her goal is to re-establish hope in every family and to help make a positive change towards healing. Ms. Harne has performed crisis interventions, and treated a wide variety of psychological disorders including Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Conduct Disorder. She uses a variety of therapeutic interventions to help achieve her client’s optimum mental health goals. Her area of focus is working with individuals, families, and caregivers diagnosed with cancer, who are having a difficult time coping with the news of their illness and struggling to make difficult decisions regarding their care and treatment. She has been trained in evidence based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy specifically for cancer patients, as well as stress management sessions to help prepare them for treatment. Her experience also includes working with children in foster care and children that have been adopted. She utilizes trauma informed care to help children and families learn to understand, recognize, and respond to the effects of all types of trauma to help regulate their emotions and manage their behaviors in a healthier, productive manner.

Ms. Harne began working at Child & Family Psychologists as a Clinical Associate/Independent Contractor in January 2020. She has a flexible schedule and is available for appointments during the weekdays, evenings, and Saturdays to help meet your mental health needs. Ms. Victoria Harne also conducts Teletherapy on Zoom, a HIPAA Compliant Protected Platform.

Dr. Balkys Bivins

PhD, PMHNP-BC, APRN, FNP-BC — Monumental Health Partners

Dr. Balkys Bivins is a Board-Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner. She is a proud alumnus of the Johns Hopkins Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program. She has also earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing at Barry University.

Her early experience working at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, gave Dr. Bivins the opportunity to learn from individuals who came from diverse cultures around the world at a top-rated medical facility.


Dr. Bivins specializes in medication management and psychotherapy of adults aged 18 and older who are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Dr. Bivins has provided mental health care to individuals experiencing life changes and stress in diverse settings including inpatient, partial hospitalization program, and outpatient environments.

As a researcher, she believes that keeping the individual’s needs and values first while using the best evidence and clinical expertise yields to effective treatments and health outcomes.

Her experience has taught her that seeking knowledge by listening and collaborating with each individual is paramount to arriving at a treatment course that is patient centered and is the key to providing Medical Management and Psychiatric Medication Prescriptions to individuals.

Dr. Bivins provides mental health awareness and a safe place to all individuals including women, POC, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Her passion is to continue to seek knowledge and to share her research to improve health outcomes. She has a research interest in the relationship, if any, between diabetes and depression in individuals. 

Dr. Bivins hopes you will consider her as your psychiatric provider.

Languages: English, French, Haitian Creole, and working proficiency in Spanish.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bivins call 954-887-0951 and say that you were referred by 

Dr. Mitch Spero, Licensed Psychologist at Child & Family Psychologists. As of February 2022, Dr. Bivins is a Tenant at the Sunrise, Florida office of Child and Family Psychologists.

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