Behavioral & Mental Health Services Staff

Jewish Family Service has a diverse staff of licensed professionals who employ a variety of modalities in providing therapy.

Clinical and Community Intervention
Staff

Noa Ben-Yehuda, LCSW-S

Psychotherapist

Noa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and board certified supervisor in Texas. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from Ben Gurion University in Israel, and a Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Houston. Noa brings expertise in providing therapy services focused on recovery from mental illness and trauma. She is a certified provider of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for treating other psychological conditions. Her experience includes working with individuals, couples and groups, focusing on enhancing clients' strengths, as well as enabling them to be empowered, inspired, and create changes in their lives. Originally from Israel, Noa provides therapy and counseling services both in English and Hebrew.

Psychotherapist
Noa Ben-Yehuda, LCSW-S
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Katelyn Bleiweiss, MPH

Community Intervention Specialist

Katelyn Bleiweiss is a 4th generation native Houstonian who is proud to be serving her community in the Department of Behavioral and Mental Health Services at JFS. After living in Israel for one year, she went home to Texas to receive her BA in cultural anthropology from UT Austin, followed by her Masters of Public Health in community health practice with a focus in program planning, implementation, and evaluation from the UT Health Science Center Houston. Katelyn did her intensive graduate school internship at Jewish Family Service and was fortunate to join the team as a full employee after graduating. 

Katelyn is the only Sources of Strength suicide prevention program trainer for the Houston Jewish community and beyond, providing mental health and wellness presentations and programs. She believes that sharing stories of hope, help, and strength can counter the overwhelming negativity we are all exposed to daily. She encourages all who are reading this to send a thank you note to someone who has been helpful in life, as gratitude is a core spiritual practice. 


Community Intervention Specialist
Katelyn Bleiweiss, MPH
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Ada Cheung, Ph.D., LCSW-S, RPT, EMDR Certified

Chief Clinical Officer

Dr. Cheung received her Doctoral and Master Degree of Social Work from the University of Houston. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and board certified Supervisor in Texas, a Registered Play therapist, and a certified EMDR therapist. She has years of experience working at various behavioral health, mental health and clinical settings serving children, adolescents, adults, and geriatric population for individual, couples, family and group therapy. She is an adjunct professor at University of Houston. She has also been selected as an outstanding field instructor by the University of Houston and Baylor University. In 2020, she has been selected as the Social Worker of the year from the National Association of Social Workers Texas Branch.

Chief Clinical Officer
Ada Cheung, Ph.D., LCSW-S, RPT, EMDR Certified
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Danny Clark, LMSW

Clinical Case Manager

Danny Clark is a graduate of the University of Houston, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration in management from the Bauer College of Business and a Master of Social Work from the Graduate College of Social Work.  Danny has extensive knowledge working with children and families grieving the loss of a significant person in their lives.  He also works closely with the MH-RITES Research Center and participates in research related to mental health stigma and suicidology. Before joining JFS as a Clinical Case Manager, Danny completed his clinical internships at Bo’s Place, a grief support center in Houston, and the JFS Behavioral Mental Health Services department.  Danny is currently working towards his clinical license under the supervision of Dr. Ada Cheung.

Clinical Case Manager
Danny Clark, LMSW
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Gittel Francis, LMSW

Community Intervention Specialist

Gittel Francis is originally from Brooklyn, NY and relocated to Houston in 2016 with her husband and children. She attended Brooklyn College and received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, where she graduated sum cum laude and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Gittel received her Master of Social Work degree from New York University.

Gittel joined Jewish Family Service Houston as a disaster case manager to help individuals and families affected by Hurricane Harvey. She also managed the yearlong Israel Trauma Coalition initiative in Houston. Gittel is currently a member of the Behavioral and Mental Health Services department. 

Gittel manages the community-wide Mental Health First Aid initiative and is a National Instructor of their adult and youth curriculum. In her role as Community Intervention Specialist, Gittel leads trainings on many topics related to mental health. The intention of these trainings is to decrease stigma and increase mental health literacy so people can notice signs and symptoms and connect to help when needed. She has provided lectures to a variety of community, national, and international audiences.

Community Intervention Specialist
Gittel Francis, LMSW
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Ivy Ickes, LCSW

Senior Psychotherapist, IOP Team Lead

Ivy Ickes is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works as the Senior Psychotherapist, Intensive Outpatient Program Team Lead and Masters level intern supervisor at Jewish Family Service here in Houston.

She believes no one deserves to suffer alone and it takes great courage to ask for help when one is struggling and is truly honored when clients allow her to be a part of their journey towards becoming their best, healthiest self. She is specialized in mindfulness-based therapies (primarily Acceptance & Commitment Therapy—ACT, Cognitive Behavior Therapy—CBT and Dialectical Behavior Therapy—DBT) and uses an integrated strengths-based approach in her therapeutic practice.

Ivy has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Bowling Green State University in Ohio where she began her career as a sexual assault and domestic violence advocate. A few years later she moved to Texas to pursue a Master of Science in clinical Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin. She completed a post-graduate fellowship at the Veterans Healthcare Administration, which led to working at The Menninger Clinic for five years. Her professional interests include advocacy, self-compassion, values-based living, creative emotional expression, mindfulness, and LGBTQ+ equality.

Senior Psychotherapist, IOP Team Lead
Ivy Ickes, LCSW
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Carol Laufer, LCSW-S

Psychotherapist

Carol is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a board-certified Clinical Social Work supervisor, a master’s level intern supervisor, a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers and a Mind-Body Skills group facilitator. She embodies a collaborative style and utilizes values-centered interventions including Motivational Interviewing and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with her clients. She enjoys group work and is working toward becoming a Certified Group Psychotherapist.

Her work is informed by a respect for, and acceptance of, her clients and learners; recognizing the inherent value of all, regardless of station, race, religion, sexual orientation, sexual identity, ability or circumstance. She believes in the power of community and the responsibility of each to do what they can to repair the world as we know it. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Vassar College, her Master of Architecture degree from Rice University and her Master of Social Work degree from The University of Houston.

Psychotherapist
Carol Laufer, LCSW-S
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Angelica Peña

Social Work Post Graduate Fellow

Angelica Peña is the Master of Social Work Post Graduate Fellow at Jewish Family Service. Angelica received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University and her Master of Social Work from the University of Houston. Angelica’s experience includes working with children and adolescents on different issues. Before joining JFS, Angelica completed her internship at Texas Children’s Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic and provided individual therapy to children diagnosed with depression and anxiety under the supervision of her field instructor. Angelica previously worked at a residential shelter with unaccompanied minors and at the Houston Area Women’s Center with children who have been sexually abused. She also has experience facilitating groups with girls involved in the juvenile justice system. Angelica believes it is a privilege to work together with clients and is passionate about empowering others.

Social Work Post Graduate Fellow
Angelica Peña
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Mai Spickelmier-Engel, LCSW-S

Psychotherapist

Mai is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and her Master of Social Work degree from The University of Houston. She is a board-certified Clinical Social Work Supervisor in Texas and a master's level intern supervisor.  Mai chose to leave the corporate arena to join the mental health field to work with individuals and families walking with them on their journey to heal, grow and develop.

Psychotherapist
Mai Spickelmier-Engel, LCSW-S
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Nancy Tipton, LPC-S

Psychotherapist

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor who received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Houston, Master of Arts in Counseling from Houston Baptist University, ABD (all but dissertation) in Management and Policy Science from University of Texas School of Public Health, and Certification from a 2 year post-grad program at the Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute.

She has over 32 years of experience working with individuals, couples, families, and groups at various behavioral health and clinical settings, including inpatient and outpatient facilities, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, and a behavioral health clinic serving the community.

Nancy brings expertise in Neuropsychological testing, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), Chronic Pain Management, Rehabilitation for COPD, Biofeedback, Geriatrics, Drug and Alcohol Treatment, and Women’s programs.


Psychotherapist
Nancy Tipton, LPC-S
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Emily R. Van Laan, LCSW-S, RPT

Psychotherapist

Emily R. Van Laan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist who has experience working with children, adolescents, and families in settings including children's hospitals and schools. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Emory University and received her Master of Science in Social Work degree from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Emily has experience working with a variety of populations, including children with neurological differences. She is passionate about helping all children and adolescents overcome their challenges, and she supports them to identify strengths and tools they need to succeed.  Emily feels lucky that she gets to work with children and teens, as they are always teaching her different ways to think about the world.  They are also constantly teaching her new games and phrases she has never heard of!


Psychotherapist
Emily R. Van Laan, LCSW-S, RPT
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We are here to help.

Our clinical professionals are trained in a variety of modalities to ensure evidence -based healthcare for our Behavioral and Mental Health Services clients. Our intake specialist will help you find a therapist who can help you on your wellness journey.