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About Us       


Larry Berkowitz


Larry Berkowitz, EdD


Larry is the Co-Founder of Riverside Trauma Center. He has provided direct therapeutic services for over 20 years and managed mental health services for over 15 years. Clinical areas of expertise include work with children, adolescents, adults, and families who are trauma survivors and/or suicide survivors. He coordinates and provides disaster response services and post-suicide intervention for individuals, schools, workplaces, and communities, and conducts trainings on suicide prevention. Larry holds a doctoral degree in Counseling and Consulting Psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed Psychologist in Massachusetts. He is on the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, serves as the Co-Chair of the Northeast Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, and holds an appointment as Clinical Instructor in Psychology, part time, at Harvard Medical School's Department of Psychiatry.

Language:  English

Joanna Bridger

Joanna Bridger, LICSW

Clinical Services Director

Joanna has worked with youth, families, adults, and communities that have experienced traumas in a wide range of settings in the U.S. and abroad for more than 15 years.  In addition to responding to community disasters and providing trainings for the community on trauma, resilience, trauma-informed care, and suicide prevention and postvention, she is also responsible for coordinating Riverside Trauma Center's Trauma and Loss Counseling program. Joanna has an MSW from the University of Michigan with a concentration in Health, and a Certificate in Traumatic Stress Studies from the Trauma Center at JRI. She has training in a range of trauma and loss specific therapeutic modalities.

Languages:  English and Spanish

Sarah Gaer

Sarah Gaer, MA

Suicide Prevention Specialist

Sarah Gaer began working in human services in 1998 and has experience in substance abuse, mental illness, developmental disabilities, and forensics. Sarah has specialized in trauma treatment of veterans and women survivors of sexual abuse. She was a Team Leader for the trauma team that responded to the June 1st tornado in Western and Central Massachusetts through a FEMA grant managed by Riverside. As a member of the trauma response team, she has responded to natural disasters, homicides, suicides, and terrorism within the community. At Riverside Trauma Center her specific focus is on developing initiatives for suicide prevention related to middle-aged men, and she is an active member of the trauma response and community training teams. Sarah is a Master's level clinician and graduate of Antioch New England University. She is trained in Psychological First Aid, Skills for Psychological Recovery, Rainbow Dance (a program for trauma response with young children) and has most recently been accepted as a Master Trainer for the QPR Institute.

Language:  English

Jenny Huynh

Jenny Huynh, LMHC

Operations Manager

Since 2004, Jenny has been providing individual and family therapy services in various outreach settings such as homes, schools, parks, grocery stores, and public libraries. She started working at Riverside Community Care in 2008 as a home-based family therapist for Riverside Alternative Youth Service—a town funded home-based family services program. Her position evolved as the program grew and she took on the role of intake coordinator and on-call supervisor. Jenny’s wide range of skills make her indispensable to Riverside Trauma Center as she develops and manages fiscal systems; implements methods to improve daily productivity, efficiency, and organization; and supports the work of our staff by assisting with trainings, screenings, research and resource development, and critical incident responses. Jenny has a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Suffolk University.

Language:  English

Marlene Kenney

Marlene Kenney, LICSW, MA


Marlene's clinical interests focus on trauma, grief and loss, and traumatic loss. She has worked with traumatized teen mothers and children, as well as adult and teen suicide and homicide survivors. She has had various roles at Riverside Trauma Center, having worked as a Suicide Prevention Specialist and a member of the trauma response team —providing support services for people affected by a traumatic event. She currently sees clients as part of Riverside Trauma Center's Trauma and Loss Counseling program.  A graduate of the National Catholic School of Social Service at the Catholic University of America, Marlene is EMDRIA certified to provide EMDR Therapy. She is also trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Sensory Motor Arousal Therapy (SMART), play therapy, and has participated in trauma trainings at the Trauma Center at JRI. She has a certification in Advanced Family Therapy from the Boston Family Therapy Training Institute, and is a member of the New England Society for Trauma and Disassociation.  

Language:  English

Perah Kessman

Perah Kessman, PhD, LMHC

Tufts Threat Assessment and Management Team, Case Manager

Perah has worked in a wide variety of settings, including inpatient, residential, outpatient, and emergency services. Her clinical interest involves helping traumatized populations and people in crisis. On behalf of Riverside Trauma Center, she is presently part of Tufts University’s threat assessment and management teamidentifying community members who potentially pose a threat of violence. Riverside works with the teams to assess  and  engage those individuals, helping them move beyond a state of crisis. She earned an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a doctoral degree in Educational Studies, both from Lesley University. In addition to teaching on an adjunct basis for Endicott College, Perah serves as part-time faculty at Lesley University, instructing psychology/counseling courses. She is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Language:  English

Jim McCauley

James McCauley, LICSW

Associate Director

Jim is the Co-Founder of Riverside Trauma Center, and has extensive experience providing therapy to children, adolescents, and adults. He has managed outpatient mental health clinics and programs for children for more than 20 years. Jim provides support services for those affected by traumatic events, and he has consulted with numerous schools and communities in Massachusetts on trauma responses. He gives consultation and training on postvention services, suicide clusters, and suicide prevention coalitions. He has presented at several statewide and national conferences on these topics. Jim is a graduate of the Boston University School of Social Work, and is trained to conduct psychological autopsy investigations. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Department at Suffolk University. He is also an Army veteran and has a special interest in services for returning vets. Jim is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Languages:  English, American Sign Language

Waheeda Saif

Waheeda Saif, LMHC

Program Coordinator

Waheeda has worked with adolescents and adults for over 10 years, providing therapy to survivors of abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Prior to that, she served as a Guardian ad Litem for the Florida court system. She has been with the Riverside Trauma Center since 2008, providing consultation after traumatic events, as well as conducting trainings on a range of issues regarding trauma and suicide. Waheeda is trained specifically in trauma therapy modalities, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). She has a graduate degree in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College.

Languages:  Urdu/Hindi, English

All photos

© Ellen Shub 2014




Riverside Trauma Center is a service of Riverside Community Care, which is here to make a difference in the lives of individuals, families, and communities in Massachusetts by delivering compassionate, locally-based, integrated behavioral healthcare and human services. Since the 1990s, Riverside Community Care has also helped Massachusetts communities deal with the emotional aftermath of traumatic events. In 2006, Riverside received funding from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health to establish the Riverside Trauma Center. Its mission:  to provide trauma response services to the cities and towns in its core service areas in Eastern and Central Massachusetts. In November 2007, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health gave funds to expand the Suicide Prevention program statewide (with the exception of Boston).

Some of the early community incidents at which we provided services include:

  • The fatal workplace shootings at Edgewater Technologies in Wakefield, MA in December 2000
  • The 2001 bus crash that took the lives of four students from the Oak Hill Middle School in Newton, MA
  • At Logan Airport following the September 11th attacks, assisting the Red Cross in supporting airport employees and the families of passengers on the ill-fated planes that left from Logan Airport


Click Here for a Timeline of the Trauma Center's History


The Riverside-Massachusetts Trauma Response Network

The Riverside-Massachusetts Trauma Response Network was created to help expand the ability to respond to disasters and traumatic events throughout the state of Massachusetts. It uses a mutual intervention model, with Riverside Trauma Center staff training the staff members at new partners to help them develop locally-based response teams. This statewide trauma response network currently includes six agencies:  South Shore Mental Health (Southeastern Massachusetts), Advocates, Inc. (Marlborough- Framingham area), Behavioral Health Network (Springfield), The Bridge of Central Massachusetts (Worcester), the Brien Center (Berkshire County), and Community Counseling of Bristol County. Further partnerships are in development to extend our work around the state.


Riverside Trauma Center
24-hour Crisis Response Line


Riverside Trauma Center is a service of Riverside Community Care, a non-profit organization. Services are primarily funded through the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, donations, and grants. All contributions are welcome and appreciated. Some services may require a fee.


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255 Highland Avenue, Needham, MA 02494
Telephone:  781-433-0672

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