Through authentic connection we focus on your present situation and future successes by working collaboratively (virtually or in person) to identify areas of strength, opportunities for growth, and thinking patterns that get in the way of you living your best life. 

our mission

Our mission is to create long lasting change and resilience through the use of solution focused evidence based practices, between session skills application, and even some well placed humor. We believe that real change happens when skills can be generalized to the real world. In essence our job is to work ourselves out of a job. 

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explore our services

Are you ready for change but not sure where to start? Do you ever feel like your emotions are overwhelming or not there at all? Or maybe your professional or athletic identity comes with the stereotype of being someone who "has it all together" thus leaving you feeling like seeking help would be a sign of weakness, failure, or unacceptable? 
For the past 15 years I have been working with individuals who answered "Yes" to all or some of those questions through traditional Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Programs. 
My passion and expertise are in treating teenagers and adults who identify as athletes, creatives, and public facing professionals. I utilize multiple therapeutic modalities to help you increase your resilience, grit, and performance. I work with a variety of presenting concerns including mood & anxiety disorders, trauma, body image & eating disorders, life transitions and performance enhancement.  

In addition to my work at The Center for Grit and Growth, I work in the Premier Athlete Program housed within UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, serving as the Director of Mental Health and Counseling services for student athletes at the University of Pittsburgh. I provide clinical mental health and performance-based services for NCAA Institutions, Professional and Olympic athletes, pre-professional students, and spotlight professionals in the state of Pennsylvania. Additionally, I am listed on the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Mental Health Registry as a preferred provider.
I specialize in the use of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Prolonged Exposure (PE), Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE), and Radically Open DBT (RO DBT). I have received extensive training in these areas through Behavioral Tech, The Beck Institute, The Center for Deployment Psychology, The Center for Evidence Based Treatment, The Center for Treatment and Study of Anxiety, The MSPE Institute, and Radically Open Ltd.

Meet Kristen MACKEL, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Are you feeling stuck in your current roles, jobs, or identities? Not performing to the level at which you are capable? Planning to make, or in the process of navigating, a major transition? 
For the past decade, I have worked with clients and patients in a variety of outpatient settings-- university counseling center, hospital, athletics department, and private practice. It is from these experiences that my passion for supporting high performing people was fully realized. I am licensed as a professional counselor in Pennsylvania, and I have a PhD in Sport & Exercise Psychology. 
I specialize in treating young adults and working professionals who aim to better understand themselves, their environments, and their strengths. In working together, we will work to build awareness, acceptance, and the ability to adapt. I work with a number of presenting concerns including performance enhancement, life transitions, mood & anxiety disorders, trauma, and general adjustment issues. 

Outside of my applied work, I’m a member of several professional associations, including the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (Ethics Committee), the American Counseling Association, the American Psychological Association, Postpartum Support International, and the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science.
Collaboration with me is greatly influenced by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). I have also received advanced training in postpartum care through Postpartum Support International, and in trauma-informed care through the Institute for Creative Mindfulness. 

Meet Leigh SKVARLA, Phd, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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