About Us

Many people at the Hartford Family Institute’s Center for Psychotherapy & Healing Arts help to create and nurture our community. Come meet us.

About The Staff Hartford Family Institute Hartford Family Institute (HFI) has been a cutting edge Psychotherapy and Training Center since 1969. The Psychotherapy created and practiced here is a combination of in-depth body emotional work, energy healing, shamanic spiritual healing and trauma work. It is called HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy and is often referred to as HFI THERAPY. Hartford Family Institute has evolved into Hartford Family Institute’s Center for Psychotherapy & Healing Arts, (HFI), which provides this unique psychotherapy and counseling, but also offers healing in many other therapeutic modalities. All practitioners at HFI share a common belief in the healing effect of aligning our energy. We also share a common vision and concern for people’s emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. HFI training programs, under the direction of the founding partners and associates, include certification programs, advanced psychotherapy training for established counselors, therapists, healers, and practitioners in the healing arts, a master’s degree, as well as a full range of healing and psychotherapy modalities. We have expanded over the years to become a community of five Partners, four Associates and many Independent Practitioners. In addition to our primary location in West Hartford, CT., the Founding Partners have educational and training sites in Kansas City, MO. and New York. For 21 years we also had training programs in Germany.

Founding Partners

Stuart Alpert, PsyD, LCSWStuart Alpert, Psy. D, LCSW Co-Founder of Hartford Family Institute’s The Center For Healing Arts Co-Creator of HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy Author of “What To Do Until Enlightenment, Healing Ourselves…Healing the Earth” I have over 40 years of experience as a psychotherapist and I still feel young at heart, alive, excited by my work and my desire to grow personally and professionally. I truly care about people and bring my caring to each therapy session and to my belief in people’s ability to heal themselves emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Although I work with all emotional and relational issues, in the past several years I have developed unique theories about working with physical pain and illness and have added this specialty to my practice. Along with my wife and partner Naomi, I continue to actively work on deepening my understanding of all emotional, energetic and physical processes.

My interest and practice of mindfulness meditation, Qi Qong, shamanism and spirituality has both enriched my life and my practice. These practices are layered onto all of my years of experiences and to my earliest work with children, couples and families. I feel privileged to have studied with Virginia Satir, other family therapists and with Alexander Lowen at the New York Bio-Energetic Institute I graduated from that Institute as a Certified Bio-Energetic Therapist. Soon after, I became a trainer in the New Haven Bio-Energetic Training Program.

In 1969, I co-founded Hartford Family Institute with Naomi Lubin-Alpert and others. Naomi and I also co-developed HFI Body Centered Psychotherapy. This therapy is now practiced and taught in Hartford, New York City, Kansas City and in Germany. I have also led workshops throughout the United States, Canada and Germany. In addition to my private practice, workshop and teaching schedule, I lead supervision groups for therapists. I am an approved supervisor for AAMFT.
I offer the following workshops and seminars:

  • The Emotional/Energetic Roots Of Pain And Illness–The Pathways To Healing
  • A Road-map To Understanding All Inner Experience
  • A Psycho-Spiritual Approach To Healing
  • How To Bring Acceptance And Support To Your Life
  • How HFI Body Centered Psychotherapy Allows For Transformation At The Core Of Our Being

Naomi Lubin-Alpert, Psy. D., LMFT naomi-124x150Co-Founder, The Center For Healing Arts at The Hartford Family Institute Co-Creator of HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy Naomi feels privileged to have been a part of the healing process of many people during the 35+ years that she has been in private practice. She sees the mystery and awe that is her life’s work and feels gratitude to have been given this gift. She feels blessed that she can read the messages that each person’s spirit brings to her as they enter her office. Naomi intuits and conceptualizes personality and spiritual dysfunction in a unique way. This led her to co-create HFI Body-Centered Psychotherapy with her partner and husband, Stuart Alpert. This therapy is practiced and taught in Hartford, New York City, Kansas City and in Germany.

Her original work was with children in residential treatment and their families. At that time, she also traveled throughout Connecticut consulting with schools systems. Having a background in Special Education, Naomi was able to help teachers understand students’ educational needs and their emotional needs and offer family therapy as well.

Naomi graduated from the New York Gestalt Center after seven years of intense post-graduate study. In addition, she has been fortunate to receive training from Native American and Central American Healers and Shamans.

Her creativity and connection to spirit enabled her to develop many original theories concerning emotional trauma and physical illness. All of these experiences have led her to who she is today, a very appreciative women who understands her power, her softness, her gifts and her limitations.


Donna R. Baker-Gilroy, Psy.D.,LPC donna-124x150My life has been greatly enriched by doing the work I love. My trainings and experiences as a Nurse, Medical Technologist, Psychotherapist, Energy Healer, Mother, and Grandmother have led me to believe that we each possess the potential for healing and living our lives as authentically and fully as possible, in tune with the subtle energies and vibrations within and around us. In order to experience this we need help in discovering the ways this natural process may have been interrupted or stopped. We need to understand and appreciate how the patterns we developed for survival may now be the very patterns that keep us from living to our full potential.

In my work as a Body Centered Psychotherapist I feel passionate about helping individuals and couples make these discoveries and develop new patterns that support their lives more fully.

With my husband David, we provide therapy and workshops for couples in conflict. We have developed a specialty that combines psychotherapy with a Buddhist form of conflict resolution called “Beginning Anew”. Together we have written a book titled, Transforming Relationships: Come As You Are. This is written as a guide for couples and as a model for therapists who work with couples.

As a Master in the Usui System of Reiki Healing I work with clients to support and activate their innate healing abilities as well as conducting trainings in the practice of the Usui System of Reiki Healing. This hands-on healing art is a gentle, non-invasive, non-verbal way to support the integration of mind, body, and spirit and is a powerful complement to psychotherapy.

David Gilroy, Psy.D., LPC

david-124x150I have been a therapist since 1985. I am fascinated with the healing of people and relationships, and with the power inherent in people free to be themselves. I work with individuals and couples and I train psychotherapists in the HFI Professional Training Program.
My wife Donna and I have written a book, Transforming Relationships: Come As You Are, about conflict resolution and growth in relationships. In this book we integrate the practice of mindfulness and couples therapy. We conduct one day workshops for couples who want to express appreciation, take responsibility and clear the air with each other.

Sylvia Gingras-Baker, MA, LMFT

My life-long interest in how people relate to one another is what led me to become a therapist. My initial training was in family therapy where I learned among other things, some simple basic concepts which can help all of us have more rewarding relationships. Later I received training in body-centered Gestalt therapy which helped deepen my work with individuals, couples and families. In more recent years, I have become involved in meditation and mindfulness practice.

While all of this training and more, is basic to my clinical work; being able to integrate my life experience as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a grandmother, a sibling, a friend and a business partner is equally important in my work.

I want to say to all those who are suffering in their lives, there is hope and there is help. Things can get better with proper support, work and commitment.


Dori L. Gatter, Psy.D., LPC

Dori L. Gatter, Psy.D., LPCDori is a licensed professional counselor and a practicing therapist since 1994. She is a graduate of the Hartford Family Institute Body-Centered Gestalt Therapy Training Program and is Co-Director and a trainer in the Human Relations Training Program.

Dori brings extensive experience working with individuals, couples, children and families. Dori works with people in a therapeutic approach that provides a way for people to embody their emotions and truly work with the physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions of their issues, leading to fulfilling relationships and more satisfying lives.

As each individual is unique, so should be the treatment. Dori is trained in a broad spectrum of therapies with include but are not limited to: Body-Centered Gestalt Therapy, Hypnosis and Reiki. Currently, she specializes in working with anxiety and depression, relationship difficulties, family of origin issues, trauma resolution, parenting, and life coaching. For more information please check out her website at www.drdorigatter.com.

David Hovey, Psy.D., LPC

David Hovey, Psy.D., LPCDavid’s practice is grounded in the belief that we each possess unique inner wisdom that can lead us to healing. He holds deep empathy and respect for those beginning the healing process. David believes in the healing power of laughter and often uses humor as a counterbalance to the natural intensity of the therapeutic process.

David has always had a passion for helping people improve their lives. Through his own inspiration and years of studying the Human and Spirit behavior, he developed techniques to make significant Upgrades in all areas of life. He is living proof that you can live your dreams.
He brings more than 20 years of business experience to his work as a therapist, which has led him to understand that therapy should be focused and produce results. The ultimate goal is improvement in one’s quality of life.

David has been working with individuals, couples, children and groups for fifteen years. He also currently serves as a trainer for Human Relations Training Program at Hartford Family Institute.
David possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Fordham University a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Antioch University New England and a Doctorate of Psychology from the Graduate Theological Foundation. He graduated from the Hartford Family Institute Body-centered Gestalt Therapy Program.

He can be reached at (860) 966-7790. www.drdavidhovey.com

Denise M. Soucie, MACP, LPC

Denise SoucieDenise M. Soucie, LPC is a bright and energetic therapist who carries a deep passion for her work. She began her career over 15 years ago working with children who lived in therapeutic residential facilities. She is certified in Body-Centered Gestalt Therapy, and has trained in many modalities including sand tray therapy, trauma and neurobiology, wilderness therapy, and play therapy. She is a trainer for the Hartford Family Institute’s professional and human relations programs. She has a diverse practice which includes work with medical complexities, trauma, anxiety, depression, and sexual abuse.

She believes that each person holds all that they need in order to heal. She enables individuals of all ages to uncover their personal power and learn to use it for their life instead of against it. One of her guiding principles is that whatever the “dysfunction” is that brings a person into therapy, needs to be understood. In understanding how and why this “dysfunction” has served them, the clients can learn to make healthier choices.

As an adolescent, I had my own struggles with addiction and with anger management. I have extensive knowledge of various 12-step fellowships and a variety of therapies. I believe that this combination allows me to offer a unique perspective on addictions. I continue to evolve as a therapist, father, husband and human being and witness my practice evolving concurrently. I continue to be excited about my growth and the growth of others.

Contact: Scott can be reached at (860) 212-1733.

Find out about Scott’s personal experience by reading his online essays and by visiting www.sweeneytherapy.com.

Office Managers

Peggy Guay, Office Manager

I have helped to run the office at HFI for 25 years. I have great respect for what we do here, and it pleases me to be a part of it. Here is something I believe: Life is very short – (even if you live to be 90) – so grab on whenever you can.


Loyda Rosner, Office Manager

Loyda brings her efficient style and her outgoing personality into the mix. We already feel that she has been with us forever and she has become a welcome and important person in our team.

Independent Practitioners

Hartford Family Institute’s Center for Healing Arts consists of five core partners, three associates and numerous Independent Practitioners. We are a community of Psychotherapists, Energy Healers and other Healing Arts Practitioners who have joined together to enjoy a collegial atmosphere, to learn from one another and to co-market our practices. We share a joint vision about counseling, psychotherapy and healing and meet regularly to discuss our similarities and differences. Each independent practitioner is a sole proprietor of their own private practice. There is no supervisory connection between the Partners, Associates and the Independent Practitioners.


Claudia Pina, LCSW, LADC


A warm, genuine and compassionate demeanor characterizes Claudia’s approach. She creates a supportive and nonjudgmental atmosphere where clients can learn to embrace emotions, challenge defeating thoughts and explore life experiences in order to make sense of their dissatisfaction. Claudia works by utilizing effective strategies to assist clients in cultivating greater confidence in their abilities, self-esteem, in creating richer relationships with partners and children, and acquiring more emotional balance and health.

Claudia provides psychotherapy services to adults, couples, families and older adolescents seeking treatment for a range of concerns including drug and alcohol use, lasting effects from trauma, depression, anxiety, sexual and physical abuse, life transitions, women’s issues, codependency and relapse prevention. Claudia has worked extensively in community mental health clinics, inpatient substance abuse units and private practice. She specializes in treating individuals who have experienced trauma and women struggling with addiction.

Claudia is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has been working in the field of mental health and addiction services for over 10 years. She earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from Boston College and completed an extensive postgraduate certification in In-Depth Body Psychotherapy and Subtle Healing Energy at Hartford Family Institute. Claudia’s therapeutic style is largely shaped by a background emphazing psychodynamic theory and holistic interventions that integrate Gestalt Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, family systems, meditation/mindfulness, guided imagery, art therapy and inner child work.

In addition to her experience providing psychotherapy, Claudia provides training and supervision to license eligible social workers and graduate level social work students.

To make an appointment please contact Claudia at her office by calling 860-778-8142 or by emailing claudpina@sbcglobal.net.

Sky RobertsDr. Skye Roberts is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Board-Certified Chinese Herbalist, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and Reiki Master. She offers a uniquely integrated healthcare approach, treating a wide variety of conditions, with a particular interest in psycho-emotional conditions, digestive disorders, post-stroke rehabilitation, neurological conditions, pain management, endocrine disorders, and women’s health & fertility.

Her interest in Eastern medicine began while working in Asia, for almost a decade.  Extensive travel throughout India, Nepal, and Tibet, exposed her to the rich traditions of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine, and afforded her the opportunity to experience the benefits first hand. Years later, her passion and personal interest in Eastern medicine transformed into a focused commitment to learning the science behind these ancient traditions.

Susan Dorfman

Susan DorfmanThe work of healing has been my life path. As a child I was highly sensitive and empathic, acutely attuned to the feelings of those around me. This sensitivity has served me well in my clinical practice. I was also drawn early on into the world of nature and found refuge there. The cathedral of nature sheltered me and continues to offer refuge to my heart and soul.

I owe much of my own healing to my training in Body-Centered Gestalt Psychotherapy, my exposure and immersion in meditation for the past 20 years, the time Iʻve spent in the woods, at the ocean, doing herbal apprenticeships, working to create sanctuary gardens, and my work as a potter. I take seriously the need to spend time in the places which nourish our souls. During these times of immense global change it is even more important to nurture oneself and to find a channel of connection to oneʻs spiritual path. Part of my work is to assist people in finding their own unique connection to the place of passion and creativity in their lives. Lack of this connection is often reflected by feelings of emptiness, depression, grief, addiction and illness.

After many years of training in Body Centered Gestalt Psychotherapy, I decided to pursue a Masterʻs Degree in Counseling Psychology from Lesley University. I chose Lesley University because itʻs commitment to issues of diversity and Social Justice. While working towards my Masterʻs degree, I read much evidence based research on the efficacy of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) as of method for resolving trauma. EMDR is a process of bilateral stimulation to the brain which has been shown to help process trauma. I have completed a 6 month training in EMDR through Boston University and utilize it with many clients. I also offer it as an adjunctive therapy for clients working with other practitioners.

Healing happens through opening a channel to the heart, through being attuned and caring towards our own internal states of being and all of our life experiences. I can assist you in doing this in an environment of safety and gentleness. I work with issues of anxiety, trauma, grief and loss, ptsd, self esteem, spiritual meaning, creative expression, relationship challenges and divorce.

I continue to place my focus on integrative methods of healing (Body-Centered Gestalt Psychotherapy, EMDR, Reiki, and mindfulness, while staying grounded in the foundation of an attachment based clinical framework. I am currently studying Chinese Medicine and creating gardens for healing and sustainability.

The greek root of the word “Psychology” makes reference to the care of the soul. My practise of psychotherapy is truly “attending to the care of the soul”. Though not an easy path to choose, it is a path with heart, meaning, and greater self awareness which ultimately leads to a more fulfilling life. I am passionate about my work and love to assist others. I welcome the opportunity to meet with you. Please do not hesitate to call me at (413-329-6942) to discuss your needs.

Individual Sessions: $150
Couples Sessions: $175

My background experience: M.A. in Counseling Psychology Lesley University, May 2009, B.A. in Psychology and Studio Art, University of Vermont, May 1985, 7 years of training in Body Centered Gestalt Therapy, EMDR levels 1 & 2 completed June 2008, Reiki levels 1 and 2, EFT level 1, Beginning and Advanced Apprenticeships in Herbology, Medicinal Aromatherapy Certification, Certified Angel Therapy Practitioner with Doreen Virtue, Two years of training in Healing Science with Barbara Brennan

George Herrick

George HerrickLife Coach, Recovery Coach, Shamanic Coach, Personal Growth Consultant

Over the last 20 years, it has been my privilege and pleasure to help countless people to bring out the very best in themselves. My mission is that anyone who wants a better life should be able to have the opportunity to receive the guidance they need to achieve it. I’ve been blessed with great teachers, healers and support in my life, and my work is to pass on the gifts I have received from them.

Life Coaching is a relationship of partnership and collaboration. You define your goals or dreams, examine your options, make your decisions, and take action; I provide a foundation of accountability, strategies and skills, fresh perspective and on-going support to help you achieve or exceed the results you desire. I take a holistic approach to coaching, understanding that what is experienced in one area of life has an impact on every area of life.

Recovery Coaching helps you release the bonds of addiction, self-defeating habits, codependency and self-limiting beliefs so you can have a satisfying, successful and fulfilling life. I use the coaching process described above, combined with various recovery models that can help each person grow in the way most suited to him or her. Among those models are 12-step, cognitive behavioral skills, rational-emotive behavioral skills, dialectic behavior skills and body-centered gestalt therapy. I have over ten years of experience working in substance abuse treatment centers with clients and their families.

Shamanic Coaching is an energy-centered, holistic process that works to heal the wounds that limit the free flow of the life force. I studied and apprenticed in the U.S., Peru and Bolivia, gaining expertise in a wide variety of shamanic practices. Certified in level II Reiki, and experienced in chakra energy work and other healing processes, I bring an eclectic blend to the traditional roots found in this oldest of healing practices.

You have all the potential for success and satisfaction you need already inside of you; my job is to help you identify, transform and resolve the obstacles and limiting beliefs that can get in the way.

Contact Information:

Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers

PRACTICE PHILOSOPHY: I like to work with people who are interested in being fully present in their own lives, or who were before something happened. I like to help people make sense of themselves, and become both responsive to and responsible for their lives. I experiment with treatment approaches and will use anything that works. As I listen to personal stories, I pay attention to the language of the telling so that I might help individuals hear and understand themselves. Together we can begin to figure out where their plots veered out of order so that they might now choose different directions and live toward different endings.

Over the years I have tended to attract creative and/or sensitive individuals, young and old, male and female. My practice includes, but is not limited to, teachers, writers, singers and other musicians, actors and gifted adolescents. My own life has been greatly enriched by doing this work. I feel passionate about helping people come fully into the present and being there with them. In this way I can help people discover what binds them to the past or what causes them to obsess about the future, keeping them from being fully alive in the life they are living now.

BIOGRAPHY: I was born in Michigan and lived in Georgia, Northeastern New York State, Ohio, Italy, Illinois, Western New York State and England before settling in Connecticut. I have also traveled around this country and Canada, missing only two provinces and one state. I taught at the University of Illinois, Rochester Institute of Technology, The University of Rochester and The Eastman School of Music before coming East as a visiting writer-in-residence at Trinity College. While retraining in order to practice psychotherapy, I taught at the West Hartford Branch of the University of Connecticut, served in the Writer-in-the-Schools project, and waited tables at Timothy’s Restaurant on Zion Street. In earlier days, I cut stencils and cranked the mimeograph machine for the Cathedral of St. Philip in Buckhead, Ga.; wrote newspaper columns and worked as printer’s devil for the Buckhead newspaper; sold movie tickets and bargain basement shoes, typed forms for the Georgia Department of Education one whole long, hot summer; answered “Dear Davison’s” letters and calls for an Atlanta department store (now a Macy’s branch); lived-in as mother’s help to a big, young family to pay college room-and-board; wore hats as Women’s Editor for the now vanished Troy Record; and tried managing the Alumni Office at Oberlin College in Ohio.

For a long time I was married, working, raising children and going to school. Then I became divorced, and worked, raised children and went to school. I earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan; an M.A. from the University of Illinois; a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester; countless post-graduate hours from other institutions; certificates from Hartford Family Institute and the International Institute for Visualization Research and a license as an M.F.T. I have four grown sons and seven grandchildren. Lucky for me, some of them live nearby.

For additional information or to find out about Elizabeth’s publications, please click on merganserpress.com or elizabethkincaid-ehlers.com.

Contact: Please call (860) 236-6009

Sara Laughlin, MS, Life Coach

I believe that at our very deep and meaningful core we know what we want; that we intuitively possess

the wisdom to grow and expand into a meaningful life of our own design.

I have learned the many ways in which this simple natural process of self unfolding can be diverted, manipulated, lost , bullied, shamed, broken, confused or usurped.  Often we are left at the point where we doubt our own ability to trust and believe. Such a loss is tragic, but does not have to be permanent.

I am trained and a certified graduate of the Hartford Family Institute’s Body-centered Gestalt Therapy Professional Program.  This type of psychology embodies transformation of self and through such transformation an ability to feel fully alive in a supportive, nurturing and mindful environment. Tears and laughter are welcome.

Along with my gentle manner and sense of humor, I teach my clients how to feel empowered. As I affirm each client’s struggles, I assist them in creating and bringing forth special meaning and purpose in their lives. Midlife is a time to develop some real passion, and it could be about discovering a new career or a brand new hobby. My belief is that the midlife stage of development needs to be acknowledged, welcomed, and understood. We work collaboratively to turn these struggles into opportunities

I changed the direction of my life in 1999. I decided that seeking out a career that will bring about my aliveness is what I needed at this point in my midlife. In 2005, after completing graduate school and a one-year comprehensive internship, as a Mental Health Clinician, I became a Licensed Psychotherapist. I understand what this stage of life is all about as I continue to grow and change all the time.

I offer a Support/Therapy Group for Midlife Women every Thursday evening from 7:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. I can be reached at (860) 561-4021.

Malaika Sharp

Integrated Movement & Massage Solutions, is a West Hartford Connecticut center that offers a blend of eastern and western healing movement and massage techniques.

Integrated Movement & Massage is operated by Massage Therapist and Martial Artist, A. Malaika Sharp. Mrs. Sharp has been involved in healing and nurturing others for many years. She received her certification and license to practice massage therapy in the State of Connecticut in March, 2007.

Mrs. Sharp practices several massage modalities. One of her goals is to make massage accessible to many people. She believes that it is important to recognize that massage can be a vital component of one’s health maintenance program.

In addition to massage, Mrs. Sharp is a 4th Degree Black in Taekwon-Do. Mrs. Sharp has studied several martial arts throughout her 36 years of training. She currently teaches Taekwon-Do, Karate and Tai Chi.

Mrs. Sharp has an educational background in Eastern Philosophy, Business, Psychology and Computer Science.

You may find Mrs Sharp on the internet: www.malaikasharpmassagetherapy.com or call her: 860-796-3433