Meet Our Team

Our team of clinicians are highly trained, professional, friendly, and compassionate. Our personalized and integrated approach inspires people to commit to overcoming obstacles that are interfering with the quality of their lives, changing destructive behaviors, and gaining insight and coping skills for underlying emotional psychological issues.

“When I understand myself, I understand you, and out of that understanding comes love.” -Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Monica Bezzi Demas – MA, RAS, LMFT

I provide empathic and experienced therapy for adults, teens, couples and families, with more than 20 years of experience as a teacher and clinician. I offer a goal oriented approach to counseling based on building a collaborative relationship with each of my clients; accepting their need for comfort, understanding, and guidance, while challenging and encouraging...

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Preteens / Tweens (11 to 13)
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Ashley Kretzshmar, MA, LMFT

Welcome. I am so glad that you are contemplating the use of psychotherapy to help you through a challenging time. Negative feelings or stressful situations can push us beyond our typical coping strategies into a place of feeling overwhelmed and wanting some guidance. I strive to create an open, non-judgmental environment in which you can...

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Preteens / Tweens (11 to 13)
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Brooke Aschidamini, MS, RD, CISSN

I am a registered dietitian and certified sports nutritionist specializing in behavior change, meal planning, weight loss/management, disordered eating and mind-body awareness. Anxiety and depression affect our eating behaviors and patterns, which often times leads to weight gain or loss and malnutrition. In turn, malnutrition has a significant effect on our mental state and is...

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Preteens / Tweens (11 to 13)
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Christine Salazar, MD

Dr. Salazar graduated from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in 1998. She specializes in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Preteens / Tweens (11 to 13)
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Lawrence Braslow, MD

I have 20 years experience providing psychotherapy and medication support to my patients, children and adults. I completed my Child and Adolescent training at Cedars-Sinai Medical center. I have remained active training and supervising Child Psychiatry Residents at UCLA, USC, and Cedars- Sinai. I have also acted as Medical Director at Los Angeles Child Guidance...

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Preteens / Tweens (11 to 13)
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Jeffrey Nishii, Psy.D.

The presence of challenges in life is a universal truth that we all face. I believe that each challenge presents us with opportunities to grow, mature, and emerge as a stronger, more complete version of ourselves. My therapeutic approach focuses on removing roadblocks and empowering the individual to access their own strengths and achieve new...

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Preteens / Tweens (11 to 13)
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Lauren Peake, Psy.D.

I am a licensed clinical psychologist in California and am dedicated to providing treatment and assessment services to children and their families presenting with various difficulties (i.e., ADHD, autism, behavioral difficulties, anxiety, and depression). I am passionate about helping children navigate their chaotic worlds and assisting them in becoming successful adults. I believe that in...

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Preteens / Tweens (11 to 13)
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Christy Tercero, LCSW

Therapy is the process of discovering one’s authentic self. I see my role as a therapist to guide patients’ on their journey of self-discovery. Tremendous healing can take place through the relationship between a therapist and patient. Realizing each client needs an individualized approach, I believe my breadth of training helps me assess which modality...

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Preteens / Tweens (11 to 13)

Kelsey Harper, Psy.D.

Struggling with personality disorders can create significant obstacles in relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and intimate partners. Through committed Dialectical Behavior Therapy, I focus on calming distress, mending emotional wounds, and building serenity in order to access supportive relationships and sense of self. DBT treats chronic emotion dysregulation, ongoing and pervasive emotional experiences that are...

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Preteens / Tweens (11 to 13)

Bertha Ramos, LCSW

No matter what life may bring you, I encourage you to find that small light that will guide you to a much better you.   Depending on the individual needs, I use a variety of approaches with my clients. Background: Bertha Ramos received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Long Beach California State University, Long Beach,...

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Preteens / Tweens (11 to 13)

Therapy is a step towards learning about ourselves, recognizing opportunities, improving relationships and healing. Our approach to therapy combines understanding, compassion and insight to empower our clients and help them fulfill their dreams and desires.

First Step Counseling prepares you to move forward into a new phase of your life. You are one step closer to becoming a new you, with stronger and healthier relationships with friends and family. Our commitment is to assist our clients in developing carefully constructed “pathsways”; which lead to healthier and more productive lives.

First Step Counseling is located in San Pedro and services the South Bay Area, CA and offers a wide range of mental health services to the community.