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.

Monica Bezzi Demas – MA, RAS, LMFT

I was born and raised in Brazil and have Italian ancestry. I immigrated to the United States in 1992 and obtained my Masters in Counseling Psychology and Drug and Alcohol Abuse Study and Counseling. I am a Registered Addiction Specialist and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I  provide empathic and experienced therapy for adults, teens,...

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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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Jill M Wussler, LCSW

As we travel this journey of life, sometimes the way to health and wholeness is not too clear. During these times, it’s helpful to have a partner to walk with you. I have been in practice for over 20 years, helping individuals, families, couples and groups facing a wide variety of challenges. I treat individuals...

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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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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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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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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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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.