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Our Team

anthony-polito

Anthony Polito, LCSW, LCADC

Executive Director

I have been in the behavioral health field for over twenty years and have seen time and time again that addiction and mental health issues are a complex interaction of biology, psychological makeup, environmental influences and social factors. In short, mental health and addiction issues are complicated to understand and difficult to treat.

Yet while treating individuals with mental health and/or substance use disorders, I have witnessed the best in the human spirit and have seen countless people develop the skills they need to recover and go on to lead fulfilling and contented lives.

My style of treating both mental health and substance use disorders, as well as their associated problems, is rooted in the tenets of Motivational Interviewing (MI), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Positive Psychology Theory (PPT). I seek the inherent character strengths that all human beings possess, and I help my clients draw on these strengths to realize the lives they want for themselves. I seek to elicit the changes that people want for themselves and assist them in exploring the best ways to reach their goals.

I am a client centered, directive and skills-based therapist.  I believe my role as a therapist is to listen in an emphatic and nonjudgmental capacity and to provide clients with the skills that not only will help them feel better but will enable to get better.  

I hold both Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor designations and a master's degree in Social Work from Rutgers University.

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Lee Ann Cianci, LPC, LCADC, ACS, CCS

Community Outreach Coordinator

Lee Ann is responsible for Ascend's outreach to the community including families, non-profits, health professionals and municipal agencies. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor with over 15 years of experience working with adults and adolescents with substance use and mental health diagnoses.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master’s degree in clinical counseling from Fairleigh Dickinson University, specializing in Addictions Counseling.

Her professional experience includes community-based not-for-profit agencies and hospital-based programs, spanning direct client care, staff and program supervision, program administration and leadership.

Lee Ann's therapeutic approach is rooted in motivational interviewing (MI) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Consistent with Ascend Treatment and Wellness Center’s philosophy, she incorporates techniques from positive psychology theory (PPT) into her practice as well.

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Chris Dorian, LCADC, CCS

Clinician

Chris Dorian is a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) and Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS) who has over 13 years experience in mental health and addictions. He has worked with adolescents and adults in various environments including group homes, residential treatment facilities, outpatient methadone, intensive outpatient programs, and psychiatric hospitals. 

While he describes himself as an eclectic counselor, Chris aligns his practice with the Rogerian concepts of Person Centered Therapy (PCT), specifically unconditional positive regard and the power of therapeutic rapport. Much of his work draws from the theories of the transtheoretical model (TTM) and Motivational Interviewing (MI) but he is open to any approach that will have a positive impact on his clients’ health and wellbeing. Other approaches he relates to frequently are mindfulness and elements of Positive Psychology Theory (PPT). He is a lifetime educator and learner. 

Chris earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rutgers University and Master’s Degree in educational psychology from Kean University.

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Lia Hackett, APN, MSN, DPN

Advanced Nurse Practitioner

Lia is board-certified in Psychiatric Nursing and holds a doctorate and master's degree in nursing from Rutgers University. She's an advanced practice nurse (APN) who has practiced in the behavioral health field for over twenty-five years. After working in a variety of treatment settings, Lia was frustrated with the quality of psychiatric care that individuals with substance use and co-occurring disorders were receiving and decided to pursue her doctorate in nursing.

Lia is a conscientious prescriber of psychotropic medications and medication-assisted medications (MAT) such as Subxone and Vivitrol.

She believes that it is the prescriber’s job to listen to their clients, and incorporates counseling into her sessions with her clients drawing on concepts from positive psychology theory (PPT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

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Tiffanie Everard

Admissions Coordinator

Tiffanie is responsible for the daily operations of Ascend Treatment Center. Tiffanie oversees scheduling, billing, client relations and general office matters.