Our interdisciplinary and professional staff includes a licensed clinical psychologist, licensed clinical social workers, psychology interns, intervention specialists, counselor trainees, group aides, an integrative health coach, a psychometrician, a certified yoga instructor, and creative arts instructors. Our highly trained staff are prepared to help you and your family manage a wide range of real life issues by creatively working to provide effective and individualized treatment and assistance.
Executive Clinical Staff
founder, director & supervising clinical psychologist
Dr. Emilio Amigo
Dr. Emilio M. Amigo is a Clinical Psychologist and Founder and Director of Amigo Family Counseling, LLC (AFC) in Columbus, Ohio. Licensed as a mental health therapist since 1986, he specializes in working with individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Dr. Amigo developed and founded a groundbreaking and influential group therapy treatment program called Respons·ability Social Therapy™ (RST) that garners much attention in US and abroad. In addition to his role as Founder, Director and Supervising Psychologist at AFC, he is also Executive Director of Family Foundations, Inc., a non-profit entity focused on providing a broad range of social services and opportunities for individuals with ASD. Dr. Amigo’s extensive history in Clinical Psychology work includes not only his long-standing position as a clinic director, but also includes these roles: previous owner of a private practice, a full-time professor in the Psychology Department at John Brown University, and an Editorial Columnist for issues pertaining to psychological family health. He is currently collaborating with The Ohio State University and professionals of city and regional planning and architectural design to support their research on how to improve the housing, recreational, and community needs of those living with ASD. For this, his clients were invited be a part of this collaboration to speak for the needs of the ASD community at large.
Dr. Amigo, his clinical staff, and his ASD clients were the subjects of a 2015 documentary film, “How to Dance in Ohio,” by filmmaker Alexandra Shiva and Gidalya Pictures. This film, now on the HBO platform and screened at numerous film festivals around the world, was winner of a 2015 Peabody Award and chosen as a 2015 Official Selection film at the Sundance Film Festival. The film and Dr. Amigo’s work were and are celebrated by many in the ASD community in the US and abroad and were recognized in several acclaimed newspapers, magazines and television shows. Harold-Prince, 21-time Tony Award-winning Director and Producer, became so inspired by “How to Dance and Ohio” and the Dr. Amigo’s revolutionary work that he is now developing “How to Dance in Ohio” into a Broadway Musical.
Dr. Amigo was the Executive Producer of the documentary “Learning to Play” that is submitted in this application. He designed and produced this film to show autism from the multiple perspectives of a large number of clients living with ASD. His goal and achievement is to present the breadth, diversity, and range of the autism spectrum to allow the viewer to go beyond awareness and toward a more thorough and accurate understanding of the condition. He states, “After working for over 25 years as a Clinical Psychologist dedicated to those living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), I felt compelled to be a voice for the ASD community. As Executive Producer, I wanted ‘Learning to Play’ to present the autism spectrum in a deeper and illustrated manner. My vision was to also shed light on the power of the dramatic arts as a dynamic vehicle for the development of healthier relationships and empathy.” He adds, “It is my hope that the film also encourages the viewers to connect with our shared humanity — seeing that growth, change, and developing relationships involve mistakes, vulnerability, and continued effort. I hope that viewers walk away from the film not only with a greater understanding of autism. I aspire that the film also encourages viewers to have a greater appreciation of those who face challenges with great tenacity, courage and fight and to develop an enhanced belief in the possibility and power of change.”
BIOLA UNVIVERSITY, ROSEMEAD SHOOL OF PSYCHOLOGY
Doctoral Degree, Psychology, 1989
BIOLA UNVIVERSITY, ROSEMEAD SHOOL OF PSYCHOLOGY
M.A., Psychology, 1983
B.A., Psychology, 1981
Christian Medical & Dental Association
Autism Society of America
Central Ohio Psychological Association
Ohio Psychological Association
American Psychological Association
Ohio Licensed Psychologist
creative social arts program director
Ashley Amigo leads the Creative Social Arts Program at Amigo Family Counseling, LLC (AFC) under the supervision of Dr. Amigo. Ashley is a gifted and multi-disciplinary visionary who designed the use of the dramatic arts at AFC to coordinate with Dr. Emilio Amigo’s Respons·ability Social Therapy™ (RST) program. As an undergraduate, Ashley attended Ohio Northern University for Musical Theater and Dance. She has experience in the acting world and was filmed and photographed in numerous commercials, industrials, and print work. For over fifteen years, Ashley has been teaching acting and dance workshops and classes at AFC. Under her leadership, the Acting Workshop program — a group program for individuals living with Autism and their siblings —has become an essential and influential program at AFC.
The Acting Workshop program provides a full theatrical experience, including the opportunity for clients to engage in creative theater exercises and games, to learn to memorize lines, to prepare for and rehearse a play, and to perform an actual play at local, well-known theaters in Columbus, OH. Past performances have been held at the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI) building, Otterbein University, the Columbus Performing arts center, the Short North Stage, and MadLab Theatre.
The acting workshops assist clients with anxiety reduction, social skills development, and self-expression. Acting requires abilities that are particularly difficult for those with ASD, such as: observing, interpreting, and portraying emotions, engaging in reciprocal conversations, maintaining eye contact, and exhibiting self-awareness and self-confidence. As a result, Ashley believes that acting is a perfect vehicle for the AFC clients to develop these important skills. Through AFC's Creative Social Arts Program, Ashley is proud to say that many if not most of AFC’s clients demonstrate significant emotional and social growth.
Ashley was also the Artistic Director of the three Acting Workshops featured in a documentary filmed at AFC named “Learning to Play”. Viewers of this documentary will be inspired by Ashley’s talents as she serves as the creative force and the compassionate authority behind all workshops, rehearsals, and performances shown in the film.
OHIO NORTHERN UNIVERSITY
Musical Theater & Dance, 2005
marketing director, psychological associate
Dr. Kathryn Vecchio
Kathryn Vecchio, M.S., D.Min., serves as both Marketing Director and Psychological Associate at Amigo Family Counseling, LLC (AFC). She manages all marketing and publicity activities at Amigo Family Counseling (AFC). As Marketing Director, she also networks with organizations and facilities to build and sustain their collaborative relationships with AFC. Previously, as Vice President for Marketing and Development for a psychoeducational firm, Kathryn developed return on investment studies as well as managed and opened national international accounts with Fortune 500 companies. She brings this knowledge and approach to her position as marketing director at AFC.
Kathryn’s role as Psychological Associate is based on her extensive work in clinical psychology. She has been a Licensed Psychologist Associate for 25 years and she served in various agency clinical positions, including city, county, state mental health capacities as well as maintaining a private practice. Kathryn specializes in treating individuals, couples and families, with a primary focus on group therapy and the application of art to therapeutic practices.
Kathryn also served as Staff Psychologist at a maximum security prison working with death row inmates. Additionally, she started the first HIV support group in Cleveland and delivered test results at the first anonymous HIV test site in the metro area. She has particular passion and training for those with chronic pain who fall through the cracks in the opiate epidemic.
Kathryn is also certified from Duke University as an Integrative Medicine Health Coach and has helped clients with dieting, nutrition, stress management, and overall physical and mental well-being. She is currently initiating and developing an integrative health program at AFC wherein clients can apply holistic mind-body health practices to improve their mental and physical health. Her approach as an Integrative Health Coach focuses on mindfulness, the reduction of stress and emotional conflict, ways to increase joy and self-love, healthy eating practices, the use of pleasurable exercise, the adherence of one’s prescribed medical regime, and a focus on productivity at work and at home. Her integrative health practices are soon to be coordinated with AFC’s current and ongoing efforts to help clients acquire and maintain life skills that will assist them in future independent living, schooling, and career endeavors. The focus of the Integrative Medicine Program at AFC is to develop and attain tangible sustainable measurable change. This is in keeping with Kathryn's entire career philosophy.
Doctoral Degree, Ministry, 2000
M.S., Education & Psychology, 1986
BALDWIN WALLACE COLLEGE
B.S., History & Education, 1983
Licensed Psychologist Associate
Licensed Health Services Provider
Duke University Certified Integrative Medicine Health Coach
Certified Divorce Coach
clinical social worker
Michael Bayda, MSW, LISW
Michael Bayda, MSW, LISW, is an independently Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been providing outpatient psychotherapy services to children (ages 18 months +), adolescents, adults, couples and families in the central Ohio community since 1987. Michael joined Amigo Family Counseling, LLC (AFC) in 1998. At AFC, Michael works closely with Dr. Emilio Amigo in assessing individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders who participate in Dr. Amigo’s Respons·ability Social Therapy™ (RST) Group Program.
Michael's contributions at Amigo Family Counseling include: (1) clinical interviews with individuals ages 6+ diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder as part of a comprehensive social-emotional assessment protocol to establish pre-group therapy functioning baselines and annual reassessment; (2) Provision of Developmentally-Based Psychotherapy to empower parents and enhance their skills in facilitating social-emotional growth in their children. Parents learn about the important social-emotional capacities underlying future development, how to recognize their child's strengths and weaknesses, and practice a variety of developmentally facilitative and responsiveness-based interactive strategies; (3) Collaborative family problem solving therapy with older children and adolescents. This is another model of intervention which assumes that “the mind grows through interaction with other minds” and that parents can learn how to view everyday interactions as potential opportunities for their children to learn and exercise their capacities for communication, relating, self-regulation, and creative, flexible and reflective thinking.
Michael received his Masters of Social Work degree from The Ohio State University in 1987 and his Bachelor of Science in Social Welfare from The Ohio State University in 1986. He is a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the American Academy of Social Workers (ACSW), the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the International OCD Foundation, and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. In 1993 the NASW honored him with the lifetime credential of Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW) in recognition of advanced clinical practice. He is a Certified Trauma and Loss Clinical Specialist (CTS) via the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children and a contributor to the book, Trauma-Informed Practices with Children and Adolescents. Michael completed the postgraduate infant mental health Certificate Training Program in Working with Infants, Toddlers, and Their Families, through The University of Michigan’s School of Social Work in 2000. He is also a graduate of The International OCD Foundations Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI), an in-depth, three day intensive training course in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for mental health professionals who treat individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and related conditions.
Michael enjoys working with families, couples, and individuals across the lifespan. With his extensive clinical background, he is qualified to address a wide array of concerns. While therapy will often focus on the alleviation of distress, he also views it as a unique opportunity for a clients to flourish and maximize their potential for a richer, fuller, and more meaningful life. His approach frequently includes the application of Mindfulness Awareness Practices (MAP’s) and Positive Psychology strategies and interventions to help clients develop and enhance psychological flexibility, personal well-being, resilience, strengths, social connections, and positive emotions.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
American Academy of Social Workers (ACSW)
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
International OCD Foundation
Association for Contextual Behavioral Science
• Certified Trauma and Loss Clinical Specialist (CTS)
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
MA, Social Work, 1987
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERISTY
B.A., Social Welfare, 1986
Emotional Support Therapy Dogs
There are two Emotional Support Therapy Dogs here at Amigo Family Counseling. Manny is a 6 year old Zuchon Teddy Bear Dog -- a cross breed between a Bichon Frise and a Shih Tzu. Manny brings a very supportive presence to the clinic with his calm demeanor and mature age. Astro, a 2 year old Chocolate Toy Poodle, has a silly and affectionate manner that brings many smiles and much laughter to our clients. Through companionship and affection, Manny and Astro therapeutically help our clients by improving mood, alleviating emotional distress, and facilitating socialization.