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 a recent documentary named “Learning to Play.” 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
Master of Arts, Psychology, 1983
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, 1981
Christian Medical & Dental Association
Autism Society of America
Central Ohio Psychological Association
Ohio Psychological Association
American Psychological Association
Ohio Licensed Psychologist
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). As Marketing Director, she manages all marketing and publicity activities at AFC and networks with organizations and facilities to build and sustain their collaborative relationships with our center. Previously, as Vice President for Marketing and Development for a psychoeducational firm, Dr. Vecchio 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.
Dr. Vecchio’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, and state mental health capacities as well as maintaining a private practice. She specializes in treating individuals and couples and families with a primary focus on group therapy and the application of art to therapeutic practices.
Dr. Vecchio 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.
Dr. Vecchio 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, the improvement of 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
Master of Science, Education & Psychology, 1986
BALDWIN WALLACE COLLEGE
Bachelor of Science, 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 independent 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
Master of Social Work, 1987
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERISTY
Bachelor of Science, Social Welfare, 1986
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
Hayden Hinchman, MA
Hayden Hinchman, MA is a Clinical Counselor at Amigo Family Counseling, LLC (AFC). Hayden received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Counseling, obtained his Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and attained membership with the American Association of Christian Counseling (AACC). He has completed extensive coursework at the graduate level in marriage and family therapy counseling, individual counseling, group counseling, and couples counseling. He is currently pursuing a doctorate degree. Hayden’s occupational and educational interests and experience are in the following areas: communication, friendship development, understanding romance and the relationship dynamic, emotion regulation, social skills, and working together.
Hayden serves as a critical member of AFC’s clinical team. He assists Dr. Amigo in group therapy facilitation for which he promotes clients’ individual personal developments, expressive abilities, interpersonal and relational skills, awareness of social norms, and mastery of socio-reciprocal relationship interactions.
Additionally, Hayden is a clinical counselor for a large caseload of clients at AFC with whom he works on relationship development and social interaction skills. Under the direct supervision of Dr. Amigo, Hayden offers individual, couple, marital, and family counseling. His focus is on providing a foundation for building healthier relationships, developing communication skills, and regulating emotions for a more balanced way of thinking and interacting with others.
With individual counseling, Hayden’s clinical focus is on developing healthy boundaries, communication, and relational growth and enrichment. His individual therapy work also incorporates clinical counseling of significant others and/or family members of his clients. When working with a client on relationship skills or when incorporating family in the overall treatment of the client, he focuses on the understanding, building, and maintaining healthy communication and relationship formation for couples and families.
Hayden applies a sensitive and empathetic nature to his counseling work, uses a strong understanding of relationship dynamics, applies strong analytic skills allowing for the collapse of barriers pertaining to psychological breakthroughs, and focuses on relationship development and communication that allows for clients to pursue healthier and more balanced relationships.
Hayden is also involved in several other clinical involvements at AFC. He helps to facilitate social interactions at AFC’s Friday night programs and supports the development of social relationships, creative self-expression, and self-awareness in AFC’s acting workshops. For these acting workshops, he is also responsible for most audio and visual technical production needs. On the administrative end, Hayden assists the intake process and company billing needs and helps staff with all front end administrative tasks.
Hayden has a developed background in working with youth and adults in service related areas. He was responsible for providing empathetic and listening services for students who required attention at Epic Life Church and provided supportive advice for adolescents and small groups on topics of faith based principles and teachings, education, and personal growth at Genoa Baptist Church. Outside of AFC, Hayden is a professional photographer and videographer and does extensive audio/visual and production work for a local professional dance company.
Master of Science, Marriage and Family Therapy, 2017
Bachelor of Science, Christian Counseling, 2012
American Association of Christian Counseling (AACC)
DIRECTOR OF TESTING & MULTI-MEDIA
Catherine White, MA
Catherine White, MA is the Director of Testing and Multi-media at Amigo Family Counseling, LLC (AFC). Under the supervision of Dr. Amigo, Catherine manages the scoring and tracking of AFC psychological assessments and diagnostic evaluations. Catherine is integral to the clinical team and functions in several clinical capacities. In her one-on-one sessions with clients, her emphasis is on promoting personal development, improving expressive and receptive language skills, practicing reciprocal social interactions, increasing executive functioning and processing abilities, building confidence, and gaining personal insight. Her approach incorporates a variety of styles, including mindfulness, reflective listening, cognitive restructuring, behavior modification, problem solving, social skill training, and inclusion of caregivers in the process to generalize skills in the home and school environment.
Also on the clinical level, Catherine is an assistant to Dr. Amigo in group therapy sessions wherein she helps clients stay engaged and on task, promotes their development of socio-reciprocal communication and interaction skills, and assists them with self-expression, self-awareness, and insight. She also serves as an assistant in AFC’s acting workshops and performances to promote social skill development, assist with emotional regulation, help build confidence, and encourage self-discovery. She is leader of the karaoke/dance club at AFC’s Friday night programs, a group focused on anxiety reduction, increased joy, social development, confidence building, and peer support. Furthermore, she is part of the clinical staff who assist clients with building friendships and social skills at movie club outings
In addition to her clinical involvements, Catherine also designs and maintains AFC’s company website, generates most of the written and photographic material for the website and company branding, and works directly with Dr. Amigo to design and produce AFC advertising and marketing materials, flyers and signage for AFC events and productions, and written communication documents used for marketing and networking efforts. She is also involved in a variety of AFC administrative tasks, including the generation of treatment plans, serving as the primary point of contact for new clients seeking services, processing new client intakes, and coordinating insurance eligibility determination.
Before Catherine came to AFC, she developed an extensive work history in clinical work, research, intervention in the fields of neurology, psychology, and psychiatry with the following patient populations: those living with autism, those living with schizophrenia, and those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse.. She started her career working with those with autism as an interventionist focusing on improving the behavioral, social, and academic development for her clients. As an Interventionist, she also incorporated the use of the movement arts, creative exploration, and sensory integration work.
Catherine later transitioned into neurological and psychiatric research autism. As Clinical Specialist II and Research Associate Senior at the Center for Excellence in Autism Research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, she became certified to administer the Autism Diagnostic Interview - Revised (ADI-R) from the University of Michigan Autism and Communications Disorders Center. Later, as Lab Manager and Research Associate at The Ohio State University, she established a multi-site research collaboration of researchers studying the neuropsychology and biology of autism. In this role, she developed further experience in administering psychological assessments and autism diagnostic evaluations and had clinical involvements in promoting behavioral, academic, and vocational growth for patients with autism. Later, as Psychometrist at The Ohio State University Medical Center, she was formally trained in psychometrics to measure cognitive function, memory, problem solving, information processing, attention, psychomotor, general intelligence, and achievement abilities and deficits.
Catherine has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biopsychology/Neuroscience from Kenyon College and a Master’s in Dance from The Ohio State University where she studied the application of psychology to movement studies and led authentic movement workshops. She has been an active volunteer advocate for several organizations devoted to improving awareness and understanding of mental health and neurological conditions, including autism. She has published 17 scientific journal articles and abstracts in several acclaimed scientific journals. For the past 14 years, she owned her own media and photography company and does freelance work in creative writing.
THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
Master of Arts, Dance, 1998
Bachelor of Arts, Biopsychology/Neuroscience, 1996
Autism Society of Ohio
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
licensed intervention specialist
Cynthia Brehmer, MA
Cynthia Brehmer, MA, is a Licensed Intervention Specialist at Amigo Family Counseling, LLC. Cindy received her Bachelor’s Degree in 1992 from Ohio University and her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Ohio Dominican University. She has an extensive background in assisting clients on the Autism Spectrum as an Intervention Specialist, an Instructor, a liaison between clients’ clinical and educational needs, and an integral team member for the creation, development, and implementation of Individualized Education Programs. Cindy also worked for over 25 years in the public school system in this capacity.
Cindy has a wealth of training and certifications that she applies to her work here at AFC. She trained in Houston, Texas with Dr. Steve Gutstein and Dr. Rachelle Sheely using Relationship Development Intervention, RDI. She has worked with families and individuals privately implementing the RDI model.
Cindy has a large caseload of clients at AFC with whom she works individually. She specializes in work with children and their families. In her individual sessions, Cindy focuses on regulating emotions, improving self-acceptance, increasing positive coping skills, enhancing problem-solving abilities, reducing isolation, replacing unwanted behaviors with more appropriate behaviors, enhancing expressive and receptive skills, improving clients’ ability to understand social norms, and increasing appropriate social skills. She meets with clients individually at AFC and also works with them in the home and school setting.
At AFC, Cindy administers clinical interviews, including the Vineland Adaptive Behavioral Scale and other academic measures if wanted, analyzes testing data, creates treatment plans and IEPs, and coordinates clients’ clinical involvements at AFC with schools.
Cindy is also a critical member of the clinical team for AFC’s Friday night programs, movie social nights, and acting workshops where she focuses on behavioral and emotional regulation, appropriate use of communication for the expression of wants and needs, and successful implementation of socio-reciprocal interactions through the use of directives, redirection, framing, interpretive feedback, encouragement, and modeling.
Cindy has expertise in collaborative work with speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists and counselors as part of multi-factored evaluation team to assess and evaluate children’s educational, social, relational and behavior strengths and weaknesses. In such collaborative work, she has been responsible for the development and implementation of social and relational groups. Moreover, she has extensive experience with working with parents and professionals to analyze data results for the formulation of individualized treatment plans that will address clients’ individual deficit areas while also incorporating the client’s strengths. She has extensive experience in assisting families in formulating treatment plans that assist not only the client but also the entire family.
Previously and currently, Cindy also works privately with individual families who had Autism Spectrum Disorder to develop interventions and activities to strengthen educational, social, relational, and behavioral skills. Her experience also includes meeting regularly with families to practice strategies and interventions, coach parents, develop IEP goals and objectives, and attend IEP meetings.
OHIO DOMINICAN UNIVERSITY
Master of Arts, Curriculum & Instruction,
Bachelor of Arts, 1992
Relationship Development Intervention
Shaun Klingensmith, has been with Amigo Family Counseling, LLC (AFC) for over 7 years. His experience and expertise spans a multitude of specialties at AFC, ranging from lead administrator to a key clinical team member to an executive assistant to Dr. Amigo.
Shaun coordinates all clinical functions, meetings, and administrative needs at AFC. His administrative work includes assisting with the billing process, initiating new clients to the practice, organizing the Friday night programming, group therapy sessions, and all client clinical involvements, assisting the testing department, training staff, and functioning as the liaison between staff and clients to support all staff and client needs.
Moreover, Shaun has a caseload of clients with whom he works to develop social skills, life skills, and activities of daily living. His approach in his individual work with clients includes reflective listening, interpretive feedback, behavior modification, problem solving, and generalizing the skills they develop in the Respons•ability Social Therapy™ (RST) program.
Shaun is also a clinical team member involved in the weekly RST group therapy sessions where he helps clients stay on task, redirect inappropriate behavior, stay engaged and attentive, follow instructions, and experience social fun and play. He also supports AFC’s acting workshop process.
Shaun has over 15 years of experience in the health care field, including in-home health care wherein he supported the wide variety of clients’ health needs, coordinated family involvement, managed client medication and nutritional needs, assisted client daily life skills, and supported clients getting to and from medical appointments.
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.