Meet Our Therapists
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
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.
Dr. Kathryn Vecchio
Psychology Assistant & Community Liason
Kathryn Vecchio, M.S., D.Min., serves as a therapist and community liaison at Amigo Family Counseling, LLC (AFC). In addition to working with clients, Dr. Vecchio consults with community organizations and facilities to build and sustain collaborative relationships with our center.
With a 30 year history as a clinician, Dr. Vecchio has served in various agency 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 in North Carolina. 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 experience in neuropsychological testing and working with brain trauma patients. She has particular passion and training for those with chronic pain who fall through the cracks in the opiate epidemic and with people on the autism spectrum dealing with addiction issues.
Dr. Vecchio is 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.
Acting Workshop 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.
Marriage and Family Therapist & Psychology Assistant
Hayden Hinchman, MA is a Psychology Assistant at Amigo Family Counseling (AFC). Hayden received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Counseling, obtained his Master of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and maintains a membership with the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). He has completed extensive coursework at the graduate level in marriage and family therapy, individual counseling, group counseling, couples therapy, and is currently in the process of obtaining licensure in the state of Ohio. Hayden's occupational, educational interests, and experience are in the following areas: communication, friendship development, understanding romance and relationship dynamics, emotion regulation, social skills, and developing an empathetic approach to relationships.
Hayden serves as a critical member of AFC's clinical team. He assists Dr. Amigo in group therapy facilitation and 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. He also assists with AFC's social immersion activities, Acting Workshop program, and is responsible for all audio and visual production needs for Acting Workshop performances.
With individual counseling, Hayden's clinical focus is on developing healthy boundaries, communication, and relationship 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, Hayden focuses on the understanding, building, and maintaining healthy communication and relationship formation for couples and families.
Hayden has a developed background in working with youth and adults in service related areas. He was responsible for providing empathetic and life coaching services for students and adults at Epic Life Church and provide supportive advice for adolescents and small groups on topics of faith based principles and teachings, education, and personal growth at Genoa Baptist Church.
Intervention Specialist & Individual Therapist
Cynthia Brehmer, MA, is an Intervention Specialist at Amigo Family Counseling (AFC). Cindy received her Bachelor's Degree in 1992 from Ohio University and her Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Ohio Dominican University and is a licensed Intervention Specialist. She has an extensive background in assisting clients on the Autism Spectrum as an Intervention Specialist, an instructor, a liaison between clients' clinical and education 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 large caseload of clients at AFC with whom she works individually. She specializes in work with children and their families. She 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 involvement at AFC with schools. Cindy is also a critical member of the clinical team for AFC's Social Immersion activities and the Acting Workshop program. Cindy has a wealth of training and certifications that she applies to her work at AFC. She trained in Houston, Texas with Dr. Steve Gutstein and Dr. Rachelle Sheely using Relationship Development Intervention, RDI. She worked with families and individuals privately implementing the RDI model.
Cindy has expertise in collaborative work with speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists and counselors as part of a multi-factored evaluation team to assess and evaluate children's educational, social, relational and behavioral 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 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.
Previously and currently, Cindy 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 ti practice strategies and interventions, coach parents, develop IEP goals and objectives, and attend IEP meetings.
Astro & Manny
Emotional Support Dogs
Manny (right) 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 (left), a 2 year old Chocolate Toy Poodle, has a silly and affectionate manner that brings many smils and much laughter to our clients. Through companionship and affection, Astro and Manny therapeutically help our clients by improving mood, alleviating emotional distress, and facilitating socialization.
Dr. Emilio Amigo
Founder, Director, & Supervising Clinical Psychologist
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.”