Alternative Behavioral Care is a group of mental health professionals consisting of board-certified psychiatrists, board-certified mental health nurse practitioners, therapists and psychologists who are dedicated to substance use recovery and improving the emotional and behavioral health and well-being of children, teens, and adults in our community. Our goal is to provide exceptional treatment of behavioral health conditions and addiction disorders by providing individualized clinical care, psychotherapy and psychoeducation in a safe, supportive environment.
Dr. Srinivas Battula earned his medical degree from Siddhartha Medical College in India, followed by residency in Psychiatry at University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He completed his fellowship in Geriatric Psychiatry at St. Louis University in St. Louis, and in Consultation Liaison Psychiatry at University of Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Battula has been in practice since 1996. He is the Medical Director of the Adults and Chemical Dependency Programs at Alternative Behavioral Care. He has worked on various research projects and has earned several honors and awards throughout his medical career. Dr. Battula is board-certified in Adult Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine and is a member of the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Saaid Khojasteh is a graduate of Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and has received board certifications in General Psychiatry as well as Adolescent and Geriatric Psychiatry. Dr. Khojasteh currently serves as Alternative Behavioral Care’s President, and is the Founder and President of Advent Medical Group. He also serves as the SSM Health – Network Associate Medical Director for Behavioral Health, and Medical Director and Chief of Department of Psychiatry, SSM St. Joseph Health Center in Wentzville and St. Charles, all the while maintaining his private practice, and continuing his clinical faculty appointment at Washington University School of Medicine as Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry. Dr. Khojasteh is a recipient of numerous awards including the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award by National Alliance for Mentally Ill (NAMI). Dr. Khojasteh is a member of the Missouri American Medical Association.
Dr. Fernando Perez received his medical degree from the National University of Cuyo in Argentina, followed by his residency in Internal Medicine. Dr. Perez has been practicing psychiatry since 1994. He is the Medical Director for the Child and Adolescent Program at Alternative Behavioral Care. He has extensive research and teaching experience and has authored several abstracts and publications. Dr. Perez is board-certified in General Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Maryland Psychiatry Society, and Central Missouri Psychiatry Society.
Dr. Mehrzad Seraji comes to ABC with a kind heart, years of experience and a wealth of knowledge. She completed her residency in General Psychiatry, and then her fellowship in Geriatric Psychiatry at St. Louis University. While in private practice for several years, she also served as the Director of the Sexual Disorders Clinic at the Tehran Psychiatric Institute. She has researched the efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Fluoxetine and their combination in treatment of women with Sexual Phobia and has spent countless hours addressing women’s mental health issues. Dr. Seraji has extensive teaching and research experience with specific interests in women’s mental health, marital counseling, couples therapy, sexual disorders and treatment, as well as Geriatric Psychiatry. Dr. Seraji is board certified in General Psychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry and serves as the Medical Director of the Women’s program. She is also a member of the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Thripura Thirtala received her medical degree from Alluri Sita Rama Raju University of Medical Sciences in India, and completed her residency in Psychiatry at the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine. In addition to practicing in general Adult Psychiatry, Dr. Thirtala has specific interest in treating adolescent and substance use populations. Dr. Thirtala is board eligible in General Psychiatry. She is also a member of the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Association of physicians of Indian origin.
Dr. William (Bill) Wang received his medical degree from Shanghai Medical University, in Shanghai, China, and his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, New Jersey. He completed his residency in Psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine/Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and his IRTA fellowship in Molecular Neuro-psychiatry at NIMH in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Wang has been in practice since 2002 and has been involved in numerous research projects. He has authored several books, articles, abstracts and publications in the fields of psychiatry, neuroscience and neurology. Dr. Wang is the recipient of many honors and awards in the U.S. and internationally.
Elizabeth Judd is a board certified Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist and Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. She received her master’s degree in Nursing from Saint Louis University summa cum laude in 2004, and completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Jewish College of Nursing at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri magna cum laude in 1997. Elizabeth was an Adjunct professor at Maryville University for the Pediatric Nursing Program from January 2004 through May of 2005. She has research experience in Autism Genetics and Early Detection of Autism Spectrum Disorder in children 0-18 months of age. In addition to general psychiatry, including the treatment of depression, mood disorders, and ADHD, Elizabeth has specific interests in Autism screening, early identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and developmental profile of infants with Autism.
Nan Roberts received her Master’s of Science in Psychiatric Nursing from SIU at Edwardsville in 1994. Nan is board-certified by the ANCC as a Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist. She has practiced psychiatry since 1978. In 1995 she began her work in the private practice setting. Nan has extensive experience in research and managing pharmaceutical studies. Her present practice focuses on patients 18 years old and above, providing brief therapy and psychopharmacologic management.
Traci Callahan, MA, LPC is a Suma Cum Lude graduate of Masters of Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University class of 2015. Traci is experienced with women, the adult population and the elderly, and veterans. She specializes in working with diverse populations, and adult clients with grief and life transitions, and those with self-harm behaviors, adjustment disorders, self-esteem and social skills’ issues, stress management, relationship conflicts and anxiety and depression disorders. Traci has specialty training in treating trauma ranging from childhood abuse, sexual abuse and assault, interpersonal violence, to military-related trauma (MST, combat-related or noncombat-related). Traci is familiar with working with individuals in a variety of transitions and settings, and a variety of challenges and struggles. She tailors therapy to meet the individual client’s needs.
Virginia Eldridge, MA, PLPC graduated in 2017 from Lindenwood University with her master’s degree in professional counseling. Virginia has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and during her over 15 years of experience in this field, developed a belief that the mental health of children is tied to the mental wellness of the adults that surround them. Following this passion, she started to focus her work and passion on the well being of adults, and helping them develop stress management skills, and manage their grief, depression, anxiety, life transitions, substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. She specializes in working with individuals, couples and groups, providing a client-centered, integrative approach designed to fit the needs of the individual. Her approach is solution-focused, rooted in mindfulness-based interventions and thought- and behavior-changing techniques that help the client change the way they view their everyday realities. Virginia is a member of the American Counseling Association, Chi Sigma Iota Counseling Honor Society and Alpha Chi College Honor Society.
Dani Francis, MSW, LMSW graduated with her master’s degree in social work from SLU in 2006, and is working on her licensure in clinical social work. Dani is experienced in working with children and adolescents and their families in the hospital, outpatient, and foster care settings as well as with adults in individual and group therapy. Dani provides clinical guidance to help families through states of crisis by creating a safe and welcoming environment that promotes healing and enables learning in order to stabilize and ultimately maintain healthy relationships with themselves, peers and parents. Dani adapts to clients in their various developmental stages while also helping parents understand their child/teen and offer support and guidance to strengthen the parent/child relationship. She utilizes play, art and sensory tools during sessions with children to help them express their feelings and emotions. Dani also enjoys working with adults to help them understand their core challenges and past traumas while helping them develop new, lasting ways of working through those challenges. She believes in taking a holistic approach and fostering an overall healthy lifestyle utilizing various therapeutic approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Behavior Analysis, and Systems Theory. Dani specializes in working with adults with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, conduct disorders, psychosis, relationships and family issues, depression, anxiety, and self-harming.
Julie Friedman, MSW, LMSW, began her counseling career as an undergraduate at Washington University, working with women and their families experiencing domestic violence. She later studied Complementary Medicine and earned a Master’s Degree in Acupuncture from the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where she provided treatment as part of a pilot program in Baltimore Community Health clinics, integrating Mental Health Services and Acupuncture for individuals facing Opiate Addiction. Julie also earned a Master’s degree in Social Work at UMSL, where she specialized in Integrative Behavioral Health, and was subsequently awarded a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAHMSA) as a Behavioral Health Workforce Education Training Scholar. With an interest in assisting individuals dealing with addiction and trauma, her training includes Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Treatment (TF-CBT) as well as Dialectical Behavioral Treatment (DBT). She is currently a student of Somatic Experiencing (SE), a cutting edge, evidence based treatment aimed at relieving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical trauma related health problems, through attention to bodily sensations. Julie is dedicated to providing compassionate care, where individuals can focus on healing, free from judgement, in an atmosphere of kindness.
Kimberley Gentile, PsyD, earned her doctorate and Master’s degree in clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology (ISPP) and her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from St. Louis University. Dr. Gentile has over 10 years of clinical experience working in the field of mental health. She has worked extensively with eating disorders at Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago, IL, conducting psychological assessments and testing with chronically mental ill patients at Madden Mental Health Center in Hines, IL. She completed her post-doctoral training at North Central Behavioral Health Systems working with Domestic Violence clients, Sex offenders, and the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for chemical dependency. Prior to joining ABC, she completed case management, crisis intervention, outreach education and grant writing for the Ryan White Grant for clients with HIV/AIDS at the St. Louis Health Department. Dr. Gentile is skilled in working with adolescents, adults and couples. One of her focused area of expertise is working with couples, specializing in infidelity and sex therapy.
Michele Grace, MA, LPC graduated Summa Cum Laude from Capella University with a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2015. Michele has been working in social services in various capacities since 2007. She enjoys therapy with a variety of client age groups, including children, teens and adults. She has a special passion for family therapy and plans on getting her doctorate to further explore the field of social services and human development.
Crystal Grimsley, MMFT, PLPC graduated from Webster University with her masters in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2011. Crystal’s undergraduate degree is in Health Sciences from Florida A&M University. Crystal has worked in the field of social services since 2006, serving in various capacities such as case management, career counselor, and school-based therapy. Crystal is most passionate about her work with children and adolescents who are in need of emotional and cognitive developmental support, and is experienced in working with children and families using a systems therapy approach. She enjoys incorporating play, art, mindfulness-based interventions, and positive parenting education to help children achieve their therapeutic goals. Crystal is completing her doctorate studies in educational psychology with an emphasis in childhood and adolescent development. She hopes to use her research to help further develop learning and developmental interventions for children who struggle with self-esteem, body image, and emotional regulation.
Mark Hale II, MSW, LMSW earned his bachelor’s degree in social work from Lindenwood University, and master’s in social work with an emphasis in behavioral health at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. During his graduate studies, Mark was a member of the Behavioral Health Workforce and Education Training program (BHWET), and a member of the Community Service Transcript Designation program for volunteering more than 500 hours during his undergraduate studies. Through the BHWET program, Mark received specialized training in integrated behavioral health and completed another 600 hours of volunteer work. This program ultimately helped prepare Mark for the unique demands of at-risk individuals of any age, who have unmet behavioral health needs and particularly those living in rural and medically underserved areas. Mark is experienced in working with the developmentally disabled population, head-start programs, inpatient psychiatric services, and outpatient services. Mark is an advocate for the power of resilience, communication, and connection utilizing techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, meditation, thought processing, and strengths-based approaches in therapy, and believes every individual has the innate ability to overcome any obstacle life throws their way.
Amanda Hehner, MEd, LPC, earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Webster University, and Master’s degree in Counseling from University of Missouri, St. Louis in 2009. Amanda specializes in co-occurring disorders. She began her career in Key West, Florida as the Offender Reentry Program Specialist, bridging the gap between inmate release and a safe transition into the community. Eventually returning to her hometown, St. Louis, provided her with the opportunity to complete her Clinical Supervision in Out-patient Medicated Assisted Treatment. Caring for opiate addicted individuals with an unconditional, client-centered approach, provided Amanda with the direct experience necessary to aid her clients in making healthy, lasting changes from a perspective of genuine interest and sound reflection. Amanda has a special interest in adult mental health and substance abuse recovery.
Megan Helwig, MA, LPC, graduated Summa Cum Laude and earned her Masters Degree in Professional Counseling from Ottawa University in Phoenix, AZ. Megan also earned a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is a member of the National Board of Certified Counselors. Megan began working in the behavioral health field in 2002 and has served in a variety of roles including case management, therapy, and most recently as the Clinical Director for a partial hospitalization/intensive outpatient program in Arizona before moving to Missouri in October 2014. Megan is Alternative Behavioral Care’s Clinical Director, and is skilled and working with children, adolescents, and adults with mental illness and substance abuse issues everyday.
Eileen Henry, MHC, CIT, LPC obtained her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University in 2015. Eileen has a strong background in working with the elderly, veteran and adolescent populations, and specializes in working with clients ages 10 and above with grief and life transitions, self-harm behaviors, adjustment disorders, academic/school difficulties, social skills’ issues, stress management, and anxiety and depression disorders, and aims to help them achieve their fullest potential and become their ideal self. Working in social services before transitioning to counseling, Eileen is familiar with working with individuals in a variety of transitions and settings, and a variety of challenges. Trained in Adlerian theory, Trauma-Focused CBT, and DBT, she tailors therapy to meet the individual client’s, couples and families needs. She considers it a privilege to help adolescents and adults through providing individual and group therapy services at Alternative Behavioral Care. Eileen has been a member of the National Board for Certified Counselors since 2014.
Erin Lang, MSW, LMSW, earned her Bachelor’s degrees in psychology and social work from the University of Kansas, and completed her Master’s degree in social work through the advanced standing program at Washington University with a concentration in mental health studies. Erin also received postgraduate training through the Advanced Psychodynamic Psychotherapy program from the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, where her passion for direct therapeutic practice was nurtured. Erin is experienced in residential, partial hospitalization, and group and individual therapy for adolescents, adults, and athletes struggling with eating disorders and other co-occurring conditions, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder. Erin specializes in adjustment and transitional concerns, taking a person-centered approach to meeting each individual client where they are at in any given moment, helping them navigate challenges associated with past/present struggles, and identifying opportunities to forging new paths. Erin believes therapy provides a sacred, protected space to recognize, acknowledge, and evaluate specific thought patterns and deeply held core beliefs about oneself and the world at large. Erin believes in the remarkable power and influence of genuine human connection and brings this warmth to the clients at ABC through art, play, education, and open discussion.
Jessica Morris, MA, LPC, STH, earned her Bachelor’s degree in Gerontology and Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University. Jessica enjoys working with teens and adults, and her professional expertise includes individual counseling for depression, anxiety, grief, life transitions, parent/child relationships, academic adjustments, gender identity, mental health in aging, family violence, and survivors of childhood abuse. Jessica is particularly experienced in providing mental health counseling to teens and college ages, including student athletes. She is an Adjunct Professor of graduate counseling studies, and recipient of Lindenwood’s Professional Counseling Award. Jessica is a certified Social and Therapeutic Horticulturist, and received training at Geoffrey Udall Centre in Beech Hill, Reading, England. Jessica has a special interest in the value of nature in one’s mental and emotional health. She is trained and experienced in cognitive behavioral, solution-focused and reality based therapies. She is an active member of the Missouri Mental Health Counselors Association, and member of the American Counseling Association, and Chi Sigma Iota Counseling Honor Society.
Joan Rabushka, MSW, LMSW earned her bachelor’s in social work from Lindenwood University, and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California. Joan is working on her licensure in clinical social work. Joan has had extensive specialized training in working with adults with eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. She utilizes a holistic approach to empower their ownership of their road to recovery. Joan also has specialized training working with adults with substance use disorders. Using a non-judgmental approach, she provides an individualized evidence-based treatment plan, helping the client build new skills and ways of coping to restore a more balanced life. Joan works with clients with anxiety, depression, bi-polar, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as the LGBTQIA+ community. Joan uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and strengths-based approach, meeting clients where they are in their process to allow them to gain empowerment and self-determination. Joan provides individual counseling services at Alternative Behavioral Care.
Danielle Silver, MA, PLPC earned her bachelor’s degree in Media Studies from University of Missouri-St. Louis and master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University. Danielle enjoys working with clients of all ages from child to teens and adults. Her professional expertise includes group psycho-education and group process therapy, individual counseling for a variety of conditions including depression, anxiety, substance use and dependence, co-occurring disorders, trauma, eating disorders, LGTBQIA struggles, life transitions, family violence, and parent/child relationships. Danielle is particularly adept in providing counseling to individuals that have experienced trauma through substance use, such as homelessness, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and family division. Danielle is a credentialed Missouri Associate Alcohol Drug Counselor and is a member of the American Counseling Association, and Chi Sigma Lota Counseling Honor Society. Danielle is passionate in creating dynamic relationships that can both support and challenge clients to gain insight, build self-esteem and attain a new level of self-awareness to cultivate change.
Kimberly Webb, MA, MBA, LPC, earned her bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communications, her master’s in Professional Counseling from Missouri Baptist University and her MBA from Lindenwood University. She is a licensed professional counselor, providing individual and group counseling services for over ten years and has a background of over twenty years in healthcare management. Kim specializes in pre-teens through adult age groups in family, couple, or individual therapy. Her experience has been in diverse settings including college, church and private counseling with a focus on relationships, substance use recovery, trauma due to sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, career and life changes, as well as other behavioral health diagnoses. She also has experience working with military, disabled, homeless and sex trafficked populations. Kim believes in a method of unconditional acceptance to assist the client to find his or her best self. Through talk therapy, creative anxiety reduction techniques, tactile activities, partnership with the physician and the treatment team, and often daily exercises for reinforcement, brain can be retrained, and daily life can improve! Her theory is to help the person where they need help including mind, body and soul in the past, present or future. Kim is a member of the American Counseling Association, Christian Business Leaders, International Association of Women, National Association of Professional Women, and American Association of Christian Counselors. Kim provides individual counseling services at Alternative Behavioral Care.
Oh. My. God. This place has literally saved my life. After spiraling downward and hitting rock bottom, ABC’s staff of doctors and therapists worked with me to treat my symptoms and taught me the skills necessary to put my mental health on a far more sustainable path. It’s a lot of work and requires patience and determination, but they care for their patients, and are determined to see to it that everyone has the resources to get better and accomplish their goals.
ABC has helped save my life. They have given the support and tools I need to live my sober life. From my first visit I was kindly greeted by the sweet receptionist at front desk. Then I was treated by the doctor who was amazing; such a kind, caring doctor. The best part of my experience has been my IOP group therapy though. My group therapist rocks. She pushes you in a good, positive way, and helps build caring skills and life skills in my sober life. I have been clean since April 2016, thanks to the help and support of everyone here at ABC.
I have received nothing but the best care with everyone that I came into contact with at ABC. I am truly grateful for becoming a sober and healthy person again. Thank you guys so much for the awesome care. YOU TRULY DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
I believe IOP therapy helped me out a great deal. My counselor was an amazing listener and was quick to notice things, talk them out, and break it down. She spoke softly and wisely. She has done a wonderful job with all of her group members.
As I didn’t have a lot of interaction with the other staff, I can only speak to my therapist. Absolutely incredible in every way. She genuinely cares. There’s no facade. She encourages expression without forcing repression. She epitomizes what a great group counselor is and should strive to be. She will challenge you to be the best possible while remaining non-abrasive. Her ability to think in and outside the box extends the reach of those she can be of assistance to. I thank her from the bottom of my new-found heart.
ABC has been a great experience for me! With their help my life has changed drastically for the better. All the staff and doctors are kind and engaging. I am glad I chose ABC. I had a lot of options but this place just felt right.
I am happy with all aspects of my care at ABC! The staff is great! Suboxone has helped me with my addiction and with my pain issues.
I came to ABC in March of 2015 when I finally decided to get sober. I attended the IOP group for four weeks and graduated to Aftercare program. Coming to ABC groups and taking Suboxone truly gave me my life back. I am now the mother, daughter, and friend that I used to be and meant to be. I am now three-years sober from ALL substances. And I owe it to ABC.
ABC is great. The therapists are wonderful and the doctors are awesome. Since I have been coming to groups here, I have a better outlook on life. I am more positive. Thank you ABC doctors and therapists for taking the time to help improve my life!
Our therapist is very attentive with everyone. She has a way of getting everyone to open up and she let’s us know how well we are doing. She also has wonderful handouts that I try to apply every day.
My therapist is very kind and has provided us with great direction. She is very supportive to our issues and manages the group extremely well.
ABC has been such a wonderful thing for me. It’s teaching me valuable skills to be able to cope with life. It’s also a fabulous, supportive group of women I’ve come to care about. My therapist is truly one-of-a-kind. She can be very “matter of fact” and tell you like it is when you need it, or she can envelop you in a caring way and speak compassionately when you need it. She truly cares about the women in our group, and I personally appreciate her tremendously!
My therapist is wonderful! This is my first time at ABC. I didn’t even know there were coping skills I was missing that I could use to help me! I am learning a lot in this program. Thank you so much and God bless.
My therapist has been absolutely incredible in every way. She genuinely cares. There’s no facade. She encourages expression without forcing repression. She epitomizes what a great group counselor is and should strive to be. She challenged me to be the best possible while remaining nonabrasive. Her ability to think in and outside the box extends the reach of those she can be of assistance to. I thank her from the bottom of my new found heart.
ABC has provided me with a safe environment for me to be honest and vulnerable. I feel like I’m finally learning to be my best self.