Our clinical team is led by Chris Abildgaard, a clinician who has been in private practice for over 10 years.  Come meet him and learn about our talented clinical team.


Chris Abildgaard, LPC, NCC, NCSP

c.abildgaardSLC@gmail.com

Chris Abildgaard NCSP, LPC, NCC has been working with individuals on the Autism Spectrum since 1999.  He is the owner and director of the Social Learning Center, LLC. located in Cheshire, CT.  Chris also holds a clinical appointment at the Southfield Center located in Darien, CT and an appointment at the Benhaven Academy located in Wallingford, CT as their School Psychologist.

Chris is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, a Nationally Certified Counselor & a Licensed Professional Counselor with a specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorders. In addition to a Masters and 6th Year degree in School Psychology, Chris is a "clinical trainee" in Social Thinking and has earned a Graduate Certificate from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in Behavioral Interventions in Autism. Since 2008, Chris has presented nationally in eight different states at conventions such as the Autism Society of America and American Counseling Association national conferences  and through the state of Connecticut on topics related to Autism Spectrum Disorders, social cognitive development, executive functioning and counseling techniques used when working with individuals on the Autism Spectrum.  

As a mental health counselor, Chris’ theoretical orientation is grounded within Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  Chris continues to explore methods for integrating CBT with tools to improve one's executive functioning skill sets with the aim at improving one’s over-all quality of life.  For the past 4 years, Chris has been speaking about and integrating executive functioning strategies and concepts into his clinical work to help promote social success (concept of social executive functioning).  

Chris has enhanced his knowledge of social cognitive deficits by completing the Social Thinking Clinical Training: Level 1-Assessment & Level 2-Advanced back in 2011 (www.socialthinking.com). Chris is an active member in both of his professional organizations (National Association for School Psychologists {NASP} and American Counseling Association {ACA} and is a "Counseling Mentor" for the ACA. Chris has provided clinical supervision for graduate students from Southern Connecticut State University, University of Hartford, and Walden University.  Chris also sits on the Advisory Board for the newly established ASD Fitness Center located in Orange, CT. Chris has published several articles for “Counseling Today” and the “Autism Asperger’s Digest”. In July 2013 Chris is also proud to be a member of the the writing team for Special-Ism (http://special-ism.com). To view an interview done with Chris on the SLC and his social cognitive approaches please click hereChris was just offered a contract with Routledge Publishing in Dec 2016 to author a book on counseling individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

When he is not in the office, Chris enjoys spending time with his three children, traveling and grilling!!


Ashley Zagorski, M.S., NCSP

a.zagorskiSLC@gmail.com

Ashley graduated in 2011 from UCONN with a Bachelor’s of Art degree in Psychology.  In 2014, Ashley received her master’s in School Psychology, as well as her 6th Year Certificate in May 2015 from the University of Hartford. Currently, Ashley is a School Psychologist for the Middletown Public School district.  She began her career at The Social Learning Center as an Intern in 2014 and was officially added to the team in September 2014 as a clinical associate.  She began working as a group facilitator in 2015. Ashley has a passion for counseling and always finds creative and fun ways to implement social learning within group and individual settings.


Erica Ciarciello, B.S - Intern; Mental Health Counselor

e.ciarcielloSLC@gmail.com

Erica graduated in 2011 from Keene State College with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in both elementary education and psychology.  She started work as an instructional assistant at Benhaven Academy in 2011, and started working as a Clinical Associate for the Social Learning Center in 2012.  She began working as a Mental Health Assistant in 2014. Erica's current job role includes assisting with some school consultations, co-facilitating social groups, and helping with scheduling and other office related duties. Erica mentors clients (specifically working on various social skills) who also come to the SLC for counseling purposes.  

Erica is finishing up her Master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Southern Connecticut State University. This semester she will be completing her Clinical Internship with the SLC.  Her duties will include direct observation of client sessions, provide individual counseling under the supervision of Chris Abildgaard, clinical note taking/report writing, lead and participate in client intakes, as well as providing feedback and strategies for families being seen by the SLC. 

Erica has co-authored several articles with Chris Abildgaard for the website Special-Ism.  You can read their article here.


Geoff Birch, MSW

g.birchSLC@gmail.com

Geoff graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Developmental Psychology. In 2015, he earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Pittsburg as well. While completing his degrees, Geoff spent 3 years in various public and private schools in the Pittsburgh, PA area working with students to progress towards their academic and emotional goals. Geoff is now a Certified School Social Worker at Benhaven Academy in Wallingford, CT where he conducts individual counseling and leads social groups. He is dedicated to working with children and families to promote growth in all areas.

SLC Clinical Associates (CA's)

The role of a Clinical Associate (CA) is extremely important to the success of all our programs at the SLC.  All CA's have their bachelor's degree from well established Universities, have trained with Chris in the areas of Social Thinking and other social cognitive methodologies,  and many are in the process of pursuing a Master's degree in a field of their interest.  Our CA's support our lead clinicians in preparing, running, and reflecting on groups from week to week.  When our lead clinician may be out due to illness or family emergency, our CA's are capable of leading the session so that it does not disrupt the flow of the group schedule.  Below are our current CA's we are thrilled to have a part of the SLC.

Mr. Jeymes Briceno: j.bricenoSLC@gmail.com


Office Staff

LindaChampeau, Office Manager

L.ChampeauSLC@gmail.com

Phone: 203-250-0305

Linda graduated from Southington High School and attended the University of Connecticut.  She went directly into the banking field.  She became Branch Manager of the Stratford office of the Bank and after several years was offered a position as office manager in a privately owned company.   Linda comes to The Social Learning Center with more than 20 years of managerial experience, both in banking and in the private sector.

Lisa Dempsey, Billing Manager

Lisa@sociallearningcenter.org

Phone: 203-250-0305

Lisa is in charge of all accounts receivable and payable.  If you have any questions about your bill or have a question pertaining to billing, please contact Lisa.