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

Email: 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, 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 5 years, Chris has been speaking on the benifits of integrating executive functioning strategies and concepts into his clinical work to help promote social success (concept of social executive functioning).  

Chris earned his "Clinical Trainee" title in Social Thinking by enhancing his knowledge of methodologies and treatment procedures associated with Social Thinking by completing their Clinical Training: Level 1-Assessment & Level 2-Advanced back in 2011 (www.socialthinking.com). Back in 2010, Chris had the privilege of publishing one of his first articles with Michelle Winner around integrating behavioral interventions with Social Thinking. Click here to read that article. 

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


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


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.

Office Staff

Lisa Dempsey, Billing & Office Manager


Phone: 203-250-0305

Lisa has been with the SLC since our move here to Cheshire and is in charge of all accounts receivable and payable.  Lisa is also managing all of Mr. Abildgaard's appointments through the SLC Counseling Associates and our day to day office needs. If you have any questions about your bill, insurance or if you would like to book an individual counseling appoinment with Mr. Abildgaard  please contact Lisa directly.