Dr. Whelan is Director of the Virginia Child & Family Attachment Center (formerly Co-Director of the Mary D. Ainsworth Child-Parent Attachment Clinic at UVA) in Charlottesville, Virginia. He earned an undergraduate degree at The University of Chicago, and has done graduate work in psychology at Chicago and The College of William and Mary where he received a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. He completed a clinical internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia Medical Center, and joined the faculty of the UVA School of Medicine where he was for 16 years in Pediatrics, Psychiatric Medicine, and Research Psychology.
Dr. Whelan has been a principal investigator with research funding from NIH, and focuses on developing assessment methods and intervention approaches to support health and healing in attachment-caregiving interactions. He provides training courses in the Preschool Attachment Coding system, the Attachment Security Intervention for treatment of high-risk attachment-caregiving patterns, experiential courses for caregivers, and provides training to child welfare professionals. He has given invited lectures at national and international conferences, and has published articles and book chapters regarding attachment, development, and intervention.
Somer George is an adjunct professor at James Madison University where she teaches a course about children with emotional and behavioral difficulties. She is also a graduate student, completing her Ph.D. in Counseling and Supervision. Her special interest is in attachment theory and improving parent-child relationships. Somer works for Virginia Child and Family Attachment Center and Secure Child In-Home Program where she helps to provide comprehensive attachment assessments, intensive in-home therapy, and research-based parent courses. Somer is passionate about advocating for children and families who have experienced trauma and loss by promoting healthy relationships that lead to healing and growth.
April Hepler has spent the past 18 years working with children and families, first as a pastor and now as a therapist. Her work is strongly informed by her experience as a mother, as she parents in a blended family and raises a child with special needs. April holds a variety of roles, working for Secure Child In-Home Program, Harrisonburg Center for Relational Health, and Eastern Mennonite School. In each place, she brings a trauma-informed attachment perspective, believing in the powerful healing possible in the context of our relationships.
Greg Czyszczon is a psychotherapist who specializes in working with the parent-child relationship throughout the lifespan. Specifically, he works with individuals who are seeking to make meaning of their family-of-origin experiences. Greg uses a person-centered approach which borrows from attachment theory. He brings 20 years of experience working with youth in various settings as well as a deep desire to learn of the obstacles that keep adults, couples, and families from thriving. Greg works with children, adolescents, parents, and families who have experienced relational trauma in some manner. In addition to his clinical work, he teaches in the Master’s in Counseling program at Eastern Mennonite University and in the department of Psychology at James Madison University.
Anne Stewart, Ph. D. is a Professor of Graduate Psychology at James Madison University. She teaches systems and family theory, play therapy, interprofessional ethics and practice and clinical supervision. Her research examines the quality of parent-child interactions and attachment-based interventions.
Dr. Stewart promotes resilience and attachment in children through projects around the world, including Sri Lanka and India following the tsunami. Dr. Stewart designed and implemented intervention and research programs addressing psychosocial problems resulting from landmines in Lebanon, Jordan, Bosnia, Vietnam, and Mozambique. She served as a consultant following Hurricane Katrina, the 9/11 attacks, the Virginia Tech shootings, and central Virginia earthquake. Along with colleagues and students, she provided play-based therapeutic services to children of deployed Virginia National Guard soldiers.