Health & Wellness

Health and Wellness Center at the Institute 

Living with chronic pain and life-limiting health conditions can be challenging. Did you know that 60% – 70% of youth diagnosed with chronic pain conditions are girls? And approximately 70% of adults experiencing chronic pain are women. We know from experience and research that having community and support can increase resilience and improve coping with the anxiety and depression that often accompany health conditions.

The Health and Wellness Center at the Institute offers children, teens, adults and families a safe haven for empowering themselves with:

  • Support and connection
  • Skills and strategies
  • Self-advocacy tools

Aligned with our mission of empowering girls and women for life, the Health and Wellness Center at the Institute provides specialized psychological and support services. In collaboration with clients’ other health care professionals, we provide an individualized approach to meet unique needs, including:


Through positive therapeutic relationships, clients in individual, family, and group therapy learn new ways to use their minds to increase comfort in their bodies. Our team of clinicians use strength-based, “known to work” approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and clinical hypnosis. In addition, our expressive arts therapists integrate expressive arts and sand tray therapy as an avenue for creative expression when words are hard to find. All of our therapy services for individuals, groups and families are being offered online via Telehealth (online therapy) during the coronavirus crisis. Telehealth can be a safe and effective way to connect with an experienced therapist via a secure video platform. For more information, please see our coronavirus Practice Plan and resources. 

If you’re curious about the process of getting started in therapy, click here to check out our guide!

Group Therapy:

Our Wellness Grit Group for ages 12 – 17 provides a place for teens with chronic pain to connect and build their hardiness skills as they support each other.

Check out our Wellness Grit page for more information!

Parent support and education:

Parents often share about the challenges they face as they seek to support their children and themselves. Research shows that support and skills for parents and family members enhance the well-being of the child or adolescent.


Sometimes a neuropsychological, cognitive, academic and/or psychological evaluation can add clarity and helpful recommendations for the entire treatment team. Several members of our assessment team have specialized training in health psychology and provide these types of individualized evaluations as needed.

Professional Training:

We bring our commitment to professional training in our work with primary care colleagues. We love working collaboratively, and we value teaching opportunities. Read more about our professional training.

If you have questions about our services for girls, women, gender-fluid individuals and families, feel free to contact us. We look forward to talking with you to explore ways to:

  • Rediscover and/or maintain zest for life
  • Increase comfort – emotional and physical
  • Enhance strength, resilience and self-regulation
  • Navigate effectively school, family life, relationships and work
The Health and Wellness Center Team:
  • Melissa Johnson, Ph.D., CEO & Founder of the Institute for Girls’ Development, Licensed Psychologist (PSY 13102)
  • Erin Norton, Psy.D., Registered Psychological Assistant (PSB 94025827), The Health and Wellness Center Coordinator, Supervised by Vicki Chiang, Ph.D., PSY21136
  • Grace M. Goodman, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist (PSY 28905)
  • Sushi Frausto, M.A., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT 101031)
  • Tina O’Brien, M.S., Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC 6029)

Chronic Pain Resources at the Institute:

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