Our Treatment Philosophy
Psychiatry is fundamentally about the science of the mind, but the mind carries out its day-to-day business through relationships. Relationships are the bedrock of the formation and maintenance of who we are as people. For children and adolescents, relationships are everything; what their parents think, what their peers think–these perceptions and impressions literally shape who they are.
Treating children and adolescents is a fundamentally relational enterprise. Without the ability to interact openly and honestly, the business of psychiatry does not get very far. At Child and Adolescent Psychiatry of Southern New Jersey, we know this. We also understand that the number one commodity in a relational treatment environment is time. That’s what we provide. You will not be rushed out of an appointment. You are not a number. People, and our children especially, deserve more than this. It takes time for people (in general, and adolescents especially!) to reveal thoughts and feelings that they hold close to themselves. Why in the world would we think this is something we can cram into a fifteen minute session?
Talking, understanding, making sense out of particular perceptions or what is going on in someone’s life–this is the work of psychiatry, not just simply throwing a medication in the mix and hoping for the best. You and your family deserve this kind of care. What’s more, in psychiatry, it is necessary. That’s why we are the clear choice for outpatient psychiatry in southern New Jersey.
Stephen M. Neff, M.Div., MSN, APN, PMHNP-BC
Mr. Neff brings over a decade of experience in the mental health field from all levels of care. He has treated children and adolescents in traditional outpatient settings, intensive outpatient settings, group therapy and partial care programs. Mr. Neff also brings additional skills that you won’t find in other practices. For years he directed both pediatric and adult inpatient psychiatric units, including acute crisis stabilization units. He is the former Clinical Director of the Intermediate Behavioral Care Unit at Bridgeton Hospital, a pediatric long-term unit providing psychiatric care to some of the most complicated pediatric cases in the state of New Jersey. He helped direct the psychiatric consult-liaison service at Virtua Hospital, advising providers in emergency departments and hospital floors on how to treat psychiatric conditions within the context of medical illness.
Further, and a distinction that separates him from virtually all other providers in the area, Mr. Neff currently teaches the psychopharmacology course at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, his alma mater. He firmly believes that the only way you ensure future providers will give the best care to patients is to nurture students as you teach them the vast knowledge base in both child/adolescent and adult psychiatry.
“Teaching is a gift for me. It allows me not only the privilege of molding and shaping future providers but also helps me stay current and immersed in the ever-expanding, ever-changing fields of child and adult psychiatry,” says Mr. Neff.
Mr. Neff is also one of the thought leaders in the area of pediatric and adult pharmacogenomics, which looks at how we apply genetic testing techniques to the treatment of mental illness.
“Great advances are being made within the field of psychiatry and providers who are well versed in the latest medical literature, diagnostic tests and treatment options serve to give their patients the best chance at healthy, happy lives,” says Mr. Neff.
Due to his augmented skill set, Mr. Neff is the preferred provider of court-ordered psychiatric evaluations for juvenile offenders in Camden County, NJ. For years, he has worked with judges and prosecutors to bring compassion and understanding to the judicial system in cases where mental illness is an extenuating factor in criminal behavior.
Mr. Neff took his psychiatric training at the University of Pennsylvania. He currently holds an appointment there as a Clinical Associate and Adjunct Faculty member. He also has interests in the concept of hope as well as spirituality and health, and has been known to scribble down some thoughts if the muse descends:
- Recapturing the Essence of Spirituality: An Letter to the Guest Editor, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 27:2, 117-123, DOI: 10.1080/01612840500436875
- Towards a Concept of Hope: A Functional Reconceptualization, Bordering Biomedicine, Volume 29 of At the Interface / Probing the Boundaries, ISSN 1570-7113
Ella Lalwani, M.S., L.P.C.
Ella Lalwani has been a dedicated and passionate practitioner of clinical and counseling psychotherapy since 2012. She has served multicultural populations in outpatient clinics and counseling centers throughout New Jersey, Philadelphia and Delaware.
As a counselor at Philadelphia’s Anti-Violence Partnership, Ella helped co-victims of homicide cope with significant trauma, grief, depression and anxiety. She used a family systems model to help parents, children and other relatives work through painful and enduring issues.
At Northeast Community Mental Health Center, she guides substance abuse patients through the process of examining the reasons behind self-harming behaviors and learning steps toward sobriety.
Ella practices integrated therapy which includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy. She values the privilege of being present as her clients progress from better understanding themselves to developing useful skills that improve daily functioning. Her approach to therapy aims to bring hope and positive mental health to all of her clients.
Ella earned her bachelors in psychology from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. and her Masters in clinical and counseling psychology from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Pa.
Currently, she is working on New Jersey and Pennsylvania licensure with a special focus on adolescent and child psychology. In addition to being a mental health practitioner, Ella spent several years working as a Hebrew schoolteacher and a young Jewish girls group leader.
About Our Partnership With U Penn
In keeping with his commitment to serve both his patients and his community to the best of his abilities, Mr. Neff has been partnering with the University of Pennsylvania for years, teaching their course on psychopharmacology (how providers prescribe medications to patients) and mentoring students.
“The University of Pennsylvania is a special place,” Mr. Neff says. “It is one of only a few Ivy League schools to even have a nursing program, let alone have its curriculum be the #1 ranked in the country among all nursing schools. Benjamin Franklin, who founded Penn, was a great admirer of humanity and every day the school fulfills Franklin’s vision of creating scholars and practitioners whose sole purpose it is to dedicate themselves to the service of humanity. I’m very proud to call myself an alumnus there and humbled that they would choose me, year after year, from all the excellent area providers to teach what I consider is the most important course in their curriculum.”
“When you take the best minds and pair them with an education that is second to none and then you infuse that effort with compassion and humanity, the end products are providers who have the potential to be great healers,” Mr. Neff says.
Mr. Neff is honored not only to teach at the University of Pennsylvania but also to partner with the institution as a training site for their students. “Giving students the practical knowledge they need, in addition to their academic learning, showing them how their training, when infused with compassion, creates a space for healing to occur—this to me is why I’m here,” Mr. Neff says.