About Us

Why put you or your child's life in a stranger's hands? Call us for a free consultation to see why or treatment center is the best multi-specialty practice in Maryland.

The Family Center of Central Maryland provides a complete array of services under one roof. We have been successfully treating individuals and families for more than 35 years. Our staff is composed of highly experienced doctors who are able to provide individualized and and successful treatment that allow families to function smoothly and each individual to grow, prosper, and excel.

We provide state-of-the-art treatment modalities including cognitive training, neurofeedback, biofeedback, and the most comprehensive personality and academic assessments in Maryland.

We are not bound by the treatment constraints of managed care - we have no artificial, insurance-driven limits on time devoted to patient care nor a one-size-fits-all treatment protocol. We are free to collaborate with parents, other family members, and schools to find effective and timely solutions.

Gail K Walter, Ph.D.

Dr. Walter, a state-licensed psychologist, opened The Family Center 35 years ago to provide effective, compassionate, and personalized care for the complex psychological challenges facing families in our Central Maryland Community. Dr. Walter lives in Howard County and has a good understanding of the unique challenges in this community during these demanding times. Dr. Walter was awarded a graduate fellowship at the Institute of Child Study, UMCP, to concentrate on human development and family systems theory. After receiving her Ph.D., she completed a post-doctoral internship in clinical psychology. She currently supervises the clinical staff who specialize in the treatment of behavioral, emotional, developmental, and transitional problems of children, teens, adults, and families.

Nicky Lankerani, D.O.

Nicky Lankerani is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry. She completed her residency in general psychiatry at the University of Maryland/Sheppard Pratt Health System and at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she served as chief resident. Her specialties include mood and anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, pervasive development disorders, and diagnosis and early interventions for pre-schoolers.

Christopher Williams, LCSW-C

Chris Williams is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW‐C) with over 20 years of clinical experience. Chris received his Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from Howard University. Chris has worked with a myriad of client populations in various public health settings. Chris’ practice focuses on working with clients dealing with grief/loss, chronic health issues, mood and anxiety disorders. Chris also has a wealth of experience working with adolescents and families. Chris has years of experience working with and providing therapy and counseling services to the African‐American community. As a former high level athlete and coach, Chris also has a specialty providing sports psychology/counseling to youth and adult athletes and working with teams to address how mental and emotional health issues impact performance and sport enjoyment. Chris has been in clinical practice at the Family Center since 2001, and has been a resident of Howard County since 1977.

Anne Arena, M.A., CAS

Anne Arena is a Psychology Associate that has worked at The Family Center since 2003. She specializes in treating mood, attention and stress related disorders through a highly integrated approach that incorporates individual and family therapy with neurofeedback and biofeedback to provide increased insight and control to improve overall functioning. Ms. Arena originally worked as a school psychologist, having obtained a master’s degree in psychology and Certificate of Advanced Study in School Psychology from Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Ms. Arena also completed a two-year post-graduate degree in clinical neuropsychology and worked at the County Diagnostic Center in Howard County where she completed comprehensive neurocognitive assessments as a part of multidisciplinary evaluations. She continues to specialize in completing diagnostic assessments of learning disabilities, attention disorders, and emotional impairments in children and adults. Ms. Arena is also an Adjunct Non- Credit Faculty staff member at Carroll Community College and teaches continuing education courses on anxiety and trauma. She regularly provides community outreach on a variety of topics, including stress management and developmentally appropriate teaching and parenting practices, through speaking engagements at public and private schools and organizations.  

J. Shep Jeffreys, Ed.D., F.T.

Dr. Shep Jeffreys is a licensed psychologist and Fellow in Thanatology specializing in grief, loss, and end-of-life concerns. He is a grief psychologist with clinical focus on the life journey of individuals, couples, and families who are experiencing grief as a result of bereavement, life-threatening illness, or life-limiting disability. In addition to providing clinical services to The Family Center clients and short-term groups for grieving people, Dr. Jeffreys is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University Maryland. He is on staff in the Department of Psychiatry, Howard County General Hospital, and is a consultant to hospices, hospitals, nursing homes, educational institutions, and corporations. He has also served as a trainer and workshop leader with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and as a consulting psychologist for the Johns Hopkins AIDS Service.

Michael Varhol, Psy.D.

Dr. Michael Varhol is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems in children, adolescents, and adults. Dr. Varhol received his doctoral degree from the George Washington University Psy.D. Program. He has worked with students on the campuses of UMBC and Johns Hopkins University, and has extensive experience helping young people with struggles of self-confidence, finding direction, and managing difficult feelings. Dr. Varhol regularly collaborates with counseling staff at many Howard County elementary, middle and high schools to support his clients in and out of the classroom. 

Dr. Varhol works evenings and weekends, when he is joined by his co-therapist - rescue dog Jack Bauer, a Labrador- Border Collie mix.

Mark A. Ritter, M.D.

Mark Ritter, M.D. is a board certified psychiatrist who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry and treatment of post-traumatic stress, depression, mood, and anxiety disorders for military service-members and families. Dr. Ritter received his medical degree at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI and completed his adult psychiatric residency at the Detroit Medical Center. He then completed his child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at George Washington University/Children’s National Medical Center and the National Institutes of Mental Health.

In addition to his work at The Family Center, Dr. Ritter continues to serve the medical and psychiatric needs of fellow service-members as an active, drilling member of the Air National Guard. He has been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, where he has treated various medical and psychiatric conditions in theatre and state-side. As a result, Dr. Ritter is keenly aware and sensitive to the mental health concerns and challenges that active-duty and reserve-component military members and their families confront daily.

Krystin Wessner, Psy.D.

Dr. Krystin Wessner is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of children (ages 3+), adolescents, and families/couples. She received her doctoral degree from Loyola University Maryland. Dr. Wessner performs individual, family, and group therapy. Throughout treatment she emphasizes the importance of collaboration, working with each client, and the family, to develop a unique treatment plan and appropriate, obtainable, goals. In addition, Dr. Wessner conducts psychological evaluations that assess for learning disabilities, ADHD, and other social-emotional disorders.

Dr. Wessner consults closely with teachers, school personnel, pediatricians, and other health care providers to offer the most comprehensive treatment and advocates for the client’s educational, social, and mental health needs. Her areas of interest and specialty include behavioral and emotional disorders (e.g., ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorders), trauma, adjustment disorders, high functioning autistic spectrum disorders, and childhood grief and loss. In addition, she has worked with military families who are in the midst of transition and struggling with unique challenges and adjustments.

Constantine J. Trela, Ph.D.

Dr. Constantine “Connie” Trela is a Registered Psychology Associate who works with families, couples, and individuals across the lifespan (ages 7+). He specializes in the treatment of anxiety and depression, mood and personality disorders, recovery from traumatic events, and problematic alcohol/substance use. Dr. Trela knows that no two patients are identical and strives to develop individualized treatment plans in collaboration with his patient that will benefit their holistic wellbeing.


Dr. Trela regularly maintains afternoon and evening hours, as well as weekends by request. Outside of his work at The Family Center, he enjoys jogging and hiking, tabletop and video games, karaoke, and cooking. He is an avid football fan, especially the college game, and is a former NCAA academic all-conference offensive lineman himself. Dr. Trela is also a proud dog-dad of Gina, a 10-year-old rescue who you may see at the office from time to time and who couldn’t help but photobomb his headshots.

Jami Margolis, LCPC

Jami Margolis is a Licensed Clinical Therapist who graduated from McDaniel College (Western Maryland College) where she majored in Developmental Psychology/Counseling and Education. Jami specializes in working with children and adolescents with Autism, Anxiety, ADHD, and Depression.


She has over 20 years of experience working with local school districts as a Special Education Advocate where she assisted with the development and implementation of IEP, 504, and Behavioral Intervention Plans.