Kellie Knapton

Director and Psychologist

Bachelor of Social Sciences (Psychology), University of Western Sydney
Postgraduate Diploma (Psychology), University of Western Sydney

Kellie has been working in the field for over fifteen years and holds degrees from The University of Western Sydney. She has an extensive background in implementing early intervention programs for children with developmental delays such as Autism, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS. As a proud mum of three, Kellie understands the demands of a modern family – her passion lies in collaborating with families to provide flexible and tailored programs for children.

Kellie created Cherished Minds from a strong value system and desire to create a safe and happy place for clients and their families to talk about their struggles, share their successes and learn how to improve their overall health and well-being through creating long lasting change in their lives.

Kristy Davies

Senior Psychologist

Kristy is a registered psychologist with 17 years experience working with patients providing short-term therapy, support, consultation and specialist assessments.

Kristy recently returned from the United Kingdom where she enjoyed working with patients of different ages and backgrounds. She has a broad range of experience and expertise in a variety of settings and has worked with a wide range of clinical presentations. These include anxiety, depression, risk management, interpersonal issues, anger and aggression, neurodevelopmental assessment and parenting support.

Kristy has a particular passion for helping those who find it hard to access formal therapy and believes that everyone has a right to feel heard.

Neenu Karim

Psychologist

Master of Science in Clinical and Counselling Psychology
Post Graduate Diploma in Psychology
Bachelor of Science in Medical Psychology

Neenu is a Registered Psychologist with extensive experience in working with culturally and linguistically diverse individuals, in all age groups. She is multi-lingual and has great ability to establish and maintain a positive working alliance with clients.

Neenu has keen interest in working with young people. She has experience in working with children and adolescents in different clinical and school settings across Sydney in conducting psychological and academic assessments and providing intervention for children’s social, emotional and behavioural issues.

Tanu Sharma

Psychologist

Masters of Arts in Psychology at Panjab, University
Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Psychology, Panjab University

Tanu has completed a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Psychology and then went on to complete a Master’s of Arts in Psychology. She is registered with AHPRA and has over 7 years’ experience working with a very diverse range of clients and presentations. Tanu has worked in a variety of settings, providing individual and group therapies and has experience working with people from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds.

Tanu is passionate about working with children, adolescents and families and places great importance on building strong and caring therapeutic partnerships. She has particular interest in working with children and families with developmental disabilities, and has a specific interest in early intervention. She also enjoys working with children who experience anxiety and low moods and uses a variety of evidence -based therapeutic interventions.

Jelena Djukic

Psychologist

Diploma in Applied Psychology, Macquarie University
Bachelor of Psychology, University of Western Sydney
Diploma of Community Services, Welfare institute of TAFE

Jelena speaks four languages including English, Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian

Jelena’s passion since the beginning of her career has been developmental and educational psychology. Jelena has extensive experience in early intervention and assessment. Jelena has facilitated paediatrics clinics in partnership with NSW area Health across Liverpool, Bankstown, Campbelltown and Alexandria areas for over 6 years.

Jelena enjoys working with children who present with anxiety and/or behavioural difficulties, and has extensive experience on how to work collaboratively with parents to ensure good relationships are established for the whole family.

Anil Kaushik

Psychologist

Bachelor of Science (Psychology), University of Newcastle
Diploma of Applied Hypnosis, College of Medical Hypnosis

Anil has 27 years’ experience as a psychologist. He completed his psychology degree from the University of Newcastle. Anil has experience working in NSW Health in both Mental Health and Community Health. In the Community Health setting, Anil worked in Child and Family teams and has much experience and a special interest in this area of psychology.

While he works in a thoroughly professional and ethical manner, he engages well with clients and is quick to develop rapport and establish a connection with people that enhances the therapy process.

Anil is a popular psychologist amongst his peers and his warm nature and sense of humour make him the perfect choice as a counsellor. He understands very well the experiences people have on their journey through life and he can help add clarity to situations based not only on evidence-based theory, but through practical experience as well.

Jini Varghese

Psychologist

Jini completed her Post Graduate qualifications in Psychology and began her psychotherapeutic work in 2007 and since then she has worked, both internationally and nationally, in the diverse field of health services including both adults and children. The years of experience has enabled Jini to become equipped to various psychotherapeutic skills which are crucial to building an effective therapeutic relationship and creating safety.

Jini gives a lot of emphasis on the evidence based therapeutic modalities and utilise relevant skills and expertise to promote change. With the core belief in humanistic psychology, Jini looks at an individual holistically and recognises the innate goodness in everyone which is critical to building personal agency. This philosophy motivates Jini to attain a strength-based attitude, making the therapeutic work, with both children and adults, more effective. Trauma work has been a significant part of Jini’s diverse work profile. Jini utilises the trauma informed approach in assisting individuals to regulate their emotions and to deal with its cognitive and psychological impacts. Jini is passionate about working with various complexities that arise in her work with children and adults.

Victoria Do

Psychologist

Bachelor of Psychology, University of Western Sydney

Victoria is a warm and empathetic clinician with a strong passion in working with children of all ages, supporting them with emotional, behavioural and social difficulties. She has experience working in clinic settings as well as in numerous schools across Sydney, in a way that is evidence-based yet also tailored to the individual. Victoria also has extensive experience in administering psychometric assessments and facilitating group programs for social skills (3+ years) and anxiety management.

Victoria has a special interest in early intervention, working with children with developmental delays such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is trained in ABA therapy and is able to guide parents with strategies to achieving expected milestones in learning, behaviour and play. She is skilled in working with varying levels of expressive language including non-verbal children, and is able to support development in functional communication.

Jessica Castelao

Psychologist

Bachelor of Arts Psychology
Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology
Master of Professional Psychology
Master of Counselling and Applied Psychotherapy

Jessica’s experience includes working with Children and Young People, in foster care, residential care, new mothers in residential care and with parents of Children and Young People to assist with therapy outcomes.

Using a variety of therapeutic evidence-based modalities, Jessica has worked with complex adolescent trauma from a trauma-informed-care approach; in particular those from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background. Furthermore, she has provided positive behaviour support for Children and Young People presenting with challenging behaviours, short-term primary intervention for depression and anxiety, and psychoeducation groups to Children, Young People and mothers.

Working and advocating with the Young Persons system such as their family, school or other practitioners is something Jessica is passionate about and believes to be an essential part of therapy.

Patrick El-Kazzi

Psychologist

Diploma of Psychology, University of Western Sydney

Patrick’s passion working with children and adolescents started at a young age. Whether this be a member of his School Representative Counsel to help the student body or tailoring his career to best serve children and adolescents, he knew he wanted to help children and their families from the very start.

Through a warm and collaborative approach, Patrick help’s his clients find a healthy perception of themselves and strengthen their relationships so they can take responsibility of their life. He acknowledges that there is no single approach for every individual. He prioritizes building a healthy and professional rapport with all clients in order to administer a range of therapeutic modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Patrick’s  educational background includes a Diploma in Psychology from Western Sydney University and more than two years practical experience in the field. He has furthered his knowledge through a range of accredited courses and has extensive experience in individual and group therapy (PALS, Secret Agents Society, Take Actions and Zones of Regulation) alongside psychometric assessments. He has a special interest in working with children with depression, anxiety, developmental delays and Autism.

Patrick speaks fluent Arabic and welcomes clients who may require therapy delivered in this language.

Patrick has gained Cool Kids training and accreditation and is excited to help children improve their social skills and success.

Victoria Sammour

Provisional Psychologist

Graduate Diploma in Psychological Studies (completed in 2019)
Bachelor of Psychological Studies (Honours; completed in 2020)

Victoria has always had a passion for working with children and began volunteering from the age of 18 to work with children in her local community. She has worked to support children and their families in various roles since 2019. Her roles have included working with toddlers and their parents on behavioural issues and with the use of play therapy; working with children on the Autism Spectrum on their social skills, task transitions, emotion development; and working with children from complex family backgrounds diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, and a range of other behavioural diagnoses.

Victoria’s strengths lie with her ability to build strong therapeutic relationships with the children she works with, listening to the concerns of parents/carers, and building a treatment and intervention program that targets the needs of the child as well as the needs of their carer. Her approaches include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which focus on developing skills to manage emotions and behaviours. She also has a passion and experience for working with Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and utilise aspects of this (especially play therapy techniques) in working with clients.

Nicoll (Nikki) Larrea

Provisional Psychologist

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) – Western Sydney University
Graduate Diploma in Psychology (Advanced) – Monash University

Nikki has worked for Cherished Minds for three years in our admin team and now transitions to a role as a Provisional Psychologist. Nikki completed her Graduate Diploma in 2019 and has since gained experience working with children through counselling, facilitating group therapy and running structured therapy programs such as Take Action (a cognitive behavioural program that targets anxiety), the Zones of Regulation (a well-known emotional regulation program), PALS (a social skills program for preschoolers) and Stop Think Do (a social skills program for primary school students). Nikki has experience counselling children with a range of presentations such as anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, social skills difficulties, emotional regulation difficulties, anger management problems and behavioural difficulties.

Nikki loves working with children and finds it a privilege to be a part of early intervention that can change a child’s life. Her approach is warm and thorough, and she realises the importance of establishing and maintaining rapport so as to engage and treat the child effectively. Nikki’s therapeutic approach draws from cognitive-behavioural therapy, mindfulness and play therapy. Nikki enjoys using creative techniques during her therapy sessions such as games, art, drawing and role play.

Xinxin (Coco) Xu

Provisional Psychologist

Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours)
Graduate Diploma of Psychological Science

Coco is bi-lingual (English and Mandarin) and has a great ability to connect with people from a culturally and linguistically diverse range of backgrounds.
Coco is passionate about working with children and young people who need behavioural, psychological, and emotional support. She adopts a person-centred approach and believes and respects that everyone is unique. She comes to this role with a world of knowledge and life experiences and has a sense of mission to help children and young people navigate their journey in life.
Coco is interested in behavioural psychology and commits to using evidence-based assessments and interventions to assist children, young people, and their families in improving their mental health and achieving a better life.

Interested In Joing Our Team?

If Cherished Minds calls to you and you would like to develop your career further, we would love to hear from you.

Admin Team

Melissa, Carmelina and Aneeta are passionate about providing great customer service to Cherished Minds families. As the first point of contact, they are happy to assist with all enquiries and help in any way that they can. Between them they have many years’ experience in different customer service and administration roles. Melissa, Carmelina and Aneeta provide the day to day support that is integral to the successful functioning of the clinic and play an essential role in the services that we offer at Cherished Minds.

Melissa Violi
Carmelina Ireko
Aneeta Augustine