Merritt Benz, LCSW, CDWF
Merritt is a Kansas City native but calls Brooklyn NY “her true home”. Merritt Benz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the owner of the Bedford Therapy Group. She is a Certified Daring Way Facilitator. The Daring Way™ is a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown and focuses on shame resilience skills and developing daily practices that transform the way we live, love, parent, and lead.
Before private practice, Merritt was the Program Director and helped open Gilda’s Club Kansas City where she provided individual and group counseling to people living with cancer and their family members and friends. Before moving to Kansas City, she participated in a post-graduate fellowship at the Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine where she provided both individual and family counseling in a community based setting. In New York she was the worked with various high risk teen population groups as Program Director for the Juvenile Justice Initiative, a new clinical evidenced-based treatment program (called Multi-Systemic Therapy) that provides intensive in home family therapy for adjudicated teens and their families, as an alternative to incarceration. Although her work brings her great satisfaction and joy, Merritt’s ideal day is being knee deep in a spring fed trout stream casting flies, hoping for a fish to rise, and celebrating with a cold beer on the river afterwards.
Michael VanderWaal, LMSW
Michael helps adults at all stages of life achieve their personal goals. His approach is holistic, Person-Centered, and Strengths-Based. Before becoming a therapist, Michael assisted people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and mentored at-risk youth in Michigan. When Michael moved to Florida, he provided psychotherapy to individuals at a university counseling enter, a non-profit outpatient clinic, and a private practice outpatient clinic. He received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Andrews University and his Masters in Clinical Social Work at the University of Michigan.
Michael is passionate about working with diverse clients, including adults, couples, and groups. He helps clients gain coping skills to work through depression, anxiety, trauma, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, substance use, spiritual concerns, and difficult life transitions. He has a firm grasp of evidence-based practices, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Techniques. With this in mind, Michael believes therapy should be driven by the relationship, not governed by any particular technique or theory.
Michael has traveled to over fifteen countries on four continents. These diverse experiences have increased his passion for working with individuals with intersectional identities. He is competent in conversational Spanish after completing language courses, living in Spain for four months, and maintaining deep relationship with his wife and her family in Mexico. In his free time, Michael enjoys riding road bikes, playing pick up soccer, swimming, cooking delicious meals, and spending quality time with his wife and friends.