A Fresh Start Therapy is a locally owned progressive behavioral and mental health counseling practice located in Washington, D.C. Focused on individual self-improvement, we believe that no matter the struggle, our clients can achieve a better tomorrow.

From a child’s behavioral issues in school to a relationship or family conflict, our experienced staff will get to the root causes and prepare clients for a positive future.

Along with self-pay options, we work with various public and private insurance providers to ensure you or your loved ones get the attention you need and deserve.

Please note: This page contains photos of some of the team members of A Fresh Start Therapy. They are pictured with their families and stakeholders from their communities.

A Fresh Start Therapy specializes in addressing:

  • Depression
  • Mood Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Child and Adult ADHD
  • Grief
  • Anger Management
  • Peer and Domestic Relationships
  • Spiritual Development
  • Employment Issues
  • Women’s Issues
  • Medical Challenges
  • Educational and Behavioral Problems in Children and Teens
  • Coping with New Family Dynamics

A Fresh Start Therapy uses a wide range of treatment methods, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
  • Motivational and Life Coaching
  • Play Therapy
  • Trauma Therapy

About the Founder

Ebony N. Lea, LCSW, has been helping children, adults, and families in the D.C. area since 2003.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Ebony has been a counselor, clinical program staff supervisor, and a front-line advocate for youth mental health. She’s received specialized training in child abuse and neglect, trauma systems therapy, and play therapy. Ebony is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP). Somatic experiencing is a trauma-based therapy that focuses on processing trauma by exploring sensations in the body. She completed the training in 2.5 years through the Somatic Experiencing Training Institute (SETI) in 2020.

Ms. Lea graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore, receiving a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a dual concentration in nonprofit management and clinical practice. The University also honored her with the Mark Battle Scholarship, awarded to students demonstrating leadership in the nonprofit sector.

A member of the National Association of Social Work, Ms. Lea incorporates her diverse professional experience in administration, community organization, and clinical services into A Fresh Start Therapy’s daily practices. When she’s not busy helping individuals and families achieve a higher degree of mental health, Ms. Lea enjoys dancing, shopping and traveling. Ebony has daytime and evening availability on varying days throughout the week. Feel free to schedule your appointment here.

Team Members

Bret Zdanowicz

Bret Zdanowicz is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) in Washington, D.C., and New Jersey. Bret graduated from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, where he obtained both his graduate degree in Social Work and his undergraduate degree in Sociology.
Bret has over 10 years of experience in a variety of settings and with a diverse clientele, including both long-term and brief interventions. Bret has experience working with diverse populations in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Bret also has experience providing individual and group therapy to both children and adults. Bret has primarily focused his work with the most underserved populations; particularly the homeless population; economically disadvantaged; individuals with severe mental illness diagnoses; and substance abuse issues.
Bret incorporates a variety of therapeutic approaches with an emphasis on problem-focused treatment. Bret’s therapeutic styles include cognitive-behavioral therapy, play therapy, person-centered therapy, motivational interviewing, trauma therapy, and mindfulness therapy. During his free time, Bret enjoys remaining active and spending time with his wife and daughter.
Bret has evening and weekend availability. Feel free to schedule your appointment here. today.

Asha Henson

Asha Henson, LGSW is a Master’s-level social worker who specializes in supporting adolescents and adults through challenges associated with body image, interpersonal relationships, identity development, and parenting. Asha combines a culturally competent, intuitive, and holistic approach with evidence-based therapeutic interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), person-centered, and solution-focused Therapies.

“I am not your mother’s therapist. I seek to create an intimate, relaxing, and judgment-free environment for true self-exploration and evolution. Having overcome life-altering transformations of my own combined with an almost decade of experience supporting individuals, families, and communities, I have cultivated a specialized intervention style that caters to each client’s specific needs and goals. In addition, I enjoy incorporating some metaphysical elements (such as astrology) but only if you are into that sort of thing.”

Asha completed her Master’s of Social Work in Mental and Behavioral Health from the University Of Maryland in Baltimore, MD, and received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been trained in cultural competent therapy, trauma centered care, CBT, strengths-based and person-centered approaches. She is currently pursuing a certification in Astrology to be completed in June 2020. Feel free to schedule your appointment here.

Leah VanderMark

Leah VanderMark is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker located in Washington, D.C., and an Independent Contractor at A Fresh Start Therapy. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University.

Leah has worked as a social worker in a hospital setting for the past 7 years. She specializes in helping clients adjust to their illness, navigate new diagnoses, and cope with chronic pain and emotional burden. Leah also has experience working with individuals who suffer from anxiety, adjustment disorders, and depression.

Leah incorporates a variety of therapeutic techniques including cognitive behavioral therapy, family-systems therapy, and mindfulness. She uses a strengths-based approach that supports self-determination and self-discovery. She hopes to help you live life as your most authentic, true self.

In her free time, you can find Leah walking her 3-year-old golden retriever, traveling to see her family and friends or reading inspirational books. Some of her favorites include Becoming by Michelle Obama, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, Educated by Tara Westover, and Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown. Schedule your appointment with Leah today.

Andrea Bagwell

Andrea Bagwell is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. Andrea graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a bachelor’s degree in Family Science and the Catholic University of America with a master’s degree in Social Work. She is under the supervision of Leah VanderMark, LICSW.

Andrea has a history of working with individuals with special needs and complex medical diagnoses. She specializes in supporting clients and families navigate the changes that come with having a new diagnosis and cope with the emotions they feel during transitional periods. Additionally, Andrea is committed to helping young adults and adults navigate anxiety and learn how to identify ineffective behaviors and habits. Andrea believes in a collaborative approach to help clients identify coping mechanisms and strategies for reaching their desired goals.

Andrea uses a strengths-based approach and incorporates therapeutic techniques that include motivational interviewing, person-centered therapy, and solution-focused therapy. In her free time, Andrea enjoys hiking and spending time with family and friends.

Schedule your appointment with Andrea today by calling 844.957.3794.

Mike Bankert

Mike Bankert is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) practicing in Washington, D.C. Since moving to D.C. in 2014, he has worked with clients in a variety of settings, including inpatient psychiatric, community mental health, and medical facilities.

Using a compassionate and accepting approach, Mike aims to support his clients in identifying problem areas, building new skills, and bolstering existing strengths. He uses a combination of psychodynamic and humanistic perspectives to empower clients to recognize the challenges they face while making deliberate and solution-focused changes.

Mike holds a B.S. in Psychology from Roanoke College and a Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. In his free time, he enjoys staying active by running, biking, and hiking, which provide a nice contrast to his other hobbies of trying new recipes, devouring cheese, and binging scary movies.

Here are some fun questions we asked Mike and his responses:
Name a place you’ve traveled to that was inspiring and why?
“Barcelona, Spain – I have a lot of respect for how much this culture prioritizes enjoyment and beauty. Also, the food is incredible!”

Favorite movie/actor/entertainer and why?
“Wayne’s World, because it’s goofy and lighthearted, and I used to watch it whenever I was home for a sick day.”

Favorite sitcom or drama and why?
“Schitt’s Creek, for its characters’ feel-good growth, and its subtle humor.”

Schedule your appointment with Mike today by calling 844.957.3794.

Blason Early

Blason Early is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) in Washington, D.C. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Blason is under the supervision of Ebony Lea, LICSW.

Blason has over 5 years of experience working in a variety of settings. She specializes in trauma work through the use of Cognitive Behavior Therapies (CBT), such as Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TFCBT) and Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT).

When working with children and adolescents, Blason incorporates play therapy, art therapy, and music therapy. She believes that every child is capable of being the best version of themselves with the right support and resources.

Blason enjoys spending time with her family, going on walks, reading, going to the beach, and learning new Afrobeats dances.

Schedule your appointment with Blason today by calling 844.957.3794.