Awareness to Change Counseling Services 

Our Story

We’ve loved every minute of our journey...

Christy Yerk-Smith, MA, NCC, LPC

Practice Owner

Pronoun: She/Her

Christy received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and her Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. She has over 25 years of professional experience in teaching and counseling children, adolescents, and adults.

Her areas of expertise include the following: adolescent issues, personal growth, infertility issues, addictions issues including gambling, substance use and abuse, as well as codependency issues. Other specialties include child abuse, the effects of substance use and abuse on the family unit, the mind/body/stress connection and sexual abuse and trauma recovery, as well as mood disorders and LGBTQI issues. Additionally, she is skilled at providing supervision for licensure as a professional counselor in Pennsylvania. She is a member of the American Counseling Association, the National Board of Certified Counselors, and the Lehigh Valley Psychological and Counseling Association. She is a former board member of Project Child, VOA Children’s Center, and The PROGRAM for Women and Families, Inc.

Christy began her career as a junior high school English and Theatre teacher and has extensive theatre and dance experience within the Lehigh Valley. She has worked within the criminal justice system, at inpatient, outpatient, residential treatment and partial hospitalization facilities; managed care insurance offices, and Lehigh University’s Counseling Center as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor. She has also served as the assistant director of the Counseling Center at DeSales University as well as an adjunct professor at DeSales University and Albright College. She is a part-time consultant for The Center for Humanistic Change and is currently operating a full-time private counseling and consulting practice in Allentown. She lives in Allentown with her husband, and two children (as well as her four-legged children, two dogs!). Her interests include history, reading, psychology topics, and being on the beach.

Jessica Bratt, MA, CTP, LPC (Telehealth Services Only)

Pronoun: She/Her

Jessica completed her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology, concentrating in Social Work, from East Stroudburg University and earned her Master's Degree in Counseling, concentrating in Couples, Marriage, and Family therapy from Kutztown University. Her experience includes working in a community mental health agency, private practice, and partial hospitalization program. She enjoys working with adults and couples using integrative therapies including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Person Centered Therapy.

Jessica believes in the importance in developing a therapeutic relationship built on trust and openness to ensure a non-judgmental and inviting environment. Just as each person is different, Jessica conducts her therapeutic approach around each individual to find the most productive way to greater emotional health. Through warmth, guidance and hope, she believe it takes a team effort to gain insight into one’s challenges in order to make lasting change. Jessica's areas of expertise include but are not limited to anxiety, depression, mood disorders, relationship issues, and couples/family therapy. It is her ultimate goal to empower clients to become self-motivated and self-aware to make the necessary changes and achieve a better quality of life. 

Jessica grew up in Northern New Jersey and made Pennsylvania her home when she moved for college. She currently lives in her Allentown home with her husband and their dog, Benny! Her hobbies include photography, kayaking, and crafting.

Debra A Vaughn, M.Ed, LPC, CCTP

Pronoun: She/Her

Debra attended Kutztown University of Pennsylvania to earn a Bachelor's of Science in Clinical/Counseling Psychology and a Master of Education in Counseling. Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is also credentialed as a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional as well a supervisor for therapists seeking licensure in PA.

Though Debra’s preferred treatment modalities are person centered, solution-focused, and cognitive behavioral, she is trained in various evidence-based techniques. She is adaptive to the unique and specific needs of each individual she works with. Debra is strengths-based in practice, using clients’ attributes and skills to elicit positive change during, as well as after, the counseling process. Debra takes pride in striving for a high level of cultural competency and believes great value is found in learning about and celebrating diversity.

Debra enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults. She admires those seeking positive change and personal growth in their lives. Counseling is a collaborative process in which a strong therapeutic relationship is vital to successful client outcomes. Being a therapist and having the opportunity to support and connect with others in such a meaningful way is a privilege to Debra.

Debra lives in the Lehigh Valley with her family. She and her husband have two daughters, a Boston Terrier, and a cat. In her spare time, Debra enjoys baking, reading, exploring new places, and having fun with the people she loves.

Denise Booth M.Ed., NCC

Pronoun: She/Her

Denise attended Penn State University and earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master’s of Education degree in Counselor Education, specializing in Secondary School Counseling. Denise worked as a School Counselor for 15 years and has several years of clinical experience as well, working with both teens and adults. She is a Board Certified and National Certified Counselor, and is Pre-Licensed under the supervision of Christy Yerk-Smith, LPC.

Denise works with both teens and adults and her areas of expertise include: anxiety, depression, life transitions, trauma, family of origin issues, and ADHD. Denise especially enjoys working with college students and young adults, and has extensive experience working with the unique challenges that students face. Denise utilizes a holistic and individualistic approach, weaving traditional cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, and mindfulness-based techniques in working with her clients. She strongly believes in the innate strength that we all possess, and works with clients to overcome difficulties, develop deep insight, and create lasting change.

Denise is a member of the American Mental Health Counselors Association and is a Reiki Master, trained in the Usui System. Denise currently lives in the Lehigh Valley with her husband and dog. She enjoys traveling, hiking, baking, and crafting in her spare time.   

Heather Updegraff, B.S.

 Counseling Intern

Pronoun: She/Her

Heather attended Desales University where she obtained her Bachelor's of Science degree in Business Administration. After working for over 10 years in the business marketing field, Heather went back to school to pursue her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is set to graduate in December, 2020, from Messiah College.  Currently, she handles client intakes and miscellaneous administrative duties for the practice. 

During her field work experience, Heather discovered that she enjoys working with children, adults, couples, and families. She is passionate about helping others manage their anxiety so they can improve their quality of life. As a mother and former marketing employee, Heather is empathetic and understanding to the pressures that parenthood and corporate business brings. During sessions, Heather enjoys thinking outside the box, and incorporating tools and resources that can be used beyond the counseling office.

Currently residing in the Lehigh Valley with her family, Heather enjoys taking full advantage of the parks and trails close to her home. During her time outside of work, she can be found outside with her children. She also enjoys cooking, reading and trying new restaurants.


Pronoun: He/Him

This is Benny, a Maltese-Yorkie! He is our practice "mascot" and loves to visit sometimes! He loves people and getting attention from anyone willing to pet him or rub his belly. Benny is a lover, not a fighter, so only kisses from this pup!

Benny will only be in the office with clients' comfort and approval.