Ellen Santaniello, LMHC

Ellen Santaniello

Licensed Mental Health Counselor, LMHC

Accepting new clients for daytime appointments with a 2-3 week wait


Offers remote video sessions


Teenagers (13 - 18)
Young adults / college students (18 - 24)

Specialties & expertise

  • College-related issues

  • Transition to adulthood

  • Midlife transitions

  • Couples counseling

  • Sex counseling

  • Sex positivity

  • Sexual identity

  • Family issues

  • Life transitions

  • Parenting

  • Relationship issues

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

Professional statement

Ellen Santaniello is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has been practicing in the Providence area since 2010. She uses Internal Family Systems, Gestalt Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, and mindfulness practices in her work.

Ellen enjoys working with adults and adolescents experiencing life transitions, particularly around the transition to college and adulthood, as well as issues that arise in mid-life. She helps clients facing challenges that include anxiety, depression, current and past family issues, inner conflict, and relationship struggles. Ellen strives to create an environment that is safe, sex-positive, and welcoming for folks of all genders, sexual orientations and relationship styles.

Aside from her work as a counselor, Ellen has been a faculty member at both Rhode Island College and Rhode Island Community College. She has also been a singer and voice teacher for more than 30 years, and enjoys working with artists around the challenges unique to the creative process.


Anxiety – Generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks
Depression – Sleep and energy disruption, overall mood disturbance, inability to enjoy yourself, and difficulty being motivated, amongst many other symptoms
Family issues – Helping parents with their own issues within the context of supporting children; helping young adults navigate family issues
Life transitions –  Adjusting to college, new relationships, career transitions and direction; mid-life existential, relationship, and career challenges; losing one’s drive or burn out; learning self-care
Parenting – Helping parents with their own issues within the context of supporting children
Relationships –  Feeling unsatisfied in your partnership; communication challenges; addressing issues of power and voice; contemplation of separation; questioning one’s place in the relationship; breakups, friendships, dating
Sexual identity – Questioning gender and sexuality; non-binary identification, transgender identification, queer identity, sexuality and power

General expertise

Bipolar disorder – Using coping and preventive strategies to stabilize swings between elevated mood or irritability and depressive episodes
Borderline personality disorder – Addressing enduring maladaptive patterns of behavior, cognition, and inner experience
Cultural adjustment – Transitioning from another country, state, or city; adjusting as an international student or out-of-state student
Existential challenges / crises – Questioning purpose, spirituality, existence; finding one’s path and voice, especially when it differs from society's expectations
Sex counseling – Encourages a sex-positive environment in which individuals and couples can discuss desires and sexual experiences
Trauma – Dealing with past sexual assault, childhood trauma, environmental trauma (e.g. witnessing/experiencing violence), PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)


  • Blue Cross Blue Shield

  • United Student Health Plan

  • Tufts

  • Out of network

Out-of-pocket fees

  • Individual sessions: $130/session (50min)

  • Couples sessions: $130/session (50min) or $190/session (90min)

Sliding scale: A sliding scale is available to clients who need a reduced fee to receive therapy. 

Message to clients

"I think people are really brave when they decide to start working with a therapist. Often people think it’s going to be this awful, torturous, painful process, but one of the things I want to remind them is that it can also be really fun. We do a lot of laughing in this room, a lot of creative exploration, and a lot of laughing at our ourselves -- in kind, loving ways! So I just want people to know that all of our experiences are held in here, not just our misery and suffering and confusion and anger, but also our joy, our hope, our creativity, and our aliveness. Therapy, when its right, is a way to become more alive." 

Treatment approaches

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a time-limited psychotherapy that focuses on interpersonal issues, which are understood to be a factor in the genesis and maintenance of psychological distress. The targets of IPT are symptom resolution, improved interpersonal functioning, and increased social support. (learn more)
Gestalt TherapyIn gestalt therapy, self-awareness is key to personal growth and developing full potential. The approach recognizes that sometimes this self-awareness can become blocked by negative thought patterns and behavior that can leave people feeling dissatisfied and unhappy. (learn more)
Mindfulness PracticesMindfulness practices include but are not limited to developing awareness, attention, and remembering. In mindfulness-informed therapy, clients develop tools to become aware of what is occurring within and around them, so they can begin to untangle from mental preoccupations and difficult emotions. Self-acceptance and compassion are also core elements of mindfulness-informed therapy. (learn more)
Psychodynamic TherapyThe aim of psychodynamic therapy is to bring the unconscious mind into consciousness - helping individuals unravel, experience and understand their true, deep-rooted feelings in order to resolve them. It takes the view that our unconscious holds onto painful feelings and memories, and that the defenses we develop to ensure these difficult memories do not surface from our unconscious often do more harm than good. (learn more)

Education and work experience

Private practice, Licensed Psychotherapist, 2010 - Present
Voice Teacher, 1990 - Present
Community College of Rhode Island, Faculty Member, 2011 - 2014
Anorexia and Bulimia Society of Rhode Island, Group Leader, 2011 - 2014
Rhode Island CollegeVoice Faculty and Ensemble Coach, 2004 - 2008
Rhode Island Indian Council, Project Coordinator, 1988 - 1990

Salve Regina University, Master, Holistic Counseling, 2010
Longy School of Music, Master, Music and Vocal Performance, 2005
Brown University, Bachelor, Biology/Pre-Med, 1986



Client testimonials

Ellen is amazing. I have been in and out of therapy for over twenty years as I work on some ongoing issues. Ellen is quite literally the only therapist I’ve had that every time I leave her office, I’m turning around in my head some new insight or development. She works hard to understand her clients and has gone out of her way to provide helpful feedback to what I’m experiencing. Ellen is also not afraid to speak the truth when I’m (like all of us) lying to myself about something I’m doing/thinking/feeling. It makes her an exceptional therapist. She’s honestly amazing.
— Young professional (2017)
I began seeing Ellen a few years ago when I was experiencing stress and anxiety from my job and some family issues.

I’ve worked with other therapists in the past, and Ellen has been the best therapist I have seen. She has a great way of getting you to realize things through analogies. Her sessions are like having an easy conversation with someone who truly gets you to think about things in a different way that guides you in helping to solve issues or make things better. She helped give me the tools I needed to bring my life back into balance. She is truly gifted and wonderful to work with.
— Business Professional and Former Client (2016)
Ellen is the realest therapist you will ever meet. What I love about her is that she actually talks to you and has a conversation with you. I have worked with Ellen for the past 5 years and every time I leave I feel so much better than when I walked in. I am forever grateful to have met her and to have her guide me through my journey of life.
— Fun-loving and Free (2016)
I am very thankful to have Ellen’s guidance and counseling. She helps me cope with issues in my own life, from my family to career, and I really like her methods. For example, some therapists let you set the discussion away from your problems, but I think Ellen is especially great at helping a person focus on something he or she might be avoiding to look at oneself honestly, but in a way that still feels appropriate. I have also greatly benefitted from Ellen’s couples counseling; I think she pulled my boyfriend and me out of a real rough patch. As a result, I know I can bring any problem to her.
— Web Professional (2016)
Ellen uses helpful comparisons and encourages her patients to use their own words when defining both problems and solutions. I found these methods extremely helpful. I was forced to think critically about the situations and issues that were troubling me and left with a better understanding of WHY I was feeling a particular way. I felt empowered after every session.
— RISD alum '10 / Providence Transplant (2016)

Professional endorsements

Ellen is a warm, highly engaged therapist. She brings great curiosity and openness to the work. Her musical training and coaching has given her a great deal of experience with people’s somatic, emotional, and psychological ways of being in the world - and wisdom about what might be getting in their way. She is very kind and strengths-based in her approach, but not afraid to roll up her sleeves and do a little digging around to see what might be underneath the surface. Her interest in the world around her is obvious, and her energy is infectious.

What topic(s) would you refer clients to this therapist for? Anxiety, depression, somatic complaints, relationship issues, family work
— Cary Twichell, LMHC (2016)
Extraordinarily insightful, emotionally open, committed to her own and others’ human development and spiritual growth.

What topic(s) would you refer clients to this therapist for? Anxiety, trauma, depression, and relationship issues
— Robert Ross, Psychologist, private practice (2016)
She has eclectic, holistic, cutting edge training and an excellent personality that resonates with many people. She is highly intelligent and dedicated!
— Rebecca Nancy Schoenewolf Foley (2016)
Ellen is extremely insightful with conscious and unconscious processing. She is very patient and includes mind and body when helping patients.

What topic(s) would you refer clients to this therapist for? Anxiety, trauma, and depression
— Allison Torti, peer supervisor (2016)