People who have experienced true trauma, may not even remember it, however the symptoms have always been present.

1. Addiction: There are many types of addiction, but the most detrimental one that works against trauma healing is substance abuse. If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to deal with your past, you will have to get sober before you begin to heal your trauma. You will not be able to heal your past if you constantly numb yourself with substances. There are many effective ways to get sober, such as residential or outpatient treatment centers, AA meetings with the help of sponsors, or private doctors or therapists who can help you. Once you are sober, you can start healing the underlying issues that caused you to turn to substances.

2. Self-abandonment: This includes all the ways you may not be taking care of yourself—not exercising, not eating in a healthy way, not looking after your personal hygiene, working in a toxic work environment even though you could get a better job, being in relationships that are detrimental and abusive, putting other people’s needs ahead of your own as if they were more important than you.

3. Dissociation: This is when your consciousness leaves your body and you feel spacey and disoriented in

some way. You may be able to have a conversation but not really remember the details, or you may be

able to drive but then take the wrong exit and don’t remember how you got there. You may be at work

but not really present.

4. Eating disorder:

People suffering with an eating disorder (ED) often hate their bodies. They don’t like

how their body looks, feels, and moves, etc. They see their bodies as a burden, and their main focus is

wanting to change its look. They do everything in order to avoid feeling their body.

5. Chronic pain: This could be the result of extreme tension or dissociation from the body.

Dr. Karol Darsa has over 20 years of clinical and administrative experience in trauma and mental health disorders. Dr. Darsa, founder of The Reconnect Center will present Reconnect’s philosophy of integrative trauma treatment. The participants will learn about gentle, body-based processes which help heal and reconnect the mind and body. These clients typically experience dis-regulation due to traumatic events, developmental trauma, or emotional disorders. For more information go to http://reconnectcenter.com or call (310) 713-6739. The Center is located at 881 Alma Real Drive, Suite 311, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. Contact Dr. Darsa at info@reconnectcenter.com.

Dr. Karol Darsa

Psy.D. (PSY19847)

Founder and Executive Director

Dr. Darsa received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California Graduate Institute, and has about 20 years of clinical and administrative experience in trauma and mental health disorders. Dr. Darsa began her career in 1998 as a foster care social worker and continued her work with abused children and their families and adults abused as children. Dr. Darsa later worked as a trauma specialist in private practice and at a variety of treatment centers including Clearview, Moonview Sanctuary and PCH.

In 2002, Dr. Darsa began studying with Christine Schenk, founder of the CHRIS-Technique, a unique energy work focused on teaching clients how to ground themselves in their bodies. Dr. Darsa has completed numerous evidence-based trainings in the treatment of trauma and mental health disorders, including Level III in Brainspotting, Level I and II trainings in EMDR, and Somatic Experiencing and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. With each advanced training, Dr. Darsa developed a deeper understanding of trauma processes and healing, and how to help each person achieve freedom from the effects of trauma.

In 2012 Dr. Darsa became the co-creator of Invisible War Recovery, a program designed to treat military sexual trauma survivors. This sparked a passion for Dr. Darsa to develop and create her own trauma recovery program in the form of Reconnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Center. In a short span of time, Reconnect Center has served hundreds of clients recovering from trauma and mental health disorders, leading to exceptional treatment outcomes in their recovery process.

Dr. Darsa realized that what is often missing in trauma treatment is a finely attuned, gentle, body based process to help heal and reconnect mind and body when clients become disregulated due to traumatic events, developmental trauma, or emotional disorders. Reconnect Center embodies that philosophy in offering intensive one on one work to help truly heal each individual that comes through her doors.

A native of Turkey, Dr. Darsa has been living in the United States for 25 years. She has also lived in Spain, France and Brazil. Dr. Darsa’s exposure to numerous ethnic and social groups allows her to understand the cultural differences in human thought and behavior. She can provide therapy in English, Spanish, French and Turkish and is able to converse in Italian and Portuguese as well.

JORGE RIVERA

Chief Financial Officer

Jorge is a University of California Economics graduate with a computer science, finance and investment background. He has over 30 years of experience managing investments internationally for high net worth individuals, Non-Profit Institutions and Pension Plans. His expertise includes designing information systems dashboards, data simulators and data base integrated solutions for investment firms, pension plans and other institutions.

Jorge has been participating at Reconnect Psychological Services since its inception supporting proudly the efforts of Dr. Darsa in establishing an efficient network of clinicians that can offer one of the best trauma treatment programs.

A dual citizen from Mexico and the United States, Jorge loves spending time with his 3 children camping, snow skiing or hiking.

Dr. Viviana Suaya

MD

Medical Director

Dr. Viviana Suaya is a Los Angeles psychiatrist with more than two decades of experience in pediatric, adolescent, and adult psychiatry. She and her professional team are committed to providing patients with the very best of care, using expertise and compassion to achieve the best possible outcome for each patient.

Dr. Suaya pursued a medical degree at the Buenos Aires University School of Medicine in Argentina, where she graduated Cum Laude. Her interest in pediatrics inspired her to become a pediatrician, and she completed a postgraduate program at the Children’s Hospital in Buenos Aires in 1988. Two years later, she relocated to Los Angeles to continue postgraduate training at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Psychiatry.

She is an associate professor at Keck school of medicine USC teaching introduction to clinical medicine through the family practice department.

Today, she remains in Los Angeles, where she has unfailingly served patients for more than twenty years. As a Los Angeles psychiatrist with a background in pediatrics, Dr. Suaya specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents.

Shilloy Sanchez

LMFT

Clinical Director

Shilloy Sanchez is Clinical Director of the Reconnect outpatient programs. A licensed marriage and family therapist, she has extensive administrative and clinical experience in trauma, addiction, eating disorder treatment, and school-based programs.

Her career spans three decades and a wide range of leadership positions in clinical psychology, crisis communications, public relations, technology, and youth theater activism. Her journey has been featured on CNN Health and in Seeking Serenity: The 10 New Rules for Health and Happiness in the Age of Anxiety (Penguin Random House 2015).

Before Reconnect, Shilloy was Program Director and Primary Therapist at The Bella Vita, a residential eating disorder treatment facility, and an administrator at Passages, a world-renowned addiction treatment center. In both facilities, Shilloy worked from a strong family systems orientation integrating multifamily and community support groups to the program’s experience.

She earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology specializing in Trauma from Antioch University and is a doctoral candidate in Analytical Depth Psychology specializing in Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She holds certifications in Trauma Focused CBT and Systematic Training for Effective Parenting. She is also trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Brain Spotting (BSP), and the Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM).

Shilloy’s approach at Reconnect focuses on the transformational process of restoring wholeness and a deep sense of purpose, achieved by bringing a creative alchemical balance of spirit and soul to structured treatment. Shilloy is committed to working closely with the founder, Dr. Darsa, on individualized trauma treatment that includes an elevated sense of awareness and compassion in its programming. She is also dedicated to ensuring ongoing compliance with licensing and regulatory standards consistent with The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), for all levels of care in the supervision and training of Reconnect’s multidisciplinary clinical team.

An aspiring runner, Shilloy has completed three marathons and is training for her fourth. Her hobbies include hosting backyard barbecues, trying new recipes, and hiking. She lives in Southern California with her partner and two bulldogs.

Nicole Moore

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)

Nicole Moore is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), and registered yoga teacher in California. She earned her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University. Nicole works with children, families, and adults. Using attachment theory, mindfulness, traditional, and alternative modalities to personalize each treatment plan, she strives to make a genuine connection with every individual to help inform her approach.

Miriam Rothman

LMFT (LMFT 48136)

Mindfulness Teacher, CBT Therapist, Brain Spotting

Miriam is a licensed Marriage Family Therapist. Her specialties include teaching Mindful meditation, treating clients with addiction through helping them to identify triggers for their unhealthy behaviors, and helping clients overcome their problems of anxiety and depression.

She received her BA from the University of Southern California in communications, and her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles. She has worked with patients recovering from drug and alcohol addictions during her time at the Southern California Alcohol and Drugs Program. She worked at the UCLA Dual Diagnosis Program.

Miriam is invested in the field of Mindful meditation. Having worked with children and adults, she is committed to helping clients increase the vitality in their lives. Through helping them increase their ability to be present in the moment, rather than distracting themselves by obsessing over their pasts or their futures, clients to experience the ordinary of their lives as extraordinary.

Matthew Porter

LMFT 42042

LMFT and EMDR Trauma Specialist

Matthew Porter LMFT specializes in treating trauma, PTSD, and addictions. He has served as Clinical Lead, Primary Therapist and EMDR Trauma Specialist in various addiction and mental health treatment centers. His passions include teaching Mindfulness, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills, and making a personal connection with all of his clients. Matt obtained his master’s degree in counseling psychology and drama therapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco in 2001 and has been Licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 2005. He led Drama Therapy and DBT skills groups at UCSF Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, taught psychology at Berkeley City College, and has trained and supervised dozens of therapists in DBT and Mindfulness skills. He is also trained as a Yoga Teacher and focuses on the body’s wisdom to heal and recover from trauma, addictions and other compulsive behaviors.

Janice Taylor

MFT

Marriage and Family Therapist

Janice is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Psychology from Antioch University. She is a certified EMDR therapist and trained in the Trauma Resiliency Model.

She works collaboratively with clients to explore behaviors that are preventing them from leading the kind of life they deserve. Janice believes we all developed coping strategies when we were young to protect ourselves. While they helped us survive at the time, she finds they are often the very things holding us back now. Janice uses EMDR and TRM to target the original traumas by employing both the body and the mind. Her belief is that once the original traumas are dealt with, the need for the now maladaptive behaviors are no longer there. She finds symptoms such as depression and anxiety can be alleviated faster when EMDR and TRM are used in conjunction with traditional talk therapy.

Janice became a therapist after seeing for herself the transformative effects of psychotherapy. She knows firsthand that EMDR and TRM are indispensable in the treatment of trauma.

Kasey Curtis

LMFT (LMFT99698)

EMDR and CRM

Kasey graduated with her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Argosy University, Twin Cities (MN) in 2008. Since then, she has worked with adolescents in detention, families, and children in outpatient and community mental health settings, and with people struggling with eating disorders. Her early work led her to seek out additional training to help clients with trauma experience deeper and more lasting change than she was seeing in traditional talk therapy. She has been trained in EMDR and has participated in other various modalities that focus on the mind-and-body connection such as iRest Yoga Nidra, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Most recently, Kasey has completed training in CRM (Comprehensive Resource Model) in the hopes of having more extensive tools and creativity in helping clients reach their goals.

Ben Miller

Certified Neurofeedback Practitioner

Along with his work at Reconnect, Ben is the Neurofeedback Coordinator at the Salvation Army Bell Shelter where he helps Veterans heal from extreme PTSD. Ben has extensive experience in helping Veterans reduce symptoms ranging from lack of sleep to severe panic attacks. Additionally, Ben works on alleviating chronic pain, tinnitus, hyper-alertness, excessive worry and many other anxiety related symptoms. Specializing in Neurofeedback Ben has helped Veterans and Private clients improve memory, word finding, creativity and executive thought process. Ben realizes the importance of having the brain and body working together as efficiently as possible. He believes that Neurofeedback is a key component for Peak Performance in sports, the arts, and business. As an avid golfer, Ben especially enjoys working with golfers and other athletes of different levels to help improve their overall performance.

Sarit Z. Rogers

Somatic Experiencing Practitioner

Sarit Z. Rogers, is a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner, accomplished photographer, writer, group facilitator and trauma-informed yoga teacher. Sarit is certified to teach Hatha/Vinyasa, Accessible Yoga, Yoga for All©, Restorative and Yin yoga. Sarit has dedicated her life to being of service and sharing the gift of yoga and SE™ to adults and adolescents. She has experienced the power of SE in her own physiology and lights up when there is an opportunity to share it with others.

Sarit draws from different modalities, including movement, creative writing, art, mindfulness and Somatic Experiencing to promote the cultivation of healing and foster the development of accessible tools for self-care, self-regulation, healthy boundaries, and ultimately, a nervous system that is more regulated and has more capacity to live life at its fullest.

Sarit assists Somatic Experiencing® trainings and continues to participate in continuing education classes in order to deepen and broaden her ability to bring healing to her clients. Sarit strives to empower and support her clients, inspiring embodiment, presence, and a greater sense of aliveness.

Lisa Schwartz

L.Ac.

Licensed Acupuncturist Specializing in Emotional Trauma

Lisa Schwartz is a California state licensed acupuncturist and herbalist specializing in treating emotional trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety, stress, chronic pain and headaches.

Lisa received her master’s degree in traditional Chinese medicine from Emperor’s College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Californian board acupuncture license in 2000. She is also a Member of the National Addiction Detoxification Association.

Her passion for treating emotional trauma and addiction began during an internship at a hospital in Marina Del Rey, where she treated patients with great success recovering from PTSD, drug and alcohol addiction. She has served as a clinic supervisor at UCLA’s Arthur Ashe student health center for acupuncture students, where she taught them proper diagnosis and treatment for stress, anxiety, insomnia, and headaches.

Her specialized technique helps individuals who are suffering from drug cravings, stress, anxiety and panic attacks. Lisa offers her patients compassionate and personalized care, creating a safe, calm and relaxing environment for the sole purpose of healing the body, mind, and spirit.

Gina Simonelli

M.A. LMHC

Gina obtained her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy from Lesley University. She has been working in the field of mental health and trauma treatment for approximately 10 years, in psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment programs, skilled nursing facilities, addiction treatment centers, and community outreach. Providing individual and group support, Gina has worked with clients across the life span to develop a deeper sense of meaning and fulfillment at every age.

Each of us possesses the inner wisdom to guide our unique healing journey. Gina utilizes compassion, attunement, and mindfulness to help connect with this wisdom. Her therapeutic process is person-centered and strengths-based, drawing upon creativity, warmth, and humor in each clinical relationship.

Gina is trained in expressive arts therapy, mindfulness, body-oriented psychotherapy, and Brainspotting. Gina is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in Massachusetts and is currently working towards obtaining California licensure. She continues to maintain an active connection with the arts as a way to support both her personal and professional development.

Maia Akiva

Writing Teacher

Maia Akiva is a Motivational Speaker, Entertainer, Facilitator, a reality bender and an emotional researcher who dips into every flavor of human behavior and self-discovery using self-help fiction, magical realism, original visual storytelling and and emotional coaching.

Originally from Israel. Her award-winning self-help plays and short stories have been produced and published all over the United States in the past 10 years, inspiring hundreds of people to go on a journey of understanding, get to know themselves better and deeper, and ask themselves some important questions about their inner emotional lives, their struggles and their relationship with themselves. She led workshops of self-discovery at Models of Pride conference in the US, and at Brave Trails Camp, Resilience Treatment Center, Reconnect center and many more awesome places. She teaches meditation at The Den Meditation in Los Angeles. Maia’s creative work and her desire to help people take a look at themselves come from her own experience. After turning her back on herself for many years, suffering from depression and self-negativity she finally decided to start a new relationship with herself and turned her life around, living a life full of Joy and positivity.

Nadine Flowers

M.S., Associate Professional Clinical Counselor, CMT, EMDR, CRM

Nadine graduated her masters program in Clinical Psychology 2015 with a focus on healing from a holistic perspective; with an emphasis on trauma and the utilization of eco/wilderness therapy, somatic approaches, resiliency and post traumatic growth.

Nadine has had the privilege of working with clients who come to Reconnect since 2014.  Nadine’s personal approach is passionate, empowered, purposeful and authentic. When working with clients; compassion, empathy, and faith in the client and their process are primary.

Nadine works to nurture strengths, interests and passions while aiming to encourage radical self love and acceptance. Additionally, Nadine infuses eco therapy and nature based work, nested with various forms of resourcing to support clients in building self care skills and mindfulness to facilitate a deeper sense of connection and wellbeing to Self, that, in turn can support a person on their journey of ongoing healing and be- coming whole. Nadine is EMDR and CRM trained and continues her study of Somatic Based work as well.

Soleah Nicolis

CNHP, TRE, CEBT, C.Ht

Certified TRE® Provider & Resilience Tool Kit Facilitator

Soleah is a Certified TRE® (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises) Provider and graduated from the TRE® Los Angeles certification program. She also has extensive training and certifications in a variety of modalities some of which include Natural Health Practitioner, and Life Coach.

Soleah Nicolis found her way into the wellness field because of her own personal healing journey. She began her holistic health career in 2004, as an assistant to renowned holistic chiropractor Dr. Eileen Kenny. Under her guidance, Soleah assisted with clients of all ages, health concerns and backgrounds. Soleah’s curiosity about health, community, and service allowed her to apply her lifelong passion for helping people uncover and rediscover their wholeness.

Marina Dumanyan

Outpatient Program Manager

Marina has eight years of experience in the banking industry and close to a decade in the herbal industry providing elaborative instruction in the use of herbal therapy and understanding and practicing principles of preventive nutrition, eradicating the cause of disease utilizing wholesome foods and intensive detoxification programs, and healing the body through natural methods. She holds a Nutritional Herbalist certification from the School of Natural Healing and is pursuing a BS degree in natural health science, concentrating on clinical nutrition. She loves the outdoors, traveling, watching documentaries, reading, decoding ingredient lists, yoga, drawing, festivals, has great appreciation for cultural diversity and listening to music from all over the world. As program coordinator, she works closely with the clinical director as well as clinicians to ensure that clients are assigned the best possible schedule.

Sharon Holly

C-IAYT, YTRx-800c

Certified Yoga Therapist, The Resilience Toolkit Certified Facilitator, Certified TRE® Provider (Trauma / Tension Release Exercises)

Sharon is a graduate of the Loyola Marymount University Yoga Therapy Rx, TRE® Los Angeles and The Resilience Toolkit certification programs.

Sharon discovered TRE® and then The Resilience Toolkit on her own healing journey, discovering the benefits of turning on the body’s natural ability to restore itself to balance. She has built a private practice integrating yoga therapy and The Resilience Toolkit as needed for those who suffer from various illnesses, injuries, mood disorders and complex and/or shock trauma. Sharon believes that her role is to guide individuals into their own healing potential by creating a safe space whereby they can progress towards self-regulation and self-empowerment.

Sharon also teaches small therapeutic yoga groups and The Resilience Toolkit sessions at PCH Treatment Center as well as therapeutic yoga at several physical therapy offices, yoga studios, cancer centers and group classes in both public and private schools (preschool – 12th grade) throughout Los Angeles. Additionally, Sharon has experience with support in the 12-steps for addiction and codependency.

Caitlyn Budd

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Caitlyn is a somatic therapist specializing in trauma and works with disordered eating and self-injury behaviors.  Caitlyn received her degree from Phillips Graduate University’s Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy program in 2013 and has a specialization in the Post-Modern therapies.  In 2014, Caitlyn was trained in the Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM) and in 2016, she was trained in Pat Ogden’s Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, a body-oriented talk therapy.

In her work, Caitlyn is informed by the teachings of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and offers her clients a space to have a different experience of themselves and to find a greater sense of safety within their own body.

Jane Alt

Licensed AMFT
Eating Disorder Specialist

Jane Alt Clark is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. She earned her B.A. in sociology from the University of Colorado and her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine, since then has been working to provide each and every one of her clients with a safe space and a bright future at every level of care. She integrates complementary methodologies to offer a highly personal approach uniquely tailored to each individual.

Jane believes that eating disorder recovery is an integral part of healing as trauma and eating disorders are highly correlated. At Reconnect, Jane strives to bring equilibrium to her patients transitioning into life and works to broaden their experiences with food and eating as they move forward in their recovery. Jane is an active member of the Women’s Association of Addiction Treatment (WAAT) in Los Angeles, a member of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) and a member of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals.

Jessica Calgav

Clinical Support

Jessica graduated Magna Cum Laude and currently holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Riverside. Now, she is pursuing a Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology (PsyD). Jessica has been involved with the counseling and psychological services provided by the Board of the University of California, advocating and educating students to normalize mental health. Her passion currently resides working with individuals who have been affected by trauma as well as working with the underserved population.

Jessica has been working under the supervision of licensed psychologists and therapists for over two years, gaining experience and knowledge in trauma related disorders, crisis management, and grounding techniques. She previously worked at Reconnect in the residential facility as a Resident Advisor for 2 years catering to the adult female population that were survivors of trauma. Jessica currently also works in substance abuse treatment to provide case management services, implementing a treatment plan to individuals ages 18 to 26 years old. Jessica meets with clients weekly to maintain and work on goals set forth to increase their success in all areas of their life. She supplies guidance and support to all her clients while maintaining program guidelines and professional, yet empathetic boundaries.

Her academic research interests revolve around intergenerational trauma and how trauma affects brain development within cultural minorities. The focus of her research lies on how trauma affects individuals at the individual level, communal level, societal level, and the environmental level.

Karina Rayo

Program Assistant

Karina has over 12 years of experience working with executives and administrators. She is experienced in accounting, human resources, and client and vendor relations. Over the last 5 years, she has worked and volunteered with agencies that provide legal and social services to immigrants, homeless individuals, and survivors of domestic violence.

As a Program Assistant for Reconnect, Karina provides support to the Clinical Director and the Billing Coordinator. In addition, she is also the Health and Safety Officer and the Human Resources Coordinator. As part of the team, Karina provides most of the support during our expanding afternoon, evenings and weekend portions of our programming. Karina is currently pursuing a B.A. degree in Psychology and Gender Studies.

Day 1: Friday, November 15, 2019

8:15 – 9:00 – Registration

9:00-10:30

10:30-10:45  Break

10:45-12:30

12:30-1:30  Lunch

1:30-3:45

3:45-4:00  Break

4:00-5:00

 

Day 2: Saturday, November 16, 2019

9:00-10:30

10:30-10:45 – Break

10:45-12:30

12:30-1:30  Lunch

1:30-3:15

3:15-3:30  Break

3:30-5:00

Charles Cook

Recovery Coach

Charles is a Registered Addiction Specialist and has spent the last 7  years working in the substance abuse and mental health wellness field.  During that time he has acquired extensive exposure and experience in  a myriad of roles: Resident Manager at Promises Treatment Center,  Group Facilitator, Sober Companion, Case Manager, Recovery & Life  Coach, Sober Living Program Manager and Meditation Mentor. Applying  his training in DBT Skills, Motivational Interviewing, Vippasana  Meditation, Core Values and Goal Setting as well as his personal  recovery experience, Charles has developed a philosophy of connection  vs control in working one on one with clients. He believes that  providing a safe, reliable, and secure base affords the most effective  opportunity to support clients in self actualization.

Rhona Rosenblatt

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Rhona Rosenblatt is a Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Integrative Body Psychotherapy practitioner.  Using an integrative approach that favors somatic modalities, Rhona works with clients to explore what is held non-verbally in the body as an avenue toward healing and growth.  Using the body’s wisdom as a guide, therapeutic interventions address traumatic memory, post-traumatic stress, and nervous system dysregulation.  Rhona has found somatic work particularly effective with clients who have experienced acute and relational trauma, and clients often find a reduction in symptoms and an overall sense of improved well-being.

Rhona received her MSW from UCLA and is licensed as an LCSW.  Rhona has previously worked in the field of child abuse and neglect, foster care, and domestic and international adoption, including work with multi-racial and non-traditional families.  Rhona has presented at conferences and spoken on the subjects of adoption and foster care on NBC television and KPCC and KABC radio.  Rhona also worked as a school therapist in the Santa Monica-Malibu school district with children and families presenting with anxiety, panic, depression, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, family violence, and adjustment issues.

Jessica Improta

LCSW, EMDR

Jessica is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, with more than 10 years of clinical training and experience providing therapy to children, adults and families. Jessica has provided counseling to a range of populations and across multiple settings, from foster youth in LA County to sexual assault survivors at UCLA’s Rape Treatment Center.

As a fully-trained EMDR therapist, Jessica has a particular interest in helping clients heal from developmental trauma, and believes that current life stressors and challenges are often the unprocessed ghosts of past trauma and memories. Jessica specializes in working with binge eating disorder, body image issues, and bulimia and practices from a Health at Every Size perspective as well as being a certified Intuitive Eating counselor. Jessica offers a warm, congenial presence, compassion, and humor in the therapy room, and views the relationship between client and therapist as ultimately one of the most important factors in healing. Jessica graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Molecular Biology and received her MSW at UCLA.

 

Sherry Alamdari

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Sherry is Level II trained in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, and working towards certification.  Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a modality which blends somatic awareness with mindfulness, attachment work, and neuroscience.  She loves using this modality in her trauma work as she has witnessed healing happens as a result of bringing awareness to the wisdom within a client’s body.  She interned under the guidance of Bonnie Goldstein, Ph.D. at Lifespan Psychological Center.

Sherry assists current Sensorimotor Psychotherapy training at both levels and continues to stay active in staying informed and educated about advancements in the field of psychotherapy.  She earned her BA in Communication Arts at Loyola Marymount University and her MA In Psychology at Phillips Graduate University.

Caroline Lawson

Massage Therapist

Caroline developed an interest in Massage Therapy when she was working as Wellness Director and Yoga and Meditation teacher at a drug and alcohol treatment facility in New Jersey.  She witnessed the immediate effects of massage on clients’ mood and attitude, and realized that was what she wanted to make part of her life’s work. She is a graduate of the Cortiva Institute School of Massage and Bodywork in King of Prussia, PA. Caroline has been practicing massage for several years, first in Philadelphia, and for the past three years in California, in both treatment and studio settings.  Her passion is helping clients integrate muscular wellness with relaxation and self-care.  Her favorite expression is, “Massage doesn’t have to hurt to work.”  In her spare time she enjoys learning about nutrition, cooking, studying for her Recovery Coach certification, hiking, rock climbing, and days at the beach.

Sarah Patterson

Certified Yoga Therapist
C-IAYT, E-RYT, AHC

Sarah is a Certified Yoga Therapist, trauma-informed yoga teacher, and Ayurvedic Health Counselor. Years ago, on her own path to healing from trauma, Sarah personally experienced the therapeutic power of yoga and body-based mindfulness. Since then, she has dedicated herself to assisting others on their healing journeys by offering guidance in these integrative practices in treatment centers and private practice. Sarah loves learning and is constantly engaged in continuing education in the field of somatic therapy and healing. She also frequently assists courses at her Yoga Therapy alma mater: Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. Sarah received her certification through the International Association of Yoga Therapists, and has focused Yoga Therapy training in recovery from addiction and eating disorders, and processing trauma. In addition to her somatic work, Sarah also has an extensive background in art and loves to paint, draw, take photos, and create beautiful things from clay. She loves spending time in nature and with animals, and enjoys reading, cooking, and designing websites.

Laura Gajda

Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist

Laura Gajda has a background in eating disorders and mental health diagnoses. Laura was the Adolescent Dietitian at Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders and specializes in educating and working with families of adolescents with eating disorders.  She also specializes in working with adults that have eating disorders and building sustainability in their own recovery. Laura graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelors of Science in Dietetics where she also completed her internship.  She looks forward to providing individualized care to each and every client. She helps each client build their own sense of autonomy around food and decrease the power that food can have over their life.

Anita Patel

Certified Massage Therapist

Anita is a Certified Massage Therapist in the state of California and has been National Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork since 2008. She uses massage and bodywork to fulfill her passion of assisting others to decrease stress levels, relax the nervous system, relieve pain, trauma and physical disabilities. She is trained in somatic bodywork, a holistic mind-body approach used to release, integrate and heal emotions that remain in the body from past negative experiences. Consequently, restoring wholeness and well-being. Clients frequently comment on their increased ability to handle stress more effectively. She works with addiction, PTSD trauma, sexual abuse, and dissociative personality disorder. She also has experience working with special needs and terminally ill children and their families, in a Children’s Hospice Program. Anita is an Ayurvedic Health practitioner and has taken 200-hour Yoga Teacher training. Drawing on these holistic modalities she is able to assess dietary habits, lifestyle choices, and mental states. Thereby, assisting clients maintain a healthy life, eliminate impurities, reduce stress, and disease prevention. Prior to 2008 Anita has worked as a Radiation Therapist in Oncology both in hospital and private clinical environment for over 14 years. She has volunteered at Children’s Hospital Orange County, with the Homeless in Orange and Los Angeles counties. She recently volunteered at a global outreach program teaching and giving massage in India.

Samantha Giertych

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Samantha Giertych has a background in the treatment of eating disorders, substance use, and mental health. Samantha graduated with Distinction from the College of
Human Ecology at Cornell University, and completed her dietetic internship at the City University of New York, Hunter College, prior to relocating to Southern California. Since 2013, Samantha has provided individualized nutrition counseling and nutrition education to clients and groups within the mental health field. Samantha’s journey into healthcare began with a passion for helping those in need, and has sought to provide quality nutrition care services to all who require them, regardless of financial or insurance constraints. She has worked with multiple eating disorder and mental health treatment centers – The Renfrew Center of New York, Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders, and
La Ventana Treatment Programs. Her specialty areas include intuitive eating, ERP, severe and enduring eating disorders (SEED), compassion-focused and values-based care, relational work, DBT skills for prevention of disordered eating behaviors, and sustainable and individualized treatment models. Throughout her time working in
treatment, Samantha has observed the necessity of a multi-disciplinary approach in producing positive medical and mental health outcomes for individuals. She is appreciative to be able to support Reconnect staff and clients in seeking holistic health and well-being.