Article provided by: Stepping Stones Pediatric Therapy

Children Mental Health

Children Mental Health

Mental health problems can affect anyone, from children to older adults. Children mental health is how kids regulate their emotions and behaviors. It is normal for your child to feel sad, anxious, or distressed from time to time, but it becomes serious when they feel upset more than they feel happy. Mental health disorders in children often cause delays or disruptions in development. In addition, they may not have the appropriate responses or ways of thinking for their age. If your child is suffering from mental health problems it could negatively impact every aspect of their lives. This is why it is important to get them help at a place like Stepping Stones when they need it. To do this, you have to be able to spot if they are struggling.

What Are The Most Common Mental Disorders?

The first step to noticing if your kid could have a mental disorder is to know the common ones to look out for.

Anxiety: anxiety disorders or defined by having intense worries or fears. Worrying is normal, but if it causes your child to miss out on normal social functions, it could be a serious problem.

Depression: if your child feels sad and has lost interest in things they used to enjoy, it might be a good idea to make an appointment at Stepping Stones, because they could be suffering from depression. If they feel that sadness, but it is also accompanied by rapid or severe mood swings, they could have bipolar disorder.

PTSD: If your child has recently gone through something traumatic, they could develop post-traumatic stress disorder as a response. This can lead to disruptive behaviors, nightmares, anxiety, and prolonged distress.

Eating disorders: Eating disorders lead people to become preoccupied with an “ideal” body type, and they can develop unhealthy eating habits in order to reach that ideal. Many people don’t think children can develop eating disorders like adults do, but they can, especially teenagers.

What Signs Should I Look Out For?

There are several signs to look for if you suspect your child is suffering from mental health problems. Many of these symptoms might appear for several different disorders. These signs include; prolonged sadness (lasting over two weeks), being withdrawn, weight loss, attempting to avoid school, or letting their grades drop.

A few other examples are; drastic mood changes, irritability, outbursts, and self-harm. After noticing any of the signs in this guide, it is extremely important to make sure your child has the help and resources they need.

How Do I Get My Child Help?

If your child is experiencing mental health problems, it is important to take them somewhere such as Stepping Stones Pediatric Therapy. They have licensed mental health professionals who can help your child, as well as the rest of your family, to work through mental health problems. Even if you aren’t sure exactly what your child is feeling, making an appointment can be helpful.

Contact Stepping Stones Pediatric Therapy to learn more about our therapy services or schedule your first appointment: (509) 209-7429/ https://ssptherapy.com/contact/

We welcome your comments!

Dr. Karol Darsa

Psy.D. – PSY19847

Director

Dr. Darsa is a licensed psychologist, an author, creator of RITTM, and founder of Reconnect. She has more than 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.

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 Master Level in Brainspotting and in EMDR. In addition, she completed 2 years of Somatic Experiencing and 1 year of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. With each advanced training, Dr. Darsa developed a deeper understanding of trauma processes and healing, and developed Reconnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Model  which is an n integration of evidence-based, cutting-edge trauma treatment models.

In 2012 Dr. Darsa became the co-creator of Invisible War Recovery, a program designed to treat military sexual trauma survivors.  She has been interviewed by Katie Couric, Susan Ortolano, and Lisa Tahir, and was featured on the Voice of America. She lectures about trauma treatment at various universities such as the University of Southern California, UCLA and Cal Lutheran. She also speaks at treatment centers and conferences.

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. Thus, Dr. Darsa created RITTM to close those missing gaps in trauma treatment. 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, A52516

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 90984

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.

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, LMFT80426

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.

Janice is RITTM Trained.

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.

Ben is RITTM Informed.

Lisa Schwartz

L.Ac.,Certified Life Coach

Licensed Acupuncturist Specializing in Emotional Trauma, 7349

Lisa Schwartz is a California state licensed acupuncturist and herbalist specializing in treating emotional trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety, stress, chronic pain and headaches.Lisa Schwartz is also a certified cognitive psychology-based Life Coach. Through her unique experience of mind and body training, she provides somatically informed strategies that help Reconnect clients create actionable steps to achieve their goals while in-treatment and as they transition back into life, integrating new coping skills.

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.

Lisa is RITTM Informed.

Gina Simonelli

M.A. LMHC, LPCC8204

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.

Gina is RITTM Certified.

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.

Maia is RITTM Informed.

Nadine Flowers

M.S., Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, LPCC8746, 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.

Nadine is RITTM Certified.

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.

Soleah is RITTM Informed.

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.

Sharon is RITTM Informed.

Jessica Calgav

Clinical Support

Certified Trauma Professional (CTP)

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 three 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 has also worked in substance abuse treatment providing case management services and implementing treatment plans to individuals ages 18 to 26 years old. Jessica would meet with clients weekly to maintain and work on goals set forth to increase their success in all areas of their life. She supplied 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. Currently, the focus of her dissertation is centered around the up and coming field of perinatal mental health.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Jessica is RITTM Certified.

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, LCSW 20553

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.

Rhona is RITTM Trained.

Sherry Alamdari

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, LMFT 106998

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.

Sherry is RITTM Trained.

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 CAMTC 4220

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.

Anita is RITTM Informed.

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.

Rebecca Berg

Dietitian, CDR ID# 86096203

Rebecca Berg is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in eating disorder recovery, intuitive eating, and weight-inclusive nutrition therapy. Rebecca helps clients re-discover what it means to be attuned to their body’s needs as they work to heal from their trauma. Rebecca uses MI, DBT, and CBT skills in her counseling interventions to reduce the use of eating disorder behaviors and develop a sustainable and peaceful relationship with food. Rebecca’s approach is client-centered, compassionate, and humorous.

A graduate of Northwestern University in Chicago, Rebecca found herself working in the field of non-profit marketing and event planning in New York City. She soon discovered that she was passionate about food justice, public health nutrition, and Health at Every Size® (HAES). Continuing her journey, she returned to school and completed a Master’s of Science in Nutrition from the Hunter College School of Urban Public Health. She then relocated to Southern California, completing the Veterans Affairs of Greater Los Angeles Dietetic Internship program. Rebecca is deeply curious about each clients lived experience and is appreciative to be supporting the Reconnect team.

Rebecca is RITTM Informed.

David Grill

EMDR, Primary Therapist LMFT17346

David Grill has been a licensed psychotherapist with over 35 years of specialization in the treatment of trauma as well as other difficulties and struggles that result in fear and a disconnect, with ourselves and others, and with life. He has extensive training and certifications in both cognitive behavioral and somatic treatment approaches and is one of the pioneers in understanding the importance of working with the psychological and physiological symptoms and difficulties of traumatic stress and PTSD.

He has been a faculty member and teacher/trainer for Somatic Experiencing. He was a faculty member for The Institute for Trauma & Loss In Children, and a national trainer and consultant supervisor for their National Certification Program. He was a faculty member and teacher for the Graduate Institute of Santa Barbara, and has presented at major conferences, and has conducted debriefings and trainings for major corporations, businesses, and schools.

David’s life work has been devoted to helping heal trauma and empower others. He specializes in working with strengths and resources to provide the means of building a sense of agency. He believes that connecting with ourselves and with others is vital for living a life we all want. He also believes that connecting with one’s heart, which can often feel so frightening, can be a most rewarding experience for our commitment and hard work.

David is RITTM Certified.

Karina Rayo

Admissions Manager

SEP in Training

Karina has over 13 years of experience working with executives and administrators. Her experience also includes knowledge in various departments such as accounting, human resources and client and vendor relations. She has worked and volunteered in direct services with diverse populations and ages including low-income persons, disabled persons, the LGBTQIA community, immigrants, monolingual Spanish speakers, survivors of domestic violence, unhoused individuals, and persons with mental health disorders. She has experience in crisis intervention and de-escalation, conflict resolution, personnel management and training, policy development, and quality improvement.

Currently Karina is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner in training while also pursuing a B.A. degree in Psychology and Gender/Queer Studies. Her ultimate goal is to become an SEP and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in trauma and LGBTQIA affirmative therapy. As a gender noncomfirming Latinx queer immigrant it is important for Karina that she continue to work with underserved communities in a therapeutic setting, specifically with the Latinx and Queer communities.

Pronouns: She/Her/Them/They

Karina is RITTM Certified.

Daniel Campos

Primary Therapist

Daniel believes in a holistic approach to healing and performance including mind, body, and soul which facilitates internal change and progress. Based on his personal and professional experience he has realized that healing and internal growth is connected to all aspects of a person, not just the cognitive mind.
Daniel is a former college and professional basketball player. He received a Master’s degree in Counseling with specialization in drug addiction from Pace University in New York in 2012. Daniel is a trauma therapist with knowledge on transgenerational trauma. He spent the last 8 years in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil having a private practice working with a variety of people with varying degrees of mental and mood disorders. He has been trained in Brainspotting since 2014 along with other modalities such as Neurolinguistic Programing, Ericksonian Approach, and Whole Approach to Mind Trauma Therapy. Daniel is also a certified HeartMath Institute trainer providing workshops and individual sessions teaching Heart Coherence Techniques for emotional wellbeing. Lastly, he is versed in Sports Psychology and enjoys working with athletes and anyone interested in enhancing their performance through mental skills and mental preparation.

Daniel is RITTM Certified.

Enrique Munoz

Program Assistant

Enrique graduated and currently holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Riverside. At the moment, trying to pursue a master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy. Enrique aspires to work with the Latinx community in hope of providing counseling and support services for struggling families. His intent is to help individuals who have been affected by trauma and bring means to these individuals who do not have them.

Enrique has been involved with educating individuals with autism and other intellectual disabilities. He has provided guidance and support to these clients by educating them on basic life skills and coping strategies. Creating connections and establishing boundaries, he was able to create a safe and professional environment for his clients. Furthermore, he builds relationships that cultivated into a thriving and overall, positive experience.

He loves traveling to many different places and experiencing the culture around him. From the food to the music, Enrique has a great appreciation of cultural diversity and to the people surrounding that. He likes to watch films, cook, run, hike, and embrace life. As a Program Assistant, he works closely with the administrative team and clinical team to ensure that clients are receiving the best experience while at Reconnect.

Pronouns: He/His/Him

Lauren Prendergast

Yoga Specialist, Yoga Alliance 152615

Lauren is a trauma-informed yoga instructor and a soon to be certified yoga therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT).

Lauren initially became interested in yoga and its self-care benefits as a result of her personal discoveries while healing her own trauma. During her deep work and research, she found that deliberate breath practice, postures and mindfulness tools could help to regulate the nervous system and aid in self-soothing, creating the foundation needed for true healing. Lauren understands the importance of connecting back to one’s body and she loves working with clients to help them to meet these deeply personal needs.

In an effort to help those in her community suffering from anxiety, addiction and other illnesses, Lauren has presented workshops addressing issues like Yoga for Overwhelm and Yoga of Recovery. She is dedicated to continuing her education but also knows the importance of making time to create and nurture her own practice. Lauren loves music and values time outdoors, as well as any opportunity to draw or paint, and she loves to dance.

E-RYT 200, RYT 500

Lauren is RITTM Informed.

Robyn Turner

MFT

As a registered Associate MFT, Robyn trained at Malibu School District Wellness Center and private school in West Los Angeles working with students who had emotional, behavioral, academic or social concerns. She utilized alternative therapeutic modalities to facilitate personal transformation and development and also worked extensively with their families, treatment facilities and personal psychotherapists.

Her background also includes spending over 17 years as a yoga and meditation teacher helping others to empower themselves, gain internal strength and calmness, and develop techniques for self-care. She is also a certified CASA – court-appointed special advocate for foster children and an educational docent at The Getty Villa in Malibu.

“My work has been incredibly rewarding and has inspired my dedication to be of service for the welfare of others. I bring an open, creative and nurturing perspective to my work and certified in the RIITM model to help others overcome obstacles and make a difference in their lives.”

Stacie Yeldell

MA, MTBC, AVPT

Stacie Aamon Yeldell, MA, MTBC, AVPT is a Board Certified Music Psychotherapist and sound healing vocalist with 15 years of experience in addiction and mental health treatment. She has treated tens of thousands of individuals in dozens of institutions, hospitals and treatment centers. Stacie’s transformative work at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles was featured on ABC News. She received a Masters degree in Music Therapy from New York University and a certification in Sound and Music Healing from the Open Center in New York City. She is also a Vocal

Psychotherapist (AVPT), which emphasizes the use of the voice as a path to wellness and healing. Stacie is a pioneer and thought leader in her field and recently introduced her customized mindfulness modality, The Amontra Method, which incorporates live acoustic guitar, song and mantra, as well as guided visualizations. Stacie is a staunch advocate for music and the creative arts as healing modalities. She is passionate and dedicated to radically empowering humanity through her workshops, trainings, retreats and private sessions.

Laura O’Loughlin

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and EMDR

Dr. O’Loughlin is a licensed clinical psychologist. She blends an interpersonal-style therapy with mind-body modalities to help clients untangle and release old scars.

Laura welcomes those from a variety of backgrounds and lifestyles — while focusing on each person’s unique challenges, she fosters a collaborative, warmhearted connection. She has an affinity for working with those who struggle with recurring relationship troubles, navigating rocky life transitions, low self-esteem, and ADHD.

With a doctorate from The Chicago School of Prof Psych, Laura also has intensive training in insight-oriented, psychodynamic therapy at the Wright Institute Los Angeles and The Saturday Center for Psychotherapy where she developed a love of group process and dream analysis. In addition to studying Dr. Karol Darsa’s RITTM model for trauma, Laura is trained in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and EMDR.

For each client Laura holds the intention of alleviating unnecessary suffering and increasing the capacity for ease and joy.

Tara Vatankhah

RITTM Certified therapist and Certified Trauma Professional

Tara is a registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist working under the supervision of licensed psychologist Dr. Karol Darsa. Tara earned both her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from University of Southern California. She is a certified yoga instructor and incorporates mindfulness in her therapeutic work with clients. 

Tara is interested in holding a compassionate and non-judgmental space for her clients to heal from past traumas, delve deeper into self-discovery, and reconnect with their inner wisdom or truest self. In addition to healing, she intends for therapy to be a space for expansion and growth. Tara’s style is collaborative, strength-based, client centered, relational, and solution oriented. Through a trauma informed and social justice lens, she utilizes mindfulness practices, somatic awareness, narrative frameworks & other evidence-based modalities to help her clients create and lead more fulfilling lives. 

Prior to Reconnect, Tara worked at Family Service of Santa Monica, a Department of Mental Health contracted agency, providing therapeutic services to children, teens, individuals, couples and families with a wide range of presenting problems. Through working in community mental health, Tara has become even more passionate about providing personalized quality mental healthcare to diverse clients. 

Tara grew up in Tehran, Iran and has been living in the United States for 10 years. Having the lived experience of both collectivistic and individualistic cultures helps Tara understand those struggling to reconcile the two. She can provide therapy in Farsi in addition to English.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Tara is a RITTM Certified therapist and Certified Trauma Professional.

Jael Flores

LMFT (LMFT 119271)

Jael is a bilingual Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Jael loves working with teens, adults, families, and couples. Jael has clinical experience in treating trauma, obsessive-compulsive disorder, transitions and adjustment, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. Jael has experience working in school-based programs and community mental health. Jael believes everyone should have a safe and healing place to work through life’s difficulties.
Jael earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and received her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Jael is trained in the Reconnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Model (RITTM), is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT), and trained in school-based Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Jael works with individuals using cognitive behavioral therapy, integrative therapeutic work, and mindfulness-based interventions.
Jael enjoys traveling, camping, climbing, and spending time with her family. As an avid hiker, Jael has hiked all over the country and enjoys outdoor activities during her free time.

Lisa Maria Walton

RITTM

Lisa Maria considers herself a “late bloomer”, receiving her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch LA in 2016, at the age of 56. Before that, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the SF Art Institute in 1985. In between; Lisa used the time to accrue many credits in the University of Life.
As a clinician, she trained at the Cancer Support Community Benjamin Center, working with clients and their families who are challenged with cancer. Lisa Maria also trained at the Southern California Counseling Center; there she became educated and uses regularly, the Community Resilience Model, Trauma Resilience Model, and attachment-focused EMDR. Lisa Maria continues to use and expand on her clinical skills of trauma-informed somatic practices while nurturing the therapeutic relationship with her clients.
She reflects: “What I see, through the work, is that the things that hold us back are not to fix or get rid of but to change one’s relationship with, and that is a beautiful thing”.
Lisa Maria is RITTM certified

Mahogany Woods

RITTM

Mahogany is an Associate Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Associate License Clinical Counselor with a Master of Arts in Psychology from National University. She is currently in training at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology to receive her Psy. D in Applied Clinical Counseling. She is trained and certified in the RITTM model.
Mahogany works collaboratively with clients to re-establish connection to self and others. She is devoted to helping heal trauma and empower others through re-establish internal and external safety. She believes in developing coping strategies that help individuals increase their quality of life and increase a sense of control. Mahogany’s personal approach is noble, inspiring, meaningful and altruistic. When working with clients she is considerate, understanding, and passionate to process of develop ways to dealing with Trauma.

Mahogany became a therapist after spending many years working with individuals and families using Applied Behavioral Analysis and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and has seeing the transformation of clients using psychotherapy. She has had firsthand experience using RITTM modalities in the treatment of trauma.