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When a current crisis stirs past trauma —here’s how to get control of yourself when everything else is out of control

In March 2020, much of the world shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When stay-at-home orders were first mandated, reactions varied. Most people worried to some degree about their health and their financial future. However, there were also extreme reactions. On the one end, those in denial, minimizing what was happening, or using humor to avoid it. At the other end of the spectrum were those who were not only distressed by the current crisis, but also plagued with memories from past traumas. This group in particular struggled with debilitating anxiety and depression.

For survivors of past trauma, depression, anxiety and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increased even more as any current stressor can trigger memories and feelings of past trauma. For example, someone who came from a broken home, might struggle with community stay at home orders during the pandemic. Being forced to stay at home as an adult could trigger childhood memories of being unable to escape dysfunction or emotional or physical abuse. Individuals who become ill during the pandemic, might have extra difficulty because of being reminded of being powerless as a child while, for instance, taking care of an alcoholic parent who was often sick. Or being bedridden with childhood flu or serious illnesses. Worries about finances might stir memories of witnessing domestic violence when a parent lost their job.

While everyone is dealing with the Covid-19 crisis in their own way, anyone with underlying trauma issues is likely to feel as though the world is crashing down.

Bouts of stress, depression, and anxiousness that many normally feel in response to a crisis is amplified exponentially for someone already struggling with trauma. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. Crises are sudden and unpredictable. Nobody knows what to expect. That can be disconcerting for anyone, but for someone with a history of trauma, a current crisis can create compounding stress. Trauma itself is usually sudden and always unpredictable. This is true, for example, for anyone who experienced inconsistent parenting and crises because of living with an alcoholic or mentally unstable parent. A current crisis can cause that person to feel as if they were back in their childhood when their parent might become violent, abusive, or neglectful.
  2. Confusion. Lack of information, misinformation, or confusing information can trigger  stress in anyone. When leadership gives mixed messages, everyone becomes more confused.
  3. Feeling out of control. Anyone who has experienced trauma, didn’t have control over the situation. With the intrusion of this new, unknown virus, we must wait months or years for the doctors and scientists to get control of it. In the mean time, taking safety precautions like washing hands, is the best we can do. Not knowing personal risk factors, treatment options, and so on, increases everyone’s stress.
  4. Feeling like it’s never going to end. When there is not a predictable end point to something like Covid-19, it can feel like it’s going to last forever. And that can stir feelings of hopelessness.
  5. Grief. Anyone might feel grief even if they have never experienced trauma in their life. To one degree or another, everyone is grieving for what life once was, the “old normal.” Every community has lost a sense of normalcy with social distancing and shelter in place orders. For children, it can be especially challenging as they don’t understand why they no longer can be with their friends or play at the playground. Someone who usually finds walking on the beach or hiking a favorite trail to be a soothing ritual then all of a sudden loses access, experiences a normal feeling of loss: something once cherished has become out of reach.
  6. Isolation. As humans, we aren’t meant to be alone. We need connection with others. Social distancing has caused many people to isolate and as a result, feel disconnected from others, and perhaps even from themselves.
  7. Addiction. Many people who already struggle with addiction, may find it easier to fall back into or increase addictive behavior. Being isolated from others can cause people to lose their sense of purpose so they look for solace in alcohol or other drugs.

Collective trauma

The Covid-19 pandemic is a collective trauma, that is a trauma shared by a group of people. In this case, the worldwide magnitude of this trauma is something like we’ve never experienced in most of our lifetimes. While there are a few advantages to shared experiences (i.e. “we are all in this together” mentality), mainly there are disadvantages. When a collective trauma like Covid-19 happens, it’s difficult to escape it because everyone is talking about it. When the whole world is in turmoil, it’s hard to stay calm and clear thinking.

Feelings like anxiety and depression can be quite contagious. Currently the most discussed topic is the pandemic. There’s almost no way to avoid it. Under normal circumstances, individuals in stressful situations often look for refuge in other people or in other places. However, during a collective stress like this where the stress is everywhere, refuge might be difficult to find.

The first week the stay at home restrictions were announced,  one of my clients expressed her concern: “Everyone’s traumatized,  even my support system is traumatized.  Who am I going to go to now for comfort?” I assured her that although I was stressed, I still felt strong enough to be able to help her. That helped. She needed to know that there was someone who could hold strong and be the rock and be a kind of refuge. 

 Being overly empathetic towards others can affect your own well-being. It is possible to pick up other people’s stress by feeling so bad about their situation. A big danger of collective trauma is collective sadness which can feel like you are being smothered by a blanket of sadness.

What to do?

Over my decades of experience as a trauma psychologist, I have seen how trauma often creates a disconnect inside a person. Trauma can make you feel disconnected from your body, from your heart, mind, loved ones, God, or spirituality—eventually from who you truly are. Your whole self.

As the Covid-19 virus hit and spread, combined with individual, community, and governmental responses, it provided a “perfect storm” for trauma. Trauma symptoms became exacerbated in those who had already experienced it, and developed anew in people who may not have experienced trauma before.  This has led to many more people becoming disconnected from themselves, their families, their communities, their faith, and so on.

Below are the five of the steps I have discovered that will help to empower you during this crisis, and help you to reconnect.

Step 1: Understand trauma

To understand yourself and to normalize your feelings, you need to know what trauma is and how it affects your physical and emotional well-being. Many people are frustrated because they haven’t been able to overcome past trauma on their own. They somehow believe that they should be over symptoms when much time has passed; trauma is complicated and individuals have a tendency to beat themselves up if they can’t just “get over” their trauma. However, trauma healing requires patience and (usually) support from others. A couple of points of sound advice:

  • Don’t make drastic life changes in the midst of any crisis
  • Don’t give up on yourself
  • Don’t be surprised if your past trauma feels as if it is happening again, triggered by the current crisis.

Step 2: Reconnect to your mind

During a traumatic event, the reasoning part of your brain becomes less accessible and makes it difficult for you to think straight. This causes you to disconnect from your mind. After the fact, high stress can cause the same kind of disconnect. Practicing mindfulness is one way to reconnect. Stay focused on the present—you are in the here and now—instead of paying attention to the future or the past. If you do that, your thoughts will stop racing. Traumatized people often struggle with self-compassion because of deep shame or self-hatred. It can help to make peace with yourself, accepting what was. Watch out for your negative self-talk, as that can make you feel worse.

Step 3: Reconnect to your body

Most people are not used to thinking of their body as contributing to their emotional well-being. They see their bodies as only physical. They don’t understand or feel the connection between their body and emotions. But, there’s a vital connection between the two. Trauma may have disconnected you from your body through dissociation.Someone who has been under threat, might learn to deal with the pain and protect themselves by leaving their body. We humans have the capacity to decrease our pain by “checking out.” You can reconnect to your body by exercising regularly. Mindful walks, yoga, and tai chi are some of the ways to calm your body and your nervous system.

Try out this simple grounding activity

  • Sit comfortably in a chair in an upright position. Make an effort to reduce your thoughts so you can better pay attention to your senses.
  • Start by first looking around the room while breathing normally. Notice what you see: the colors, the shapes, and anything else that gets your attention. Make sure you move your neck slowly from right to left as this helps orient you to your surroundings.
  • Next, pay attention to the sounds you hear—voices, cars, birds, any kind of sound.
  • Then tune into your sense of smell. Is there any smell that you pick up? Are you able to breathe through your nose? Maybe go to the kitchen to smell your favorite spice.
  • Next shift your attention now to your sense of taste. What do you notice? Maybe you have just eaten something and you can still taste the food in your mouth. Or you can take a piece of chocolate or a raisin. Pay attention to that.
  • Lastly, pay attention to all this at once—what you see, the sounds you hear, what you smell, the taste in your mouth. Resist the desire to analyze and simply stay focused on what your senses perceive instead. Then pause, and ask, “How am I feeling?” If you feel uncomfortable, anxious, or scared, stop and don’t judge yourself. But you might discover that when you focus on your current sensations, you feel calmer and more present.

Step 4: Reconnect to your heart/emotion

Stay connected to your heart by validating your feelings and not judging your reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic. Share your feelings with those who will not judge you. Don’t attempt to numb your feelings with drugs, drinking, or overeating. Writing down your feelings can be a helpful way to deal with the stress and trauma. When you talk or write about what happened (or is happening) to you, you access the more logical part of your brain. And you can access the more emotional part of your brain by writing or talking about your feelings or expressing them, for example, through art.

Here’s an exercise you can try to help you reconnect to yourself. When you wake up, write down your thoughts and feelings in a free-form style, nonstop without thinking. Write whatever comes to your mind, and if nothing comes to your mind, feel free to write, “I don’t know what to write…this is stupid…I don’t feel anything…” and so on. You may be surprised that you start getting in touch with your feelings as you do daily writings this way.

Step 5: Reconnect to spirituality/community/nature/family

Stay connected to your loved ones and your community. If social distancing is recommended, call or text, write letters or emails, or connect via video media all on a regular basis. Connect to nature. Find ways to be outdoors and notice the beauty of nature. And don’t forget to connect with your spirituality or God in whatever way is meaningful to you. Many religious and spiritual groups have regular meetings and services online.

The truth is every reaction to this and other crises is individual and everyone’s feelings should be respected rather than judged. So be gentle with yourself no matter what. We all need support now more than ever (and that includes supporting ourselves internally). As Buddha stated, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

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Ben has been working in the Trauma and Addiction field for 15 years combining Neurofeedback and Life Coaching. Ben started the Neurofeedback clinic at Bell Shelter and has worked with hundreds of homeless veterans over the years. Most of these veterans are challenged with PTSD and addiction issues. Some of the symptoms include lack of sleep, panic attacks, impulse control, chronic pain,nightmares, flashbacks, hyper alertness, excessive worry and many other anxiety related symptoms. Ben has helped Veterans and Private clients improve memory, word finding, creativity and executive thought process. He has experience teaching anger management, sleep hygiene, overcoming procrastination and self-care. Ben also incorporates DBT, CBT and Somatic practices to help clients operate at a regulated and balanced state.

William Neese

Certified Neurofeedback Practitioner

Before Reconnect, William worked at EEG Institute as a Neurofeedback Clinician. During his time there, he worked to reduce a wide range of symptoms for his clients. Those symptoms included, but were not limited to: anxiety, sleep disturbances, anger, headaches, seizures, attention problems and emotional reactivity issues. He has experience working with anxiety disorders, bi-polar disorder, PTSD, autism, OCD and ADD/ADHD. William uses Neurofeedback to help his clients increase self-regulation in their brains, which allows for additional stability and calming.

Shana Bujake


Shana Bujake is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist whose person centered approach helps clients to create a sense of empowerment and a positive self image. She earned her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, with an emphasis in spiritual and depth psychology. She is nationally certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT), RITTM, Reiki and was trained in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

Shana is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but spent most of her childhood years in Clearwater Beach, Florida. She moved to Brentwood in 2004 where she raised her two children who are now in their late teens. In her free time she enjoys yoga, hiking, and spending time with her family and Bobo the kitten.

Gina Simonelli

MA, LPCC, Brainspotting, RITTM

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. 

Gina utilizes compassion, attunement, and mindfulness to help clients connect with their inner wisdom that guides each person’s unique healing journey. 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, Brainspotting levels 1 and 2, and RITTM, and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. 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.

Maia is RITTM Informed.

Sezin Hason

Having formally trained in Economics and Graphic Design, Sezin worked with the independent film industry in worldwide distribution and production for about 15 years. In her mid 30s, she started to question her career choices and with that came lots of inner research and self development courses. Having always interested in health and wellness, she became a Certified Holistic Health Coach.

Sezin found helping people achieve physical health very rewarding but when she got diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, she learned the hard way that physical health without mental and emotional health was not enough. She soon established her company MindBodySoul Healing Center.

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Through her own company Sezin continues to see coaching clients and facilitate corporate workshops/trainings on various topics. Sezin is a specialist at Reconnect IntegrativeTrauma Treatment Center doing individual and group HeartMath and Mindfulness sessions.

Sezin is RITTM informed.

Ruhi Bhakta


Hi, I’m Ruhi (Ridhdhi), a certified yoga instructor and a licensed massage therapist

I began this journey as a young girl with my chaperone, my 100-year-old grandfather who cultivated in me, a holistic approach to maintaining a healthy mind and body. Meditation, yoga and an ayurvedic way of eating had been a part of my daily regime ever since I was young. It wasn’t until I moved to the U.S. in my teenage years that I recognized that my normal way of life wasn’t the normal for many in the US. As I learned throughout the years, my normal way of living was in fact a sought after lifestyle in the western world. 

NUTRITION: I have acquired experience and qualifications in nutrition (BS in Nutrition, CSULA), I started as a nutritionist at WIC (women, Infant and children center). Simultaneously, I also conducted many seminars on health and healing, such as Nutrition on Diabetes and Hypertension, Nutrition for Mental health and many more for the general public in my community. 

YOGA & MEDITATION: I have acquired experience and qualifications in breathing and meditation techniques (Art of Living program, Los Angeles CA), a 200 hours certification in yoga instruction (Yoga and Ayurveda Center) and a certification in Trauma-Conscious Yoga Method to receive the knowledge necessary to work with trauma survivors in diverse settings in a way that is empowering, healing and resists re-traumatization.

As a yoga instructor, I support my clients at The Reconnect Center by providing them with a safe, supportive space to reclaim their bodies and empower their own healing and trauma resolution through yoga sessions.  I also host zoom classes for seniors, teaching chair yoga and for busy mothers, holding space for them as they carve out some “me” time for themselves. 

MASSAGE: I have acquired experience and qualifications in a State Certification in Massage therapy (CMT, Kali Massage Institute and Somatic Therapies) specializing in neuro-muscular therapy and trigger point therapy.  As a massage therapist since 2007, I have helped many people recover from their injuries and traumas. I have also worked as massage therapist instructor at the Burke Williams Academy, teaching over 500 hours in their massage therapy program, guiding my students into their career path to become successful massage therapists. Now, at The Reconnect Center, I practice massage therapy using restorative practices as tools, supporting clients in accessing a state of potent healing.

Finally, by combining my skills & experience in yoga & massage therapy, I wish to continue my efforts in helping people reconnect with themselves, bringing the attention inwards, taking control of their body and mind, to slow down, to breathe and to be present.

I believe that a balance in physical, mental and spiritual health is vital for any individual who wants to live their life fully.

With Gratitude,
Ruhi Bhakta

Anne Platt

C-IAYT, YTRx-500c

Certified Yoga Therapist, RITTM Informed, Yoga for Mental Health Certification, Long Exhale Yoga Therapy Certification – 300 hours

An accomplished Yoga Therapist and teacher, Anne has developed and managed Yoga programs for a wide range of organizations and studios – including the Tower Cancer Research Center, the Veterans Yoga Project(501c3) and the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration – where she pioneered an innovative Yoga Therapy program to help combat vets reduce and manage symptoms of PTSD and other combat-related injuries.

A graduate of the 4-year Loyola Marymount University Yoga Therapy Rx program, Anne has provided Yoga Therapy at the Venice Family Clinic and Pacific Teen Rehab, as well as for a wide variety of corporate and private clients. Her background in dance and fitness gives her a unique insight into body alignment and strength training.

Lisa Maslavi


Lisa is a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CADC), specializing in substance abuse, and dual diagnosis treatment. She has been working in the field since 2016. Lisa utilizes Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Techniques (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques (CBT), Motivational Interviewing Methods, and Addiction Recovery. Lisa has her own journey through recovery and therefore has the ability to connect with clients, meeting them where they are.

Roni Silberstein


Roni Silberstein is an AMFT Primary Therapist, RITTM Specialist, and Client Care Advocate at both the Reconnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Clinic and the Reconnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Center. She earned her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles specializing in Psychological Trauma Studies. She holds certifications in many areas of trauma treatment, including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychological First Aid, and RITTM. 

In her work at Reconnect, Roni brings creativity, insight, and gentle support to help her clients strengthen self-compassion, the mind-body connection, increase self-awareness, process trauma, and achieve healing. She takes a client-centered approach to her work both as a clinician and as Client Care Advocate, meeting the unique needs of each client in both clinical settings and in discharge planning. 

 Roni is a Los Angeles native and is an accomplished classical musician. Her extensive experience in music opened her mind to the creative process and unspoken emotional connections between people. In her free time, she likes to make art and pet dogs.

Roisin Taylor

AMFT – Primary Therapist

Portland Oregon native, Roisin Taylor is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist whose integrative person-centered and collaborative approach helps clients recognize their internal strength and resources, while achieving personal growth and healing. She believes that individualized therapy that is personalized to meet the unique needs of the client can lead to an increased self-awareness and emotional attunement. The goal of treatment is to feel secure, and obtain a true connection with mind and body, which will allow for therapeutic transformation.

Roisin is trained and certified in the RITTM model developed by Dr. Karol Darsa. She is also a Substance Use Disorder Registered Counselor. Roisin received her undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount University, majoring in Psychology and Special Education. She continued her education at Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology where she received her Master’s degree in
Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy. Before ReConnect, Roisin worked in outpatient clinics for substance use, specifically opioid addiction. She also has many years of experience working with children on the autism spectrum, in the classroom and at home, implementing Applied Behavior Analysis interventions.

Dr. Arno Kroner


Acupuncture Specialist

Dr Arno Kroner is a Board Certified California Licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and integrative medicine doctor who specializes in endurance sports medicine, trauma care, post op and injury recovery as well as pain management, sleep disorders, migraines and addiction treatment. Arno graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Doctorate & Master in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Emperor’s College in Santa Monica, CA. In addition to academic studies, he completed residency training at The Roy and Edna Disney Family Cancer Center in Burbank as well as at the Being Alive Community Clinic in West Hollywood, CA. Finally, Dr Kroner is also a Medical Reviewer and a member of the Medical Advisory Board at Very Well Health and health.com

Joshua Welz

Somatic Experiencing

With a scholarly interest in quantifiable research and a deep intuitive felt sense, I blend and integrate both respectful approaches to complete and whole person care. Holding a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, a Masters of Education, a Masters of Divinity and with current enrollment in a Masters of Arts in Psychology (emphasis in trauma). This rich tapestry brings a diverse educational background that incorporates the body, mind, and spirit.

In addition to formal education, I am a certified Kripalu yoga instructor, focusing on a trauma informed practice, while guiding individuals to further connect and experience themselves more fully and gently. Additionally, I hold a background in nutritional psychology, which looks into the impact of nutrients upon emotions and neurochemistry. Furthermore, I take time to consider the psycho-spiritual understanding of each person, integrating both Western and Eastern understandings which considers not only the intellectual foundations for a person’s beliefs (be they religious, spiritual, or non-theistic) but also the psycho-emotional impact upon the nervous system. This approach is to fundamentally ground oneself in a practice of deep embodiment with an appreciation for one’s own inward path; notwithstanding considerations of spiritual or religious trauma as well.

Finally, I specialize in a trauma informed practice which considers the  branch of somatics, including Somatic Experiencing, Transforming Touch, Somatic Movement, trauma informed yoga, and embodiment techniques, offering a multidisciplinary approach to whole person care.

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.

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.

Kevin Kunkel


Kevin is a somatic psychotherapist who is EMDR certified, RITTM trained, and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.   He is a both a primary therapist and a somatic experiencing practitioner here at Reconnect.  A  former massage therapist and yoga teacher, he uses innovative  approaches that explore old, fixed ways of feeling and thinking about oneself and the world and co-create new experiences of feeling and thinking.

Kevin continues to assist in Somatic Experiencing trainings and continues his study with advanced trainings in treating the body and mind to create effective improvement in mental and physical wellness.   As well, he continues his own decades-long practice of getting out of his own head and into his body, bringing ever-greater levels of integrity, authenticity, and simplicity when sitting with clients.

Peter Smick


Peter Smick is an AMFT Primary Therapist at the Reconnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Clinic. His integrative, relational approach helps clients find their voice and harness their inner strength on the pathway to healing.  He believes that individualized therapy that is tailored to meet the unique needs of the client can lead to increased self-awareness, self-regulation and emotional attunement. The goal of treatment is to reconnect with self in mind, body, and spirit, allowing for authentic relation with self and others enroute to therapeutic transformation.

Peter earned his Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy at Pepperdine University. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Analytical Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, specializing in Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices. Prior to joining Reconnect, Peter spent two years at the Maple Counseling Center, where he worked as a primary therapist with individual adults, adolescents and families. He also facilitated groups on creating meaningful relationships. He also has experience working with clients who have suffer from process addictions, such as sex/love and social media addiction.

A Washington, D.C. native, Peter began his career in the entertainment industry in New York City after completing his B.A. at Columbia University. Working in media and market research opened his eyes to the psychographic significance of understanding the wants and needs of an audience. After attending UCLA’s graduate Film School, Peter spent a decade working in marketing and advertising in the entertainment industry. Working roles in creative strategy and social media strategy prior to his therapeutic work, and garnering analytical insights therein, he remains fascinated about the interpersonal neurobiological implications of society’s ubiquitous mobile platform, always-on social content consumption.

Chris Meehan


RITTM Specialist

Chris Meehan is a Psychotherapist and Integrative Trauma Recovery Trained Specialist, supervised by Dr. Karol Darsa. As a natural caregiver, Chris has had a lifelong desire to help a broad slice of the population. This desire has led him to extensive experiences treating a wide variety of clients, including treatment resistant clients who suffer from severe depression, anxiety, and psycho-physiological and complex trauma.  He has worked with at-risk youth as a service instructor and counselor, and has a breadth of experience treating substance abuse. 

Chris’s modalities include psychodynamic psychotherapy, childhood developmental work, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, REBT, and Mindfulness based psychotherapy.  He has a deep empathy for human suffering, and finds it very fulfilling to journey with his clients towards healing and transformation through the therapeutic process.  He is known for his warmth and relatability, and ability to authentically connect with his clients throughout the course of treatment.

Additionally, Chris volunteers as a facilitator for an annual men’s retreat and monthly meetings, providing men with a unique and confidential space to share and connect, which promotes renewal, community cohesiveness, and personal growth.

Chris is a fourth generation Californian, native San Franciscan, and has lived in the Colorado Mountains, New York City, and San Diego.  He is also an accomplished playwright, whose first love of the creative process introduced him to the vastness of the human experience.

Lisa Pierce


Lisa Pierce has been providing psychotherapy to adults, adolescents, couples  and families in her private practice for 15 years. Using an individualized  approach to the unique needs of each client, Lisa’s framework for treatment is  the RITTM approach. She incorporates multiple modalities in her work, such  as psychodynamic and gestalt therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, as well as  mindfulness-based, and somatic therapy. She believes it is essential to create  a safe, non-judgmental, empathic environment for her clients.  

At Reconnect, Lisa provides treatment for all types of trauma, including sexual  assault, loss of a loved one, natural disasters, and childhood relational trauma,  to name a few. Within the trauma treatment work, areas of focus include  depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders,  relationship issues, and sleep disorders.  

Lisa’s goals include helping her clients to regulate their nervous system,  educate them about how trauma affects their mind and body, as well as  helping them to identify and access suppressed feelings in their body in order  to heal the trauma. Lisa’s clients appreciate her genuine commitment and  heartfelt care and compassion for their wellbeing, and her goal is to support  them in making a positive, transformative change in their lives.  

Lisa received her bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of  Wisconsin- Madison in 1991. She went on to attend Pepperdine University to  earn her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology in 2004. Lisa became licensed  as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 2007. Lisa joined the Reconnect team  in August 2022

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.

Hayley Miller

Dietitian / ED Specialist

Hayley is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Registered Dietitian.  She is originally from Pennsylvania and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Marywood University and her Master’s degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Chestnut Hill College.  She is trained in Phase 1 of Brainspotting as well as Cognitive Processing Therapy for people with PTSD.  She is also a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian and Supervisor, which means she has taken 4 additional courses on treating people with eating disorders, countless continuing education courses on treating people with eating disorders, passed a certification exam, and has worked with people with eating disorders for over 8 years.  She has a special interest in working with people with eating disorders and trauma.  

She works from a Health At Every Size framework, which means she does not treat people differently based on size and believes people are healthy at every size.  She rejects diet culture mentalities and helps people to nourish their bodies without shame or guilt.  She loves working with people on improving their relationships with food and their bodies.  She combines cognitive behavioral approaches with somatic approaches to help those achieve their goals while also noticing what the body is trying to tell them.  She connects with you on goals you would like to achieve while also noting any barriers that may come up.

Hayley feels called to this work because of her belief that everyone can recover from an eating disorder with a little help and support from providers.

Daniel Campos

Primary Counselor

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 specialist 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, a licensed counselor in Brazil and is currently working on his licensure in the United States.

Shilloy Sanchez

PhDc, LMFT 90984, CCTP II

Chief Clinical Officer

Shilloy Sanchez is Chief Clinical Officer of the Reconnect outpatient programs. A PhDc, LMFT and CCTP II clinician, 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 is trained in Brain Spotting (BSP), the Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). She also holds training/certifications in RITTM, Mother Hunger Level I, Janina Fisher’s TIST Model, Dr. Darsa DID Training,Trauma Focused CBT and Systematic Training for Effective Parenting. 

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.


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


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.

Dr. Karol Darsa

Psy.D. – PSY19847


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.

To learn more about Dr. Karol Darsa, please visit her website.

May I keep my phone and laptop there?

The team at Reconnect wants all of our guests to feel comfortable. You are welcome to use your devices in the locations. We ask that you always respect the privacy of others and refrain from any activity that disrupts the peace and calm of shared living spaces. Electronic devices are prohibited in our clinical spaces to preserve our therapeutic environments.

Do you accept my health insurance?

Our Reconnect Clinic program is proud to work with most major private health insurance providers. If you have your insurance card when you call, we will be happy to perform a confidential verification of benefits for you and provide you the details for your plan. At Reconnect we offer a range of options for mental health treatment, after your initial phone evaluation we will explain what we can do for you and provide recommendations for your care.

Can you accommodate special dietary needs?

We understand many people have special dietary needs whether they be due to allergies, conscience or beliefs. Vegan, kosher, halal, gluten-free and other common preferences can usually be accommodated with sufficient notice. Please be sure to inform us of any dietary requirements during your initial phone consultation with Reconnect. 

Where do I live while I'm in treatment?

We work with livings in the community and can help find what best fits clients needs.

Ellen Hair

Ellen is an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor with a passion for trauma-informed therapy. She received her Master’s in Counseling from Webster University and pursued training in RITTM, EMDR, and Brainspotting.
Ellen first began utilizing trauma-informed therapy working with survivors of trafficking in St. Louis, Missouri. She recognized the importance of somatic work and reconnecting survivors with their bodies. Ellen practices from a place of empathy, and kindness, and always with a nonjudgemental approach. She honors the courage it takes to seek trauma treatment and values the individual strengths of each client she meets.

Marina Dumanyan

Director of Scheduling

Marina is a highly skilled and dedicated professional with years of clinical support in providing mental health clients with personalized programs that align with their unique clinical goals. With a diverse background, Marina has a strong foundation in various industries that have contributed to her comprehensive approach to mental health care.

With eight years of experience in the banking industry and close to a decade in the herbal industry, Marina has honed her skills in understanding client needs and delivering customized solutions. She believes in addressing the root causes of diseases through the utilization of wholesome foods and natural methods, promoting holistic healing.

Beyond her professional achievements, Marina embraces a vibrant and adventurous lifestyle. She finds solace in the outdoors, enjoys traveling, watching documentaries, and reading. Her passion for understanding the ingredients we consume is reflected in her talent for decoding complex ingredient lists. Marina also finds joy in practicing yoga, expressing her creativity through drawing, and celebrating cultural diversity by immersing herself in festivals and music from around the world.

In her role as Director of Scheduling , Marina collaborates closely with the CCO and clinicians to ensure that clients receive the utmost care and support. She strives to create personalized schedules that best suit each individual’s needs, fostering an environment conducive to their overall well-being and clinical progress. Marina’s unwavering dedication and vast knowledge make her an invaluable asset to the mental health community she serves.

Lacey Morris



Lacey Morris is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has completed her Master’s in counseling psychology with an emphasis in expressive arts from JFK University, a program that incorporates the arts and a holistic approach to psychology. In addition to her pursuing her Master’s, she is Registered Expressive Arts Therapist by IEATA, and is a certified yoga instructor, as well as a certified Mindfullness Facilitator.

Her past clinical experience has ranged from interning at Cedars Sinai and UCSF hospitals, bringing art and music by the bedside. She has interned at a mental health agency counseling at risk youth and their families, and worked at a drug rehabilitation center-counseling adults through their struggles with addictions.

Lacey Morris spent most of her time working under a private practice counseling group Brown Therapy in Los Gatos, CA as an MFT seeing a variety of clients including couples, individuals and families. In addition she has facilitated Expressive Arts groups for multiple organizations including Cancer organizations as well as Addiction Recovery Centers.

All these venues have given her a broad background in human psychological spectrums by addressing them with the tools mentioned above. Lacey has affectively used these tools to treat clients for a range of issues including: Depression, Relationship issues, PTSD, anxiety.

Lacey Morris’s session’s and groups start with creating a safe environment where her ultimate goal while being mindful of other’s boundaries is to bring a sense of empowerment, compassion and guidance to any situation at hand.

Ms. Robinson

Resident Support Staff

Ms. Robinson has a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a certified by the State of California as a Domestic Violence Counselor.  She has over 10 years experience working in the field of mental health and education. 



Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Bella is an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor who received her master’s in mental health counseling from Northwestern University. She has worked in the mental health field for over 8 years with children, adolescents, adults, and families. Bella provides clients with a safe, compassionate, judgement-free space and creates individualized treatment plans in order to fit each person’s unique needs.

Bella is an integrative therapist focusing on treating trauma through modalities including somatic psychotherapy, EMDR, and psychodynamic psychotherapy. As a yoga and meditation instructor, Bella is extremely passionate about working with individuals holistically through incorporating the mind, body, and spirit. Outside of the office, Bella loves to surf, spend time with friends and family, and go camping in new places around the US.

Is Reconnect LGBTIQA+ Friendly?

At Reconnect, we are dedicated to helping people from all walks of life, races, genders, sexual orientations, religions and belief systems. Every human being deserves the opportunity to heal mind, body and soul from the impact of trauma and mental health disorders. This is a safe space for all who seek healing and recovery. We are 100% LGBTIQA+ friendly and safe. 

Alexa Aversano


Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Alexa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist from Los Angeles. She provides LGBTQ+-aligned and culturally compassionate therapy, and believes it is essential that each individual feels validated and respected throughout their recovery. Alexa strives to provide a welcoming and safe space for anyone wanting to improve their emotional health and personal well-being.

She offers EMDR in addition to trauma-specificialized therapy. With a deep understanding of trauma and related issues, Alexa is dedicated to providing care that acknowledges and respects the profound impact of trauma on one’s life. Alexa chose a career as a therapist after her own psychotherapy journey, and understands the healing potential of a trusting therapeutic relationship, firsthand.

Alexa received her MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. Her background includes experience as a primary and group therapist for various inpatient and outpatient programs, as well as treating individuals and families in her practice. Alexa takes all she has learned throughout her career to better serve each individual she has the opportunity to work with.


Associate Primary Therapist

Alma is a Certified Somatic Practitioner with over ten years of experience in clinical settings and seven years in Somatic Therapy in Latin America and The United States. Alma has a BA in psychology and is trained in different movement therapy modalities such as somatic psychotherapy and practices, somatic experiencing, sensorimotor psychotherapy, neuroaffective touch, emotional intelligence, RITTM training and has completed training with Janina Fisher in freeze response and fragmented selves, working with parts. In addition to the western emphasis, Alma has deepen the study of the human body/mind integrating the astral body with eastern approaches. Alma is a certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, studied gemstones healing, REIKI I, and angelical REIKI.

Alma was the pioneer in somatic therapy in Villa de Leyva, Colombia, creating the first center of that region with Body Mind technique, which combined the connection and interface between body/mind, and adventure therapy in nature, which provided clients with outdoor skills that were conveyed to daily life challenges.

Alma is also registered in the Behavior Analyst Certification Board as RBT. As part of Alma’s career, she worked in the forensic expertise field for eight years, and participated in published research in the areas of suicide, domestic violence and assault.

Alma has an adventurous spirit and has found much personal healing in nature and in outdoor experiences such as rock climbing, snow boarding and hiking. She loves teaching from her own experiences.

Alma’s slogan is “Climbing the pinnacle of life, one rock at a time. We start on the ground until we get to the top of the hill we are determined to climb”.


Unwavering advocate

She is an unwavering advocate for serving her community one person at a time.

Vianney thrives when she sees the lives of others transformed for the greater good.

As a mentor, she remains approachable, kind, and humble regardless of the breadth of her professional experience and achievements because she believes strongly in the power of community and fellowship. Vianney has led various small groups as a facilitator of emotional support and a pillar of the group. The most revitalizing part of the field is being there as they each journey through self-discovery.

Most recently she joined Loyola Marymount University for the Peer Support Specialists program to now continue to provide that same level of support to youth groups in her community.

Listening with the intent of understanding vs. responding has been the key for me to see positive results in the settings I have been in. From different walks of life and different socioeconomic levels, the one thing we all have in common is when life happens, it happens and how we choose to respond in those circumstances truly makes the difference in outcome.

In my journey, I have shared with the ladies the simple yet profound thought of “Having a relationship with yourself” I think by default we are taught to manage external things such as (time, work, life) yet forget to focus on what is going on inside. Not every thought is important but it stems from a place and the sooner we find out “where” that place is well know where that thought will lead.

Fostering a community of empowered individuals who embrace self-sufficiency yet understand the power of community and meaningful relationships is my motto.

I am convinced that ReConnect will not only allow me to use all that I have learned here, but it will also provide me with the opportunity to gain new skills to continue to help wholeheartedly the lives of those we serve.

Helena Brown

Gestalt and family system's therapy Group Facilitator

Helena believes that we have the capacity to influence and change our lives. She utilizes Gestalt and family system’s therapy to help client’s increase interpersonal effectiveness, authenticity, and meaning in order to resolve internal conflict in order to lead to a more gratifying life. Helena is a certified Brainspotting Phase 1 clinician and has trained in the RITTM model developed by Dr. Darsa.

She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, her master’s degree in Psychology at Mount Saint Mary’s University, and her bachelor’s in international communications from The American University of Paris. Her dissertation is titled “Impacts of Burden and Stress on Informal Caregivers of the Elderly and/or Chronically Ill,” which is slightly less boring than it sounds.

Over the past many years, Helena has worked in community mental health and residential treatment facilities. She believes in creating a supportive and trusting environment through developing a strong relational core in order to best facilitate an understanding between what is missing and the whole.

Samantha Barnes

Resident Support Staff

Samantha’s shared passion for mental health and wellness prompted her to gain employment at Reconnect Trauma Center. Interests also include reading, research, and self-preservation. She will graduate from Pepperdine University with a M.A in Clinical Psychology next spring.

Cathy Garcia

Fractional CFO

Cathy is the fractional CFO for Reconnect. In her role, she oversees the accounting function, develops budgets and forecasts for the business, as well as provides strategic financial support to the CEO. Cathy is Principal/Co-founder of Aviso Consultants LLC, a boutique accounting and finance consulting firm where she partners with clients to provide experienced, collaborative solutions for their business needs. Aviso Consultants is a proud member of the National Minority Development Council and a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise.

Prior to co-founding Aviso, Cathy spent 7 years in consulting and business development roles.  Her corporate accounting experience includes Accounting and Finance Director at ABC Owned TV Stations, part of The Walt Disney Company, Internal Audit Manager at EMAK, and Accounting Manager at Beckman Coulter.  She began her career with KPMG, LLP in Assurance in its Orange County practice.

Cathy holds a Bachelors of Science in Accounting from California Polytechnic University Pomona.  She is a licensed CPA with an active status in the State of California.  

Arun Sharma


Arun is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with a deep commitment to assisting clients grappling with trauma. He earned his graduate degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has experience working with addictions, personality disorders, and crisis intervention. Arun has training in DBT, CBT, and is training in RITTM with Dr. Darsa. Arun believes in a person-centered, collaborative approach, placing emphasis on understanding and validating a client’s somatic, emotional, and cognitive experiences a tailoring interventions to his client’s needs.

Shaina Goelman

Associate Primary Therapist

Shaina specializes in perinatal mental health in addition to working with adolescents and young adult. She is trained in EMDR and received her training at APLA Health and has also worked at residential treatment centers and in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Shaina previously worked in the entertainment industry which gives her a unique perspective and understanding in working with individuals that are currently in that field. She received my Masters in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University.

Calista Rugama

Resident Support Staff

Calista is a recent graduate from UC Davis where she obtained her B.A. in psychology. She is currently going to Mount Saint Mary University on the track of getting her masters in counseling psychology. Calista is looking forward to working with reconnect and building client relationships. She looks forward to what the future holds for her within reconnect! 

Asli Taylan

Resident Support Staff

I was born and raised in Ankara, Turkey, and moved to Istanbul to pursue a career in the arts at a young age, and got my start in the entertainment industry with a role in the Turkish version of Sesame Street. After graduating from a French high school, I went on to get a BA in acting. I starred in several TV and film projects, and then moved on to become a producer. After a fulfilling career as a producer and TV executive, I retired to raise my youngest child.

After we relocated to the US, I put all my energy into building a new life here for my family. After my son left for college, I felt like I still had a lot of energy in me to help others, and serendipitously found myself in a position to get to do that at Reconnect House.

Paula McGuire

Resident Support Staff

Meet Paula McGuire, our esteemed Resident Support Staff at ReConnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Clinic. With an impressive 29 years of experience in working with people, Paula is a beacon of kindness, compassion, and positivity.

Throughout her career, Paula has been dedicated to creating a safe and nurturing environment for all individuals she encounters. Her warm-hearted nature instantly puts people at ease, making them feel valued, understood, and supported on their journey to healing. Whether you’re a patient, a colleague, or a visitor, Paula’s genuine care and empathy will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.
At ReConnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Clinic, we are fortunate to have Paula as an integral part of our team. Her passion for making a positive impact on people’s lives shines through in everything she does. Whether it’s lending a listening ear, offering a comforting presence, or facilitating meaningful connections, Paula’s contributions are immeasurable.

CarrieAnn Cleveland

Licensed Primary Therapist

I am an Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist providing therapy for people with a range of issues, including chronic and/or complex trauma, narcissistic abuse, high conflict divorce and custody issues, post-separation abuse, intimacy/relationship issues, sexuality, gender identity issues, grief, and struggles with mental wellness.
I am passionate about therapy as a means of healing trauma, generating resilience, and contributing to the development of collective wellness for the larger community.
I got my start as a therapist as a grief counselor at a non-profit supporting the surviving family members of organ donors. Since then I’ve worked in a variety of settings including a low-income clinic, several prestigious in-patient treatment centers, a group practice and in private practice.
I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from the University of San Francisco graduating Magna Cum Laude in just two years and have two Masters Degrees from Pepperdine University, one in psychology and the other in marriage and family therapy, graduating Summa Cum Laude with each.
I have benefited from extensive training in trauma-specific therapies including EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and TF-CBT (Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). I also provide DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), for those who may benefit from concrete tools, skills, and knowledge to balance emotions and take achievable steps towards improving their lives. I use other modalities as well such as Narrative Therapy, Mindfulness, and inner child work. I often utilize art therapy, role-playing, and many other researched and time-tested tools and skills for managing mental wellness, yet, I find that no matter the topic, there is usually lots of laughter through the tears in most sessions.
I have a psychodynamic foundation and consider family systems, attachment theory, positive psychology, and take a strengths-based approach.
I take my responsibilities as a therapist seriously, and constantly pursue education for myself to offer new methodologies of treatment to my clients.
I’m originally from Santa Cruz, and have lived in Maine, Hawaii, and Alaska, but have spent most of my adulthood living in San Francisco and Los Angeles. I enjoy hot yoga, boxing, a good Netflix binge with copious amounts of Thai or Indian food, dropping water balloons off tall buildings, and having food fights with my daughter in our backyard.

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

Cibele Sousa


Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Cibele is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist whose holistic approach helps clients in connecting their inner strengths to achieve personal growth. She received her Master’s degree in Psychology and Business with a specialization in Counseling and HR development.
Cibele began her career working with children from birth to 5 years old who were experiencing developmental issues.  She also worked to educate parents with infants to develop strong and healthy early attachment through Infant Massage. In addition, she also focused on helping young children with weight issues to assist them in understanding the relationship among healthy eating, healthy body image, and the mind.
As Cibele grew in her career, she realized the importance of the body in the healing process as she worked with adults, families and children from different backgrounds that were abused, adopted or experienced a disease such as cancer which resulted in lower immunity.  In addition, she facilitated support groups for caregivers and families going through cancer.  Cibele completed numerous evidenced‑based training in the treatment of trauma including EMDR, Mindfulness‑Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), NeuroAffective Touch, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Clinical Trauma Professional Level 2 (CCTP-Level2). She is certified in Brainspotting, Reichian Therapy, Tension Release Exercises (TRE), and The Resilience Toolkit.
Cibele’s eclectic approach brings kindness and compassion to her work creating a safe and nurturing space where clients of all ages feel seen and heard, facilitating clients to connect and rediscover their inner strength.
Cibele provides therapy in English and Portuguese. 
Cibele is Reconnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Model (RITTM) Certified.

Alanna Zabel

Trauma Informed Yoga Therapist

AZ I AM® Founder Alanna Zabel brings over 25 years of fitness/wellness experience, with a passion for helping others connect with their truest and most organic self. She holds a double BA in Psychology and Human Services, with a concentration in Child Development. Alanna is a Trauma-informed Yoga instructor, registered ERYT-500 yoga teacher trainer, Sound Healer and trainer, the creator of Yoga Barre®, as well as a Stott Pilates and fitness instructor.  Beyond her accomplishments as an instructor, performer, program director, writer, and designer, Alanna is a creative force and a teacher with a passion for kids. In addition to fourteen children’s books with yoga and wellness themes, she single-handedly created The World’s First Yoga Doll® and Soul Model collections. Voted “Best Yoga Instructor in Los Angeles” in 2011 by LA Family Magazine and one of “Hollywood’s Hottest Trainers” by Shape Magazine in 2014, Alanna is passionate about teaching yoga through her classes, life and writing. She is the author of As I Am: Where Spirituality Meets Reality and Meaningful Coincidence: Synchronistic Stories of the Soul. Her children’s book titles include The Seven Doors, a children’s version of Deepak Chopra’s best selling The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Alanna stars in five popular fitness DVDs: Yoga Total Body Makeover and Pilates Yoga Fusion, as well as Beginner Level Yoga for Toning, Flexibility + Stress ReliefCardio + Conditioning Yoga, and Beginner Level Yoga which became a 2016 nationally bestselling DVD in the fitness category.

Diana "Dee Dee" Hernandez

Supportive Living House Manager

Greetings! My name is Diana Hernandez, and I am proud to serve as the Supportive Living Housing Manager for our organization. Born in Redbud, Illinois, I relocated to Ventura County at the tender age of four. In 2021, I embarked on a courageous journey by venturing to Los Angeles alone to pursue my true passion: managing recovery homes.

With a deep commitment to providing a safe, structured, and sober living environment, I am dedicated to supporting individuals as they maintain and construct lives that promote healing and growth. It has been an honor to be an integral part of the recovery community for the past nine years, witnessing the transformation and positive changes that occur through various types of treatments. I firmly believe that every individual deserves the opportunity to embrace a life of worth and purpose.

My journey as a recovery home manager began in 2016 when I took charge of my first sober living home in Ventura. Since then, I have had the privilege of managing homes in the beautiful locations of Malibu and Brentwood. These experiences have fortified my passion for creating supportive environments where individuals can thrive and rediscover their potential.

While initially enrolled at Oxnard College with aspirations of pursuing an accounting degree, my direction shifted as I discovered my calling in assisting others in crafting successful lives. Although school demands a significant portion of my time, I cherish the moments I have free time to spend with my children and grandchildren. Engaging in activities such as meditation, walking, and hiking helps me find balance and rejuvenate my spirit.

As the Supportive Living Housing Manager, I am wholeheartedly committed to ensuring the well-being and growth of our residents. With a compassionate approach and a deep understanding of their unique needs, I am dedicated to creating an environment that fosters long-term recovery and personal development.

I am honored to be part of this remarkable organization, and I look forward to working alongside our incredible team as we make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve.

Dachonett "April" Grey

Resident Support Staff

Hi, I’m Dachonett Grey, though everyone calls me April. Originally from Long Beach, California, I spent my formative years growing up in the vibrant cities of Palm Springs and Los Angeles. Currently, I am pursuing my studies to become a cognitive behavioral therapist, driven by a deep passion for assisting others on their journey towards healing.

My genuine love for people fuels my commitment to making a positive impact in their lives. I thrive in roles where I can extend a helping hand, providing support and compassion to those in need. Guided by empathy and a keen understanding of human behavior, my ultimate goal is to aid individuals in healing the invisible wounds they carry.

With a dedication to continuous growth and learning, I am excited to be part of the ReConnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Clinic team. Working alongside a compassionate and talented group of professionals, I am determined to contribute my skills and enthusiasm to create a nurturing and transformative environment for our residents.

When I’m not immersed in my studies or assisting others, you can find me exploring the beauty of nature, indulging in creative endeavors, or engaging in meaningful conversations with friends and loved ones. I believe in the power of connection, authenticity, and fostering a sense of community.

I look forward to supporting and empowering the residents of ReConnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Clinic, guiding them towards a path of healing and growth. Together, let’s make a difference in the lives of those we serve.

Eric Kastan

LMFT # 47461, BCBA # 1-12-10496

Clinic Program Director

Eric Kastan is the Clinic Program Director at the Reconnect Trauma Recovery Clinic. He has considerable experience in clinical administration and direct clinical work in neurodiversity, addiction, behavioral disorders, and trauma over the last 20 years. Eric has worked in a wide variety of settings including schools, clinics, and in-home services.

Throughout his career, Eric has been a director of two different agencies, along with a private practice and consultation business as well. He has done several presentations for agencies on working with adolescents, applying psychotherapy theories and interventions for clients on the Autism spectrum, and integrating Applied Behavioral Analysis into psychotherapy. He was brought on as a consultant for Pepperdine University to create and design their new program offering a M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis. In his private practice he supervised many associates in guiding their clinical journey while also seeing a wide variety of clients.

Eric earned his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCLA and went on to get his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Pepperdine University. He also completed his post Master’s courses in Applied Behavioral Analysis from University of North Texas. Along with being a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), he also completed his credential as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Eric has specialized in addiction, behavioral disorders, and trauma-based presentations. He has a passion for making sure all his clients receive care and treatments that are comprehensive and individualized to the needs they present with. By taking a whole person approach, Eric is able to work with his clients on helping them have a healthy, fulfilling, and independent life. Using compassion and joining his clients, he is able to help them find a path to better living. Eric is focused on working with the rest of the administrative team and Dr. Darsa to provide an open and inviting environment for our clients to seek out help.

Outside of work, Eric enjoys an active lifestyle with working out, sports, and being out and about. Music and concerts are a great outlet for him. In his downtime you will find him as a pop culture nerd, and staying up with all things Star Wars, Marvel, and other similar items. But most of all, Eric enjoys spending time with his family, partner, and kids.


DAOM, LAc, Dipl.OM

Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, Group Facilitator

Dr. Sanae Suzuki is a trauma-informed integrative primary care practitioner with a focus on mental health. She has over a decade of experience in holistic medicine and seven+ years of working with trauma patients. She believes to optimize our mental health, requires the whole-person approach, including mind, lifestyle & nutrition, sleep, physical, social, and spiritual well-being.
She is originally from Japan and received her bachelor’s in Philosophy from Nihon University. She received her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Eastern Asian Medicine from Emperor’s College in Santa Monica, California. During her doctoral fellowship, her interests in mental health, sleep medicine, and addiction medicine became concrete. Additionally, she also received Functional Medicine training at The Institute for Functional Medicine and Apex Energetics, Trauma Therapy training at Somatic Experiencing International, and Biofeedback training at HeartMath Institute.

She splits her work hours between her private practice and several mental health programs in LA County. Her previous work experience includes Venice Family Clinic Simms/Mann Health and Wellness Center Chronic Pain Program, Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, and Being Alive! HIV Community Wellness Center.

She has been a member of Acupuncturists Without Borders for years and volunteers locally and internationally to provide disaster relief and refugee care.

Leila Yang

Program Assistant

Republic of China where she successfully mastered language skills that pressed her to complete her master’s degree in International Management from Surrey University, UK.
Leila has been a pioneer and leader with over ten years in the challenging and rewarding Invitro Fertilization Science (IVF). She has helped established IVF on three Continents and multiple cultural environments with an unmatched degree of professionalism.
From the United Kingdom, she accepted assignments in the United States specific to Southern California. She was instrumental in integrating Health Care Services and IVF into worldwide markets to bring to best components for Complete Treatment.
As an industry pioneer, she can be relied on and she is a good team member. During her spare time, She likes to play tennis, watch movies and she likes to collect whiskey.

Tami Remen


Somatic Therapist

Tami Remen is a Somatic Experience Practitioner (SEP).  She graduated from the Somatic Experience Institute, founded by Peter Levine. In addition to this 3-year program, she has completed several advanced trainings in somatic touch, developmental trauma and working with syndromes.  In the past, Tami worked as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Wellness Coach.  She has also attended Jon Kabat Zinn’s mindfulness-based stress reduction workshops and completed The Dynamic Neural Retraining System Program, developed by Annie Hopper.  Her past academic achievements include a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from The American University and a Master of International Business from The American Graduate School of International Management.
Tami is passionate about and devoted to helping people access more joy and synergy in their lives.   Her work supports her clients to discover their innate capacity to heal deeply held stress, emotional pain, and trauma.

Sam Breen


Associate Primary Therapist

Sam is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who is passionate about the mind-body connection and the body’s innate wisdom to heal itself after challenging life experiences. Her therapeutic style integrates depth therapy with trauma-informed somatic practices, mindfulness, and self-compassion. She brings her warm gentle nature and holistic approach to support clients in uncovering their true resilient selves.
In addition to her work as a trauma therapist at Reconnect, she works in private practice with teens and adults, works with teens at a crisis hotline, and facilitates surf therapy groups for women. Sam’s work engages the mind, body, and heart with influences from trainings in the Reconnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Model, Trauma Resiliency Model (Levels 1 and 2), Brainspotting Phase 1, and the Hakomi Method. Additionally, her yoga, meditation, and surf practices inform her work. As an inclusive therapist, Sam feels grateful to support people of all ages, races, sexualities, genders, abilities, and backgrounds in reconnecting with Self, others, and community.
Sam received her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis with a major in Psychological & Brain Sciences. She then went on University of Southern California to complete her M.S. in Applied Psychology, where she was immersed in the field of psychological research. Inspired to pursue further clinical training, she went back to graduate school to receive her M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles, where she specialized in Spiritual and Depth Psychology.

Huriye Kossekoglu

Huriye obtained a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations. She has 7 years of experience as a personal portfolio manager in banking in Turkey. She also assisted her clients as an insurance liaison in branches where she worked .

Huriye moved to the US in 2018 in order to pursue her education in the States. She obtained a Finance certificate from UCLA extension in 2020 and She is currently a full time MBA student at Westcliff University in Irvine/Los Angeles.

 She dedicated herself to personal development since she landed in the States in 2018. She is aiming to gain more interpersonal skills to touch other’s lives. Her hobbies include Bachata, Salsa dancing and photography. She also loves to be in nature and going on hikes.

Selin Muslu

Program Assistant

Originally from Turkey, Selin graduated from University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Following her graduation, Selin joined the Reconnect team in 2021 to gain experience working in the mental health field,  as Selin aspires to become a Clinical Psychologist and is aiming to pursue a Doctor of Psychology degree. In her down time Selin enjoys doing yoga, reading, and going to the beach.

Fatima Haddi

Financial Auditor

Fatima has a master’s in Finance and has been working at Reconnect for 2 years. She excels at assisting clients with all billing matters as well as compiling and analyzing financial information.

She’s passionate about working in the mental health space because she knows she’s making a difference in people’s lives. Her empathy paired with her quick decision-making skills have helped her excel at her role at Reconnect.

A few of her interests include Cycling, going on long walks and music.

Grayson Leonard

After many years of my own journey with substance abuse and mental health, I chose to start working in the field to help others on their journey. My experience allows me to meet the clients where they are, have a relatable understanding, empathy and compassion for their situations.

Danielle Pegnato

Danielle has over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare industry. Before joining the team at Reconnect, she managed the day-to-day operations for an integrative medical nutrition therapy practice in Santa Monica. Originally from the East Coast of Massachusetts, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management & Policy at the University of New Hampshire. Prior to moving to Los Angeles to pursue her MBA at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Danielle  worked for a large post-acute care hospital and outpatient network in the greater Boston area coordinating network-wide digital transformation projects and managing Medical Staff Credentialing operations. She also mentored several interns through a workforce development program designed to prepare folks for full-time job placement in rewarding healthcare administrative roles.

During her time at UCLA, Danielle completed an internship at a digital health startup working in business development, marketing, and sales, helping the young company re-brand and enter the senior care market with their technology application. She worked as a strategic consultant for a cohort of healthcare executives and community health advocates participating in an executive training program during which they developed high-impact strategic projects. Over the course of several months, she worked one-on-one with each participant  to help advance their health clinic/system’s mission through organizational assessments, project planning, and goal setting focused on improving patient care, staff satisfaction, and community impact. Danielle was also the business advisor for a team of Physicians bringing an innovative new women’s health drug to market. She assisted them in developing a strategic business plan and set them up for success as they embarked on the lengthy journey of drug development and commercialization. Danielle is very proud of the work she was able to do and the highly talented and inspiring healthcare professionals she was able to interact with during her MBA journey that took place mostly during the global pandemic.

In addition to healthcare, Danielle is passionate about music. She holds a Minor in Music from the University of New Hampshire, participated in international choral singing competitions in 3 different European countries, and played the clarinet in various music ensembles for over 15 years. In her down time, she enjoys playing pop, folk, soul, and classic rock songs on the ukulele.

What makes Reconnect different?

At Reconnect, we address the root causes of conditions instead of simply treating symptoms. We take a “trauma first” approach to conditions like PTSD, depression and anxiety. This allows for deeper, much more complete healing and continued progress long after treatment here is completed. Our Reconnect Center program offers far more sessions of intensive individual therapy than most mental health programs. Both the Reconnect Center and Reconnect Clinic deliver practical, evidence-based treatment for a wide range of mental health disorders with warmth and compassion.