Christian Small, MD is board certified in addiction psychiatry, general psychiatry and family medicine. Doctor Small is a leader in the field of addiction medicine and specializes in providing high quality medical and psychiatric services to treatment programs. He is one of a handful of doctors in the US who have the experience and training to treat full spectrum medical and psychiatric illness. Dr. Small is a graduate of the University of Hawaii John A Burns School of Medicine and completed his residency in Psychiatry and Family Medicine residency at UCSD.
Dr. Hirst graduated from Stanford University and then attended UC San Diego School of Medicine, completing her medical degree and then training in both Family Medicine and Psychiatry. With this combined training, she is uniquely qualified to attend to both the psychiatric and medical needs of Akua’s patients, and enjoys providing care to each patient from a holistic, whole-person perspective.
Dr. Ian Johnson has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Boston University and a medical degree from the State University of New York, Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse, New York. He has served as an active duty flight surgeon in the US Air Force. He has also served in the US Army Reserves where he taught combat life support classes, supervised drug screening of soldiers and was recognized as a Subject Matter Expert in suicide prevention. He is retired from the Army Reserves in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Dr. Johnson is board certified in Family Practice and he has secondary interests in Addiction Medicine and Obesity Medicine. He has served for many years as medical director for various Opioid Treatment Programs (Methadone Clinics). He has also served as medical director for an alcohol and drug detox and residential program as well as medical director for one of the largest consortiums of community clinics in Sacramento, California. His biggest passion has always been to provide medical services to sub-populations that have been marginalized and medically underserved due to their lack of economic resources or due to illnesses that have been unfortunately stigmatized by society at large. Dr. Johnson’s various professional memberships include: the American Society of Addiction Medicine, Coalition on Physician Education (COPE) in Substance Use Disorder, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He holds community faculty positions from the University of California, Davis and California Northstate University College of Medicine.
Dr. David Sisemore is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Sisemore specializes in treating adults with co-occurring psychiatric disorders and intellectual disabilities, severe psychiatric conditions and substance abuse disorders. Dr. Sisemore completed his residency training in adult psychiatry at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Sisemore utilizes a bio-psycho-social framework in his approach to treating psychiatric and substance abuse conditions.
Lauren Cabaldon is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist trained in Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). She received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego, and her Master’s degree in Counseling and Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Cabaldon works from the strong conviction that transformative and life-changing treatment starts with a healthy, self-aware and balanced clinical team. She utilizes an integrative psychodynamic approach when working with clients and believes that an individual’s personal encounter with the unconscious is essential for the healing process. Cabaldon is passionate about helping clients get in touch with their spiritual selves and believes strongly in the power of community and connectedness to promote the growth of the individual mind, body and spirit.
Sean Bezdek is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 25 years of experience working in mental health and substance abuse settings, including inpatient, Partial Hospitalization Programs and private practice. Sean received his undergraduate degree from Bradford College with a focus on Human Studies. He has both a master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy from Philips Institute and an MBA from Baker College. Over the years Sean’s clinical practice has specialized in working with Personality Disorders, Couples, Adolescents, and individual suffering from chronic mental illness. Sean has formal training in Solution Focused/Brief Strategic as well as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. As a clinician Sean enjoys working with clients who can be resistant to traditional treatment and believes in the philosophy of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink…BUT you can feed them saltines to make them thirsty!”
Sean’s management experiences include a variety of programs, such as acute inpatient utilization management, hospice/palliative care, home health, skilled nursing, and most recently was the Assistant Director for a PHP program in the greater Sacramento Area. Sean’s approach to management is to ensure the work that needs to get done gets done. “Our job is patient care! This includes everything from making coffee to running groups. No one person is more important than the other when it comes to providing exceptional care to the clients we serve.”
Kristen received a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management and a Master's degree in Marriage, Family and Children Therapy from University of Phoenix.
She has previously worked with Heritage Oaks Hospital for almost seven years prior to coming to Akua. Her previous workplace experience allowed her to work with people experiencing acute mental illnesses in an inpatient facility. In this capacity, she worked with many diagnoses including major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety, dual diagnosis, bipolar and schizophrenia. Kristen moved from inpatient to outpatient as a manager of PHP/IOP programs where she was working with adults and adolescents with mental health and substance abuse issues. Kristen now looks forward to working with Akua’s wonderful team to support those in their journey to sobriety. Her goals are to build this program by providing a supportive environment that allows clients to be empowered to make lasting life changes. She believes anyone can accomplish anything with a desire for change, enough tools in the toolbox and a supportive environment.
Dr. Sarah Dewey is a Clinical Forensic Psychologist. She obtained her doctoral degree from Alliant International University (CSFS). She has a wide array of experience in the field of psychology. Her clinical skills consist of working with individuals with psychological, emotional, and behavioral health disorders; as well as individuals that struggle with substance abuse. Her passion and interest in understanding addiction began in her early teens as she witnessed many close to her, family and friends, struggle through their own addiction. Her personal experience allows her to assist others to view alternative perspectives of addiction and co-occurring disorders from a new lens. She has a unique ability to assist and support clients in building their own firm foundation; as well as encourages self-exploration to develop one’s own identity. Similar to her therapy style, Dr. Sarah’s leadership tailors to the needs and goals of each staff to develop an experience that is empowering, balanced, and supportive. Dr. Sarah likes to be hands on and her motto is built off the framework of a team is only as strong as the sum of each part. Therefore, she supports and encourages everyone on her team equally to provide a safe and secure environment. Dr. Sarah strives to build up not just her clients, but her staff to provide a well-rounded and consistent environment.
Emily is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who is trained in Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Biola University and received her Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology from Vanguard University. Clinically she operates out of a psychodynamic approach, while addressing attachment styles and trauma-informed defense mechanisms. Emily is passionate about helping clients explore the wounded parts of their inner child that have led to their current ways of functioning and coping with life. Emily is the program director at Akua’s Women's Residential Program in Orange County, where she and her team aim to provide an individualized clinical approach to help her clients establish and maintain the healthy lifestyle they are longing for.
Eaman is the Director of Ohana at Akua and brings years of experience in substance abuse treatment to his position. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, with an emphasis in Philosophy of Psychology and Phenomenology of Addiction. Eaman is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work. Eaman is passionate about helping those who struggle with addiction, giving them lasting tools to transform their lives through successful recovery.
Terrah has an associates degree in Health Science from Azusa Pacific university and has obtained her license in Vocational Nursing from Northwest College. She has clinical experience in a variety of specialties, including psychiatric/mental health, surgical, pediatric, gastrointestinal, and community health care. Terrah’s medical capability and caring approach create the perfect combination for safe and effective detoxification treatment. Terrah has the ability to make clients feel personally cared for as she nurtures them towards their recovery.
Stacy is an Associate Marriage and Family therapist at the San Diego location of Akua Mind & Body. Stacy received her undergrad in Psychology with a minor in Urban Education from the University of Denver. She has received her Master’s in Marriage and Family Counseling from the University of Phoenix.
Stacy specializes in mindful, sustainable recovery from addictions such as alcohol, drugs, disordered eating, obsessive thinking, and body image issues. She is effective in mood disorder treatment, managing and overcoming ingrained and destructive behaviors and treating depression, bipolar disorder, panic and anxiety.
She is a warm, energetic and creative therapist. She is committed to taking you through your therapeutic process. She has a natural strength of staying present with her clients to create an open and safe space.
"I believe in the therapeutic process and the importance of the therapeutic relationships. The number one thing that inspired me to become a therapist was to help someone else as I was helped. I want to help people find a connection to someone so that they can find their voice, see themselves, learn what makes them tick and makes them happy- come alive and engage with living. It is my honor and privilege to provide a secure space which allows others to root, safely grow and blossom."
Sarah is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist and received her Master’s of Science degree from California State University, Long Beach. Her style integrates mindfulness, psychodynamic and cognitive concepts for the purpose of empowering men and women to approach their own feelings, thoughts, and relationships with compassion and curiosity. Sarah believes clients give themselves the opportunity to take their own power back through intentional self-love and reflection.
Megan Ahrens is a Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee that is receiving her Masters of Science in Counseling and received her Bachelors degree in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Fullerton. Megan has worked in the public education system, as well as in-home behavioral therapy with children and adults with special needs and other disabilities, for the last 10 years. She is excited to be at Akua and work more closely with adults, families, and couples in a therapeutic setting and focus on psychodynamic and humanistic principles. Megan is thrilled to be a part of a team that is creating a stigma-free community around mental health and addiction processing and systemic growth.
Daun Bauman has been an LVN for 13 years with extensive experience in psychiatry, both inpatient and outpatient. Daun believes in the community surrounding the individual on their individual paths to recovery. “Team Work makes the Dream Work” is Daun’s moto and having a team to support the individual’s path to recovery is top priority. Daun likes to focus on relapse prevention in her groups and discuss having an action plan in place to help prevent relapse. Daun is always client focused and prides herself on meeting a client where they are at in the stages of change. Daun is a team leader who enjoys educating her team and encouraging individuals to meet their potential for better client outcomes.
Ellyn Silverman-Linnetz is a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian and Physician Assistant. Her expertise covers a wide area of practice, from integrating nutritional healing into addiction and recovery care to nutrition therapy in eating disorders. Her integrative approach to nutrition intervention helps clients improve their relationship with food and find peace in their bodies, so they can show up for what is most important in life. Silverman-Linnetz considers herself to be a “non-diet” Registered Dietitian and is committed to helping clients reach their goals through self-exploration and self-trust. She is an Intuitive Eating practitioner and comes from the philosophy of weight-inclusive wellness. Silverman-Linnetz has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Nutrition from Rutgers University and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of South Carolina. She also completed a Fellowship and her Physician’s Assistant degree at the University of Southern California in Metabolic Dysregulation. Silverman-Linnetz is a member of IAEDP and The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and has authored many publications, written chapters on a variety of topics and is a national speaker on nutrition health.
Jamie graduated from Sacramento State University in 2002 with her master’s degree in Counseling (School). She has over 15 year’s experience as a learning disabilities specialist working at Sacramento State University. She has extensive experience in working with disabilities including learning, cognitive, psychological, and disorders on the autism spectrum. Jamie has worked with various populations that suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, trauma , ADHD, ADD and traumatic brain injuries as well as marital and family issues within a university and also a private practice setting. Jamie has a client centered approach and also utilizes mindfulness based techniques in treating her clients for their overall wellness.
Tania is recognized in the field of integrative wellness and sciences as one who gracefully bridges the science of quantum and energy physics with the elements of metaphysics or integration of body, mind and spirit.
She avails her skills as an educator, scientist, sound therapist, gong master, and integrative wellness facilitator. Her classes, workshops and retreats, encompass a multitude of practices including sound therapies, with a focus on gong immersions, meditation, various modalities of energetic therapies along with healing retreats into nature and silence.
Tania is passionate about empowering people to improve their own health and well-being. Her unique work in rehabilitation centers has proven very beneficial in catalyzing individuals’ healing by adding a powerful, systemic and efficient means to re-create harmony as they journey back to independence and well-being. Sound vibrations are powerful means to heal and restructure the physical & energetic bodies. The energetic effects of sound are known to potentially entrain biological systems at the cellular levels to function more harmoniously. Sound and vibration help facilitate a deep sense of peace, release tension and blocked energies, and balance the energy centers of the body.
Because the gong covers the full spectrum of sound, it is referred to as the Music of Wholeness. It has the potential to heal and rejuvenate by means of vibrating all the cells and bones and organs and filling them with life force energy. The sounds from the gongs travel from the outer ear throughout the body via the Vagus nerve, impacting brain waves, respiratory and heart rate.
Many modalities read symptoms and approach the body according to illness; whereas holistic gong sound healing works differently in that we approach the body as if it is already whole and complete. Through sound healing we fill that body with high vibrations that emphasize wholeness and resonance. Whatever the problem may be, the sound will travel to that place that is incoherent and will entrain it to its next highest potential of coherent resonance.
The energetic anatomy of the human body is likened to a harp. It resonates and responds to anything and everything that has vibration or frequency. It is through the rhythms and tones of all frequencies that we can either find, lose or maintain harmony and balance of our human structures and thus lives. Sound vibrations are the primordial frequencies that bridge our physical bodies and consciousness to the structures of nature and the universe and to one another.
Tania is a gong master extensively trained in the art of sound therapy, she also holds a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology. After spending 2 decades as a biomedical research scientist and being honored with numerous awards, she has completely merged both of her innate gifts as nature’s advocate and scientist.
Kate is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist that graduated from Alliant International University. Her theory of choice is Psychodynamic therapy. Kate is passionate about using mindfulness and meditation partnered with Psychodynamic therapy to help with overall healing. She believes in empowering the individual and standing beside them to help guide them on their journey to wholeness. She has earned certifications in UCLAs MARC classes 1 and 2, and has had training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Kate is in the first step on her way to becoming a Mindful Self Compassion teacher. She hopes to teach what she has learned about the importance of loving ourselves through the growth process.
Kindra Kuntz is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. She received a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University and a Masters of Science in Counseling from California State University, Fullerton. Kindra has a passion for the individual healing process and treating the root cause of inner turmoil through a holistic approach to treatment. Kindra’s intrigue with therapy focuses on evoking experience in the moment through a combination of Gestalt therapy, expressive arts, and mindfulness based practices that focus on the mind-body connection. Kindra is elated to be a part of AKUA’s mission in helping people honor and strengthen connections to the self and to the community at large.
Angie is a Licensed Vocational Nurse. She graduated in 2006, and has worked in various settings from Pediatrics, Prison, Urgent care, and Skilled Nursing, however most of her nursing career has been as a Director of Staff Development. Angie recently moved to Sacramento in 2018 where she transitioned into Substance Abuse and LOVED it. She enjoys seeing the recovery in each client from the beginning to the end of the program. She finds it very rewarding. Angie believes each client deserves the utmost attention and care in all they do. She was given the opportunity to join the AKUA Mind & Body team and work in the Mental Health Facility where she is able to create a safe, caring and effective recovery.
Cristina is a Marriage and Family Therapist Associate, she earned her Master’s of Science in Clinical Psychology from Vanguard University. During her time in graduate school she worked in Applied Behavioral Analysis for children on the autism spectrum. Shortly after, she began working at CHOC Children's Hospital of Orange County in the Pediatric Inpatient Mental Health Unit for children with severe mental health and substance use disorders, focusing on crisis de-escalation, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and mindfulness. She has also worked with individuals, and families in community mental health centers. Her therapeutic style integrates approaches from Psychodynamic, Emotionally Focused Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She believes in the power of restorative relationships, that each individual has the capacity for growth and restoration from emotional wounds derived from others and family of origin.
Beth has a Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola University Chicago and has been involved in 12 Step Recovery programs since 1986. Beth will receive her Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling from UCSD Extension, and is pursuing a Master’s Degree at Walden University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Beth brings passion and commitment to support clients at AKUA while they discover recovery rituals through relapse prevention and recovery skills group education.
Dr. Stephanie Wolfe earned her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Family Therapy from Azusa Pacific University. Prior to her clinical work, she earned a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. She received her undergraduate degree from University of Texas, San Antonio. Her internships were in community mental health and residential rehabilitation. She is currently licensed as a Clinical Psychologist in the state of California.
Dr. Wolfe’s specialty is in providing evidenced-based treatment to groups and families. Specifically, she has extensive training and experience in providing Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and has been developing DBT related training programs for clinical and corporate environments. Her work involves using DBT and elements of attachment and psycho-dynamic therapies to treat a variety of issues including relationship difficulties, family problems, women’s issues, addiction, stress/anxiety, and depression. Currently, Dr. Wolfe sees individuals and operates MINDTUNE in Bay Park, San Diego and sees individuals and families at Aloha Psychology Associates in Coronado, CA.
Personal Philosophy: “Therapy is not always about ‘fixing’ a problem. Sometimes, it is about learning how to work with the problem by creating awareness, strengthening insight, developing skills or broadening skills you already have. It is a joint effort between the therapist and the client, working together, to impact change and bring balance to what may otherwise feel out of control.”
Michele Maalea is a Case Manager at AKUA Mind & Body’s Detox Program. She is a qualified Substance Abuse Professional, with 18 years of experience in substance abuse recovery and 16 years in human services and addiction counseling. Michele graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration and has an Associate degree of Science in Human Services with a concentration in Addiction. Throughout her tenure, Michele has also worked with individuals struggling with a co-occurring disorder or/and a primary mental health disorder.
Darby is a Certified Yoga and Mindfulness Instructor, as well as, a Certified Massage Practitioner and Energy Healer. She has had a private healing practice in Solana Beach, CA for the past 4 years. At Akua Darby leads therapeutic recovery yoga sessions, somatic based meditations, and sound healings to reacquaint individuals with their bodies. Befriending the body and cultivating healthy body-mind based coping skills for physical discomfort and cravings is an essential part of recovery. Yoga and Meditattion helps prevent relapse, reduce withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, and provide a healthy outlet to cope with potential triggers and daily life stressors.
“My soul’s desire is to give back the transformational experiences that have radically changed my life and my relationship with myself for the better. Yoga, massage, and energetic healing have been a path to self-discovery, leading me to the truest part of myself. The threads of these teachings have weaved themselves through the entire fabric of my life, uplifting me spiritually, mending me physically, and transforming me mentally. I strive to cultivate a space that harvest a unique and authentic personal experience of self. It is such a gift to hold space for personal alignment like those who have done so for me.”
Leslie is the Case Manager at Akua’s Detox program. She has been working in the field of recovery since 2010 and brings with her years of experience helping struggling addicts and alcoholics take their first steps toward a new way of life. Leslie is a. Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Counselor and is passionate about supporting and encouraging Akua clients while they work toward a healthy and happy future in recovery.
Coleman is the Program Manager of AKUA Mind & Body’s Men’s Residential Program. He is set to receive his certificate for Alcohol & Drug Counseling from the CCAPP Academy and has been working in the field of Substance Abuse for the last 3 years. Coleman has been involved with the 12 Step Program since 2010 which brings his unique approach to client care and management. Coleman is originally from Memphis, Tennessee, he moved to California 4 years ago and has enjoyed every minute of it. Coleman is dedicated to creating a safe and productive environment for his clients to heal when they are under our care at AKUA Mind & Body and when they are out in the real-world post-treatment.