Dr. Venice Sanchez Medical Director, Orange County
Dr. Sanchez is a Board Certified Psychiatrist and Board Certified in Addiction Medicine. Dr. Sanchez received her Bachelor of Science degree from UCLA, Medical Degree from Michigan State University, and Psychiatry Residency training at UCI Medical Center. Her primary focus is mood and thought imbalances and how to enable patients to regain control over their lives and successfully deal with their addictions. Dr. Sanchez works with all psychiatric diagnoses, but specializes in detox and rehabilitation care, dual diagnoses, and PTSD.
Dr. Christian Small Medical Director, San Diego County
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. David Sisemore Psychiatrist
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.
Dr. Ian Johnson Medical Director, Sacramento County
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.
Shannon Forbes, M.A., LMFT #100604Clinical Director, Orange County
Shannon Forbes is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist trained in Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). She received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California (USC) and her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Vanguard University. Shannon works as the Orange County Clinical Director of Akua Mind & Body. As the Clinical Director, she empowers therapists, case managers, and the rest of the clinical team to provide compassionate care to everyone who walks through Akua’s doors. Shannon works from an integrative psychodynamic approach to help clients overcome past wounds that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Shannon is most known for her “Three Chairs” group, where she helps clients battle their inner critic and develop self-compassion. Shannon specializes in working with addiction, trauma, shame, depression, anxiety, anger and relational issues.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Daring Greatly Brene Brown
Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning
The Beloved by Henri Nouwen
Favorite Quote: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt.
Why I work at Akua: “I absolutely love my job and I am not just saying that. I tell everyone I meet that I feel incredibly grateful to work with such an amazing team and I love going to work. This team has been there for me both professionally and personally in ways that I never thought a job could be. Some people ask me, “Don’t you get exhausted listening to people’s pain all day?” and I say to them, “No! It energizes me to be with a team that is passionate about supporting those that are suffering, and day by day, we work together to make this world a better place.”
Lauren Cabaldon, M.A., LMFT #102540 Clinical Director, San Diego County
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.
Shanda Givens, M.A., LMFT #51853Program Director – Sacramento County
Shanda Givens is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a Bachelors degree in Psychology from San Diego State University and a Masters in Counseling Psychology. Shanda has previously served as Regional Director for multiple years over 7 different programs including Foster Care, several Transitional housing programs, multiple mental programs as well as a program serving adults with cooccurring disorders. In addition, Shanda has worked as Director of Clinical services over 5 different residential programs serving veterans, adults with cooccurring mental health and substance use challenges. Shanda works utilizing the five principles of trauma informed care; Safety, Transparency and trustworthiness, Choice, Collaboration and Empowerment to help clients to realize change in their lives. She believes that working through past traumas can lead to lifelong healing is all aspects of one’s life. Shanda’s believe in a holistic approach that integrates the mind, body and spirit into treatment supports clients to make meaningful, long lasting changes in their lives.
Sean Bezdek, MBA, LMFT #39275Program Director – Sacramento County
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 Torp, M.A., LMFT #113858Program Director – KOA Men’s Residential
Kristen is a Marriage and Family Therapist and a Practitioner of Clinical Counseling. She received both her BA and Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology (with an emphasis in MFT) from Azusa Pacific University. Kristen also completed coursework for the Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling at California State University Dominguez Hills and utilizes humanistic and existential models of therapy and an overall holistic approach.
Emily Majano, M.S., AMFT #113842Ohana Program Director
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 PHP and IOP Programs 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 Saadatifard, B.A., CADC-llProgram Director – San Diego County
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 Osborne, LVN VN 281795Program Director – Detox MAHALO & ALOHA
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.
Sarah Floyd, M.S., AMFTProgram Therapist
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.
Ellyn Silverman-Linnetz, R.D., M.P.H., CEDRDHealth and Wellness Specialist
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.
John Escalante, LVNDetox Manager, Rancho Cordova
John is a Licensed Vocational Nurse in California. He graduated from Vocational Nursing in 2011 from WestMed College. Having previously worked in various medical settings; sub-acute rehab, long-term care, pediatric, and the prison system, he discovered his passion in Substance Abuse treatment in 2015. Through previous experience he approaches each client individually focusing on their medical and health needs that will maximize their best opportunity at recovery.
Daun Bauman, LVNDetox Manager, San Diego
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.
Megan Ahrens, MFTtProgram Therapist
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.
Jamie Jones, M.A., Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor InternProgram Therapist
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.
Jake Stowell, AMFTTherapist
Jake is a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, AMFT 113983. He received his MA in Clinical Psychology from Vanguard University in 2019. During graduate school, Jakeworked with adults struggling with severe mental illness and substance abuse in a recovery-oriented setting. Jake also worked with children in families in a school setting. He is passionate about counseling and helping people of all ages realize their innate potential. Jake incorporates Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness practices, Humanistic Therapy, and Family Therapy to help clients overcome their unique barriers to wellness and recovery.
Rachel Mitchell, MS, AMFTProgram Therapist
Rachel is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and earned her Master’s of Science in Clinical Psychology from Vanguard University. During her time in graduate school she worked with individuals, families, and couples in community mental health centers. Her style integrates psychodynamic, humanistic, and emotionally focused therapy. She takes an authentic and warm approach in working with clients, and deeply believes that each individual has the potential to heal from interpersonal wounds. Rachel is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and earned her Master’s of Science in Clinical Psychology from Vanguard University. During her time in graduate school she worked with individuals, families, and couples in community mental health centers. Her style integrates psychodynamic, humanistic, and emotionally focused therapy. She takes an authentic and warm approach in working with clients, and deeply believes that each individual has the potential to heal from interpersonal wounds.
Katherine McDonough, MA, AMFTProgram Therapist
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, MS, AMFTProgram Therapist
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.
Tristen Udeh, MS, AMFT, APCCProgram Therapist
Tristen is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and Associate Professional Clinical Counselor. She earned her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology from California Baptist University. During her time in graduate school, she worked with adolescents and families in Hemet Unified School district. Prior to working at AKUA, she worked with individuals, families and couple in a private practice center. Her style integrates humanistic, psycho-dynamic and person-centered therapy. She takes a caring and authentic approach in working with my clients as they journey toward self-actualization. She believes that we are all uniquely designed to live life to our fullest potential and it all begins with healing from our interpersonal wounds.
Tania Massamiri, Ph.D.Sound and Reiki Healer, San Diego
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.
Dr. Stephanie Wolfe DBT Skills Group Facilitator, San Diego
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.”
Darby Hanson, CMP, YT.Yoga Instructor and Energy Healer, San Diego
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.”
Dena Santos, CADC-IIProgram Manager
Over the twelve years that Dena Santos has been working in the treatment field, she has gained experience in both the clinical and administrative areas of care through a variety of modalities. Dena entered the substance use disorder treatment field as a certified counselor working with women suffering from substance abuse. Dena went on to be the director of a Residential Detox Program treating clients with acutely co-occurring medical and mental health issues. Dena’s passion is working one-on-one with clients by building exceptional treatment plans that support individual client care.
Coleman Geater, RADT-1Program Manager
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.
Leslie Chappelle, CADC-ICase Manager
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.
Beth Dammeyer, BS, RADT ICase Manager – San Diego
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.
Angie King LVN – Fair Oaks
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.
Michele Maalea, *CADC II #RA8471116Case Manager
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.