Venice Sanchez, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist. At her practice in Newport Beach, California, Dr. Sanchez takes a holistic approach to care that emphasizes not only medication management and traditional medicine, but also the incorporation of therapy, spirituality, healthy eating and exercise, and social factors. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and Addiction Medicine.
Dr. Sanchez received her bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her medical degree from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She continued her training at the University of California, Irvine Psychiatry Residency Program where she was recognized by faculty with the Outstanding Resident of the Year Award as an acknowledgment for her dedicated efforts in education, the clinics, and her work with her patients.
Dr. Sanchez has had extensive training at multiple facilities under the supervision of experts in her field, which allowed her to gain comprehensive knowledge and experience in treating a wide array of psychiatric disorders. Her work at the Long Beach VA, various addiction rehabilitation centers, and San Diego Detention facilities allowed her to gain expertise in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance abuse, and mood and thought disorders underlying substance use.
Dr. Sanchez realizes the significant need in women's health, especially in treating pregnant and postpartum patients who are struggling with mental illness. She not only trained with a specialist at the Maternal and Fetal clinic at UCI Medical Center, but she was also at the forefront in opening up the first Women's Mental Health Medication Management Clinic at Long Beach VA Veteran's Hospital. Her passion for her field allowed her to diligently pursue the much-needed training and experience in treating patients who have a comorbid psychiatric diagnosis. She also specializes in treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders.
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.
Peter Hilen, LMFT has worked in the field of behavioral health since 2005. After graduating with a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy from Alliant International University, Peter began working in the field of adolescent and adult substance abuse case management, family therapy, and individual therapy at Chapman Medical Center. In 2007 Peter joined Saddleback College in the Health and Human Services department teaching the Crisis Intervention and Practicum Site seminar. Peter managed a variety of program types including Inpatient and Residential Substance Abuse, Outpatient Substances Abuse, Inpatient Geriatric and Adult Psychiatric, and Adult Crisis Residential Programs. Peter has participated on several community and privately held corporate boards such as the Salvation Army in Los Angeles, the Orange County Substance Abuse Network, and the A.F. Gilmore Company in Los Angeles. Peter believes in the power of recovery and in creating communities in which individuals and families can attain an empowering experience.
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 have included overseen a verity 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 include everything from making coffee to running groups. There is not one person who is more important that the other when it comes to providing exceptional care to the
clients we serve.”
Emily Majano is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, who earned her Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology from Vanguard University. Prior to this, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Biola University. Emily has worked in treatment since 2017 and with Akua Mind & Body since January 2019. Emily has held many positions at Akua leading her to her current role as Program Director for Lani, our women's residential program in Orange County, CA. Emily is trained in EMDR and practices from a psychodynamic and attachment approach. She is also currently an adjunct professor of addictive behaviors for Vanguard University's graduate clinical psychology program. Emily is passionate about providing individualized, trauma-focused treatment, for individuals struggling with either primary mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring. As program director, Emily emphasizes the importance of establishing a healthy family environment for clients to explore their symptoms and find solutions, while being able to practice open communication and boundaries. In her free time, you can find her watching the Kansas City Chiefs dominate the NFL.
Coleman is the Program Manager of AKUA Mind & Body’s Men’s Residential Program. He completed his education at CCAPP Academy in Southern California. Coleman received his certificate for Certified Drug and Alcohol counselor in October 2021. 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 5 years ago and has enjoyed every minute of it. Coleman is dedicated to creating a safe and productive environment for our clients to heal when they are under our care at AKUA Mind & Body.
Eaman has been a part of the Akua family since 2015, working as Program Director at a number of Akua's locations. He is currently the Program Director at the Mission Hills program in San Diego, California. Eaman has an educational background in Philosophy, with an emphasis in the phenomenology of addiction, and has been a certified addiction counselor since 2014. He is passionate about helping people on their journeys to recovery, and enjoys working with the families and loved ones of those who struggle with addiction. When he's not working, Eaman enjoys spending time with his family, gardening and playing guitar.
Danielle White has always wanted to work in the medical field growing up. Helping and caring for others has always been something Danielle has been passionate about. Danielle became a Licensed Vocational Nurse at Stanbridge University in 2018. Since then, Danielle has had experience in working in treatment and mental health for over 3 years prior to AKUA. Danielle enjoys working in recovery. Her Ultimate goal is to further her education and become a nurse practitioner. Being able to help others and watch them through their individual recovery is what Danielle finds to be most fulfilling.
Alicia Robinson is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (CADC-II) and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Management from Grand Canyon University. Alicia has a wide array of experience working with many different modalities including individuals that struggle with addiction, behavioral health issues, mental health issues, and co-occurring disorders. Alicia has been working in the behavioral health addictions field for 13 years, her personal experience allows her to be an encouraging leader to her team of addiction specialists and assists in the ability to support clients struggling with addiction issues. Alicia is passionate about wanting to work with individuals who struggle with addiction and co-occurring disorders and believes that addiction is not a secular problem. Alicia’s motto is to treat the whole client with addiction issues as well as healing the client spiritually with a mix of scientific and holistic treatments.
Stephanie Behrens is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, who earned her Masters in Clinical Psychology at Pepperdine University. She received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Stephanie has been working in the treatment industry since 2014. She joined the Akua team in 2022 and is the Program Director for the Akua Strong program located in Orange County, CA. She also enjoys working as a therapist and specializes in substance abuse, complex trauma, co-dependency, and anxiety/depressive disorders. Stephanie also has an interest in animal-assisted psychotherapy where she and her dog are certified as an official therapy dog team. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and her Golden Retriever.
As Program Director, Dena cultivates our systematic and evidence-based program, calibrated to enable our clients' successful and long-term recovery. She brings grace and patience to every interaction and is a natural leader to the Akua team. Determined to cultivate her treatment skills, Dena achieved a CADC II, and ICADC. And with over 18 years of experience, Dena is a seasoned professional who manages Akua (Terra Loma) with skillful ingenuity. Dena's passionate and dedicated to all those seeking substance use disorder treatment. Our community thrives because our treatment professionals partner with our clients in trustworthy relationships'. We enable our clients to thrive in recovery and the culture of our community is shaped by Dena's effortless and compassionate leadership.
Jessica Bulgin, a native of Memphis Tennessee, is known for her charismatic personality, authentic character and heart of servanthood. She obtains a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from John Carroll University and a Masters of Arts Degree in Counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary. Her passion to help people on their journey to healing is birthed out of a painful past of addiction, domestic violence, and a long road to mental health recovery.
More importantly, her favorite color is purple, she enjoys singing, loves flowers, peach ring gummies and snickers!
As a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, she hopes to continue being a change agent in the world by impacting one person at a time. Out of all of her accomplishments, she believes her best one yet is being the wife to Dr. Jason Bulgin and the mother of Jordyn, Janae, Joseph & Jason Jr.
Jessica's mantra is "Living by grace, not perfection".
Toyin Thompson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has a Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology and a PhD in Organizational Leadership. She specializes is mindfulness-integrated third-wave treatment modalities and has extensive experience providing psychotherapy and clinical oversight in dual diagnosis programs. Dr. Thompson is passionate about guiding people through the healing process, inspiring hope, and teaching them to live thriving lives!
Katlin currently is a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. Katlin completed her undergraduate work in psychology at William Jessup University and graduated in 2014. Katlin took time off school and gained experience working with high-risk children and adolescents as Youth Behavioral Specialist. Katlin worked with CPS, children in the CPS system, and youth dealing with homelessness. Katlin also worked with the youths in crisis and their family crises and conflicts. Katlin went back to school to continue her education and expand her experience in the mental health field and graduated with her Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2021. Katlin continued to work at a non-profit agency working with a variety of issues ranging from trauma to family dynamic issues before coming to Akua Mind and Body. Katlin has a heart for those who have experienced grief and loss, as well as navigating the challenges that come with any mental health struggles. Katlin also has a passion for horses and the therapeutic capacity they hold.
Courtney Button has a passion for working in mental health. Courtney studied Social Work at CSULB and USC. Courtney worked with children, adolescents, and families after completing her education. Courtney values the environment, social justice, equality, and mental wellness. Courtney spends her personal time with her family, chocolate lab, cooking, SCUBA diving, volunteering, and spending time in nature.
Jacquelene is an Associate Marriage & Family Therapist who received her M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Vanguard University. Jacquelene has been working with Akua since early 2021, beginning as an MFT Trainee, and has since moved into the role of Primary Therapist at Lani Women’s Residential Program. Jacquelene is also trained in Brainspotting, which she utilizes with clients struggling with various responses to traumatic events. Jacquelene works from a client-centered approach, with a focus on psychodynamic and attachment. She also utilizes CBT and solution focused techniques. When Jacquelene is not at work, you can find her relaxing with her white husky named Draco (yes, from Harry Potter).
Jaimie is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist that balances her gentle nature with a straight forward attitude to promote healing. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Nutrition Science from Whittier College and her Master’s degree in Counseling, emphasis in Marriage, Family, and Children from Palo Alto University. She uses both studies to treat the whole person and believes that every part is connected and valuable. She helps clients make sense of their past experiences to shift their present lives to lead to a more fulfilled future. Her background experience revolves around supporting low income families in community mental health settings, as well as supporting children and adolescents in school settings, with an integrative approach of psychodynamic, attachment, systemic, and somatic therapy. Jaimie has a passion for working with clients that are healing from trauma, chronic illnesses, and those in a transitional stage of life. Her favorite place to be other than AKUA, is her couch next to her cat with plenty of snacks and lit candles to set the mood for a funny TV show.
Sydney HarkRuiz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who recieved her Masters in Social Work from California State University, Sacramento. She also recieved her undergraduate degree in Psychology from CSU Sacramento. Sydney has extensive training and experience with chemical dependency and trauma informed modalities of treatment. She is certified in Seeking Safety, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Team CBT. Sydney began her career working with foster youth in group home settings, and has done extensive crisis work with Yolo County and the severely mentally ill population. Sydney found her passion to work with poeple that suffer from SUD during her first year of her Master's of Social Work program where she worked in a womens residential program in Sacramento. Her driving force includes watching client's set goals and process underlying trauma that impacts their functioning and flourishing through their healing journey.
LaTiana is an associate marriage and family therapist committed to providing therapy to individuals, couples, and families to address a wide range of challenges. Some of LaTiana’s clinical interests include mental health disorders, substance abuse, navigating life transitions, identtity exploration, trauma, and conflict within interpersonal relationships.
LaTiana uses a collaborative and direct approach incorporating empathy, humor, and compassion in creating a warm and safe environment to help clients work on their specific needs and goals within the context of their life. She believes that clients have the will to change and through building a strong therapeutic relationship, therapy can catalyze effective and positive change.
LaTiana received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Phoenix and her Master's degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage Family Therapy at Pepperdine University. LaTiana’s previous clinical work involved working with adults and children in a non-profit setting using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach.
Michelle is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist at Akua Strong. Michelle received her Bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Occupational Science from the University of Southern California, and her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. While in undergrad, Michelle worked as a behavioral therapist, where she developed a passion for children and families with neurodevelopmental disorders. Michelle has also worked in outpatient substance use treatment, where she explored other areas of interest including trauma, depression, anxiety, grief, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and couples/family counseling.
Katie is a RADT and Marriage and Family Therapy Trainee from Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology. She has over a decade of experience providing crisis support to clients of all ages attempting to overcome addiction, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and overwhelming emotions. Katie strives to equip her clients with practical coping skills to increase their well-being and guide them through processing the trauma that holds them back from effectively building their dream life. Katie believes healing is possible for all those under Akua Mind and Body's holistic care model.
Beth Dammeyer is a CADC I and Therapist at Akua in San Diego. She received a B.S.degree from Loyola University Chicago and certification in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling from UCSD Extension. Beth has years of experience in the recovery community and has a passion to educate and support others to reach their individual recovery goals. Having anunderstanding that many who are challenged with substance use disorder also struggle with a dual diagnosis, Beth is pursuing her M.S. degree as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor and will graduate from Walden University School of Counseling in May 2023. Beth loves working at Akua Mind & Body because Akua provides a holistic approach to healing and, it is “a great place to work!”
Chelsea Roush is a Colorado native and received her BA at University of Colorado at Boulder, and her MA at Alliant International University. Chelsea has worked at numerous treatment centers in Southern California and New York. Chelsea's passion is to help create safe spaces for her clients to process trauma, gain insight into their goals and aspirations, and regain confidence and passion for their own lives in recovery. Chelsea is trained in EMDR, Brainspotting, and Flash Technique, and has found using these impactful trauma processing modalities greatly helps foster profound change and healing in her client’s lives.
Roxanne HarkRuiz is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has worked in the mental health field since 2012 in various settings that have provided her with a wealth of experience. After graduating with her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, she continued her education at California State University, Stanislaus and graduated in 2013 with her Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy. Roxanne takes pride in practicing from a holistic approach that incorporates the mind, body, and spirit. As a clinician, she has experience working in a multitude of settings including a residential treatment program for foster youth, a residential substance use program, Child Protective Services, Ethics and Compliance at a University, school based therapy, and therapeutic program development. Roxanne has also worked in private practice and various community based programs as a Therapist and Clinical Supervisor. Roxanne is passionate about working with clients to reclaim their life, work through trauma that impacts their daily functioning, finding newfound joy, and being a part of a clients individualistic healing journey in searching for a sense of wellbeing, happiness, and fulfillment. Roxanne is trained in treating clients with dual diagnoses and in various evidenced based therapeutic approaches including Brainspotting, TF-CBT, CBT, Multicultural Family Systems, Art Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Substance Abuse Counseling, Motivational Interviewing, and Love and Logic Behavioral Interventions.
Grant is currently serving Akua Strong San Diego as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. Grant completed his Master's in Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University in the Bay Area and has gained experience working in outpatient mental health with children, adolescents, adults and families. Prior to his clinical work, Grant worked as an advocate for homeless adults in San Jose and provided case management and rehabilitation services for those transitioning into affordable housing. During and after his traineeship, Grant worked briefly in an outpatient program supporting adults struggling with mental health and substance use difficulties with involvement in Federal Pre-Trial and Probation Services. Grant most recently worked with adolescents and children in PHP/IOP/OP levels of care, advancing his skills in facilitating individual, group, and family therapy. Grant sees therapy and recovery as a holistic venture, rich with opportunities to develop meaning and craft a sense of purpose and belonging. His undergraduate study in Theology & Religious Studies paired with his graduate education supports him with understanding deeper spiritual and existential forces at work throughout the human struggle. He has a profound appreciation for embodied emotion as a guide to the human experience and above all values the power of connection, intimacy, and vulnerability for healing affliction. Beyond the clinical realm, Grant is an avid surfer, baseball player, Padres fan, musician and concert-goer.
I am an AMFT with an MS in Counseling from California State University Fullerton. I have a variety of experience with clients ranging from children to individuals with eating disorders, to treating substance abuse, and helping individuals with mental health challenges. I am a person-centered therapist who works from an attachment theory lens. I also enjoy doing deep trauma work and supporting clients with a holistic approach to healing.
Lauren earned her undergraduate degree in Public Health and Gerontology from CSUF and her master's degree from USC School of Social work. She has worked in a variety of disciplines including, Medical settings, Hospice, Public Health, and Substance Abuse. This wide range of experience helped to expand her skillset by practicing a variety of therapeutic tools (CBT, DBT, Solution-focused, EMDR, Health education and more). Lauren's focus is providing individualized care to improve overall mental and physical well-being.
Alexis Lockwood is a Marriage and Family Therapist trainee. Alexis is currently obtaining her Master's degree in Marital and Family Therapy at the University of San Diego. Alexis obtained her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Applied Psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara and graduated in 2015. Alexis has pursued a career in therapy since a young age and is highly passionate about providing a space for healing and self-discovery. Alexis is passionate about several therapeutic approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Attachment theory and self-compassion work. Alexis is extremely passionate about Akua's mission and for the opportunity to assist others on their healing journey.
I was a social worker for Area 12 Agency on Aging for one year. At Area 12 I served
individuals 65 and older. I worked for Alta and San Diego Regional Center as a social
work counselor for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. I worked as a
School Aid teacher at Brighton Private Elementary School for five years. Prior to
Brighton, I was working at Starbucks and interning for Sacramento County Sheriff's
With over a year of experience working with groups and providing Mental Health, my goal is to provide clients with the opportunity to grow and heal from their experiences. While I am still new, I believe that my ability to connect with individuals helps me recognize where I need to grow in order to be my best self for my clients. When a client comes to me, they should expect the ability to share and collaborate with me in order to create a beneficial experience for their journey. As I start my time with Akua Mind & Body, I hope to expand more of my skill sets in order to better help the community.
Damian Chandler was born in Toronto, Canada but he has called California home for the last 9 years. Damian has served as a full-time pastor for the last 23 years. In that role, he has walked with people in every stage of their lives, from birth to death. He has also served as an agent for change in the community, working with various non-profits, and with government agencies, to create a better life for all people. He has a Masters of Divinity from Andrews University, and is currently a student at Alliant University, seeking to obtain his Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Michelle has her Masters in Psychology and has worked in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment since 2013 as both a Therapist and Case Manager. Michelle is passionate about helping others and enjoys being a part of client's journey while they are in treatment. She enjoys helping clients reach their full potential by supporting them and helping them navigate their life while in treatment and for when they transition back home. In her free time, Michelle enjoys spending time with her dog, going to the beach, and reading.
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.
My name is Carolina Correa CATC III case manager at Akua Strong Long Beach. I am a mother of beatufil twins and also a cat lover. I was born and raised in Los Angeles CA. I enjoy camping, hiking and having fun with my family. I have over 13 years working as case manager working with youth, adults and families in various settings. My passions is to educate, guide and assist individuals gain the knowledge and confidence to get their lives back, succeed and be the best version of themselves. The populations I have served have faced homelessness, gang involvement, drug and alcohol abuse, and trauma. My education began at Mt. San Antonio College where I received my Associates In Science and Drug/Alcohol Counseling Certificate. I then pursued my education, enrolled into Phoenix Univeristy and obtain my Bachelors of Science in Human Services with an emphasize in addiction in Families and Children.
Joseph is a case manager at Akua Mind and Body. He has been working in the recovery field since 2014 and has a passion for helping others. He has been a certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor since 2016 and is currently in school at American River College to obtain a degree in psychology. Joseph has given his life to the health care industry and believes he is here to help save lives and plant seeds. Joseph is also in recovery himself and loves the life recovery has given him.
Donna served 20 yrs in the US ARMY as a Nurse. She has 11yrs clean and sober and is perusing her CADAC II as a Drug and Alcohol counselor she also holds a MHS III certification in the Mental Health Field.
Becca earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology at CSULB and her Master's in Teaching from Concordia University in Portland. Her career began in teaching lasting for over 20 years. This is where she realized that her passion was working with children with mental illness. Her background in working with mental health started in schools but has brought her to treatment centers which deal with the homeless, court ordered programs as well as clients looking for help to get their lives back on track. When she landed here at Akua she found she was thrilled by the alignment and interconnection of substance use and mental health treatment which was why she applied and still loves being here. Outside of work you can find her with friends or family,
walking down the beach or working on jigsaw puzzles.
Molly, still a Midwestern girl at heart, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She is in the final stages of attaining her CADCIII from CCAPP. Molly has extensive knowledge, experience and involvement in drug and alcohol counseling as well as 12-Step Recovery. She is committed to guiding clients to let go of their old ways of life and open themselves up to newfound happiness. Molly has a unique level of patience and understanding working in substance abuse and mental health alike. She has an innate ability and desire to serve, support and heal. Molly loves to laugh, especially with her vivacious one-year-old daughter.
Candace is a Case Manager at AKUA Mind & Body. Candace completed Alcohol & Drug counseling school in 2019 and is currently working toward her undergraduate degree in Sociology, with the goal of becoming a holistic Therapist. Candace is a Veteran of the US Army and is particularly passionate about helping Vets as well as anyone facing substance abuse and mental health challenges. In her free time, Candace enjoys listening to podcast, reading, hiking, and going on adventures with her son, Leo.
Brandon is a case manager at the Akua Mind and 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 since 2016. Brandon has a working knowledge of
the 12 Step program but open to exploring alternative options to recovery and helping clients
find an individual all encompassing aftercare plan that utilizes key factors to achieve a healthy
life. He has 3 years experience working with primary mental health and co-occurring disorders.
Brandon’s style embodies meeting clients where they are at and increasing motivation through
positive reinforcement and encouragement.
Danielle has been working in the addiction treatment industry since 2014 and holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Communication Studies with a minor in Sociology from California State University of Fullerton. Danielle has worked in many areas of addiction treatment including Operations Management, Human Resources and Compliance. Danielle is devoted to helping those in recovery who have been afflicted with substance use disorder and mental health struggles. Danielle is passionate about the journey to self-discovery and fulfillment, accommodating to everyone’s personal needs. As a Case Manager she is focused, organized, and effectively advocates for the needs of her clients while in treatment. She believes that hard work and determination can take us anywhere we want to go in life if we have support from others, encouragement toward our goals, structure, and belief in ourselves.
I have been in the field of addiction for 6 1/2 years. I am also in recovery for the past
19 years. My passion is helping people for find their passion for life and helping them
to reach for their goals.
Vanessa Diaz (she/her) is a Registered Alcohol and Drug Technician, who obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services, with a focus in Mental Health, from the California State University of Fullerton. Vanessa has worked in a clinical treatment setting since 2020, which allowed her to gain experience working with those who have substance use, mental health, and co-occurring disorders. Vanessa is passionate about case management and uses a trauma-focused strength-based approach to uplift clients and assist them in meeting their recovery goals. In her free time, you can catch her attempting to walk her cat and overwatering her plants.
Adam's passion for recovery began with his own journey in 2017. Moving from Cincinnati, Ohio to Orange County for treatment, he found himself wanting to give back to the community that helped him to find his passion for life again. He began working in treatment in 2018 and has never looked back. Working as a Clinical Technician while taking Counseling classes, he graduated CCAAP Academy in 2020 with a CADC-II Certification. Since then, Adam continues to strive to give clients the attention and care they deserve and assist them down the path of their own recovery.
Chanel started her career as an AOD counselor in 1999, after becoming sober in 1997. During her 20-year journey, she became a Registered Addiction Specialist II, a Certified Women's Treatment Specialist, received her Substance Use Disorder Counselor Certification (SUDCC). She has had the opportunity to work in various cultural settings, such as the Methadone Maintenance Modality, the California Department of Corrections, the Sac-Folsom State prison to name a few.
Through her own personal experiences and opportunities, Chanel has developed a passion for people. As a result, she has spent the better part of her life helping others overcome hardships. She believes the best reward in her journey has been to witness broken individuals, who were once hopeless, finally find healing and recovery.
Amy Shultz is an Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor II (CADCII, ICADC) and has an Associate's Degree in Substance Use Disorder Counseling. Amy also obtained her Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician (MHRT) certification in 2019. Amy has been working in the behavioral health/addiction field for over 15 years; having experience in detox, residential, outpatient, mental health and working with the incarcerated. Amy is passionate about working with those with dual-diagnosis and those who've experienced childhood trauma. Amy is also passionate about her family which includes her wife, five kids plus a bonus daughter and four dogs. Amy is currently enrolled at Walden University working on her Bachelors in Social Work.
Valencia Adair is the IOP/PHP case manager at Akua San Diego. Valencia earned her AS degree in psychiatric technology, BA in human development and also has a Master's degree in public health. With 16 years of experience, she is trained in cultural competency, crisis intervention and trauma-informed care. Valencia's motivation is simple: she wants to help recovering people build a life that they can stay engaged in, feel accepted and feel supported.
Sarah Bowling is a passionate therapist whose life and career are defined by her unwavering commitment to helping individuals struggling with substance use disorders. With a heart full of empathy and a mind brimming with knowledge, she has dedicated eight impactful years to the field of substance use disorder treatment, leaving a lasting mark on both administrative and clinical fronts. Born and raised in the vibrant and diverse city of El Paso, Sarah's journey toward her fulfilling career began with a Bachelor's in Business Administration, with a specialization in Healthcare Management. Her thirst for knowledge and her desire to make a genuine difference in the lives of others led her to pursue higher education, culminating in the attainment of a Master's of Social Work from Florida State University. Sarah's professional journey has been shaped by her strong sense of empathy and a genuine desire to connect with individuals facing the challenges of substance use disorders and mental health struggles. She understands the importance of not only addressing the physical aspects of addiction but also the emotional and psychological components that often lie beneath the surface. When she's not in the therapy room, you can often find her on the pickleball court. Sarah has a determined commitment to making the world a better place, one person at a time.
My Name is Delaney Thiel. I have been an LVN for almost two years but have worked in the medical field for just over 9 years. I am very passionate about nursing and improving the lives of patients and clients I come across. I enjoy sunshine, relaxing in my hammock and playing with my daughter. I am happy to join the AKUA team!
Katie Campo graduated from Carrington College as a Licensed Vocational Nurse in 2018. She has been a Nurse Manager in Substance Abuse and Addiction Medicine ever sense.
Katie's specialties include the employment of best practices in the field, medication assisted therapy and cultural competency. Her deep understanding of the complexities of substance use and co-occurring disorders serves to reinforce our client's sense of safety and the promise of progress. The proof of Katie's expertise shows itself through our client's successful detoxification and in the completion of our treatment program.
Experienced in client-centric care, Katie always listens carefully to her clients, includes them in their detox treatment planning and medication management. She is knowledgeable about numerous treatment modalities and stays abreast of emerging trends. She goes above and beyond for our clients and her natural compassion comes through in everything she does.
Katie, who is described as very "down-to-earth", treats everyone she meets with respect and dignity, and her wonderful sense of humor. As a team-leader, Katie is an important and integral part of the success of Akua (Terra Loma) and our clients.
I `have been an LVN for 3 years with experience in Hospitals, Private institutions and clinics. My Core Competencies include the ability to play a vital role in medical teams, communicate effectively orally and in writing and administer compassionate care to patients of all ages. I have experience as a resource for both patients and care staff.
Christina graduated with her master's degree in social work from Columbia University and has worked all over the country in a multitude of treatment environments. Her background in social work informs her perspective in seeing each individual client as a whole, all with unique, distinctive strengths and challenges. Christina's experience in both mental health and substance use treatment will provide an expansive lens in her role as Admissions Clinician where she will ensure a streamlined admission process for all Akua clients.
Caroline became a Hospital Certified Harp Therapist in 2009 through Bucks County Community College and Bedside Harp, Inc. In 2019 she completed her training as a Reiki Master through Open Ended Circle in Anaheim, CA. In 2019 she also studied under healer and breathworks master David Elliott, receiving a certification in breathworks facilitation. Caroling graduated with a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fullerton in 2021 with a major in psychology. She is currently working towards graduate school with a continued focus on psychology. Caroline is the resident harpist with a group of world-renowned female sound healers, The Sonic Deva’s, who perform in various cathedrals, private events, and music festivals around the country. She works as a recording artist and has released music with artists such as Divasonic, Navid Izadi, and Esqape. She is in constant collaboration with various sound healers and musicians, providing sound healing and musical performances. Caroline is the mother of two daughters. She enjoys surfing with her daughters, bringing them to soccer, and is also their Girl Scout troop leader. In her free time, she enjoys yoga on the beach, long distance marathon running, tai chi, and playing classical piano. Caroline has worked at Akua since the very first day they opened. She is passionate about bringing the ancient, healing qualities of the harp to modern day healthcare.