Meet Our Therapists

WILA’s excellent training programs attract an impressively bright, curious, and motivated group of clinicians. Since our founding, over 650 graduate students, psychology interns, and postgraduate fellows have studied at WILA and become exceedingly competent and compassionate mental health professionals.

Peter Achenbach, MA (HE/HIM)

Postgraduate Fellow

Peter Achenbach (PSB94026899) is a Doctoral Candidate from Antioch University of Santa Barbara where he also received his Master’s in clinical psychology. He previously trained at New Beginnings Counseling Center in Santa Barbara and at Ventura County Behavioral Health in Simi Valley. He has experience working with patients dealing with anxiety, depression, recovery from addictions, career goals, personal and relationship issues, spiritual development, and a range of other challenges. He works from a psychoanalytic and psychodynamic perspective, and believes that healing takes place within the therapeutic relationship. Within this relationship both therapist and patient can work together to understand how past experiences contribute to one’s current challenges and the experiences unique to that individual. Peter focuses his treatment with a culturally sensitive approach.

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Jenna Bennett, Ph.D. (SHE/HER)

POSTgraduate Fellow

Jenna Bennett (PSB94026268) holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center and the City College of New York. With care, openness and a strong foundation in psychodynamic psychotherapy, Jenna works with individuals and couples to find greater fulfillment and connection in their lives. Jenna helps patients navigate life transitions, aspects of identity, relationship challenges, shifts in mood, and experiences of trauma. Through exploring one’s past experiences and how they intersect with the present, Jenna supports her patients to process, understand, and find new pathways and possibilities for the future. 

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Ji Choi, MA (SHE/HER)

PRE-DOCToral CAPIC Psychology Intern

Ji Choi is a Doctoral Candidate at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, Los Angeles where she also received her Master’s in Clinical Psychology. She has received a diverse training experience on issues pertaining to the LGBTQIA+ population while at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. She also has a background in neuropsychological assessment, helping individuals with TBIs and neurodegenerative disorders. Ji has experience in a wide variety of issues including depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship conflict, identity-related issues, and self-esteem, all with an understanding around the intersecting layers of identities and unique life experiences.

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Tameeshah Cival, MS (SHE/HER)

PRE-DOCToral CAPIC Psychology Intern

Tameeshah is a Doctoral candidate in Applied Clinical Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles. She holds a Master’s degree in Psychology specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis. Tameeshah has experience working with adults and children with a variety of behavioral and emotional challenges.  Tameeshah draws from several modalities when working with clients including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based practices, and solution-focused brief therapy. She is also trained in EMDR and values approaching each client uniquely and treating them with an integrative approach. Tameeshah both supports her clients in navigating life transitions while also addressing their mental health. She sees her role as a therapist is to guide, support, and empower individuals through a healing and recovery process without judgment. Her aim is to empower clients to maximize their potential to enjoy a successful and productive life. Tameeshah’s therapy style is warm, empathic, and interactive. She believes in treating everyone with respect and compassion.

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Clarissa Dewhirst, MA (SHE/HER)

PRE-Doctoral CAPIC Psychology Intern

Clarissa Dewhirst is a Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University Santa Barbara where she received her Master’s in Clinical Psychology. Clarissa previously trained at Mission Harbor Behavioral Health as well as the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. She has experience treating adolescents and adults in individual, group, and family sessions. Her experience ranges from treating those suffering from mood disorders, addiction, trauma, as well as those suffering from dual diagnoses. Clarissa finds that establishing rapport and creating a warm, nonjudgmental environment for the client to work in to be the most effective treatment approach and one that allows both parties to do the best work in each session.     

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Savannah Giannini-Cocio, MSW (SHE/HER)

social work POSTGRADUATE FELLOW

Savannah Giannini-Cocio (ASW97411) received her Master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Southern California. She previously trained at Los Angeles Family Housing where she provided psychotherapy to a diverse population of those experiencing homelessness. In addition, she trained at Santa Clarita Veteran Services Collaborative where she also provided psychotherapy to Veterans. She has experience working with those who are dealing with depression, anxiety, childhood trauma, sexual assault, post-traumatic stress disorder, interpersonal relationship challenges/difficulties, loss and grief, and many other areas. Savannah uses a variety of approaches with her patients such as psychodynamic, CBT, and mindfulness-based practices. She believes compassion should always be the center of a therapeutic relationship with her patients in order to build trust and provide them with a safe space where they are able to find their voice, purpose, self-love, and ability to heal.

 

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Parker Head (HE/HIM)

MFT Trainee

Parker is a Master’s Candidate in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles’ and holds a Bachelor’s in Political Theory from Pomona College. His approach is psychoanalytically informed and rests on a belief in speech’s ability to give voice to one’s unconscious. Day-to-day life often leaves no room for this type of language. Therapy gives patients the time and space to listen to, and find the words for, this unconscious voice.

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Katie Karsh, MSW (SHE/HER)

SOCIAL WORK POSTGRADUATE FELLOW

Katie Karsh (ASW102248) earned her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California, and holds a master’s degree in Education from Stanford University. Katie has worked with diverse populations across multiple settings, including in schools, residential treatment facilities, and in community mental health. Most recently, she worked with students at USC’s Counseling and Mental Health center where she worked with issues of trauma, grief and loss, addiction, depression, anxiety, sex and sexuality, and personal identity development. She believes therapy is the most impactful way to change the world for the better by helping individuals heal wounds, support them to connect to their true selves, and empower them to live authentically.

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Baraneh Kazemi, MSW (SHE/HER)

SOCIAL WORK POSTGRADUATE FELLOW

Baraneh Kazemi earned her Master’s degree in Social Work at UCLA, with a concentration in child and family well-being. Baraneh offers a warm and collaborative space where clients can safely face challenges, reconnect with their strengths, and identify resources to live with more ease in body and mind. In her work with children, adolescents, and adults, Baraneh supports clients as they navigate anxiety, self-esteem, relationships, grief, loneliness, identity questions, intergenerational trauma, career goals, life transitions and other opportunities for self-understanding. Her curious and compassionate clinical approach is informed by her training in trauma-informed, psychodynamic, culturally-sensitive, attachment-based care with elements of cognitive behavioral and somatic therapy. She brings a deep awareness of the various systemic forces that impact our sense of self and is committed to providing equitable and empathetic care for all beings. She encourages clients to bring their whole nuanced selves into the room in order to reconnect with their core and connect more authentically with others.

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Clare Knudson, MA  (SHE/HER)

Postgraduate Fellow

Clare Knudson (PSB94026819) is a doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Clare’s training in psychoanalytic, psychodynamic, and somatic therapies inform her collaborative and curious therapeutic style. She tailors her clinical approach to support her patients in better understanding themselves and their relationships. Clare has worked with a wide range of adolescents, adults, couples and families that struggle with depression, anxiety, relationships, PTSD, and life transitions. Clare recognizes that the roots of her patients’ issues are both interpersonal and societal. Clare also provides affirmative-based care that understands the nuanced, complicated and oftentimes fluid relationship her patients have with their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

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Alex Kuschner, MSW (SHE/HER)

SOCIAL WORK postgraduate fellow

Alex Kuschner (ACSW105354) earned an M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University in 2021. She also holds an M.A. in International Affairs from American University and a B.A. in History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University.

Embracing psychoanalytic and psychodynamic perspectives to therapy, Alex helps patients work through past and present challenges, deepen their self-awareness, and lead happier, more fulfilling lives. Alex meets patients where they are, moves at their pace, and provides empathic support throughout this transformative, and at times difficult, journey. Patients are never alone in this process, as Alex is an unwavering partner.

Prior to joining WILA, Alex worked at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington in Washington, DC as an inpatient clinical care coordinator where she supported adults and adolescents struggling with psychiatric illness, addiction, and cooccurring disorders. In a previous lifetime, Alex coached collegiate rowing, consulted for the government, and worked as an undergraduate admissions officer.

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Heather Lilleston (SHE/HER)

PRE-DOCToral CAPIC Psychology Intern

Heather is a Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, and is in the process of completing her dissertation. She previously trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at Valley Community Counseling Clinic in North Hollywood, and has experience working with a variety of people from all ages and backgrounds, addressing anxiety, depression, grief, addiction, relationship challenges, trauma, somatic symptoms, loneliness and beyond. As a therapist, Heather combines her training in psychology with over twenty years of experience in the Hatha Yoga and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, both as a dedicated student and teacher, most of which took place in New York City. Her approach to therapy is welcoming and interactive, tailoring each session to a clients specific needs and pace. Heather believes that long term therapy is one of the most potent ways one can ensure psychological support in an overwhelming, fast paced world, and that its benefits come through consistency over time.

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Brittany Magid, MA (SHE/HER)

PRE-DOCToral CAPIC Psychology Intern

Brittany Magid is a Doctoral Candidate from Antioch University Santa Barbara where she received her Master’s in clinical psychology. Brittany previously trained at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility and the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. She has experience working with adolescents and adults suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, grief and loss, addiction, trauma, and with a variety of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Brittany’s therapeutic style is warm, non-judgmental, full of empathy, and compassion. She believes that learning how to cope with life’s various challenges, as well as developing an understanding of emotions and mental processes, are important aspects of the therapeutic process.

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Sophia Makal, MA (SHE/HER)

MFT POSTGRADUATE FELLOW

Sophia Makal (AMFT135485 and APCC12559) earned her Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, and she also holds a Master’s in Psychology from The New School and a B.S. in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. While her most recent M.A. was focused on Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Clinical Counseling, Sophia’s first M.A. was focused on Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling, which has led her to develop an integrative treatment style that focuses heavily on a safe, trusting, and collaborative therapeutic relationship. Sophia completed her graduate training and continues to serve at Cancer Support Community Los Angeles, where she provides individual and group treatment for people of all ages (5-90+) and backgrounds (genders, sexualities, races/ethnicities, religions, etc.) who are either living with, or are a loved one of someone with, cancer. The most common themes that Sophia has encountered in her training involve grief, trauma, depression, anxiety, relational issues, and coping with uncertainty. Sophia was the prior Intake Coordinator at WILA, and she is very excited to be expanding her work with an organization that shares her mission to promote equitable access to psychotherapy. Sophia is particularly passionate about working with traditionally marginalized populations, and she is both LGBTQ+ and sex positive. 

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Paul Mancillas, MA (HE/HIM)

PRE-DOCToral CAPIC Psychology Intern

Paul is a Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Anaheim where he also received his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. Paul has a wide range of clinical experience from performing neuropsychological assessments, working as a therapist in an outpatient and inpatient psychiatric hospital, and at a psychoanalytically based community mental health center. Paul works from a psychoanalytic model, where he aims at building the therapeutic relationship to allow individuals to explore their thoughts and feelings in depth and free of judgment. The journey of this process is based on working together to foster awareness, build authenticity, expand consciousness, and develop long lasting growth within oneself to enhance the quality of one’s experiences and relationships in life. 

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Steve Mason, MA (HE/HIM)

PRE-DOCToral CAPIC Psychology Intern

Steve is a doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He also holds a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Humboldt State University. Steve has worked in community, university and inpatient settings with individuals, couples and groups. He has a special interest in working with persons struggling with addiction and interest in personality and identity work. Steve takes a relational and process-oriented approach to therapy and believes that the healing work of integration is a life-long process.

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Colin Mattingly, MA (HE/HIS)

PRE-Doctoral CAPIC Psychology Intern

Colin Mattingly is a Doctoral Candidate at Antioch University Santa Barbara. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California Santa Barbara and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Santa Barbara. Prior to being at WILA, Colin trained at Community Counseling and Education Center and New Beginnings Counseling Center. Over the course of his clinical training, Colin has worked with a diverse array of individuals struggling with a variety of mental health challenges. Cognizant of the vulnerability psychotherapeutic work requires, Colin’s therapeutic style is rooted in nonjudgment, curiosity, compassion, and respect.

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Bill McCrary, MA (HE/HIM)

PRE-DOCToral CAPIC Psychology Intern

Bill completed a PhD in classics at UCLA and became passionate about psychology and psychoanalysis while doing research for his dissertation. This led him to pursue his doctorate in clinical psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles. Bill works with adults, children, adolescents, couples, and families and has experience working with a range of issues (from ADHD to occupational difficulties), especially anxiety, depression, and relationship challenges. Although Bill uses a variety of theoretical approaches, his primary approach is psychodynamic. He feels that the therapeutic relationship, with its strong bond between patient and therapist, is the most consistent and powerful mechanism of change. He believes this makes psychodynamic work immediate, powerful, and exciting for patient and therapist alike.

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Spenser Sussan, AMFT (SHE/HER)

MFT postgraduate fellow

Spenser Sussan (AMFT131908) received her Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Elon University. Previously, she trained at Colors LGBTQ Youth Counseling Center where she provided therapy pro bono to LGBTQIA+ adolescents. Spenser uses an integrated approach, which allows her to work with her clients on depression, anxiety, grief, and relationship difficulties. She believes that it is vital to help clients build a strong relationship with themselves, in order for them to move through the world in an authentic way.

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Ebony Towner, MA (SHE/HER)

LPCC pOSTGRADUATE FELLOW

Ebony Towner (APCC12171) recently completed a Masters in clinical mental health counseling from Adams State University in Colorado. She also has a Masters in special education from San Francisco State University and a Bachelors in Psychology from UC Berkeley. Ebony believes in the capacity of relationships to bring about change and healing. While working as a play therapist with children on the autism spectrum, she came to see how a relationship with a caring, empathetic clinician supported exploration, learning, and growth. In her work, Ebony provides a therapeutic space for people to explore and clear mental and emotional blocks so that they can live a life that is more true to themselves and deeply fulfilling. Ebony has a special interest in working with people with polyamorous/non-monogamous relationship styles, kink/BDSM lifestyles, and other non-conforming folk. Ebony also works with the New Center for Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles where she coordinates psychoanalytic lectures, workshops, and trainings for mental health clinicians. 

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Tiffany Vlaanderen (SHE/HER)

MFT Trainee

Tiffany is a Master’s Candidate in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University Los Angeles and holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Southern California.  Drawing on psychodynamic perspectives and a background as a mindfulness practitioner, her integrative therapeutic approach seeks to connect mind, body and spirit as integral in understanding who we are as whole and dynamic individuals. She believes one’s sense of self and how they move in the world is immensely shaped and impacted by the systems they inhabit and she works collaboratively to affirm social and cultural identities and experiences. Throughout one’s life, experiences can lead them to disconnect, feel fragmented, wounded and stuck. Tiffany believes in the capacity of the therapeutic relationship to support people to engage their fullest sense of humanity, drawing on the relationship we co-create between us as an opportunity for connection and healing. She is dedicated to supporting individuals to safely identify where they are and to support them to access a capacity to reconnect with and nourish themselves and their relationships.

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Brege von Bleicken, MSW (SHE/HER)

SOCIAL WORK Postgraduate fellow

Brege von Bleicken (ASW105139) received her Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Rutgers University and her B.A. in Psychology at the City University of New York at Hunter College. Brege is excited to join the WILA team as she strongly believes in the core mission of equitable access to psychotherapy. She considers herself a lifelong learner and believes the best therapeutic relationship develops through trust, empathetic understanding, and teamwork. Brege has experience working with individuals of various backgrounds aged 14 to 85. The most common therapeutic themes she’s encountered in her training surround management of anxiety, depression, relational issues, phase of life changes, ADHD, eating disorders, grief, and trauma.

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All therapists at the Hedda Bolgar Psychotherapy Clinic at Wright Institute Los Angeles are pre-licensed Psychology Interns and Postgraduate Fellows under the supervision of licensed mental health professionals on the WILA Faculty. Our therapists hold either a Doctorate in Psychology or a Master’s degree in Psychology, Social Work, or Marriage and Family Therapy. All therapists are registered with the California Board of Psychology or the California Board of Behavioral Sciences or at WILA as part of a CAPIC Accredited Internship.