Professional Staff

Professional Staff

Creative Care is one of the first recovery centers in Malibu, CA, and the first to treat individuals with co-occurring disorders. Its founders Dr. Morteza Khaleghi and his wife Dr. Karen Khaleghi have been guiding patients to lasting sobriety since 1989. They have been able to do this by having an excellent clinical staff comprised of professionals that have been with Creative Care for many years. Dr. Deena Manion has been the Clinical Director leading the team since 1999 along with Dr. Giovanni Aponte who has been with Creative Care since its inception and provides supervision to our trained therapists. Our senior therapists, Ross McNutt , Corinne Barthell, Alex DeCleene, and Anne Rose have all been here for many years and provide primary individual and group therapies to our clients. Our doctors and therapists treat the entire person, incorporating the 12-step philosophy and a full range of traditional and experiential therapies including detoxification from alcohol and drugs, a full spectrum of psychiatric and psychological services, nutrition, yoga, equine therapy, expressive arts and adventure therapies to treat mind, body and spirit. With professional detoxification, psychological support, and 12-step involvement, our compassionate and capable staff offers the highest standards of care in the industry. We believe in innovative, affordable treatment, with costs up to three times less expensive than most Malibu treatment centers. Please see our professional staff page to learn more about our trained clinicians who combined have over 200 years dedicating their services to Creative Care!

Our Founders

morteza_khaleghiMorteza Khaleghi, PhD, LMFT
Founder and Executive Director

Renown for his clinical insight and skill, Dr. K personally initiates the clinical evaluation that follows admission to Creative Care Malibu. Dr K was trained at CGI, the California Graduate Institute, earning his doctorate in Clinical Psychology. He is also a licensed marriage and family therapist. He has been working in the field of addiction and recovery since graduating and has been a key player in the continuing development of the Dual Diagnosis treatment methodology.

karen-khaleghiKaren Khaleghi, PhD
Founder & Director of Education

First as a parent, second as a practitioner, Dr. Karen Khaleghi speaks to parents and organizations about the formation of addiction, the critical aspects of nature and nurture and the resulting disconnection between emotions and behavior. Both she and Dr. K feel strongly that there needs to be more of a dialogue about the genesis of addiction and the path to recovery, a process they call “connecting the dots.” In addition to speaking, Dr. Karen authors the Creative Care Blog.

Leadership Team

Deena ManionDeena Manion, PsyD, LCSW
Clinical Director

Dr. Deena Manion has been with Creative Care since 1999. Dr. Manion is a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) as well a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and has been a practicing psychotherapist since 1991. Originally from the New York area, Dr. Manion worked at prominent psychiatric hospitals and treatment centers on the East Coast. After graduating from Columbia University, Dr. Manion continued her post graduate training under the leaders in the field of psychiatry and family therapy at New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center and the Ackerman Institute for family therapy. Dr. Manion also worked extensively with children, teens and families in day treatment settings as well as public and private school settings. Dr. Manion has been instrumental in Creative Care’s growth and innovative clinical practices over the years. She oversees the clinical and administrative aspects of the program and she supervises all of the therapists. Dr. Manion is very involved with each client, directing the clinical care and individualized treatment plan throughout the client’s stay. Dr. Manion has appeared on the Dr. Phil show, Dr. Drew’s Life Changers, The Ricki Lake show and Intervention on A&E as an expert in treating addiction and dual diagnosis.

Anna JamesAnna James, CADC-II
Program Director

Anna shows great skills in many areas related to treating of addiction and recovery and has worked in the capacity of program director at other premiere Malibu treatment centers. After obtaining her CADC from UCLA, Anna was instrumental in building a very successful treatment facility and growing it from the ground up. Her work in administration, aftercare, HR, counseling, and operations has only become more masterful since beginning in 2001. This work is Anna’s passion and it shows in her ability to lead clients and their families into healthy, full lives that are free from addiction.
kelly-jacksonKelly Jackson, RRW
Program Coordinator

Kelly is responsible for overseeing general daily operations from an administrative perspective as our Program Coordinator. She has worked in various treatment centers with dual diagnosed individuals and brought those skills to Creative Care in 2012 to follow her belief of ‘one addict helping another’. Kelly is truly satisfied when she is able to watch someone come into Creative Care to realize their full potential and live free from addictions.

Clinical

Dr. Daniel Son, Psychiatrist M.D.Dr. Daniel Son, M.D.
Consulting Psychiatrist

Dr. Daniel Son came to Creative Care Malibu with an extensive background and training in many different psychotherapies, including Psychodynamic, CBT, Family Therapy and Recovery Dynamic Therapy. He has won numerous teaching awards and has also completed 2 specialty Fellowship trainings in both Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry, making him one of the few Psychiatrists in the nation that have done so. Dr. Son experience sets him apart in that he is current and involved in recent diagnostic research. As a consultant for Creative Care, he can provide detoxification- including suboxone detox as well as provide psychiatric assessments for all our clients. He works together with the client, families and treatment team to ensure the best possible care for the client.

Melissa BoothMelissa Booth, RN, BSN
Nursing Supervisor

Melissa Booth has been with Creative Care since 2003 and specializes in psychiatric nursing and has worked in a variety of Dual Diagnosis treatment settings. Melissa works closely with doctors to provide clients with an individualized treatment plan that may include: detoxification, medication monitoring, health screening and education. She is also a trained CPR and First Aid Instructor.

Danna Engelberg, RN, LMFTDanna Engelberg, RN, LMFT
Registered Nurse

Danna is a registered nurse completing her training as a psychiatric / mental health nurse practitioner. She came to Creative Care in 2006 and has since become a licensed marriage and family therapist. Danna uses her skills and education to provide a bio-psycho-social approach to the care of her clients.
giovanni-aponteGiovanni Aponte, PhD
Licensed Psychologist

Dr. Aponte has been with Creative Care since 1989 and has many years of experience in treating clients with Dual Diagnosis and Addictions. He received his PhD in Psychology, Social Science and Economics. Dr. Aponte specializes in psychological testing and treatment of major Mood Disorders and other Psychiatric conditions. Dr. Aponte supervises the clinical staff as well as conducting psychological testing on each client.
Ross McNuttRoss McNutt, MFT
Therapist

Ross McNutt has worked in the field for over thirty years as a therapist and as a director of various hospital and dual diagnosis treatment centers. He has been with Creative Care since 1996. Ross lectures about dual diagnosis and has appeared on television and radio.
Corinne BarthellCorinne Barthell, LMFT
Corinne is a licensed therapist and is trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing). Corinne has been with Creative Care since 2000 and specializes in addiction and recovery.
alexandria-decleeneAlexandra DeCleene, LMFT
Therapist

Alexandra DeCleene has held her masters in clinical psychology since 2001. Her areas of expertise are in abnormal psychology, addiction and family systems. Alexandra’s training in the field of addiction started at UCLA in 1999, where she worked in the neuropsychiatric institute studying the effects of drugs on the brain. She came to Creative Care in 2004 where she provides a dual diagnostic comprehensive treatment model.
ann-roseAnne Rose, MFTI
Therapist

Anne holds a Master’s degree in clinical psychology, with a concentration in co-occurring disorders. She has worked at Creative Care since 2005. Anne specializes in helping individuals with a history of trauma and PTSD, as well as personality disorders. She also has experience working with individuals in the LGBT community. Anne has dedicated herself to working in the field of mental health and recovery since beginning her own personal journey in sobriety.
Drew WilliamsDrew Williams, MFTI, CATC-IV
Drew Williams came to Creative Care in 2012 with over a decade of clinical treatment experience specializing in treating addiction and the co-occurring disorders that create the need for self-medicating. He also specializes in postmodern approaches to addiction treatment and teaches future therapists at CSUSB these principles. Drew holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy and is a Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor IV. He has dedicated his life to assisting clients and their families find hope, healing and transformation. Drew extends that same philosophy to his parallel career as the director of the Addiction Studies Concentration at Antioch University where he teaches his students to become advocates for that same, hope, healing and transformation.
elissa-stifterElissa Stifter, MA, PCI, RYT
Therapist and Yoga Instructor

Elissa has been with Creative Care since 2012 and is a therapist and yoga instructor. She sees individual clients and runs groups as well as instructing our clients in the practice of yoga. She holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Gonzaga University. Elissa is trained in trauma sensitive yoga and is certified in Cognitive Processing Therapy to treat PTSD. Elissa combines yoga therapy and clinical counseling to create a holistic, experiential therapeutic process for clients.
robin-steinbergRobin Steinberg, LMFT
Therapist

Robin has been with Creative Care since 2013. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a certification in pathological gambling. Robin specializes in families and couples struggling with addiction.
Donna-HughDonna Hugh, LMFT, CIP
Therapist

Donna is licensed therapist as well as an interventionist who has worked in the field of addiction since 2000, where she researched methamphetamine addicted individuals at the UCLA DARC Research Department. She has worked in a vast variety of settings including working with adolescents and serving the underserved doing non-profit work. Her passion is facilitating therapeutic recovery and addressing the needs within our community. Donna has returned to Creative Care Malibu to continue the work she is passionate about in an environment she regards as progressive, nurturing, and compassionate.

Consultants

iraj-shamsianIraj Shamsian, PsyD, MFT
Consulting Therapist

Iraj Shamsian PsyD has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. He has been working in the field of addiction since 1995. Dr. Shamsian was born in Tehran and attended Albourz High School. He left Iran in 1972 to continue his education at the University of Southern California, where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. He returned to Iran to work until 1984 when he then immigrated to the United States.
Drew-HorowitzDrew Horowitz, MA, LADC, CIP
Client and Family Advocate

Drew Horowitz has a vast range of experiences in working with addiction and mental health. He has gained a wealth of knowledge through his own recovery and a master’s level education from the Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies. Drew did his undergraduate degree at Hofstra University, where he focused on psychology and human development. Drew has worked extensively within a multitude of populations providing consultation, intervention, mentorship, coaching and counseling. Drew has performed nationwide interventions and supported families in times of crisis and recovery. His broad based experiences enable him to effectively treat adolescents, adults and individuals with mental health and substance abuse disorders. Drew has a strong desire to work with families in treating addiction as a family illness. Drew believes that the entire family needs to be treated in order to successfully recover from addiction. He is licensed as a drug and alcohol counselor, certified as an addiction specialist, certified as a psychiatric rehabilitation counselor and trained as a certified intervention professional.

Counselors

Particularly important are the interactions between our counselors and our clients.
Many of our counselors are in recovery themselves, offering a profoundly effective mirror as they walk the walk.

Michael DulmanMichael Dulman, CATC-I
Senior Counselor

Michael came to Creative Care in 2002 and is also a certified chemical addictions trained specialist. Michael brings a personal and professional passion and energy to helping clients find their way to recovery.
clay-jefferesonClay Jefferson, CAS
Senior Counselor

Clay Jefferson has been working in the field of treatment since 2000. He focused on his studies of addiction and psychology at UCLA and also at Pierce College for addiction studies. Clay obtained his Certification of Addiction Specialist and also has experience working with the court and legal system. He has vast experience working in all levels of treatment and has followed his path of caring for others to be with us here at Creative Care as our Senior Counselor.
cathy-holleyCathy Holley, RRW
Senior Counselor

Cathy began working in the treatment field in 2008. She worked closely with clients in the LGBT community and also assisted clients in navigating their legal issues. In 2010, Cathy went back to school and completed the Addiction Studies Program at Pierce College and is also currently working towards her AA Degree. After 5 years of dedicated work, she brought her excellent client care skills to Creative Care and has been here since 2013.
laurel-robertsonLaurel Robertson
Group Facilitator

Laurel has been a recovery counselor and group facilitator with Creative Care since 2008. She specializes in relapse prevention and runs an Expressive Arts Group.
amanda-baxleyAmanda Baxley
Resident Assistant

Amanda Baxley has been working in the field of treatment as a certified drug and alcohol counselor since 2003. She also has a background in Early Childhood Education, beginning her career, working with children. Amanda has a strong passion and enthusias m for helping people navigate their way through recovery. She has been with Creative Care since 2013.
Sean RominSean Romin
Resident Assistant

Sean Romin has been working in the field for nearly 10 years. For 20+ years, Sean was a professional musician and major-label recording artist. Sean aims to bring that sense of creativity and passion to addiction treatment. By using a postmodern approach and showing by example, Sean’s message is that not only is long-term sobriety possible, but fun. Sean is currently enrolled at Antioch University to obtain his Master’s degree in psychology.
Marty NovaesMarty Novaes, CATC-I
Counselor

Marty found working with other alcoholics and addicts to be her passion when she got sober in 1991. She has been working in the field of addiction since 2002 and graduated from Pierce College as a certified drug and alcohol counselor. Marty has great empathy and compassion for those suffering and brings these values to the Creative Care Malibu team.
Carli BuxbaumCarli Buxbaum
Resident Assistant

Carli has been working in the field of addiction treatment since 2010 and joined Creative Care’s team in 2012. She graduated from Pierce College with a certificate in Addiction studies, is a member of CAADE, and brings perspective and strength to the clients that she works with including our LGBT demographic.
Jennifer CookeJennifer Cooke, RRW
Counselor

Jennifer started at Creative Care Malibu in 2013. She has been working in the field of treatment since 2011 to give back to others what was given to her. Jennifer has completed the Addiction Studies at Pierce College and is currently studying to take the test to become a CATC. She is also working towards her AA degree. As one of our Senior Counselors, she facilitates groups and helps to manage our Resident Assistants.

Nutrition

lynn-tumpaLynn Tumpa
Registered Dietician

Lynn Tumpa is known throughout the country for her inspiring speeches about nutrition. She is an active member of the American Dietetic Association and has practiced nutrition counseling for more than 19 years. Lynn is a graduate of Hood College, served an internship at Johns Hopkins Hospital and is a certified Kundalini yoga instructor. Her innovative approach to nutritional treatment includes the integration of meditation and yogic philosophies.

Admissions

cameron-james-saulCameron James Saul
Director of Admissions

Cameron James Saul began fulfilling his passion of helping others in 2007 when he worked as a Program Developer for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department creating programs for inmates to begin their journey of sobriety. He has worked in residential substance abuse treatment since 2008. Cameron started as a technician responsible for the day to day activities of clients and he started to gain an understanding of how residential treatment centers work from the client’s perspective. His desire to make the client’s experience the best possible, led him into the Contracts Manager position of a large non-profit organization where he managed various government grants in order to maximize client usage. Cameron’s passion for connecting people to the best services available brought him to Creative Care to realize his goal of helping people access the highest quality of care available.
David VazquezDavid Vazquez
Senior Admissions Counselor

David has been with Creative Care since 2014 and believes our clients and their families deserve to be treated with respect and dignity at this most stressful time. He understands that success depends upon individual treatment and a personalized program, which is along the line of Creative Care Malibu’s individual treatment plans based on each client’s history and circumstances rather than a “one size fits all” approach. David has worked in numerous treatment centers and comes to us with over 12 years of substance use disorder experience. He has participated in over 3500 hours of treatment center courses, which include, Anger Management, Relapse Prevention, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavior.

Insurance

megan-farrensMegan Farrens
Insurance Liasion

Megan Farrens is a member of CAADE and has been working in the field of dual diagnosis treatment since 2012. She attended Pierce College and UC Santa Cruz where she studied psychology, sociology, and theater. Megan is a registered CATC and is currently pursuing higher level certification. She brings her personal and professional passion and experience to the Creative Care team as Insurance Liaison.
stephanie-springStephanie Spring, RRW
Insurance Liaison

Stephanie is a recovering addict and after working in the music business for many years, brought her commitment to recovery to another level by returning to school and becoming a registered CAADAC worker. She has worked in Utilization Review , Case Management and as a substance abuse counselor and has now found a home at Creative Care Malibu.

Marketing and Business Development

Curtis WashingtonCurtis Washington
Director of Marketing

Curtis is a dedicated professional who has worked as program coordinator, director of admissions and business development officer, for some of the best and most successful treatment centers in the country. He is very excited to bring a depth of knowledge , and broad skill set developed from collegiate studies of addiction, psychology, and human services to the team of Dual Diagnosis pioneers at Creative Care . Curtis’ passion to assist and work directly with individuals, families, or anyone struggling with addiction and related issues. Curtis is a firm believer that “one size does not fit all”, thus he embraces the Creative Care approach of individualized, comprehensive, hands on care.
rachel-corbettRachel Corbett
Director of Business Development

Rachel is a Los Angeles native and recovering alcoholic and has many years’ experience in substance abuse, dual diagnosis, mental health, and integrated care recovery. In 2005, she began fulfilling her desire to help others by dedicating her work to facilitating the linkage of all populations including LGBTQ, HIV +, and those with co-occurring disorders to health care programs, mental health services and substance abuse treatment centers. She has worked exclusively in recovery and with the dual diagnosed community focusing on her techniques of outreach and engagement enhancing her customer service skills. Rachel’s path led her to Creative Care Malibu to focus on Business Development in order to reach as many individuals as possible that are in need of dual diagnosis treatment.

Operations and Administration

Joey RodriguezJoey Rodriguez
Operations Manager

Joey has been with Creative Care since 2006. He has many years of experience working within the treatment field. As Creative Care Malibu’s Operations Manager, he is in charge of making sure the facility runs smoothly and that both staff and clients have everything they need in order to be comfortable.
Nina FiroozNina Firooz, MFTI
Director of Organizational Development

Nina has been with Creative Care since 2012 and is a bi-lingual staff counselor fluent in Farsi. She holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, with a specialization in LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) psychology. Nina is dedicated to the population that she specializes in and is also a valuable asset to Creative Care for our Farsi speaking community. She is currently working towards licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist.
Tiffany KesslerTiffany Kessler
Executive Administrative Assistant

Tiffany Kessler came to Creative Care Malibu in 2014 to join our administration team as an executive administrator and excels in organization and detail oriented work. She helps manage our Human Resource department, Insurance Department as well as scheduling for Dr. K. Tiffany remains excited to bring all her skills to the team to keep us running efficiently.
Hannah PariHannah Pari, BA Psychology
Office Manager

Hannah joined the Creative Care Malibu team in 2013 as an intern for our alumni coordinator. Since then, she has become our Office Manager and has made herself invaluable to the team. Hannah graduated from Pepperdine University with a BA in Psychology and has a passion for helping others. This has motivated her to continue her education and is currently working towards her degree to become a psychologist.
Amber AllenAmber Allen
Account Manager

After 5 years of working in the administrative field of Real Estate, Amber felt like she needed a change. She came to Creative Care in the beginning of 2014 and after meeting with Dr. Khaleghi and staff, she knew she was in the right place. Amber uses her administrative skills and firm understanding of billing practices to manage our insurance accounts and diligently keep track of records for our billing department.

Alumni and Aftercare:

kim-murphyKim Murphy
Alumni Coordinator

Kim is a people person and an avid student of human behavior, a passion that served her well during her tenure as a successful actress in TV, film and theater. She has since turned that interest toward the field of Psychology and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree toward licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist. Having emerged from her own dark journey to one of discovery and recovery, Kim is very excited to facilitate the connection between alumni and the healing community of Creative Care.
nora-wightmanNora Wightman, MSW, ASW
After-Care Coordinator

Nora has been with Creative Care since 2012. She assists clients in transitioning from residential treatment into a solid aftercare plan. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies from Earlham College and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Ohio State University. Nora has been interested in the field of addiction treatment since beginning her own personal journey in recovery. She is currently working toward getting her LCSW in California.




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