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.


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 ApodacaMelissa Apodaca, RN, BSN
Nursing Supervisor

Melissa Apodaca 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

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 California licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and has been with Creative Care since 2000. While completing her MA in psychology at Antioch University in Los Angeles, she worked at Creative Care as a shift supervisor and chemical dependency counselor. Here she observed behavior changes as being the prerequisite to recovery, and became skilled in identifying the unique behavior patterns associated with resistance in individual clients. Corinne’s experience as a dual diagnosis therapist has expanded her awareness. This combined with her expertise in chemical dependency, her skills in identifying and working with unresolved trauma, family and relationship problems, mood and anxiety disorders, and personality disorders have contributed to life-changing outcomes for many of her clients. In addition to her LMFT credential, Corinne is a California Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor (CCDC), completed EMDR training with the EMDR Institute in 2007, and is a Board Certified Professional Counselor (BCPC) with the American Board of Professional Counselors. She is currently in the process of becoming certified as a sexual addiction therapist (CSAT). Affiliations include CAMFT, EMDRIA, APA (American Psychological Association), and the American Psychotherapy Association.
alexandria-decleeneAlexandra DeCleene, LMFT

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

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.
nora-wightmanNora Wightman, MSW, ASW

Nora’s interest in the field of addiction treatment began with her own journey to recovery. Nora obtained her BA from Earlham College in Indiana and went on to get her Masters in Social Work from The Ohio State University. Nora also completed a post graduate training in Gestalt therapy at the Gestalt Institute of Central Ohio. Nora joined the Creative Care team in 2012 the Aftercare Coordinator. Her experience in aftercare planning, along with her passion for clinical work, has allowed her to grow into her role as a Therapist. Nora’s ability to guide her clients through the therapeutic process, in addition to assisting them with planning continuing care and a healthy transition after they leave treatment, has resulted in long a long lasting sobriety for her clients.
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.


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.
Marty NovaesMarty Novaes, CATC-I
Senior 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.
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.
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.
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

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.
Kimberly YzaguirreKimberly Yzaguirre
Resident Assistant

Kim has been working in the field of addiction since 2010 and is currently working towards receiving her CADC certification along with her AA degree. Kim plans to continue her education in hopes to receive her BA and eventually her Masters in psychology. Kim is passionate about helping others and assisting families in understanding how addiction affects the family unit. Kim brought her expertise in this field to Creative Care in January 2014. Kim facilitates our Expressive Art Therapy Group as well as out Reflections and Goal Setting Group.
Landi ZontelliLandi Zontelli, CAADE

Landi has been working in the addiction field since 2012 after graduating from the Addiction Studies Program at Pierce College. Landi is currently working towards her Associates Degree as well as her CATC-1 degree. In 2014 Landi joined the Creative Care team, bringing with her, her first hand experience and passion to help others overcome their addiction. Landi’s goal is to help every client discover their own value and self-worth. She works with clients to find a purpose, and to find the same freedom in recovery that she herself has found.
David SanchezDavid Sanchez
Resident Assistant

David has been involved with the recovery community since 2013. He began working in the non-profit treatment sector for a year before bringing his first-hand knowledge of addiction to Creative Care in 2014. David is passionate about helping other addicts and alcoholics to find the triggers and behaviors that have caused them to relapse. David is active in the AA community and is very resourceful at connecting clients to strong and structured support groups.


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.


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.


Amanda HackneyAmanda Hackney
Insurance Case Manager

Amanda has been fulfilling her passion of helping others since 2012. Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, and is currently in the process of obtaining her CATC-I degree. Amanda began working as a counselor in the addiction field, and used her organizational skills to increase the level of charting and documentation for clients. Amanda joined the Insurance Team here at Creative Care and is excited to use her passion for helping other addicts and alcoholics. As the Insurance Case Manager, she advocates for each client, to ensure maximization of insurance benefits, allowing clients to receive longer term care.

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.
Robert AllemanRobert Alleman
Billing Coordinator

Rob Alleman has an extensive background in Business Development, Marketing and Finance. Having worked in multiple industries with companies around the world, Rob is a seasoned professional with proficiency in identifying opportunities and maximizing the efficiency of human capital. Since joining the team this year he has enjoyed utilizing his past experience to streamline the Billing and Finance processes at Creative Care. For Rob, the most rewarding aspect of his position at Creative Care is being able to simplify the financial aspects of treatment so that clients and families are able to focus on what’s most important.

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.

Most Insurance Accepted