Professional Staff

Creative Care 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 therapists who combined have a total of 50 years dedicating their services to Creative Care!


~ Our Founders ~
Morteza Khaleghi, PhD and his wife Karen Khaleghi, PhD

Creative Care’s reputation for clinical excellence can be traced back to its beginnings in 1989 when Dr. K was the first clinician to show an unswerving commitment to treating all of the coexisting conditions driving his patient’s addictions. Soon his dual diagnosis approach was proving to be so successful that other well-known facilities began referring their toughest clinical challenges into Dr. K’s Creative Care.



Morteza Khaleghi, PhD
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 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 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.

Creative Care in MalibuDeena Manion, PsyD, LCSW
Clinical Director

Dr. Deena Manion has been with Creative Care since 1999. She oversees the clinical and administrative aspects of the program and is directly involved with each client’s treatment. Dr. Manion holds her doctorate in Clinical Psychology and has been a licensed therapist since 1993. She is originally from New York where she trained under leaders in the field of psychiatry. She has worked in a variety of settings including hospitals, day treatment, outpatient and private practice. Dr. Manion has extensive training in Dual Diagnosis and Family Therapy.


Melissa Booth, RN BSN
Nursing Supervisor

Melissa Booth 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.



~ Therapists ~

Giovanni 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 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 Barthell, MFT

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.




Alex DeCleene CaliforniaAlexandra DeCleene, MFT

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.



Anne 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. She also has experience in working with transgender clients. Anne has dedicated herself to working in the field of addiction and recovery since beginning her own personal journey in sobriety.



Malibu Drug RehabElissa 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.



Malibu Drug RehabRobin Steinberg, LMFT

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.




Carolyn McLuskie, Neurofeedback Clinician and MFTI

Carolyn McLuskie holds a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and is a certified neurofeedback clinician. She specializes in stabilizing the neurological and somatic symptoms of trauma and PTSD to facilitate addiction treatment and recovery. Carolyn has experience using neurofeedback and therapy to treat veterans with severe PTSD and addicts with dual diagnosis.



California Drug RehabIraj 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. Read More



~ 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.

Joey Rodriguez, CAARR
Program Coordinator

Joey has been with Creative Care since 2006 and is the Program Coordinator. He is a state certified drug and alcohol counselor through CAARR. Joey is currently working towards his Chemical Dependency Specialist Degree from Pierce College and preparing to get certified through CAADE.



Michael Dulman
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.




Malibu Drug CounselorClay 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.




Kelly JacksonKelly Jackson, CAADAC
Senior Counselor

Kelly Jackson has been working in the field of recovery since 2006, while also working on obtaining her CAADAC certification at Oxnard College. 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 be free from addictions.



Michelle Castro, CODA, CAADE

Michelle specializes in co-dependency and runs the in-house CODA groups at Creative Care. She is registered with CAADE, has her BA in psychology, and will be pursuing her Master's degree in psychology starting fall of 2011.




Laurel Robertson, CAADEI

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.




Nina FiroozNina Firooz, MFTI

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.




Nora Wightman, MSW

Nora has been with Creative Care since 2012. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies from Earlham College and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from 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.




Allen Wolfkill, Tribe Liasion

Allen Wolfkill has worked in the recovery field since 2004 and also belongs to the Oglala Lakota/Sioux nation. He has visited his native South Dakota since 1991 where he conducts outreach and engagement with other Native Americans.  Read More




~ Nutrition ~

Lynn 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.


~ Alumni ~

Kim Murphy MalibuKim 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.


~ Business Development~

Curtis Washington
Director of Business Development

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, RRW
Outreach and Business Development Coordinator

Rachel is a Los Angeles native and recovering alcoholic and has many years experience in chemical dependency, 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 dually diagnosed to health care programs, mental health services and substance abuse treatment centers. She has worked exclusively in recovery and with the dually diagnosed community focusing on her techniques of outreach and engagement enhancing her customer service skills. Rachel’s path led her to Creative Care to focus on Outreach and Business Development in order to reach as many individuals as possible that are in need of dual diagnosis treatment.

~ Marketing ~

Jo Coen
Director of Marketing

Jo Coen has been working in the field of addiction treatment and recovery for over 30 years. She's both owned and operated her own facility as well as having worked for the premier adult treatment programs in the country. As evidenced by her leadership role in our industry, Jo's extensive background and knowledge of core treatment objectives and techniques, marketing proficiency, and exceptional human relations skills have made her a powerful force in overcoming common and complex barriers to treatment for people in need.



~ Admissions ~

Cameron James SaulCameron James Saul, RRW
Admissions and Billing Coordinator

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. 


Megan Farrens, CATC
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 Spring CAADAC RRW
Insurance Liasion

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.