Professional Staff

When Dr. Morteza Khaleghi and his wife, Dr. Karen Khaleghi opened Creative Care in 1989, their mission was clear: to end the cycle of addiction. And to begin a life of freedom; a liberation from addiction.

Perched atop the rolling hills of Malibu, Creative Care was not only amongst the first to open in its area, but the singular vanguard of the dual-diagnosis method. The backbone of dual-diagnosis is this notion that addiction does not develop unilaterally, but rather in tandem with a co-occurring disorder. It is the co-occurring neurological disorder that for years and decades went neglected, if not completely undiagnosed throughout the broader field of clinical psychology.

A gaping hole that Drs. Khaleghi deemed essential to fill.

And so, Creative Care stands today.

As tall as it is proud. Both its pride and stature are greatly owed to the exceptional staff that call Creative Care family.

Our doctors and therapists treat the entire person, incorporating the 12-step philosophy in perpetuity with a full range of both traditional and experiential therapies. These therapeutic modalities include a full spectrum of psychiatric and psychological services, detoxification from alcohol/drugs, nutrition, yoga, equine therapy, expressive art and adventure approaches. Each approach to treatment is strategically aimed to heal the mind, body and spirit. With such understanding of clinical duty that is matched with an equally-multilateral approach to treatment, our staff embodies the highest standards of care in the industry.

Morteza Khaleghi, Ph.D., LMFT

Founder & Executive Director
Renowned 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.

Morteza Khaleghi, Ph.D., LMFT

Founder & Executive Director

Karen Khaleghi, Ph.D.

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.

Karen Khaleghi, Ph.D.

Founder & Director of Education

Farrah Khaleghi, Psy.D.

Clinical Director & Corporate Compliance Officer (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
Dr. Khaleghi began working with Creative Care in 2018 after training at West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, Twin Towers Correctional Facility, Harbor-UCLA, and the Union Rescue Mission. Dr. Khaleghi holds her doctorate in clinical psychology and is a licensed clinical psychologist. She has expertise working from psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theoretical orientations, in addition to expertise in acceptance and commitment therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Dr. Khaleghi believes in joining with clients in their journey and providing a reliable, nurturing, and empathic environment. As the eldest of Dr. K and Dr. Karen Khaleghi, Dr. Khaleghi is honored and excited to join the Creative Care community.

Farrah Khaleghi, Psy.D.

Clinical Director & Corporate Compliance Officer (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Alexandra Edwards, Psy.D., LMFT

Clinical Director (Mental Health Treatment Program)
Dr. Edwards began working with Creative Care in 1997 at its original mental health facility in Northridge, CA. Dr. Edwards holds her doctorate in psychology and is a licensed MFT. She has expertise with diverse populations and has worked with in-patient mental health, substance use disorders, high-risk youth and their families and in private practice/ outpatient mental health treatment. Dr. Edwards was instrumental in opening Creative Care Calabasas and acts as the Clinical Director. She works closely with clients and their families as well as supervising the clinical, medical and administrative staff. Dr. Edwards is passionate about the mental health population, strongly believing in a person’s capacity to move beyond suffering when in an environment conducive to healing.

Alexandra Edwards, Psy.D., LMFT

Clinical Director (Mental Health Treatment Program)

Rebecca Pearlstein, Psy.D.

Clinical Program Director (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
Dr. Pearlstein joined Creative Care’s Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program as Clinical Program Director in 2018. She holds her doctorate in clinical psychology and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Pearlstein has expertise working with a diverse and high-risk population of adults with chronic and severe mental illness with co-occurring substance use disorders. Dr. Pearlstein is experienced in a range of settings, having trained in community mental health, the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, and the Kaiser Permanente Neurocognitive Late Effects Clinic in Los Angeles. Though she operates from a psychodynamic lens, Dr. Pearlstein has expertise in several evidence-based treatments, including dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, seeking safety, and acceptance and commitment therapy. It is through this integrative approach that Dr. Pearlstein works diligently with clients and their families in providing hope and healing.

Rebecca Pearlstein, Psy.D.

Clinical Program Director (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Justin Huft, M.A., LMFT

Clinical Program Director (Mental Health Treatment Program)
Justin holds a Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, and is certified in substance abuse disorders, and LGBT-affirmative psychotherapy. Justin has worked with personality disorders, mood disorders, trauma, dual diagnosis, and client’s in-crisis in a variety of settings, including: crisis shelters, community clinics, and schools. He has presented his research on gender, sexuality, bibliotherapy, and relationship quality in conferences around the country. He specializes in integrating aspects of poetry, art, music, and play into a feminist-experiential model of therapy.

Justin Huft, M.A., LMFT

Clinical Program Director (Mental Health Treatment Program)

Anna James, CADC II, ICADC

Program Director (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
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.

Anna James, CADC II, ICADC

Program Director (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Kelly Jackson, RRW

Program Coordinator (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
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.

Kelly Jackson, RRW

Program Coordinator (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Daniel Son, M.D.

Consulting Psychiatrist
Dr. Daniel Son came to Creative Care 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.

Daniel Son, M.D.

Consulting Psychiatrist

Danna Engelberg, PMHNP-BC, LMFT

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (Mental Health Treatment Program)
Danna began working at Creative Care in 2006 at its original Northridge mental health facility. In 2008, she graduated from Pepperdine University with her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and achieved her Marriage & Family Therapy license from the state of California in 2011. With the desire to be able to treat and help clients from a well-rounded perspective, Danna went back to school and received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2012, following with a Master of Science in Nursing in 2014, both from California State University Long Beach. In 2015 she became a Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Danna uses her skills, education, and passion to provide a bio-psycho-social approach to the care of Creative Care clients.

Danna Engelberg, PMHNP-BC, LMFT

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (Mental Health Treatment Program)

Melissa Apodaca, RN, BSN

Nursing Supervisor (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
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.

Melissa Apodaca, RN, BSN

Nursing Supervisor (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Heidi Hanson, CNA

Nursing Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)
Heidi has worked in the healthcare and medical field for over 20 years. She earned her nurse’s assistant certification from the University of Montana in 2003. Heidi has attained a vast amount of knowledge and experience working in multiple medical settings and has applied it to working in various residential and outpatient rehabilitation centers. She is hard working, diligent, and most of all passionate in supporting clients reach and sustain their goals. Heidi is a Neurofeedback Technician Intern completing her hours towards certification.

Heidi Hanson, CNA

Nursing Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)

Minh Ann Le, LVN

Nursing Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)
Minh earned her License in Vocational Nursing (LVN) from Valley School of Allied Health. She is currently seeking her Registered Nursing (RN) Degree. She has a vast array of experience in all aspects of Mental Health, Recovery, Geriatric, Convalescent Nursing Homes, Home Health, and Sub-Acute care. She volunteer’s her time to the community, UCLA and with the American Red Cross. Mihn’s combination of experience, knowledge and compassion brings depth and insight to any dilemma.

Minh Ann Le, LVN

Nursing Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)

Courtney Huff

Nursing Assistant / Office Manager (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
Courtney was born and raised in Ventura County and attended Ventura College to receive her certificate for Medical Assisting. She has worked in treatment for almost 7 years, starting as an RA in a detox center, then went on to manage a Malibu based sober living. Starting at Creative Care in January of 2016 working as our Office Manager and Nursing Assistant, Courtney has had the heart to work in recovery for years as much of her own life has revolved around addiction and those struggling dual diagnosis disorders.

Courtney Huff

Nursing Assistant / Office Manager (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Giovanni Aponte, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
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.

Giovanni Aponte, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Katya Techinten, Psy.D.

Primary Therapist and Assessment Coordinator (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
Katya is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in PTSD, complex trauma, substance abuse, eating disorders, sex addiction and psychosomatic illness. Dr. Techentin has been working in Creative Care since 2009. Being bi-cultural and bi-lingual, she has a wealth of experience working with both Russian and English populations. Dr. Techentin has been helping countless sufferers process traumatic experiences in their native language. Using a combination of psychodynamic therapy, somatic reprocessing, EMDR and mindfulness, Dr. Techentin helps her clients resolve unwanted symptoms while increasing their resiliency and strengths.

Katya Techinten, Psy.D.

Primary Therapist and Assessment Coordinator (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Alexandra DeCleene, LMFT

Therapist (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
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.

Alexandra DeCleene, LMFT

Therapist (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Anne Rose, LMFT

Therapist (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
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.

Anne Rose, LMFT

Therapist (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Samantha Wood, LMFT

Therapist (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
Samantha Wood began her journey as a therpist in 2006 when she worked as a Behavioral Therapist with chrildren who suffer from autism spectrum disorders. In 2013, Samantha received her Masters Degree in Psychology with an emphasis on MArriage and Family Therapy; specializing in treating clients struggling with co-occuring disorders. In her years of experience, Samantha has worked with clients who range in age from 5 years old to 75. Samantha is a talented group facilitator who conducts groups ranging from self-care, to family dynamics. Samantha joined the Creative Care team in 2015 as an individual, family, couples, and group therapist. Samantha also conducts Neurofeedback sessions that include mindfulness and meditation techniques.

Samantha Wood, LMFT

Therapist (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Barbara A. Hibbits, AMFT, CADAC I

Therapist (Both Programs)
Barbara holds a Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and is certified as an addiction counselor. Barbara has 10 years of experience working with dual-diagnosis populations. Barbara has a psychodynamic, attachment focused approach to therapy. She specializes in trauma therapy, equine therapy, and LGBT-affirmative psychotherapy. Barbara employs therapeutic modalities such as DBT, CBT, REBT, Solution-Focused interventions, mindfulness-based strategies, and EMDR therapy. Barbara helps her clients to move towards self-acceptance, identity awareness, interpersonal effectiveness in relationships, and resolving symptoms that hinder them from leading a healthy fulfilling life.

Barbara A. Hibbits, AMFT, CADAC I

Therapist (Both Programs)

Michael Dulman, CATC

Shift Lead (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
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.

Michael Dulman, CATC

Shift Lead (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Cathy Holley, RRW

Shift Lead (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
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.

Cathy Holley, RRW

Shift Lead (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Carli Buxbaum, CADC II

Counselor (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
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.

Carli Buxbaum, CADC II

Counselor (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

James Miller, CADC II

Counselor (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programr)
James began working at Creative Care in 2014 as a drug and alcohol counselor. After fighting his own battle with addiction, he made a decision to dedicate his life to helping others begin their life changing process towards recovery. James specializes in a cognitive behavior relapse prevention approach, 12 Step education, among other resources accessed for maintaining a sober lifestyle during and after the client’s treatment.

James Miller, CADC II

Counselor (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programr)

Jennifer Winchester, CADC II

Admissions & Aftercare Coordinator
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.

Jennifer Winchester, CADC II

Admissions & Aftercare Coordinator

David Sanchez

Resident Advisor (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
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.

David Sanchez

Resident Advisor (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Jordan Pope

Direct Care Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)
Jordan has a warm and calm presence which fosters comfort, growth, and stability. He is a Certified Personal Life-Coach and earned his B.A. in Business Administration. Aside from caring for others as a career, he has learned the art of giving undivided attention and compassion to those in need by taking care of his two sisters, who were born with disabilities, for over fifteen years. He is currently studying to become a certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner.

Jordan Pope

Direct Care Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)

Leon Perec

Direct Care Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)
Leon Perec has worked in the mental health field since 1995. He worked at Creative Care’s original mental health facility in Northridge for 10 years as a shift counselor. Leon has completed UCLA Extension Drug and Alcohol Program and is currently working on CADC certification.

Leon Perec

Direct Care Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)

Jill Williams

Direct Care Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)
Jill’s passion lies in serving the mental health community. In 2013, she earned her certification as peer counselor from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Jill acquired an education in diversity through working in community mental health centers with multicultural populations. She has experience running support groups that promote the development of skills such as problem solving techniques and healthy coping tools. Jill finds purpose in helping clients foster hope and empowerment and identifying the positive qualities within themselves.

Jill Williams

Direct Care Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)

Janet Moran, CADC-II, ICADC

Direct Care Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)
Janet has over 19 years of experience working in the field of mental health and substance use disorders. She obtained her first job in recovery working for a non-profit organization in 1997. She went on to earn an international certification as a drug and alcohol counselor. In 2000, Janet joined the staff at the original Creative Care, Northridge’s Mental Health Facility. Through her journey, she has acquired experience, education and an understanding of the relationship between drugs, alcohol and mental health disorders. Creative Care is grateful to have Janet as a part of the Calabasas family guiding our clients towards hope.

Janet Moran, CADC-II, ICADC

Direct Care Staff (Mental Health Treatment Program)

Chad Houfek, RRW

Staff Counselor (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
Chad has been working in the field of addiction since 2005 and has been with Creative Care since 2016. Chad is a graduate of the UCLA drug and alcohol program and is certified through the state of California. Chad’s passion is helping clients educate themselves on the disease of addiction and how it affects their life.

Chad Houfek, RRW

Staff Counselor (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Christine Greene

Executive Chef (Mental Health Treatment Program)
Christine grew up in Calabasas during her adolescent years where she fostered a love for cooking. She nurtured this passion launching her own catering company in 2002 with a high-profile clientele ranging from business luncheons to catering private jets. After 15 years, Christine closed her catering company to join the Creative Care Calabasas family back in her hometown of Calabasas as executive chef. Men and women faced with mental health disorders and challenges is something she holds close to her heart. Christine adds healing to the clients through healthy food, nutrition and a warm presence.

Christine Greene

Executive Chef (Mental Health Treatment Program)

Lynn Tumpa

Registered Dietician (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)
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.

Lynn Tumpa

Registered Dietician (Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program)

Cameron James Saul, RRW

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.

Cameron James Saul, RRW

Director of Admissions

David Vazquez, RRW

Senior Admissions Coordinator
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.

David Vazquez, RRW

Senior Admissions Coordinator

Katy Eyer, CATC I

Director of Outreach
Katy is a San Fernando Valley native and recovering alcoholic who fostered a passion for recovery as a result of her own journey. She earned her first position working in the field of recovery in 2012 as a counselor here at Creative Care, Malibu. While working at Creative Care, Katy attended the Addiction Studies Program at Pierce College through its completion. She earned her CATC I certification as a drug and alcohol counselor. Katy moved on to gain diversity and expand her skill-set working with the LGBTQ, HIV+, homeless and post-incarcerated demographic. Her passion to serve those with mental health issues and substance use disorders continued to grow throughout her experience. Katy’s dedication to serve the community by building relationships has led her back to Creative Care as the Director of Outreach. Her promise is to support each client obtain the individual care they need and deserve, as well as making sure each client has a smooth transition in the next part of their journey to recovery and healing. Katy is currently working towards her BA in Psychology at Antioch University, Los Angeles.

Katy Eyer, CATC I

Director of Outreach

Amanda Hackney, RAS

Senior Insurance Liason
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.

Amanda Hackney, RAS

Senior Insurance Liason

Joey 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.

Joey Rodriguez

Operations Manager

Tiffany 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.

Tiffany Kessler

Executive Administrative Assistant