Promises Staff

Our highly experienced treatment teams are made up of caring, credentialed addiction and mental health specialists. We work closely with you and your family to develop an individualized treatment plan specially designed for your needs. Some of us have been where you are now. We know how fulfilling recovery can be, and we want to help you achieve it.

 

  • All
  • Alumni
  • Austin
  • Malibu
  • Malibu Vista
  • Scottsdale
  • Yvonne Crewse, LPC, NCC
    Yvonne Crewse, LPC, NCC
    Primary Therapist
  • Tiffany Dzioba, PsyD, LMFT
    Tiffany Dzioba, PsyD, LMFT
    Executive Director
  • Rachel Garner
    Rachel Garner
    Executive Director
  • Patricia Meyers, CCDC
    Patricia Meyers, CCDC
    Executive Director, Alumni & Client Services
  • Jason Powers, MD
    Jason Powers, MD
    Chief Medical Officer
  • Jody Trager, PhD
    Jody Trager, PhD
    Primary Therapist
  • Ryan Pedrini, CADC II, ICADC
    Ryan Pedrini, CADC II, ICADC
    Business Manager
  • Olivia Lee, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, CEDS(c)
    Olivia Lee, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, CEDS(c)
    Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Linka Griswold, PsyD, LMFT
    Linka Griswold, PsyD, LMFT
    Primary Therapist
  • Michael Ahmann, DO
    Michael Ahmann, DO
    Medical Director
  • Eric Feagins, MSN, FNP-C
    Eric Feagins, MSN, FNP-C
    Nurse Practitioner
  • Carine Camara
    Carine Camara
    Licensed Acupuncturist
  • Lauren Merritt, RD
    Lauren Merritt, RD
    Dietitian
  • Dejaye Botkin, LPC
    Dejaye Botkin, LPC
    Primary Therapist
  • Carl Coccaro, MS, LPC, LCDC, NCC
    Carl Coccaro, MS, LPC, LCDC, NCC
    Therapist
  • Soheila Ferdowsian, MS, MFT
    Soheila Ferdowsian, MS, MFT
    Primary Therapist
  • Sherry Harris
    Sherry Harris
    Massage Therapist
  • Alexis Maron, MA, RDT
    Alexis Maron, MA, RDT
    Psychodrama Therapist
  • Robert Saltzman, MD
    Robert Saltzman, MD
    Independent Detox Specialist
  • William Huang
    William Huang
    Psychiatrist
  • Jack Kuo, MD
    Jack Kuo, MD
    Psychiatrist
  • Vivian Dungan, RN, CARN, CCDC
    Vivian Dungan, RN, CARN, CCDC
    Head Detox Specialist
  • Kenneth England
    Kenneth England
    Primary Therapist
  • Keith Garcia, MD, PhD
    Keith Garcia, MD, PhD
    Medical Director
  • Rachael Bryant
    Rachael Bryant
    Regional Director of Human Resources
  • Alycia DeGraff, MS, LMFT
    Alycia DeGraff, MS, LMFT
    Lead Therapist
  • Bridget Levien, MS, RD, LD
    Bridget Levien, MS, RD, LD
    Registered and Licensed Dietitian
  • Michael Carter
    Michael Carter
    Executive Chef
  • Shannon McQuaid, LMFT, LISAC, CDWF, CSAT-C
    Shannon McQuaid, LMFT, LISAC, CDWF, CSAT-C
    Executive Director/Clinical Director
  • Dee Romero, MC, LAC
    Dee Romero, MC, LAC
    Associate Therapist
  • Kimberly Guenther, RD, CEDRD
    Kimberly Guenther, RD, CEDRD
    Professional Nutrition Counseling Specializing in Eating Disorders
  • Olga Yahontova, MD
    Olga Yahontova, MD
    Psychiatrist
  • Mary Pivarunis, LMFT, SEP
    Mary Pivarunis, LMFT, SEP
    Trauma Therapist and Group Therapist
  • Michael O’Brien
    Michael O’Brien
    Operations Manager
  • Christian Castañeda, LCSW
    Christian Castañeda, LCSW
    Program Director
  • Sarah Ernst
    Sarah Ernst
    Admissions Coordinator

Contact Promises Today for a Confidential Assessment.
Call 844-876-5568 or fill out the form below.

Yvonne Crewse, LPC, NCC
Primary Therapist

Yvonne is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor. She is also a certified EMDR therapist and certified level one Somatic Psychotherapist who is trained in mindfulness. Yvonne has a master’s degree in professional counseling with advanced graduate studies in expressive arts therapy. She has worked as a counselor for 15 years in various settings including an integrative lead therapist. She also served as a clinical director in behavioral health. Her passions include psychoneuroimmunology (the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body), intergenerational trauma, and how unresolved trauma can have a profound effect on the body, mind and spirit.

Tiffany Dzioba, PsyD, LMFT
Executive Director

Dr. Dzioba holds a doctorate in psychology and is licensed as a marriage and family therapist.  She specializes in treating complex and developmental trauma, severe mental illness, and addiction. With over a decade of experience, Dr. Dzioba has opened, developed and grown residential treatment programs for mental health and addiction. Her previous roles have included direct client care, clinical supervision, training of interns and paraprofessionals, and program management. She also created a spiritually integrated model of supervision that teaches therapists how to effectively assess for spiritual issues and integrate spiritual interventions in treatment. Dr. Dzioba is passionate about creating safe treatment environments that are trauma-informed and support healing.

Rachel Garner
Executive Director

Rachel Garner specializes in residential dual diagnosis treatment as well as child and family treatment. Licensed as a clinical social worker in both Texas and California, she received her master’s in social work from the University of Hawaii and has been working in the field of substance use disorders for more than nine years. Rachel travels around the country as a certified trainer for Celebrating Families, which is considered the best practice family program in existence today. She has also worked as a clinician in direct practice, engaged in program development and supervision, grant-writing and management, and as a supervisor for the continuum of care for dual diagnosis patients. Rachel was born and raised in Hawaii, received her undergraduate degree from Southern Oregon University, and most recently resided in Santa Cruz, where she spent six years working in the nonprofit sector. In the fall of 2016, she moved to the Austin area where she shares a home with her husband and two dogs.

Patricia Meyers, CCDC
Executive Director, Alumni & Client Services

Patricia has worked in the field of addiction for 19 years. Since joining Promises in 1997, she has served in many roles, including resident technician, resident technician supervisor, admissions coordinator, admissions director for almost nine years, and her current role as executive director of alumni and client services. She also spent five years working as an independent recovery coach and interventionist and does ongoing crisis intervention work in our alumni program.

Patricia is a certified chemical dependency counselor (CCDC) and is trained in family crisis intervention, relapse prevention and the reintegration process of clients returning to their communities. At the 2015 SHARE! Recovery awards, she received the Ken Schonlau Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Sobriety.” Patricia also serves on the board of the Promises Foundation serving Miriam’s House, a recovery home that helps low-income women reunite with their children. Patricia’s experience allows her to bring her own unique brand of passion, enthusiasm and warmth to clients and their families.

Interview with Patricia Meyers

Jason Powers, MD
Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Powers is the chief medical officer of Right Step and Promises Austin, both members of the Elements Behavioral Health Family. Originally trained and board certified in family medicine, Dr. Powers re-dedicated his career to helping addicts and their families after he personally faced addiction. He is now also board certified in addiction medicine and passionately helps addicted individuals and their families embrace the healing path of recovery. He does not rigidly fit everyone into one mold, respecting that individual differences matter. He combines holistic treatment modalities with traditional therapies when treating his patients.

Dr. “P” was honored with Sierra Tucson’s Compassion Award and recognized as a Top Addiction Doctor in Houston for four years running by H Texas magazine. Dr. Powers is also the author of the comprehensive book about addiction When the Servant Becomes the Master. He is currently president of the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and is a local expert for The Partnership for a Drug Free America.

Dr. Powers is married to a beautiful wife and has three loving kids. Besides spending time with his family, he enjoys yoga and camping.

Jody Trager, PhD
Primary Therapist
Dr. Trager is a licensed psychologist with over 30 years of experience. She specializes in women, depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, grief and loss, and severe mental illness across diverse populations. She works on an intensive level with clients throughout their treatment to heal, build resilience, and develop new more effective coping skills.
Dr. Trager received her doctorate from the University of Southern California and has continued her intensive training and practice in the Los Angeles area. Prior to joining Malibu Vista, Dr. Trager worked as a clinician and as a clinical supervisor at Reiss Davis Child Study Center. She worked for over 15 years with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health doing psychiatric diagnostic and treatment assessments for children, adolescents and young adults. In addition, Dr. Trager has a private practice in the Brentwood area, working with adults and adolescents in short-term intensive psychotherapy.
Ryan Pedrini, CADC II, ICADC
Business Manager

Ryan came to Promises in 2007 as a rehabilitation technician, while studying psychology at West LA College. In 2008, Ryan pursued his CADC II at UCLA, graduating with certificates in alcohol/drug abuse studies and alcohol and drug counseling. Ryan then took on the position of quality assurance administrator. Now, as business manager, Ryan leads both Promises Malibu and Malibu Vista in compliance operations, client services and organizational training.

Olivia Lee, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, CEDS(c)
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Lee is a board certified psychiatric nurse practitioner. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Arts in English, and Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, all from Fairfield University. As a psychiatric provider, Dr. Lee has a strong passion for working with patients struggling with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and addiction. She has previous experience working in community-based mental health, as well as at partial hospitalization and residential treatment centers specializing in eating disorders and substance use disorders.

Dr. Lee takes a holistic, integrative and comprehensive approach to treatment, often implementing mindfulness and positive psychology techniques in her work. She has completed extensive research on the use of mindfulness-based group work in the treatment of disordered eating and promotion of positive body image. Dr. Lee is a member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association and American Academy of Eating Disorders’ Advocacy and Communications Committee. She is currently in the process of obtaining certification and designation as a certified eating disorder specialist (CEDS), certified addictions advanced practice registered nurse practitioner (CARN-AP), and certified functional medicine practitioner (CFMP) and diplomate through the American Clinical Board of Nutrition.

Linka Griswold, PsyD, LMFT
Primary Therapist

Dr. Griswold holds a doctorate in clinical psychology with an emphasis in forensics. She is also a DBT-certified, licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of California and has over 13 years of clinical experience. In addition to her clinical work, she is a professor of psychology at several reputable colleges and universities in the Los Angeles area. Her clinical repertoire includes brief and long-term therapy, family therapy and family systems approaches, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), trauma focused CBT, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), substance abuse recovery and relapse prevention, psychoanalytic, and solution focused modalities.

Dr. Griswold received her state certification working with survivors of trauma from UCLA Medical Hospital in Santa Monica.  She focuses on strengths and encourages mental, emotional and spiritual growth by providing empathy, warmth and a safe therapeutic environment. Treatment is focused not only on symptom reduction, but full recovery. She uses evidence-based treatment, pulling from the most contemporary and scientifically founded interventions within clinical psychology.

Michael Ahmann, DO
Medical Director
Dr. Ahmann brings to Promises a diverse medical background and a strong passion for helping people with substance abuse and behavioral health conditions. He has extensive experience treating complex medical issues and uses holistic approaches to promote optimal overall health and well-being for all patients.
During his professional training and practice, Dr. Ahmann has gained both inpatient and outpatient experience in addiction medicine and family medicine, as well as psychiatry, neurology, emergency medicine and sports medicine, among other disciplines. He is  certified by both the American Board of Addiction Medicine and the American Board of Family Medicine.
Dr. Ahmann has been a resident of the Phoenix area since 1980. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial technology at Arizona State University before his initial 14-year career in the computer industry. In 1997 he returned to ASU for his pre-med studies, then attended Midwestern University medical school from 2001-2005. Dr. Ahmann performed his medical internship at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, and then finished his residency in family medicine at Phoenix Baptist Hospital in 2008. He completed his fellowship in age management medicine at Cenegenics Medical Institute before founding his first practice, Arizona Age Management. He worked extensively in urgent care while he developed Total Primary Care, a full-service family and addiction medicine clinic in 2009.
Eric Feagins, MSN, FNP-C
Nurse Practitioner

Eric has eight years of experience treating adults with drug and alcohol addiction at detox and drug rehabilitation facilities. He holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Texas Medical Branch. He is licensed by the Texas State Board of Nursing and is certified as a practitioner by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner’s Certification Program. In addition to helping people with chemical dependency, Eric spent seven years as a floor nurse in a pediatric intensive care setting at Shriner’s Hospital for Children and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Carine Camara
Licensed Acupuncturist

Carine is a licensed acupuncturist and holistic health coach with a private practice in Mar Vista, California. She graduated from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. Carine is passionate about easing people’s suffering through the energetic wisdom of acupuncture, nutrition, essential oils and mindset.

Lauren Merritt, RD
Dietitian

Lauren has a bachelor’s degree in culinary nutrition and a degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University-Denver. She went on to become a registered dietitian with a Master’s of Science in nutrition and health sciences. Lauren specializes in eating disorder treatment and is currently finishing up her CEDRD (Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian) and CPT (Certified Personal Trainer). She was raised in the Midwest but after eight states, decided to trade in the snow for sunny Scottsdale, AZ.

Dejaye Botkin, LPC
Primary Therapist

Dejaye is a licensed professional counselor in both New Jersey and Arizona. She is the founder and former director of DJB Counseling LLC, Sparta Teen Talk, and the Juvenile Accountability Leadership Program in New Jersey. Dejaye was also an adjunct professor with Centenary University in New Jersey working in the psychology department. She moved to Arizona in 2017 and has been actively working with adults and families in crisis in the East Valley.

Dejaye holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. She specializes in trauma recovery and holds certifications in professional mediation, clinical supervision, psychiatric screening and psychological first aid. She is also the author of Thinking Clearly: A Guide to Interpreting the Language of an Abuser.

Carl Coccaro, MS, LPC, LCDC, NCC
Therapist

Carl is a licensed professional counselor, licensed chemical dependency counselor, and nationally certified counselor. He also holds certifications in SMART Recovery and EMDR. He earned a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from the University of Wisconsin. Carl facilitates personal growth using attachment theory, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and strength-based and solution-focused therapy, among other approaches. His focus is meeting clients where they are from a holistic and integrative approach, and helping them find their authentic selves as they move toward a healthier and more empowered life.

Soheila Ferdowsian, MS, MFT
Primary Therapist

Soheila provides a full range of clinical services, including family workshops and our family program which help families receive and provide support. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Portland State University in Oregon and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from California State University, Long Beach. Before she joined Promises in 2016, Soheila worked as lead counselor at the Salvation Army adult drug rehabilitation program, a school counselor and a child development specialist. She has experience working with clients from different cultures and ethnicities and is passionate about helping people reach their potential in the most compassionate, emphatic way.

Sherry Harris
Massage Therapist

Sherry Harris started practicing massage therapy in 1998. She holds certificates in massage from the Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing in Culver City, CA, Santa Monica School of Massage, and Shiatsu Massage School of California.

During her years of schooling and as part of her own motivation to be of service in recovery, Sherry took part in The HeartTouch Project organization training, where she learned “compassionate touch” for AIDS patients, nursing home elders and hospice patients. “It is a blessing for me to have a skill that helps people feel better, a bright spot in their day.”

Sherry has been part of the ancillary staff of Promises Malibu since January 2002. Richard Rogg, the founder of Promises, brought Sherry on board to start a practice of massage therapy that focuses on detoxification and rejuvenation.

“I was taught, when someone comes to me, they’re not just a body to be massaged. They have a history and the history is stored in their body. So treat them with compassion, understanding and respect.”

Alexis Maron, MA, RDT
Psychodrama Therapist

With her love of performance art firmly in place when she began acting at age five, Alexis has since harnessed that passion to create an exciting and unique therapeutic practice using Drama Therapy.

Alexis graduated from UCLA in 2003 and from NYU in 2010, where she earned her M.A. in Drama Therapy. While in New York, she worked with at-risk high school students, the homeless and mentally disordered, and adults battling drug addiction.

Since returning to California, she has pioneered a Drama Therapy program at Orange County School of the Arts, facilitated a Drama Therapy group for adults with Down Syndrome, and conducted groups at several facilities including Promises Treatment Center and Simple Recovery, where she has been using Psychodrama as well as other Drama Therapy techniques to aid adults suffering from both drug and sex/love addictions.

In 2013 she began offering private and semi-private independent group sessions, and has begun work on her first book entitled “It’s Time To Get Off The Couch” about the changing face of therapy, due out in the spring of 2015.

Recently, she earned her Registered Drama Therapist Certification from the National Association of Drama Therapy, which defines her as a professional who has: “expertise in dramatic, theatrical, and performance media; understanding of psychotherapeutic processes with different populations in a variety of settings; experience with the integration of the artistic and psychological aspects of drama therapy; and professional work experience in the field of drama therapy, mental health and special education.”

Robert Saltzman, MD
Independent Detox Specialist

Robert L. Saltzman, MD, graduated from New York Medical College with a medical degree in 1971. He obtained his licensure in California and has had a private practice specializing in internal medicine/nephrology since 1976. He is affiliated with St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, and Daniel Freeman Marina Mercy in Marina Del Rey. He is a member of the American College of Physicians and the American Society of Nephrology.

“I believe that Promises provides a positive surrounding for help and healing. My hopes are to foster help and healing for every single patient at Promises. The changes seen in people are often quite dramatic.”

William Huang
Psychiatrist

Dr. William Huang completed his adult psychiatry residency and served as Chief Resident of Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. He stayed on and finished his fellowship training in the subspecialty of addiction psychiatry. He is board-certified in both general psychiatry and addiction psychiatry.

Dr. Huang became very involved in the field of addiction during residency in the treatment of severe withdrawal cases. He also providing trainings of alcohol withdrawal awareness and treatment protocol to medical students, interns, residents, and nursing staff. As a fellow at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, he helped set up the Addiction Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic and provided psychiatric evaluation and treatment for Dual Diagnosis Intensive Outpatient Program and Inpatient consultations. He also worked with Asian Pacific Counseling and Treatment Centers and Hollywood Mental Health County Clinic in providing evidence-based treatment for minority and underserved patient populations.

Dr. Huang was awarded the American Psychiatric Association/SAMHSA Substance Abuse Minority Fellowship for his special interest in working with minority groups with co-occurring disorders. He has also been the recipient of scholarships from the American Psychiatric Association/Lily Chief Resident Executive Leadership Program, Ruth Fox from American Society of Addiction medicine. He also participated in several of the California Society of Addiction Medicine’s legislative days in Sacramento to lobby for parity in addiction treatment.

Dr. Huang is an active speaker for workshops, CMEs, and special lectures at international conferences and meetings with topics of biological perspectives on co-occurring disorders, state of substance use disorder training, suicide prevention, online Internet games, virtual reality and cybertherapy, videogame addiction, and integrating co-occurring disorder treatment in California prisons.

Jack Kuo, MD
Psychiatrist

Dr. Jack Kuo completed his addiction psychiatry training at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He began working in the field of chemical dependency as a volunteer outreach worker for homeless teens in Waikiki. Dr. Kuo then did residential counseling for at-risk youth in a group home as well as homeless, mentally ill individuals at a transitional living program. Next he worked as a community health outreach worker doing HIV prevention education and needle exchange programs with intravenous drug users.

As an educator, Dr. Kuo has taught a course titled “Biological Perspectives on Co-occurring Disorders” for the UCLA Extension Program. He has also presented nationally and internationally on topics ranging from ethnic biodiversity in substance abuse and mental illness to an evidence-based review of virtual reality and other forms of cybertherapy in substance abuse and mental illness. Since 2004, he has also presented extensively about videogame addiction and has appeared on the G4 Videogame Network and The Greg Behrendt Show as an expert consultant on videogame addiction.

Dr. Kuo has published an article on club drug precautions for pediatricians and been awarded scholarships by many organizations, including the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Association of Addiction Psychiatry, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the American Psychiatric Association, and the California Society of Addiction Medicine. He has been on the CSAM Education Committee since 2007 and was the Director of the ASAM Exam Preparation Track for CSAM in 2008.

Vivian Dungan, RN, CARN, CCDC
Head Detox Specialist

Vivian Dugan has over 19 years of Chemical Dependency experience in both hospital and residential treatment programs. She facilitates all client detox procedures and helps begins their transition into sobriety.

“I am excited to be a part of Promises as I continue to help support others emotionally, physically and spiritually through their journey of recovery.”

Kenneth England
Primary Therapist

Kenneth England received his Master’s degree in counseling from Cal State Northridge in 2006, and he is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Kenneth began his career as a therapist at the Airport Marina Counseling Service, a facility serving the Los Angeles area with sliding scale counseling. He entered the substance abuse field in 2006 when he joined Cri-Help, Inc., where he worked with Dual Diagnosis patients. It was at Cri-Help where Kenneth worked extensively with families of patients, whom he sees as an underserved population of the substance abuse field. Kenneth has training and experience with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Brief Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Ropes/Experiential Therapy and Family Therapy—including Imago Therapy for couples. He also brings to Promises his personal interest and studies in the fields of Mindfulness and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), along with his own recovery experience of twenty-three years. Kenneth worked in the film business in Los Angeles for seven years prior to changing his career journey to help others with their struggles. He finds that it is very important for patients to receive quality service, empathy and guidance in their living, changing decisions for recovery.

Keith Garcia, MD, PhD
Medical Director

A native of Texas, Dr. Garcia was born in Houston, attended Rice University, and completed a combined MD/PhD program at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. He pursued residency training in psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where he remained as faculty until 2010. Dr. Garcia relocated to Austin to continue his academic career with the Dell Medical School and Seton Family of Hospitals.

Throughout his academic career, Dr. Garcia has cared for patients with co-occurring substance abuse and psychiatric conditions across the spectrum of treatment settings including inpatient, outpatient and partial hospitalization programs. In 2017, Dr. Garcia left academics to start his own practice and has been the medical director for Promises Austin and The Right Step Hill Country since then.

Dr. Garcia is board certified in psychiatry by the ABPN. He has published over 20 articles and chapters across a wide range of topics and has provided mentorship to numerous resident psychiatrists and students, but is most rewarded by working with a team to provide clinical care to patients.

Rachael Bryant
Regional Director of Human Resources

Rachael joined the Right Step in 2010. Rachael received her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management from Ball State University in Muncie, IN. She has been in the Human Resources field for 12 years. She has been PHR (Professional in Human Resources) certified since 2010. Rachael is passionate about aligning HR department goals and practices with business goals and objectives. She has an 8 year old daughter who loves sports and being outside.

Alycia DeGraff, MS, LMFT
Lead Therapist

Ally is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in community, family and addiction services and a master’s degree in family therapy from Texas Tech University. She’s currently working toward completing a doctorate degree in human development and family science at the University of Georgia. Ally’s clinical repertoire includes experiential intervention, strategic intervention, financial therapy and solution-focused brief therapy. When Ally is not working, she enjoys kayaking, gardening, cooking, making jokes, and spending time with her partner, dog and two cats.

Bridget Levien, MS, RD, LD
Registered and Licensed Dietitian
Bridget is a registered and licensed dietitian practicing in Austin, TX. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition at Texas A&M University and completed her supervised practice in Austin through the University of Houston’s Distance Dietetic Program.

Bridget was employed at St. David’s Medical Center working with adults in rehab and the acute setting, providing diet education for diabetes, cardiovascular health, kidney disease and more. She joined iLiveWell Nutrition so she could spend more time with patients, helping them to implement positive lifestyle changes to improve their health. She enjoys teaching groups and working individually with adults on many nutrition issues including managing diabetes, improving cardiovascular health and supporting recovery.
Michael Carter
Executive Chef

Chef Carter has been a food service professional for over 34 years. A Houston native, Carter cut his teeth in various Texas, California and New Mexico restaurants. Realizing his passion in life was to serve others through food, he pursued formal education at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.

Prior to coming to Promises Austin, Chef Carter served as senior chef instructor at Le Cordon Bleu’s North American campus in Austin. While there he attained various certifications from the American Culinary Federation, International Association of Culinary Professionals, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Philanthropic endeavors include working with the Central Texas Food Bank and Austin Boxer Rescue. His hobbies include mountain climbing, kayaking, hunting and tending to an ever-increasing flock of backyard chickens.

Shannon McQuaid, LMFT, LISAC, CDWF, CSAT-C
Executive Director/Clinical Director

Shannon has been working in the field of addiction for over 20 years and has been with Promises Scottsdale since 2009. She has extensive experience in management and administration as well as program development. Shannon is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a licensed independent substance abuse counselor. She is a certified The Daring Way™ Facilitator and is a certified sex addiction therapist. Shannon runs weekly The Daring Way™ shame-resilience groups in both our men’s and women’s addiction treatment programs. She has experience working with clients, couples and their families and is well-versed in treating co-occurring disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, sexual addiction and eating disorders. Shannon has a passion for helping clients take back their lives.

Dee Romero, MC, LAC
Associate Therapist

Dee has experience with addiction, co-occurring disorders and family therapy. She takes a client-centered, collaborative approach to counseling, drawing upon therapeutic techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Dee provides each client a safe, supportive, encouraging environment for self-discovery, understanding and acceptance. She says that working with clients from all walks of life has provided her an opportunity to witness the potential within humanity.

Kimberly Guenther, RD, CEDRD
Professional Nutrition Counseling Specializing in Eating Disorders

Kim is a registered dietitian and certified eating disorder registered dietitian who has lived in Arizona the majority of her life. She earned a degree in human nutrition from Arizona State University and began working in eating disorder treatment in 1996. She then completed a dietetic internship with Maricopa County, which helped to confirm her passion for working with clients who struggle with eating issues. Kim has continued to work in this capacity for the past 20 years at all levels of care, from inpatient to outpatient services. No matter what the struggles are with food, Kim enjoys meeting clients where they are at in their journey and helping them achieve their nutrition goals.

Olga Yahontova, MD
Psychiatrist

Malibu Vista is thrilled to announce the addition of Dr. Olga Yahontova. Dr. Olga Yahontova is a board-certified psychiatrist with extensive experience of treating trauma patients around the world.

She utilizes her expertise in the field of psychopharmacology as well as non-traditional approaches to help her patients regain health and freedom from suffering the aftermaths of trauma. She has taught thousands of participants at her workshops and lectures in the United States and around the world on the effects of trauma and on new approaches to healing it. Dr. Yahontova served as Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the USC. She has appeared on many domestic and international TV and Radio shows, bringing education to the public in different countries.

Mary Pivarunis, LMFT, SEP
Trauma Therapist and Group Therapist

Mary is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in trauma, PTSD and grief and loss. She is trained in Somatic Experiencing and Trauma First Aide, two body-oriented modalities that help clients increase their resiliency and ability to learn about and regulate their own nervous systems.

Mary received her Masters degree in Counseling Psychology and specialization in Somatic Psychology from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA.

Prior to joining Malibu Vista, Mary worked at a psychiatric hospital in Berkeley, CA in both the inpatient and outpatient programs with diverse patient populations. She served as Program Director and Main Therapist for a variety of adult and adolescent programs. While working in the outpatient program, Mary conducted trauma consultations for both her patients and colleagues and initiated a department-wide training in Trauma First Aide to prevent burnout and PTSD.

Mary is very passionate about her work in the field of trauma and the body. Her enthusiasm, optimism and infectious sense of hope have been a comfort to hundreds of clients she has worked with over the years. Combining a real curiosity, compassionate exploration and a sense of humor, Mary helps clients identify and understand their issues and works with them to create a plan for healing. Mary believes that it is never too late to be curious about your self, to discover the resiliency of your body and the strength of your spirit to aid in the healing process.

Mary maintains a private practice in West LA where she works with adults and couples in short and long term psychotherapy.

Michael O’Brien
Operations Manager
Christian Castañeda, LCSW
Program Director

Christian is a licensed clinical social worker and a certified trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapist who specializes in treating addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. He also holds a certification in the Seeking Safety model of treating substance abuse and trauma. Prior to joining Promises, Christian spent three years as lead clinical specialist at Huntington Hospital. He also worked as a clinical lead for the GRYD Foundation, an organization dedicated to reducing gang-related violence and strengthening communities, and maintains a private practice in Burbank.

Sarah Ernst
Admissions Coordinator

Sarah has worked in health care for 12 years. Prior to joining Promises, she worked for Integris Home Health Care as an intake coordinator and Kaner Medical Group as a medical assistant. Sarah studied vocational nursing at North Central Texas College and business administration at Tarrant County Community College. She is a native of Dallas, Texas and is passionate about helping people find the right treatment for their needs.