MEET OUR TEAM
Our multidisciplinary team of providers includes psychiatrists, therapists, group facilitators, case managers, teachers, and experts in various fields. All are highly trained, Masters- or Doctorate-level professionals, carefully selected for their passion and compassion, their clinical expertise, and their commitment to care. Our administrative and support staff have been chosen with the same attention to exacting standards. The members of our team represent the highest level of practice in their respective disciplines.
Eric Wexler, MD, PhD – Medical Director
Dr. Eric Wexler has been a psychiatrist in practice for over ten years, specializing in psychopharmacology and neuropsychiatry. Prior to entering private practice, he was engaged in both clinical care and basic science research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine. There, he served as an attending physician on the inpatient geriatric psychiatry unit at the UCLA/ Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, where his clinical focus was on mood and impulse control disorders, particularly in patients with often rare, inherited or autoimmune neurodegenerative diseases. His research focused on the following areas: understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of common mood stabilizers like lithium, developing novel experimental models of neuropsychiatric disease (e.g., dementia or autism), and applying novel network (“big data”) analytic methods to the problem of understanding the signals that govern early nerve cell development.
Dr. Wexler graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. He holds an MD and a PhD degree in Neuroscience from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he did his doctoral thesis work in the area of nerve cell development and neurotransmitter function. Dr. Wexler completed his residency in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, where he received his primary psychotherapy training with Dr. David Burns, best-selling author and early popularizer of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). He then pursued specialized fellowship training in psychopharmacology and neuronal regeneration at Stanford under the auspices of Dr. Alan Schatzberg, former American Psychiatric Association President and coauthor of the official APA Textbook of Psychopharmacology. During this period, he also served as an attending physician in the Emergency Department of San Francisco General Hospital/ UCSF. He later completed a research fellowship in neurobehavioral genetics at UCLA, before joining the full-time academic faculty at the UCLA School of Medicine, in the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry and the Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics.
Robyn Caruso, LMFT – Clinical Director
Robyn, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with almost a decade of experience in direct client care and the inner workings of administrative oversight, is dedicated to providing a safe, healthy, nurturing and healing environment for those struggling with mental health issues.
Having worked in almost all aspects of a treatment facility: clinical, intake, utilization review and program administration, Robyn brings a clinician’s approach to healing and an administrator’s attention to detail assuring the highest quality of care for all clients. Robyn has an intrinsic understanding of the community we serve and passion for that service. Robyn’s educational background includes a B.A. in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles.
Robyn has been an active member of the treatment community since 2008, holding various clinical, administrative and leadership roles including Executive Director at several prominent treatment facilities. She is a current member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP), serving as President Elect. Previously, she served on the Board of Directors of the Central Coast Chapter as Treasurer from 2012-2014. She is also Director of Fundraising and the Event Consultant for #ShakeIt for Self -Acceptance!™, an organization that provides inspiration and empowerment through dance.
Krystyl Wright, LCSW – Program Director
Krystyl Wright is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker ( LCSW), and a graduate at the University of Southern California where she received her Master’s in Social Work. Krystyl has been working as a trained Dialectical Behavioral Therapist (DBT) and has been working with adults, children, and families with intense trauma and dual diagnosis . Krystyl combines her compassion for people and her professional experience as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, trained in Seeking Safety, and DBT to empower individuals and strengthen families.
Krystyl received her BA in Sociology at Humboldt State University and a MSW from the University of Southern California.
Joe Hobel, LMFT – Lead Therapist
Joe Hobel is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with extensive experience with chronic mental health issues, chemical dependency and co-occurring disorders. Joe has worked in various residential treatment centers and community mental health settings, gaining an expertise in a wide spectrum of psychiatric issues, including anxiety and mood disorders, personality disorders and trauma. Prior to joining Resilience, Joe was Clinical Director of the Chemical Dependency/ Co-occurring Disorders programs at La Ventana Treatment Programs.
Joe is passionate about helping underserved populations; for six years, he was the Lead Mental Health Specialist and Clinical Supervisor at Common Ground/Venice Family Clinic, providing psychotherapy to low income clients with chronic mental health and medical problems, homelessness, social isolation, developmental disabilities, IV drug use, and infectious disease. He was also Staff Clinical Supervisor and adjunct faculty at The Relational Center, a community-based mental health clinic, providing group and individual clinical supervision and instruction to Marriage and Family Therapist Trainees/Interns. Joe has also worked with adolescents, as a Staff Counselor at Pacific Lodge Youth Services, a residential intervention program for youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, and as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for a foster child. He enjoys teaching and has been an Adjunct Instructor in the Graduate Program in Counseling Psychology at Mount St. Mary’s College; Joe also has specialized training in Relational Gestalt and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Prior to entering the mental health field, Joe held various executive and line production positions in the film and television business and is the former President and COO of The Motion Picture Bond Company.
Joe holds a BA in Sociology and History from Columbia College of Columbia University, an MBA from Columbia University, and an MA in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University.
Shanda Curiel, PsyD – Primary Therapist & OCD/Anxiety Specialist
Shanda Curiel, PsyD is a licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders and some Anxiety Disorders. Of particular interest are the aggression, sexual, and moral obsessions, as well as perinatal-onset OCD for mothers and fathers. Her primary theoretical orientation is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, which entails the evidence-based practices of Cognitive Restructuring, Exposure and Response/Ritual Prevention, Exposure Therapy, Habit Reversal, and ComB. These techniques center around changing thoughts and behaviors to improve emotional and overall functioning. Individuals learn to replace the confinements of certainty with the freedom of uncertainty.
Dr. Curiel originally trained as a generalist treating the entire lifespan in a variety of settings; however, in 2011 narrowed her scope of practice to OCD and Anxiety Disorders. Her professional training consists of certifications from IOCDF’s Behavior Therapy Training Institute and UPENN’s Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety. She has also received additional training for Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Trichotillomania, and Excoriation Disorder. Dr. Curiel is currently a Scientific Advisory Board Member of Beyond OCD (Chicago) and a professional member of the IOCDF. She often gives presentations to medical and psychiatric professionals and members of the community to raise awareness about the etiology, symptoms, and maintenance of OCD. Dr. Curiel completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Goodman Psychological Services Center of Carlos Albizu University in Miami, FL and a post-doctoral residency at the Center for Psychological Health and Well-being in Aurora, MO. Her background consists of non-profit agencies, university community clinics, rural private practice, urban acute inpatient, and her own specialty private practice. She was also an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Education and Training at Avila University and an adjunct instructor at Columbia College.
Dr. Curiel holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio and an MA and PsyD from Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, MO. Her California License Number is 28647.
Samantha Wakach, LCSW – Family Program Therapist
Samantha Wakach is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Family Mediator with over 20 years of experience in both the public and private mental health sectors of Los Angeles. She is a family therapist at Resilience Treatment Center and has a psychotherapy and mediation practice on the Westside of Los Angeles. She specializes in attachment disorders, co-occurring disorders, trauma informed care, and resilience based approaches to working with patients and families.
Samantha earned her BA in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego and a Masters in Social Work (MSW) from UCLA.
Kimberly Jones, ASW – DBT Therapist
Kimberly Jones joins Resilience after recently graduating from the University of California Los Angeles’ social work program. While in school Kimberly worked as a therapist with individuals, families, and running groups at a community based agency in Santa Monica and within the Santa Monica/ Malibu Unified schools. She received training at Harvard University’s McLean Hospital prior to attending graduate school; where she worked as community residence counselor, shift manager, skills coach, and group facilitator. Kimberly has worked with children, adolescents and adults, primarily in residential and agency based settings. Kimberly has experience with play therapy, chemical dependency treatment, trauma work, anxiety treatment, crisis intervention, psychosis screening, and social behavioral work; with a particular emphasis and training in Dialectical Behavioral therapy (DBT).
Kimberly received her BA in psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of California Los Angeles.
Angelique Poisson, LMFT – Case Manager & Art Therapist
Angelique believes artistic expression is a powerful tool that communicates in ways daily rhetoric cannot. She is passionate about empowering clients to tap their innate creativity and uncover insight through transformative creative processes.
Angelique received her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy and Art Therapy from Adler Graduate School in Minneapolis, MN. Her graduate research centered on utilizing art as a mindfulness practice to increase resilience and well-being in underserved populations. Angelique also serves as President-Elect of the Southern California Art Therapy Association.
Jessica Lynch, MAAT – Case Manager & Art Therapist
Jessica joins the Resilience team as a Case Manager and Art Therapist. Jessica has clinical experience working with various populations, including children, at-risk adolescents, cancer patients and adults with chronic mental illness, dual-diagnoses and substance abuse. In addition to her clinical work, she continues to pursue new research in the fields of art therapy and mental health. Recently, she was named the national recipient of the 2016 Award for Excellence in Research by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) for the development of a new art therapy intervention for anxiety reduction.
Jessica holds a dual MA in Art Therapy and Clinical Counseling from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut.
Edgar Fabian Frias, MFTi – Group Facilitator
Edgar has many years of experience working with people in a wide array of settings, ranging from their time as a program manager and therapist at the Domestic Violence Resource Center in Hillsboro, Oregon to, more recently, working as a clinical social worker in San Francisco.
An avid believer in the power of our inherent wisdom, their approach honors and respects the organic and emergent process that unfolds experientially within the sacred space of relationship. They firmly believe that within a safe, attuned and empowering relationship, there exists great possibility for the collaborative development of more integrated, coherent and transformative narratives that can guide our life’s story.
Edgar completed their Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Portland State University where they also completed a Graduate Certificate in Interpersonal Neurobiology. They are a graduate of M.E.T.A.’s first-year Professional Skills training in the Hakomi Method and have also trained with Mariel Pastor in Internal Family Systems Therapy.
Maia Akiva – Creative Writing
Maia Akiva is a motivational speaker / facilitator and creative-writing coach, who uses narrative story-telling as a platform for self-exploration and inquiry. Her award-winning plays and short stories have been produced and published all over the United States, inspiring people from all walks of life to launch their own journeys of self-discovery. For the past ten years, Maia has been sharing her love of speaking and writing as host / MC, workshop creator, and volunteer trainer for WriteGirl, a creative-writing and mentoring organization for teen girls. Maia has also led workshops at the Models of Pride conference and at The Writers Junction. She has also held other leadership positions, namely, in the Los Angeles chapter of the Israeli scouts and in the IDF, where she served as army lieutenant.
Matthew Mueller, CWC – Executive Director
Matthew joins the Resilience team with an extensive career serving the mental health and chemical dependency community. Among Matthew’s myriad experiences in the field include transitioning developmentally disabled adults from institutions to group/individual living environments, working as a county certified case manager for HIV-positive clients and providing social services case management for ADP licensed programs.
Matthew brings an all-encompassing knowledge of accreditation and licensing to Resilience. His previous experience includes securing accreditation through both CARF and Joint Commission, as well as licensing for Congregate living health facilities through CDPH and alcohol and drug programs through DHCS.
Resilience would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Matthew for his dedication and service to the country as a veteran of the United States Armed Forces.
Tiffani Russell, SHRM-CP – Director of Human Resources
Tiffani Russell joins the Resilience team as the Director of Human Resources. With a combined 16 years of experience in HR, Tiffani is ideally placed to use her industry savvy to ensure that all Resilience staff are thoroughly trained and equipped to deliver the highest quality of care. Having transitioned into behavioral health from hospitality, Tiffani brings a client-centered approach to her work that seeks to find the most talented team members to build an environment that maximizes client experience and comfort. Tiffani’s myriad responsibilities include recruiting, staffing, training, conducting job analysis and performance reviews and payroll management among many others.
Tiffani received her BA in Communications from California State University Northridge and holds a certification in payroll.
Joann Zuniga – Director of Billing
As an expert in the field of Treatment Billing, Joann oversees the day to day aspects in all billing related matters at Resilience Treatment Center. She conducts Verifications of benefits, Utilization Reviews, Prior Authorizations, and approval of all Admissions Financial Agreements. In addition to her passion about being the mother of 2 boys, Joann is passionate about making a difference in the lives of people choosing to receive mental health treatment services.
Joann received an Associate’s Degree from Ventura College in legal studies and is currently attending California Lutheran University where she will earn a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice.
Robyn Hammond – Billing Representative
Robyn has extensive experience with insurance company billing, to include Verification of patient benefits, billing, follow up calls for payment of services, and reconsideration and appeal letters when necessary. Robyn has spent the past 5 years in the billing and collections sector and is currently attending California State University, Northridge with a Health Administration Major and a minor in Finance.
Brittney Cowan – Director of Admissions
Brittney Cowan is compassionate, resourceful, bright and, above all, thoroughly discreet; Brittney is the one to help you find your way out of a difficulty towards a good solution. She has spent the past twelve years helping people in client services, most recently, in admissions and programming management at two prominent treatment facilities. Brittney is an integral member of the Resilient team; her ability to establish rapport and assess clients’ needs allow her to effectively determine the appropriate type and level of care required in each case—and her dedication to client-centered care mean that she will work to find the best placement for you, your loved one, your patient or client, wherever the best placement might be, whether at Resilience or another facility.
Brittney holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Phoenix.
Stephanie Dutton, CATC III – Intake & Community Relations Manager
Stephanie Dutton has been working in the mental health treatment field for the better part of the past decade; including substance abuse, eating disorder and dual diagnosis treatment. She has extensive experience working with these populations in in admissions, counseling and outreach. Stephanie’s personal experience through her own journey to recovery has fueled her passion for working with this population. It was through her own treatment process that she discovered a love and passion for helping others. Stephanie believes this to be her life’s calling and is blessed to be able to have meaningful work to do. She strives to be a part of the solution for those who are struggling to find a solution. Her passion and dedication to client care enables her to be an effective ally to our clients; allowing them to feel comforted and empowered to find the treatment they need whether it be with Resilience or another facility.
Stephanie holds a BA in Psychology from California State University Northridge and is a Certified Addiction Counselor through California Association for Alcohol/Drug Educators.
Andrew Sarver – Utilization Review Manager
Andrew combines his experience working with mental health, substance abuse and eating disorder treatment with his extensive knowledge of the insurance industry to ensure our clients receive the best care possible. He has been working in the treatment field for many years and is passionate about delivering quality service to those in need. He spends his personal time advocating for health and wellness, social justice issues and community engagement.
Andrew earned a Bachelor’s in Music from Millikin University and is currently working on his Addictions Studies certification at UCLA Extension where he was a recipient of the Zappala Family Scholarship award in 2015/16.
Presha Washington Jr. – Facilities Manager
With over 10 years of experience in management and 3 years of experience in logistics & operations, Presha has a proven record of structural implementation that seamlessly streamlines operational functions. Having worked in the behavioral health field for many years, Presha brings a great deal of knowledge to his position with regard to building a strong operations and logistics department. He is a wonderful asset in helping to analyze systems and creating process improvement plans. Presha’s responsibilities including procurement/purchasing, budget control, training, transportation, analysis reports and data tracking.
Stephen Schaffold – Admissions Manager
Stephen began his career in the Mental Health Field as the Operations Manager in a six-bed residential treatment center for adolescents. He went on to work as a Residential Counselor for developmentally disabled teens, and subsequently managed a crisis team designed to assist Regional Center clients in times of dire need. His current role as Residence Director involves overseeing the day-to-day operations of one of the supportive living home options for clients attending Resilience Outpatient Treatment Center.
Stephen received his B.F.A. in Theatre Arts from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, coupled with classes in Drama Therapy and Psychology. In 2010, after a life changing event, he used what he learned as an actor and translated it into a new career in the field of psychology.
Richard Carbajal – Office Coordinator
With a background in addiction studies and over 12 years in client care, Richard Carbajal brings a great deal of joy and enlightenment to our clients and guests. His many years of experience in client care adds a significant amount of value to the daily operations that make Resilience… resilient. Not only does Richard manage the front office, he also handles a variety of other tasks within the entire organization, providing a safe and healthy working environment.
Ami Ben-Artzi, MD – Director of Medical Assessment
Dr. Ami Ben-Artzi has been practicing medicine for over fifteen years and now provides comprehensive clinical care at his Cedars-Sinai-affiliated practice in Beverly Hills. Prior to entering private practice, Dr. Ben-Artzi served for several years as full-time faculty at New York University (NYU) and at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where, in addition to his patient care responsibilities, he served as mentor to other clinicians in training.
Dr. Ben-Artzi holds a bachelor’s degree in Integrative Biology from the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) and an MD from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv. He completed his residency training at Montefiore Medical Center; he further received rheumatology subspecialty training at the Hospital for Joint Diseases at NYU.
Annette Swain, PhD – Director of Neuropsychological Assessment
Dr. Annette Swain is a board-certified clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist, specializing in the neuropsychological assessment of neurological, general medical, and psychiatric conditions. She is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She served for fifteen years as the chief neuropsychologist at a specialized geriatric assessment clinic and has also been a Qualified Medical Examiner for the State of California for nearly ten years. Dr. Swain has also been in private practice for fifteen years and has two offices, in Encino and Burbank.
Dr. Swain completed her initial psychological training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received her doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the University of Iowa in 1998. She completed her neuropsychology training at the Benton Neuropsychology Laboratory at the University of Iowa. She then completed her pre-doctoral internship in geropsychology and a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in neuropsychological and psychodiagnostic assessment at UCLA.
Allison Deegan, EdD – Creative Writing & Education
Dr. Allison Deegan has extensive experience and expertise in managing youth and writing programs and supporting graduate students working on theses/dissertations. She is co-founder and Associate Director of WriteGirl, a highly-acclaimed creative writing and mentoring program for teens based in Los Angeles. For the past thirteen years, she has also served as an administrator with the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), the country’s largest regional educational agency. At LACOE, Dr. Deegan was instrumental in developing the Road to Success Academy, a new Project-Based Learning (PBL) curricular-model school.
Dr. Deegan holds a BS in Marketing from Syracuse University, a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), and an EdD in Educational Leadership, also from CSULB, where her dissertation focused on how students develop confidence in creative writing as they transition into college.
Christy Wilhelmi – Gardening Program
Christy Wilhelmi empowers people to grow their own food, to be more self-reliant, and to reduce pollution and waste—one garden at a time. She also specializes in small-space, organic vegetable garden design, classes, and consulting. Her own small backyard garden produces between seventy to eighty percent of her family’s produce.
Christy is the author of “Gardening for Geeks” and founder of Gardenerd, where she publishes information-packed monthly newsletters, weekly blog posts, and podcasts. Her writing has appeared in Heirloom Gardener Magazine, Edible Los Angeles and Edible Westside magazines, LowImpactLiving.com and the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market Wrap-Up for Patch.com. She has appeared on the Emmy-nominated “Home and Family Show”, “KCAL 9 News”, as well as the “Rosie on the House” and “Good Food with Evan Kleiman” radio shows.
Christy has been a board member of Ocean View Farms Organic Community Garden in Mar Vista, California since 1999, and gardens almost entirely with heirloom vegetables.
12.31.89 ~ 10.11.16
Sara Fernandez was the second employee to join the Resilience Family and she worked tirelessly to help create Resilience Treatment Center. She was our Resilience Angel, the heart and soul of all we exemplify here. She made everything run seamlessly, her energy knew no bounds and her beautiful smile always made everyone feel special. Sara had a way of making each person feel like they were the most important person in the room. As our Operations Director, she was given problem after problem to solve, and each time she would reply with a reassuring “No problem!” Sara demonstrated compassion, beauty, grace under pressure, and a willingness to accomplish anything that was needed.
Sara loved tattoos and was always getting new ones added to her collection. One of her most beloved tattoos – besides the beautiful one of her grandmother – was a little swallow on her foot. Swallows are a symbol of love and loyalty to the family, which describes Sara perfectly. Sara will always be part of our Resilience Family. May she rest in peace…