Being on the cutting edge of improving addiction treatment has allowed Serenity to attract a professional staff at the top of their game. The Serenity medical, psychiatric and psycho-therapeutic staff are amongst the best in their fields and are well known nationwide by reputation and through media and academic publications. We strive for excellence when it comes to our treatment methods and management styles, so our staff is comprised of the most experienced and advanced addiction recovery professionals.
Gregory Skipper, M.D.,
Medical Director, Professionals Program
Dr. Skipper is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and a certified medical review officer. He previously served as medical director for the Alabama Physician Health Program and was on the council that created and oversaw the Oregon Health Professionals Program. Dr. Skipper was the primary innovator of ethyl glucuronide (EtG) testing and is an expert in alcohol biomarkers and drug testing. He was a principal investigator of the National Physician Health Program Blueprint Study, funded by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant, and is the author of many articles regarding drug testing, physician health, and contingency monitoring. Dr. Skipper was formerly medical director of Springbrook Hazelden, and he was a chief advisor to the development of the professional’s program at Promises, Betty Ford Center and Bradford Health Services.
Reuben Vaisman-Tzachor, Ph.D., FACFEI, DABPS, FAPA, DABCHS,
Dr. Rueben Vaisman-Tzachor brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to Serenity Malibu. He obtained his doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in 1993 and has been a Licensed Psychologist since 1997. He has taught as an adjunct professor of clinical and forensic psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles and others for over 25 years, and served as an Attending Psychologist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for 16 years.
Dr. Vaisman is a Fellow at the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute, a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychology Specialties in Clinical and Forensic Psychology, a Fellow at the American Psychotherapy Association and a Diplomate of the American Board of Certification in Homeland Security.
He has conducted research and published over 20 professional journal articles, and has written or co-authored 8 books and 3 psychology-based novels. Many of his research articles are about addiction and chronic mental illness. Additionally, he has served as an expert witness for various courts including the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
During 6 years of counter-terrorism service as a navy captain and gun-ship commander for the Israeli navy, he developed an expertise in terrorism prevention. He was subsequently recruited to head a research project at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico to study and produce a national terrorism prevention protocol for the George W. Bush administration. The project was subsequently integrated by the CIA into the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden and has been adopted into the official curriculum at the FBI Academy.
Dr. Vaisman-Tzachor is a writer, reader and speaker of English, Spanish, and Hebrew.
Nancy B. Irwin, Psy.D,
Primary Therapist & Certified Hypnotherapist
Originally from Atlanta, Dr. Nancy Irwin moved to New York City in 1985 to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian. She worked all over the country and abroad, and moved to L.A. in 1994, where she experienced an epiphany when she began volunteering for Children of the Night, a shelter for sexually abused children in Los Angeles. This experience awoke the healer in Dr. Irwin, prompting her to pursue a doctorate in psychology at California Southern University with a specialty focus on the prevention and healing of sexual abuse.
Dr. Irwin graduated from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in Tarzana, California, in 2003, with honors and the Director’s Award. She has frequently been called upon to provide her expertise on numerous radio and TV shows, including CNN, CNBC, Fox, and MSNBC. She is a member of the American Hypnosis Association, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, the California Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, and she is a Diplomate in the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Nancy also serves on the Education Committee of the California Coalition on Sex Offending, and she treats more than 100 emotional and behavioral issues, including addictions, phobias, and sexual abuse trauma.
A certified practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Time Line Therapy, and Emotion Free Therapy, Dr. Irwin tailors each client’s treatment to effect the most rapid transformation possible. Dr. Irwin’s academic accomplishments, life experience, and personal approach together enable her to provide clients with a unique treatment experience. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from California Southern University, and has a background as an opera singer and stand-up comic—this unique combination of skills enables her to inject heart and humor into her healing. A powerful keynote speaker, she insists: “Change does not have to be scary and hard. It can be creative and fun.”
Dr. Irwin is also the author of many articles and two books, including co-authoring Breaking Through, Stories of Hope and Recovery.
Damon Raskin, M.D.,
Internist & Detox Specialist
Dr. Damon Raskin is board certified in internal medicine and received his Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University. In 1993 he graduated with distinction from George Washington School of Medicine in Washington DC, after which he completed his residency at UCLA.
For the last 16 years, Dr. Raskin has been specializing in preventive and addiction medicine. He has a full-service office with X-ray, cardiac stress testing equipment, and a lab, and he holds privileges at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Raskin has extensive experience helping patients safely detoxify from alcohol, opiates, and other drugs.
Matthew Goldenberg, D.O.,
Matthew Goldenberg D.O. is double board-certified in psychiatry and addiction psychiatry and is a certified Medical Review Officer (MRO). He is an expert in the evaluation and treatment of mental health disorders and has provided addiction psychiatry consultations to some of the nation’s top addiction treatment programs. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Goldenberg is an active author, researcher and invited speaker at local and national conferences. He volunteers his time as a clinical instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA and is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Goldenberg completed an addiction psychiatry fellowship through UCLA, in Los Angeles, California, and psychiatry residency at Banner University Medical Center of the University of Arizona, in Phoenix, Arizona. He completed medical school at Midwestern University, Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, and is a native of Los Angeles.
Ashley Benjamin, M.D.,
Dr. Ashley Benjamin graduated from medical school at the University of Kansas and completed his residency at Wright State University/Wright Patterson Air Force Base while on a prestigious U.S. Armed Forces Medical Scholarship. Dr. Benjamin served a total of 21 years (8 years active, 13 years in reserves) as an Air Force psychiatrist, during which time he served as both the medical and administrative director for the Tinker Air Force Base Substance Abuse Program.
Dr. Benjamin’s experiences have helped shape his philosophy of minimizing medications and their doses to the greatest extent possible, as he believes military medicine is truly about helping patients achieve maximum functionality.
He retired at the rank of a Lt. Colonel and proudly served as part of the mental health flight during the devastating tornado that hit Oklahoma City in 1998. His military career culminated in the receipt of the prestigious Reserve Physician of the Year award.
Having worked in numerous settings, Dr. Benjamin has tremendous versatility, yet he takes exceptional pride in his work as the medical director for the Oklahoma City VA Iraq/Afghanistan return program and as the consulting psychiatrist for a dual diagnosis program aimed at helping mothers abstain from substances, with the goal of reuniting with their children.
Prior to completing medical school, Dr. Benjamin graduated as valedictorian with a B.S. in journalism from the respected William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. He then received an M.A. from The Ohio State University in exercise science. His track and field and cross country coaching experiences at KU and OSU helped shape his philosophy of seeing each patient as an “athlete,” with the goal of helping maximize their potential as part of a multidisciplinary team. He utilizes this concept when working with every patient at Seasons/Serenity. In addition to his 30-plus publications in various areas of mental and non-mental health topics, he is the lead co-author of the book, The Student Athlete’s College Recruitment Guide,which focuses on helping high school athletes find the best ethical, academic, and athletic fit at the college level. Dr. Benjamin is also a certified IGMCA Mental Game Instructor and Life Coach.
Melissa Chisari-Noori, Psy.D,
Dr. Melissa Chisari-Noori is a licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in treating residents in individual, couples, and family therapy. She obtained her doctoral degree in psychology from California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University. She has worked in the field of addiction and recovery for many years in a variety of clinical settings, including residential treatment programs, intensive outpatient programs, university counseling centers, and private practice. Dr. Noori specializes in treating adolescents, adults, couples, and families struggling with addiction, co-occurring disorders, relationship issues, anxiety, and depression.
Dr. Noori takes an action-oriented, collaborative approach to address each client’s specific needs, working towards identifying and changing negative patterns in a safe, compassionate environment. Dr. Noori feels truly honored to support each client on their transformative journey.
Benjamin Nakanishi Psy.D,
Dr. Ben Nakanishi is a licensed clinical psychologist who has many years of experience working with clients struggling with addiction and mental health issues. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California Santa Barbara and went on to obtain his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University.
Dr. Nakanishi has worked in a range of settings including community mental health, schools, correctional institutions, and in private practice providing individual, group, couples, and family therapy. He strives to create a collaborative and supportive environment so that issues can be explored openly and honestly. He draws from a wide range of therapeutic orientations and techniques but specializes in psychodynamic and psychoanalytic approaches which focus on exploring the unconscious motivations that drive our behaviors.
Jennifer Tippet, Psy.D,
Primary Therapist and Consultant
Dr. Jennifer Tippett is a Licensed Clinical Forensic Psychologist. She worked in the field of addiction and severe mental illness throughout the Denver area for several years while obtaining her Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology. She then matched to a competitive internship program at New York University- Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, where she continued to develop competencies in psychological assessment and working with underserved and special populations. During that time, Dr. Tippett had the opportunity to receive training in the Harm Reduction model of addiction as well as several other treatment models. This wide variety of training allowed her to be able to approach the complex issues surrounding addiction and compulsive behavior from multiple views, and to work with individuals at many different stages of their addiction.
Following her internship, Dr. Tippett moved on to a fellowship in Massachusetts working with individuals experiencing sexual deviancy and sexual addiction. It was through this work that she developed a more integrated understanding of addiction, behavioral acting out, and past trauma, leading to a more cohesive understanding of the private pain and secrets one often battles when dealing with addiction. Throughout her training, Dr. Tippett has honed her skills in using mindful, evidenced based theory to provide individualized guidance to those seeking mental wellness. She feels privileged to continue to work with those seeking help along their journey at Seasons.
Jennifer Brady, MSW, LCSW,
Psychotherapist and Certified Brainspotting Professional
Jennifer Brady obtained her degree in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1991 before moving on to earn her Master of Social Work in 1994 from the University of Southern California. Her study focus was on children and families, as well as school-based social work.
Ms. Brady utilizes a wide variety of therapy techniques specifically tailored to each client. These include Brainspotting trauma therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, expressive art modalities and spiritual based therapy. She helps clients transform their lives from within using motivational interviewing techniques and compassionate reflective listening. Ms. Brady engages clients in weekly groups that include Expressive Art Therapy, Women’s Empowerment, and Writing and Process, as well as individual and family therapy sessions focused on successful recovery from addictive and co-occurring disorders.
Audrey Hope, RASi,
Audrey Hope harnesses her gifts of finely-tuned perception and healing in her work as a Spiritual Intuitive Healer and Addiction Expert. Audrey served for eight years as Director of Spiritual Counseling at a popular rehab center in Malibu. The revolutionary techniques she uses to help clients in their personal transformations have been lauded by people from all walks of life around the world.
Audrey’s Spiritual Counseling transcends the boundaries of traditional therapy, with its mind-focused approach, helping clients reach the deeper soul, where true healing happens. Her goal is to help each client achieve full transformation in the physical, emotional, and spiritual body. “One must work with an alchemist, one who knows how to go down into the cave with you and solve the riddle of the soul, at the ‘root of the root of the root.’ When you unlock the keys, transformation is possible and life becomes a miracle of free creation.”
Marit Lee, M.A.,
Marit Lee earned both her B.A. and M.A. in psychology from California State University Humboldt, where she researched parental bonding and substance abuse, examining the relationship between attachment and addiction.
As Admissions Director at Seasons, Marit guides you through the process of admissions, from your initial contact to your arrival and admission into treatment. She will help arrange all aspects of your initial steps to recovery. Her focus is on treating clients and their families with empathy and respect. She will help you and your loved ones to understand the unique benefits of our renowned treatment program and answer any questions you might have about options for insurance or financing. Please call Marit today to learn why our program is the best choice for those seeking a dual diagnosis program in a luxury setting.
Elisabeth White, MA, AMFT,
Elisabeth White received her undergraduate degree in History from Vanderbilt University in May 2002. She went on to complete her masters degree from the California Institute of Integral Studies, with a focus in Community Mental Health, in 2012. Her focus was on Harm Reduction and Lacanian Psychoanalysis while in graduate school. Elisabeth has a history of working in community based organizations and those active in improving mental health treatment.
Elisabeth focuses on CBT, Motivational Interviewing, and a strengths-based approach when working with clients in case management. She uses these techniques to empower clients to activate their own healing and recovery. Elisabeth helps support clients in creating a solid, well-crafted after-care plan to allow for a more streamlined transition when leaving treatment and returning home. Ms. White runs weekly groups, provides individual case management sessions, and works closely with family members and loved ones to facilitate client recovery.
Jonathan “JR” Rackley, M.A., AMFT,
Born and raised in Southern California, Jonathan Rackley (who prefers to be known as “JR”) received a B.A. in psychology from California Southern University before moving on to earn his master’s degree in psychology from the same college that inspired him so much. He has been actively involved in the addiction field for over 17 years, volunteering for organizations such as Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), as well as several addiction-based charities.
JR is thrilled to be able to provide an informative, comforting, and welcoming presence to clients as a Case Manager at Seasons. He consistently demonstrates compassion for those struggling with sobriety. He believes labels should be avoided when working with clients, as this can lead clients to label themselves. His approach is strategic, yet holistic, offering nurturing acceptance, non-shaming suggestions, and non-blaming coping mechanisms. JR’s approach is to provide unconditional positive regard, validation, emotional support, and respect using techniques that encourage clients to view themselves as experts on their own lives.
Kate Maddox, MA, LMFT,
Kate Maddox received her master’s degree in psychology from Phillips Graduate University in 2013 in the marriage and family therapy program. Kate specializes in addiction and co-occurring disorders. She has worked in a wide variety of clinical settings, including residential treatment centers for drug and alcohol addiction, family counseling centers, juvenile facilities, and private practice.
Kate incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), narrative therapy and family systems in her therapeutic practice. Kate facilitates weekly groups on DBT, narrative therapy and journaling. In addition to working as a therapist, Kate has been a journalist for nearly 30 years and believes in the power of writing to help clients express themselves and transform their lives.
Erica Spiegelman, CADAC II,
Erica Spiegelman is an author, addiction and wellness specialist, and motivational speaker who works with individuals, couples, and families on personal growth and overall wellness. Erica provides a holistic approach to helping people overcome their struggles with addictions and dependency and gives them the tools they need to create healthy lives for themselves.
In April 2015, Erica published Rewired: A Bold New Approach to Addiction & Recovery, which offers a completely new treatment modality focused on how individuals can rewire their brains, change their behavior, and bring about positive change in their lives. Praised by experts in the field, Rewired debuted as Amazon’s number one new release among drug and alcohol addiction books. In 2017, Erica published the Rewired Workbook, which uses a simple framework of readings and introspective exercises to help readers emerge feeling more centered and able to face their addictions head-on. Erica is also a regular contributor to online health outlets and hosts “Rewired Radio” on RadioMD.
Erica holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of Arizona and is a California State Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor (CADAC)-II from UCLA.
Laura Smith, LCSW, CAC, CEAP,
Director of Business Development and Clinical Outreach
Based in the New York City area, Laura comes to Serenity Malibu with a long career of developing and implementing large, multi-sited EAP, business development and clinical outreach programs for nationally and internationally recognized chemical dependency and mental health treatment centers.
She is a graduate of both Skidmore College and Hunter College School of Social Work, and has over 20 years of experience in providing clinical treatment to adults, adolescents, couples, families and groups. She formerly had private psychotherapy practices in New York City and Greenwich, CT., was a consultant to Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and an Adjunct Professor in Marymount Manhattan’s Department of Psychology.
When it comes to recovery, Laura believes that “the only thing harder than doing it, is not doing it” and looks forward to being a resource to anyone in that process!
Chief Financial Officer
Gina Silano RRW,
RASi, Site Manager
Yoga & Craniosacral Therapy
Carey McCorkle, MA,
Gavin St. Cyr,
Michelle Shaffer, MA,
Katie Jane Clarkson,
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism or addiction,