Our Staff

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.

Sheila Shilati,
Chief Operating Officer

Sheila Shilati has been in the field of behavioral health for more than 17 years. She has served as an international ambassador and participant on two separate expeditions in the Middle East and Africa, working directly with victims of natural disasters and HIV/AIDS. She has guest lectured at several universities and colleges, including California State University Northridge, Pepperdine University, California Lutheran University, and Oxnard College. Sheila also has served as a media consultant for various outlets to discuss general trends in the rehabilitative industry.

Sheila has served as the Chief Operating Officer for more than ten years at Seasons Recovery Centers. She oversees all day-to-day management including but not limited to standards of practice, employee relations, licensing, organizational compliance and corporate infrastructure. She is highly regarded for her leadership, integrity and cultivating a culture of inclusivity and equity.

Sheila received her BA from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2001, and her Doctorate degree from the Phillips Graduate Institute in 2009.


Gregory Skipper, M.D.,
Program Advisor, Professionals Program

Skipper
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,
Primary Therapist

Vaisman

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

Dr Nancy

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 when she heard that Hollywood needed more blondes…

Dr. Irwin 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 YOU-TURN: Changing Direction in Midlife (2008), a collection of “over 40 stories of people over 40” who made amazing transitions in midlife.


Damon Raskin, M.D.,
Internist & Detox Specialist

Damon Raskin

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.,
Psychiatrist

Goldenberg

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.


Tiffany Towers, Psy.D,
Primary Therapist

Tiffany Towers

Dr. Tiffany Towers is a licensed clinical psychologist. She received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology and theatre from Barnard College-Columbia University, graduating cum laude in 2003. She received her Doctorate in Clinical Forensic Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2013, after having worked as an executive assistant to a renowned clinical/forensic psychiatrist for many years. With over a decade of experience working in the field of mental health and forensic psychology, Dr. Towers has provided therapy within widely diverse settings across Los Angeles and Ventura counties, including substance abuse treatment programs, university counseling centers, community mental health centers, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.

Before pursuing her doctorate in psychology, she gained international theatrical training and experience in respected institutions and venues, such as Yale School of Drama, New York Film Academy and the Santa Monica Playhouse. Her extensive theatrical training and experience, combined with her collaborations with several nonprofit organizations, inspired her dissertation research, which examined the impact of drama therapy techniques on veteran reintegration. Dr. Towers often incorporates drama therapy and narrative therapy techniques in her clinical work, in order to deepen her patients’ insights into “the drama of life experience” and help them harness their creative instincts as they continue to direct their life stories.

Dr. Towers has also given psycho-educational presentations and in-service trainings at the request of several organizations, including The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She is a member of the Los Angeles County Psychological Association (LACPA) and the California Psychological Association (CPA).


Benjamin Nakanishi Psy.D,
Primary Therapist

DR. BEN

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

Jennifer Tippet

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 Serenity Malibu.


Tamara Bailey, Ph.D.,
Group Facilitator, Emotional Coach, and Certified Brainspotting Specialist

TAMARA BAILEY

Dr. Tamara Bailey is originally from Perth, Australia. She is a postdoctoral registered psychological associate, specializing in anxiety and related mood disorders, and sport and performance psychology. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Fielding Graduate University in 2020, with her research and clinical training at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Bailey completed her Ph.D. internship at the University of Oklahoma's Division-1 Athletics Department. Her research experience includes examining Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in individuals with treatment resistant OCD and specific phobias; Traumatic Brain Injuries: Sports concussion and the autonomic nervous system; and the role of perseverative cognition and social interaction in the relationship between mood, anxiety disorders, and cardiovascular risk.

Dr. Bailey views clients' mental health concerns from a holistic, biopsychosocial perspective utilizing therapeutic modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive processing therapy (CPT), exposure response prevention therapy (ERP), mindfulness, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), clinical hypnotherapy, brainspotting, and group therapy for adults. Dr. Bailey has experience treating generalized, health, and social anxiety disorders, OCD, panic disorder, PTSD, trauma, borderline personality disorder, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar and major depressive disorder, and she provides sport and performance psychological services for athletes.

Dr. Bailey believes a strong therapeutic relationship, based on compassion, trust, empathy and collaboration is vital to delivering effective, evidence-based and complementary treatments.


John Pustaver, MDiv, MA,
Case Manager

John Pustaver, MDiv, MA, completed his undergraduate education at Arizona State University majoring in fine arts. After serving the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for ten years, John found his spiritual path within the 12-Step recovery community and retired from active ministry. John then completed 60 hours of MFT coursework while working at the Betty Ford Center’s professionals program. He became the director of their Clinical Diagnostic Program after learning the science and art of conducting professional evaluations. John has been involved in professional assessments, case management and treatment for fifteen years and has found a unique way serving professionals and others in crisis. John’s responsibilities with Serenity Malibu include case management and directing and overseeing professional evaluations, including, the collection and review of collateral information, remaining in contact with referents and preparing the Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation (CDE) final summary report for the CDE Team.

Audrey Hope,
Spiritual Advisor, RASi

Audrey Hope

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.,
Admissions Director

Marit

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 Serenity Malibu, 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.


Michael Malone, M.A., AMFT, APCC,
Case Manager

MIKE-MALONE
Michael Malone is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and Associate Professional Clinical Counselor who has close to a decade in the addiction recovery field. Mike graduated from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and worked in entertainment before pursuing a dual master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a specialty in Spiritual and Depth Psychology and Addiction Studies from Antioch University in Los Angeles. Over the past 8 years, Mike has worked in in-patient and outpatient treatment as a Life Coach and Clinical Consultant before joining the team two years ago as a Life Coach, AMFT and APCC. Mike draws from a wide range of therapeutic orientations but is predominantly a narrative therapist who helps clients emotionally enter and reauthor their own stories, and construct new meaning to stories that emerge in therapy.

Kate Maddox, MA, LMFT,
Psychotherapist

Kate

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.


Laura Smith, LCSW, CAC, CEAP,
Director of Business Development and Clinical Outreach

Laura Smith

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!


Karen Rose, Chief Financial Officer

Karen Rose,
Chief Financial Officer

ASHLEY-STAVRINOU

Ashley Stavrinou,
Nurse, LVN II

 
Gina Silano

Gina Silano RRW,
Alumni Coordinator

 
Jay Lepito

Jay Lepito,
RASi, Site Manager

 
 
Anel Peraza, Site Manager

Anel Peraza,
Sr. Site Manager

Leo Silva

Leo Silva,
Facility Director

 
 
Barbara Carey

Barbara Carey, CHT,
Hypnotherapist

Rachel Orselli

Rachel Orselli,
Acupuncturist

 
 
Lisa Carmichael

Lisa Carmichael,
Yoga & Craniosacral Therapy

 
Dennis Garber

Dennis Garber,
Executive Chef

 
Carey Mccorkle

Carey McCorkle, MA,
Site Manager

Nick Latu

Nick Latu,
Chef

 
 
 
BOBBY ALLEN

Bobby Allen, BA,
Client Advocate

Kaziah Marz

Kaziah Mraz, BA,
Site Manager

 
Hortensia Valencia

Hortensia Valencia,
Massage Therapist

 
Kathryn Tate

Kathryn Tate,
Admissions Counselor

 
 
Deboarth Williams

Deborah Williams, BA,
Site Manager

Susie Moreno

Susie Moreno,
Client Advocate

 
 
SOPHIA KHAN

Sophia Khan, BA,
Client Advocate

DANELLE-RAY

Danielle Ray,
Site Manager

 
 
Ako Eyong, Art Therapy

Ako Eyong,
Art Therapy

 
Betty Pena

Betty Pena, BA,
Client Advocate

 
Katie Jane Clarkson

Katie Jane Clarkson,
Client Advocate

Bobby Castro

Bobby Castro,
Client Advocate

 
 
 

Andrew Ringlund, BA,
Scheduling

Barbara Carey

Barbara Dailey,
Client Advocate

 
Erika Keszthely

Erika Keszthelyi,
Maintenance

 
Gabor Keszthely

Gabor Keszthelyi,
Maintenance

 
 
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