Our Medical, Clinical and Therapeutic Team
Dr. Venice Sanchez – Medical Director, Ph.D., Psychiatrist, MD
Dr. Sanchez works closely with Truvida Recovery patients regarding substance abuse and related mental illnesses and creates a supportive, cooperative and informed therapeutic environment. Her areas of expertise include Substance Dependence, Dual Diagnosis, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Generalized anxiety disorder, Panic Disorder, Bereavement, Acute stress disorder, and more. Ms Sanchez has extensive training with experts in the field of Substance Abuse, and mood and thought disorders underlying the substance use. She received a Bachelor’s degree from University of California, Los Angeles and Medical Degree from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She continues training at the UC Irvine Psychiatry Residency Program and has been recognized with the Outstanding Resident of the Year Award.
Jaime Askew – Clinical Director, LMFT, LPCC
Ms. Askew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who has been working in the field treating substance abuse and mental health issues for over twenty years. She obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling from Pepperdine University and was among the first to obtain the LPCC license in the state of California. She has been providing clinical supervision and training to interns, conducting workshops, and is a certified Trauma therapy trainer. Her areas of expertise include working with legal issues, court ordered treatment, family preservation, trauma therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, family systems, social skills training, play therapy, and career/ vocational counseling. Her passion is in advocating for at risk populations, holistic healing, and treating the underlying, core issues to help individuals achieve their maximum potential and happiness. Jaime’s extensive experience and passionate leadership is of extreme importance to the overall TruVida clinical program, and her hands-on guidance of our clinical team insures that each patient is receiving optimal therapeutic treatment and care.
John Biroc – Consulting Psychologist, Ph.D.
Dr. Biroc has a broad base of mental health and addiction recovery training and experience. He has supervised and taught therapists in various methodologies of effectively working with groups and individuals during therapy. He created and set up new group structures and trained staff in understanding the challenges of addiction recovery. He also helped develop curricula in Sociodrama and Psychodrama. Dr. Biroc is devoted to breaking paradigms that prevent progress in the path to lasting recovery. He is a member of the Nat’l Association of Marriage and Family therapists, and has a Ph.D. degree in Psychology, and a M.S. degree in Counseling from USC.
Dr. Nader Siahdohoni, Ph.D. Consulting Psychologist
Dr. Nader is one our esteemed consulting Psychologists who provides our Clients with various breakthrough therapy’s that focus the functional systems including neurons, neurotransmitters, and certain brain waves that enable the way we think, behave, move, feel, and maintain homeostasis. Such therapy’s include NeuroMax neurofeedback, the state of art integrated technology in Neurofeedback, combinations of wireless Electroencephalogram (EEG), real time brain mapping and a unique and exceptional neuropathway therapy called “Visual Concentration Attention Therapy (VCAT)”. Dr Nader graduated from Walden University.
Kevin Nicolau – Program Director, AOD Counselor
Mr. Nicolau brings years of experience in addiction and behavioral health counseling to the TruVida team. His leadership by example philosophy has transformed the lives of many past addicts. His unwavering commitment and compassion is patiently expressed with each and every client he works with. His direct and respectful approach has been very effective in helping countless individuals transition from substance abuse to sobriety. Kevin possesses a college degree in addiction counseling, and is CADC-II certified with the State of California.
Tiffany Romero – Director of Operations
Ms. Romero brings over 8 years experience working in various professional capacities in the field of Substance Abuse Treatment. Tiffany brings a deep sense of purpose, dedication, caring and compassion to each and every Client and Staff Member she works with. As the Director of Operations Ms. Romero brings expertise in management, operations and compliance with DHCS and JCAHO standards. She also carries a college degree in substance abuse counseling and holds a CADC-II Certification.
Tiffany Agra – Therapist, LMFT #103693
Ms. Agra is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, who has been working with individuals, couples, families, and groups for the past seven years. Her other therapeutic approaches include Narrative Therapy, Family Systems Theory, Psychodynamic dream interpretation, and Gestalt Psychology. She has also been a Guest Speaker at other organizations. This unique background has made her effective at helping clients overcome the grip of substance addiction. Tiffany obtained two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Davis, and her Master’s degree from the California State University, Long Beach. She has worked for both the county of Orange and Riverside, helping those who struggle with addiction and mental illness. In addition to providing evidenced-based approaches to the clinical program at Truvida Recovery, she brings her compassion as a fellow addict in recovery; living proof that we do get better!
Deborah Wieland – Therapist, MS, LMFT #96864
Ms. Wieland is an Eclectic EMDR Therapist, using R-TEP and G-TEP, and specializes in several modalities in treating Substance Use issues, Dual Diagnosis, Complex Trauma, and Severe Mental illness. Deborah also provides several types of therapy such as Psychodynamic, Rogerian, CBT, DBT, IFS, PICT, MI, Grief Recovery, Sand Tray, and Attachment Theory to help her patients achieve mental wellness and a sober lifestyle.
She has worked with Psychiatric Hospitals providing crisis interventions and psychotherapy to those struggling with substance abuse issues, mental health issues, and domestic violence. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Vanguard University of Southern California. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Summa Cum Laude and a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology. She is currently completing her Doctoral studies in Clinical Psychology at Cal Southern University. Deborah is an active member of EMDRIA, California Association Marriage Family Therapist (CAMFT), American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), and Psi Chi International Honors Society of Psychology.
Katharina “Katy” Wells – LMFT
Ms. Wells has decades of experience in mental health therapy, and as it relates to substance abuse and addiction. Her hands-on approach and extensive experience insures that each patient is receiving optimal therapeutic treatment and care. She also provides break-through counseling with our patients with challenging needs. Ms. Wells holds a Masters degree in Counseling, as well as a B.S. degree in Nursing. She has extensive experience in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, DBT, EMDR, and is a certified Smart Recovery facilitator.
Daniel Baumgartel – AOD Counselor, Case Manager
Mr. Baumgartel has been helping substance abuse Patients achieve sobriety for the past 5 years. He develops and implements life changing tools and coping skills needed for living a life of recovery. He is experienced with individual counseling, group counseling, relapse prevention, family reunification and 12 step & smart recovery programs. Daniel’s Tru-adventure and Tru-outing healing and sobriety programs are in great demand with our patients. He holds a Alcohol and Drug education certificate from CAARR Institute, is Smart Recovery certified, and is a certified CADC counselor.
Mike Lee – AOD Counselor, Case Manager
Mr. Lee specializes in compassionate and motivational substance abuse counseling in both a group and individual setting. He is responsible for the assessments, case management, treatment planning, crisis intervention, individual and group counseling, as well as family outreach services. Mike is a collaborative member of the multi disciplinary team providing excellence in addiction services. He has a strong skill set in Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and experience with cultural diversity which lends itself to effectively treating and supporting all individuals seeking addiction recovery treatment. Mr. Lee is extremely passionate about working with clients of all ages and backgrounds, struggling with substance abuse issues. Mike is a certified Addiction Counselor for Adult Treatment (CATC II).
Paige A. Chastain, AOD Counselor, Case Manager
Ms. Chastain has dedicated her life to helping the suffering addict/alcoholic, bringing personal experience to both individual substance abuse and group counseling settings. She has worked in the field of addiction for several years, currently working as an addiction counselor and case manager. Paige too, is a collaborative member of the multi-disciplinary team providing excellence in addiction services, working with clients from detox to intensive outpatient levels of care. She holds a strong skill-set in Psychoeducation, Motivational Interviewing and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. She also has extensive experience with 12-step recovery programs. Paige is passionate about treating the client with empathy, compassion and respect throughout the client’s journey. Paige holds an AA from Saddleback College, a BA from the University of California of Irvine and is a certified CADC-I holding memberships with CCAPP and NAADAC.
Claudia Hernandez – AOD Counselor, Case Manager
Mr. Hernandez’ is very compassionate about her work as an addiction counselor, and has a strong commitment in helping patients struggling with addiction in developing healthy coping mechanisms, and developing new positive behavioral habits. She experienced with Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Moral Reoconation Therapy, and supports and experienced in both 12 Step recovery as well as Smart recovery programs. Ms. Hernandez is bilingual and bicultural, was a Teen Mops group leader at Coast Hills Community Church, and has bee a guest speaker at various fundraisers, and international conventions. She is also a CAADE certified CATC I counselor.
Deanna Vanlue – Lead Support Technician
Ms. Vanlue has extensive experience in nursing and also medical nursing care as it relates to addiction treatment. She is extremely caring and relates well with patients in need no matter what they may be struggling with. Deanna has the additional skill of building meaningful rapport whit her patients, for she deeply understands the challenges and tribulations of overcoming addiction for she is now 19 years sober herself. Deanna received her education and LVN nursing license from Long Beach City College.
Allison Goode, Art in Recovery Counselor
Allison Goode is a lifelong resident of Laguna Beach and professional artist for over 15 years, and has developed a very successful and trans-formative Art in Recovery program in treatment facilities through out California. Her passion for the fine arts and helping others recover from substance abuse addiction is contagious. Allison has a unique ability to connect with clients through the creative process helping clients set positive goals for their recovery. Ms. Goode has studied Fine Art and Graphic Design at Laguna College of Art and Design, is a certified RADT1 technician, and is currently completing her CCAPP certification program.
Thomas Mladinich, Admissions Manager
Mr. Mladinich hard work ethic and dedication make him a key part of the TruVida team. Tom’s ability to connect and relate with others have allowed him to excel as admissions manager. His personal experience has allowed him to proudly serve those in need of recovery from addiction. Tom is eager to work with our clients and provide the experience, strength and hope that they need to find success in recovery.
Andrew Perez, Outreach and Business Development Manager
As Business Development Manager, Mr. Perez develops and maintains active business relationships with professionals and organizations in the addiction and mental health fields. He has fostered strong relationships with community leaders and coalitions, and participates in various support groups and is an expert on substance abuse issues. Andrew also helps to create and coordinates educational programs aimed at addressing the needs of individuals and families facing addiction and recovery. Mr. Perez is able to use his personal experience to reach out and help others struggling with addiction. His passion for this field reflects in the caring approach he takes with all clients. Andrew’s positive outlook and commitment to this program is second to none. From outreach work, to coordinating events, to business development, Andrew is our guy!
Jimmy Wix, Outpatient Coordinator
Mr. Wix’s commitment and compassion to those suffering with substance abuse is unparalleled. He enjoys helping other men through the process of addiction to sobriety, and has many years of experience in both individual and group meetings, as well as 12-Step programs. Jimmy comes to the facility each day with energy and a sense of purpose to help our patients achieve sobriety. Jimmy is currently an RADT-1 in substance abuse treatment.
Willie Sanchez, Support Technician
Mr. Sanchez is a self-motivated professional with a positive attitude. He is actively involved in a 12 step fellowship. He effectively contributes to each Patient with their struggles with addiction. Willie is RADT1 certified counselor and has been educated at Long Beach City College.
Sam Covarrubias, Program Manager
Mr. Covarrubias has keen a understanding, and compassion that he calls upon each day to serve and assist those who are seeking to recover from addiction. He has many years of experience and enjoys leading group outings. Sam is currently a RADT-1 counselor in substance abuse treatment. When Sam is not assisting our patients on a path to lasting sobriety, he likes to spend time with his family and go fishing.
Jose Flores, Program Manager
Mr. Flores is a highly motivated and hardworking team member with TruVida. He has several years of experience working in treatment helping individuals get back on track, achieving a lot of great results. He brings problem solving skills and experience to use everyday, and is proud and passionate about his profession as a RADT-I program manager.
TruVida Recovery Consulting Practitioners:
Recovery in Motion
Recovery in Motion is provided for individuals at TruVida Recovery, to help clear the mind through the healing therapy of body movement and light exercise. This evidenced based program was created and orchestrated by Robert Layton, for the purpose of helping individuals transform from addiction to recovery – Physically – Emotionally – Spiritually. New scientific studies have proven that exercise has benefits far beyond just redirecting one’s attention from the urges and discomfort of addiction. Mr. Layton has over 30 credentials in the areas of Fitness Training, Holistic Therapy and RADT1 addiction recovery registration.
Art in Recovery
The origins of art therapy can be attributed to Adrian Hill, an artist who discovered the therapeutic advantages of various art forms while in recovery from tuberculosis. It is a valuable tool in the recovery process of individuals with Substance Abuse addiction as it gives form to feelings, concerns, and stress which otherwise may be difficult to address. During the Art in Recovery groups offered at TruVida, clients will explore such projects as Tree of Life, Recovery Masks, Treasure Boxes, Recovery T-shirts, Vision Boarding, Mind Maps and more. Clients are able to keep their works of art as a positive reminder of the time they spent at TruVida Recovery.
The Breathworks approach to Mindfulness-Based recovery and stress management is the most comprehensive, in-depth, scientifically up-to-date and user-friendly approach to learn how to reclaim one’s life. Mindfulness means deliberately attending to and becoming more aware of our experience: our thoughts, feelings and body sensations. This allows one to clearly perceive thoughts, physical sensations, emotions and events at the moment they occur without reacting in an automatic or habitual way. Experiences don’t overwhelm us and we become steady through life’s ups and downs. Breathworks is based on the experience of Vidyamala Burch who sustained a severe spinal injury in 1976 when she was sixteen leading to multiple surgeries and partial paraplegia. Over 27 years ago she began exploring mindfulness and meditation to manage her persistent pain and in 2001 wondered if she could share these life-changing skills with others who were suffering from pain, stress or illness.