Our Staff

As part of the Hanbleceya Recovery Network, the clinical and support staff at Helix Healing & Recovery has undergone extensive and rigorous training working with individuals with severe and chronic mental illness and dual diagnoses. Our Team is committed to upholding the highest levels of integrity, professional ethics, and professionalism while providing a safe and loving environment where clients can heal and grow. In addition to the extensive experience of our core clinical staff, each clinical and support staff person was hand-selected for the unique qualities he or she brings to the Helix Healing & Recovery Community and the ability to motivate, foster growth and engage clients.

Senior Clinical Staff

Dr. Karlyn Pleasants, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist : Executive Clinical Director
Dr. Karlyn Pleasants, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist - Executive Clinical Director
Dr. Pleasants has a long-standing history with the Hanbleceya community dating back to 1997 when she first began as a psychological assistant. Over the years she has held many different posts before signing on in 2005 as Hanbleceya's newest director. She maintains a rich clinical background of experience with complex and challenging cases, including thought and mood disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders and traumatic stress. Dr. Pleasants believes in the ability to heal through the empowerment of personal strengths, encouraging the confidence to take risks and by teaching oneself to both give and receive support. She looks forward to advancing the Hanbleceya vision and continuing to provide a safe space for people to learn, grow and heal. Karlyn is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY19378).

Megan Harrison, M.A., Licensed M.F.T. : Program Manager
Megan Harrison, M.A., Licensed M.F.T. - Program Manager

Megan was born in Madison, Wisconsin and spent the majority of her childhood years in the Midwest. Megan joined the United States Navy in 2002 and traveled to San Diego, CA where she served five years of Active Duty traveling to many countries around the World supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following an Honorable Discharge in 2008, Megan worked as part of the developing team for the Chief of Naval Air Forces Sailors to Civilians Administrative Support Contract, and provided management and oversight of developing contracts creating jobs for Veterans. During this time, Megan obtained her Bachelors Degree in Psychology and went on to complete her Masters degree in Counseling, specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Clinical Counseling. Megan has personal experience with caring for a loved one who struggle’s with a mental illness, and her clinical approach acknowledges the importance of transgenerational family therapy and empowering relationships through collaboration among family members and their therapist to provide a safe environment to experiment with growth and change. Megan is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT96731).

Kayla Karesh, M.A.T., M.A., Licensed M.F.T. : Art Therapist
Kayla Karesh, M.A.T., M.A., Licensed M.F.T. - Art Therapist

A native San Diegan, Kayla moved to the Los Angeles area where she completed a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s in Theology, and a master’s in Marital and Family Therapy with specialized training in Clinical Art Therapy. She began working in the mental health field in 2001 and has experience in residential, hospital, family clinic, school, and private practice settings. Kayla specializes in the treatment of eating disorders and accompanying mood, thought, trauma and substance abuse disorders. She primarily draws upon psychoanalysis, family systems, and attachment theory for case conceptualization, and she is skilled at using a variety of therapeutic techniques, particularly the modality of art therapy. Kayla seeks to foster an environment of warmth and safety where clients build on their strengths, heal from past wounds, and transform maladaptive patterns into healthy functioning. She enjoys, music, art, and outdoor adventures. Kayla joined the Hanbleceya team in December 2010. Kayla is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC48030) and Registered Art Therapist (11-018).

On-Site Psychiatry

Dr. Aneita Rashford, M.D. : Independent Psychiatrist
Dr. Aneita Rashford, M.D. - Independent Psychiatrist

Dr. Rashford grew up outside Charleston, SC in a rural community. Both her parents are immigrants from the Caribbean and worked in the medical field. Early on, she developed a passion for medicine and helping people. She majored in psychology at Yale University for her undergraduate degree and obtained her medical degree at Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Rashford completed her psychiatry residency and child fellowship at UCSD. Since then she has worked extensively with child and adolescent populations in community clinics, residential facilities, specialized foster care programs, school based settings, and juvenile probation. Currently she spends part of her time working at the state prison and the school district. Dr. Rashford believes in a holistic approach to mental wellbeing that involves the individual, their family, and community. She is dedicated to seeing her patients overcome the challenges that accompany mental illness and help them achieve their best level of functioning.

During off hours, Dr. Rashford volunteers as a clinical supervisor for UCSD Child fellowship program. She enjoys cycling, involvement in her church community, and traveling to the east coast to maintain her position as favorite auntie. She also travels abroad regularly to volunteer and consult at an orphanage in Guatemala and a children’s feeding program in Kenya. She is very excited to join the Helix Healing and Recovery team and participate in the great work that they do.

Core Clinical Staff

Kristina Copley, M.A., MFTI : Therapist/Administrator
Kristina Copley, M.A., MFTI - Therapist/Administrator

A Bay Area Native, Kristina began her career in mental health in her undergraduate years, with several volunteer positions in outpatient settings with both adults and children. She completed her B.A. in Psychology at San Diego State University and her M.A. in Counseling Psychology at Argosy University San Diego. Kristina has vast experience practicing Applied Behavioral Analysis with children and families in home, school, and clinical settings and provides behavioral consultations to caregivers and teaching professionals. Kristina first joined Hanbleceya Recovery Network in 2014 as a Practicum Student where she provided individual, group, and family therapy in a semi-independent milieu setting for adults with severe mental illness and co-occurring addiction. She continued on as the Residential Clinician in for Hanbleceya's licensed residential homes and joined the Helix Healing and Recovery Team in a dual role of Clinician and Administrator in 2016. At Helix, Kristina incorporates Somatic Experiencing ©, milieu therapy, and behavioral approaches into her practice. Kristina maintains a small private practice working with children and families using a family systems approach. In her free time, Kristina enjoys being with her loved ones. Kristina is a Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Intern (IMF 89309) supervised by Dr. Karlyn Pleasants, Psy.D. (PSY 19378).

Dr. Kristina Miholich, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist : Psychological Testing
Dr. Kristina Miholich, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist - Psychological Testing

Dr. Miholich is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY25801) who provides support and guidance for individuals working towards life changes, personal growth, and managing life's obstacles. Dr. Miholich earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Business from the University of San Diego. She received her Masters and Doctorate of Psychology from Alliant, California School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco. Throughout her career Dr. Miholich has worked in a variety of settings including community mental health centers, schools, providing in home services, and at a private psychiatric treatment facility. Dr. Miholich works with various populations including children and adolescents struggling with emotional, social, developmental and academic issues and adults dealing with a wide variety of mental health problems in outpatient and inpatient settings. She has extensive experience providing services to adolescents and adults managing substance abuse in conjunction with mental health concerns. Additionally Dr. Miholich specializes in psychological assessment for children, adolescents, and adults seeking further clarification about presenting complaints and possible solutions.

Dr. Miholich provides Individual Therapy, Family Therapy, and Psychological Assessments in her private practice and at Hanbleceya and Helix Healing and Recovery. She currently works with children, adolescents and adults and offers emotional and personality assessments, learning disability assessments, and cognitive assessments. In her personal time Dr. Miholich enjoys running races, regular practice of yoga and fitness, setting aside time for family and friends, cooking, spending time with her pets, and traveling.

Dr. Joanna Savarese, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist : Psychological Testing
Dr. Joanna Savarese, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist - Psychological Testing

The Co-Founder and Co-Director of San Diego BrainWorks, Dr. Savarese also provides Psychological Testing for Helix Helaiing & Recovery and Hanbleceya Treatment Center. She is a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist with a specific focus in personality and neuropsychological assessment. She conducts individual and family therapy (divorce, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, family conflict, behavior problems, parenting) as well as provides psycho-education. Dr. Savarese lectures in the community on topics such as: Understanding Neuropsychological Evaluations, Learning and the Brain, and Building a Positive Relationship with your Loved Ones. She has appeared on ESPN radio and has written articles for Parenting Magazine. Most recently she wrote several features for the textbook "The Neuroscience of Learning: Principles and Applications for Educators" . Dr. Savarese forms a strong connection with her clients as she helps individuals and families create a game plan to move forward in their lives by providing effective tools and strategies and creating useful recommendations and treatment plans.

Dr. John Dupler, Ph.D. : Neurofeedback
Dr. John Dupler, Ph.D. - Neurofeedback

John Dupler Ph.D received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 1994 from the University for Humanistic Studies, San Diego, CA. He is BCIA board certified in Neurofeedback and was one of the first to practice this technology in 1993. John became a staff member at Hanbleceya in 1985 and went on to complete his doctoral internship there in 1992. Since then he has worked independently specializing in EEG Neurofeedback and has significant experience with complicated psychiatric conditions. He presently manages two Neurofeedback Clinics, one in San Diego and the other in Tokyo, Japan. He has been with Hanbleceya again since early 2016 providing Neurofeedback services.

Dr. Danielle Dellner, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist : Therapist
Dr. Danielle Dellner, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist - Therapist

As native of Northern California, and long-time resident of Los Angeles, Danielle came to Hanbleceya in August 2009 after working in a range of therapeutic environments including community mental health agencies and private residential settings. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Education from UCLA, Danielle worked as a director of a tutoring center in Los Angeles. Finding her work with the children and their families far more rewarding than managing the business aspects of the center, Danielle returned to graduate school to get her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Alliant International University in Los Angeles. Currently, Danielle's clinical interests include body-mind approaches to psychotherapy as well as using transgenerational family therapy models to facilitate change and growth within the family and the individual. In her spare time, Danielle enjoys skiing and camping and listening to live music with her friends. Danielle is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY26318).

Stephanie Coyle, M.A., Licensed M.F.T. : Group Therapist
Stephanie Coyle, M.A., Licensed M.F.T. - Group Therapist

Born and raised in Edwardsville, Illinois, just outside St. Louis, Missouri, Stephanie left home to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder where she received her Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology and English. After several years of working in marketing and sales, Stephanie moved to San Diego in 2008 and worked as the director of a national communication and assertion program for families, based on Carl Rogers’ humanistic approach. It was at this point she decided to pursue a career in therapy where she could work more closely with families. Stephanie then returned to school to receive her Master’s in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage & Family Therapy. Stephanie joined the Hanbleceya community in August 2010. A competitive rower, she also enjoys skiing, cooking, and playing the piano in her free time. Stephanie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT85956).

Breanne Dargon, M.A., Licensed M.F.T. : Group Therapist
Breanne Dargon, M.A., Licensed M.F.T. - Group Therapist

Born and raised in Southern California, Breanne graduated from San Diego State University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. During her education at San Diego State University she studied abroad in Florence, Italy where she realized her passion for culture and diversity. It was through Breanne’s education and experience that sparked her interest in working with the mentally ill population. It is from these experiences at Hanbleceya a general desire to help others has been achieved. Breanne received her Masters in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of San Diego. Breanne joined the Hanbleceya team in September of 2007. Breanne is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT99204).

Michaela Zermeno : Aftercare Coordinator
Michaela Zermeno - Aftercare Coordinator

Michaela was born and raised in San Diego, but lived in Mexico for some time. She has worked in the banking, real estate, mortgage and property management industries. She also started a small business from her home and worked as a contract mobile notary specializing in mortgage documents while working on her undergraduate studies in psychology. She is currently working on obtaining a Bachelor's degree in psychology and enjoys helping clients learn new skills and helping them use the skills they already have to be productive in treatment and in life. In her spare time, Michaela enjoys spending time with her family, exercising and cooking.

Ursula Ridens, R.D. : Nutritionist
Ursula Ridens, R.D. - Nutritionist

Born and raised in San Diego, Ursula graduated from San Diego State University in 1999 and became a registered dietitian in 2000. Her work experience, including clinical dietitian for Sharp Healthcare, Nutrition Director for a residential eating disorder treatment program, and private practice dietitian, gives her an appreciation of working collaboratively with the Hanbleceya team. Ursula’s passion for connecting with clients and understanding their health goals is fundamental in leading to positive outcomes. Her non-diet approach provides a unique look at lifestyle choices and movement towards balance between food and activity. Ursula’s specialty areas are working with those who struggle with eating disorders and weight issues. Knowing that changing eating and exercise patterns can be overwhelming and daunting, her authentic and compassionate ways help clients to take realistic steps towards mindful eating, challenge unrealistic expectations and irrational food beliefs, as well as build body confidence. Ursula is a Registered Dietitian (CDR877959).

Ben Krause : Chemical Dependency Coordinator
Ben Krause - Chemical Dependency Coordinator

Ben, originally from Minneapolis Minnesota, attended St. Johns Northwestern Military Academy where he learned leadership, discipline and graduated with 4 years of JROTC training. He became an ISA certified arborist and traveled the country nurturing his love for climbing trees, logging, nature, and the outdoors. After years of misfortune with his own mental illness and chemical dependency, he committed his life to giving back to those who have yet to overcome the same struggles he has faced. Along with his extensive life experience, Ben is currently a Chemical Dependency Program Coordinator at another treatment program, which makes him a great asset to the team here at Helix Recovery. He is currently enrolled in college and working on his degree in the AODS program (Alcohol & Other Drugs Study). He volunteers his time in the community helping others and is an active member of a Recovery Convention Committee. He enjoys surfing, snowboarding, rock climbing, golfing, and volleyball.

Kathy San Filippo, M.A. : Adventure Therapist
Kathy San Filippo, M.A. - Adventure Therapist

Kathy holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Organizational Psychology. She is an active member of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association and holds certifications in Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine-Assisted Personal Development. Kathy has worked in a number of settings including private practice, colleges, churches, and other non-profits and is known for her success with clients who have failed to thrive in the traditional “office therapy” environment. She has a long history of providing support within the community including more than 25 years of counseling and outreach services to youth and young adult survivors of trauma, those suffering from mental health disorders, the blind and disabled, as well as those just wanting to overcome life’s challenges. Kathy has been a part of the Hanbleceya community since 2007.

Adjunct Services


Linda Collins : Yoga Instructor
Linda Collins - Yoga Instructor

Linda has been practicing yoga since 1975, and it had a profound effect on her. In addition to yoga, she has participated in every new craze that has come around including dance, step, rebounding, slide, kick boxing, and body building. In 2000, she was in a severe auto accident where Linda shattered her elbow, broke her pelvis, and damaged her knee. During recovery, Linda’s discovered her elbow was unable to straighten and the orthopedic doctor said that her elbow would always be damaged. However, with determination and her yoga practice, Linda’s elbow began to recover. After the loss of her husband, Linda discovered the deeper meaning of yoga. She began teaching yoga to others in order to share her love and passion of yoga so that they can find the peace that she has found.

Teddi Emmert  NCBTMB, LMT, HHP : Massage Therapist
Teddi Emmert NCBTMB, LMT, HHP - Massage Therapist
Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Teddi moved to San Diego where she graduated from The Academy of Professional Careers as a Massage Therapist and Holistic Health Practitioner. In 2001 she received her National Certification with  the Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork achieving a Masters Level in Medical Massage Therapy. Through her 14 years of private practice Teddi has seen massage successfully treat chronic and acute pain in addition to supporting the emotional well-being of hundreds of her clients. She has a great compassion for helping clients live a more grounded and focused life.  Teddi enjoys spending time working on her cabin in the Colorado mountains, visiting her children and grandchildren, taking Pilates classes, Line dancing, and Feng Shui.


John Malcolm : Fitness Instructor
John Malcolm - Fitness Instructor

A native of San Diego, John has committed himself to a life of health and fitness. He believes the only way to true physical health is through a combination of healthy eating and regular physical activity. John received his Personal Training Certification in 2009 and shortly thereafter became the MMA Director at a local San Diego athletic club. In his fitness career, John has taught over 4000 fitness classes and has been training and teaching the martial arts since 1990 (Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, Self-Defense). He gets tremendous joy from teaching women's self defense classes. In his spare time, John enjoys reading a good book, spending time with his beautiful fiancé and paling around with his canine compadres.

Administrative Services


Nancy Wynn : Resident Chef
Nancy Wynn - Resident Chef

Nancy Wynn brings more than twenty years of professional cooking, catering, kitchen management and food product development experience to her new role as resident Chef at Helix Healing and Recovery, including ten years of experience in residential recovery facilities around Southern California.

Nancy specializes in healthy, innovative cooking, incorporating a great diversity of cuisines.  She prides herself on constructing creative menus that give her clients the very best nutrition, but also excite their pallets.  “I believe that good nutrition in a residential treatment center is an important part of the healing process, but healthy food should also be food that people want to eat — delicious and eye pleasing as well as nutritious”.  That philosophy served her well during her years running her own catering firm in Los Angeles, where she was a pioneer in the “farm to table” movement, bringing the freshest ingredients available to her menus.  She also developed new food products for Evolution Foods that are still sold at numerous high end super markets, and created a successful line of original organic salad dressings under the label “All Dressed Up.”

Meagan Benner, B.A. : Director of Admissions
Meagan Benner, B.A. - Director of Admissions
Born and raised in a small town in Maine, Meagan moved to San Diego in 2008 after receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Holistic & Integrative Studies from the University of Maine. She has served in many different capacities including supervisor at Hanbleceya's VisionQuest Adult Residential Facility and Milieu Support Staff Supervisor. Because of her dedication and knowledge of the program, Meagan was the perfect choice for Director of Admissions. Dedicated to continuing her work with helping the mentally ill population, she hopes to return to school to earn her degree in Naturopathic Medicine. Meagan's career goal is to open a practice that utilizes conventional medicine, natural healing modalities and behavioral therapy. Meagan joined the Hanbleceya team in May of 2009. Meagan is also a certified Feng Shui consultant, which she practices in her spare time.

Helix Healing & is a Licensed Social Rehabilition Facility (License 374603703)
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