“There is hope. There is help. This is the message I want clients to hear.”
Santa Monica Eating Disorder Staff
Mia Raymond, LMFT
Mia Raymond is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She earned her Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Antioch University, Los Angeles. After her undergraduate studies and academic internship, she worked as a behavioral therapist with clients diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. Her training as an Applied Behavioral Analysis has provided the foundation for her work with clients grappling with their eating disorders. Additionally, Mia has worked with court-mandated individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
At La Ventana, Mia applies her background in treating a chemical dependency population with her passion for nurturing clients impacted by an eating disorder. She has worked in a high-acuity setting, treating people at all levels of care that struggle with their relationship with food and their bodies.
Mia’s philosophy is rooted in treating individuals beyond symptomatic presentations in order to plant seeds for the deeper, longer-term work. She is respectful of the varied and unique experiences and processes required for recovery.
Kristine Ives, MA, LMFT
Program Director , Santa Monica
Kristine Ives is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She earned her Master of Arts Degree from Colorado Christian University and is also a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Colorado. After two years in a Psy.D. program at the University of Denver, Kristine took time off for her own emotional growth and this ultimately led to a move to California and working in eating disorders. She has over 10 years of experience working with victims of violent crime and at risk youth in rape crisis centers, residential treatment centers, child advocacy centers, a law office, and state coalitions such as the California and Colorado Coalitions Against Sexual Assault. Kristine has advanced training in the treatment of trauma and primarily utilizes interventions from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as well as Functional Analytic Psychotherapy when working with clients. She considers her relationship with clients to be the main motivating factor for change. Kristine is also a blogger for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault and a board member for Let Them Have Faces, an organization working against human trafficking and gender based violence.
Katie Sarkarati , LCSW
Lead Therapist, Santa Monica
Katie Sarkarati is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She earned both her BA in Psychology as well as her Masters in Social Welfare from UCLA. She has over seven years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families impacted by eating disorder and substance use disorders. Katie has worked in a variety of settings from inpatient to intensive outpatient. She was intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy while interning at Harbor-UCLA Adult Outpatient Psychiatry in graduate school. She believes therapeutic rapport and trust to be the foundation in which a client’s healing and recovery can blossom and develop. Katie also utilizes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with clients in order to promote a client’s sense of empowerment and agency in their recovery. She utilizes humor and creativity when working with clients and feels honored to walk alongside clients in their recovery journey. Katie Sarkarati is an Associate Clinical Social Worker. She earned both her BA in Psychology as well as her Masters in Social Welfare from UCLA. She has over seven years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families impacted by eating disorder and substance use disorders. Katie has worked in a variety of settings from inpatient to intensive outpatient. She was intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy while interning at Harbor-UCLA Adult Outpatient Psychiatry in graduate school. She believes therapeutic rapport and trust to be the foundation in which a client’s healing and recovery can blossom and develop. Katie also utilizes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with clients in order to promote a client’s sense of empowerment and agency in their recovery. She utilizes humor and creativity when working with clients and feels honored to walk alongside clients in their recovery journey.
Janelle Smith, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian, Santa Monica
Janelle is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in both eating disorders and gastrointestinal disorders. She utilizes her knowledge and experience in these specialties to help others find a peaceful relationship with food. Janelle speaks at conferences, support group meetings, and webinars about the intersection of mental health and gastrointestinal health. Janelle also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the Celiac Disease Foundation and is in process of obtaining the Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian distinction from the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Foundation.
Jane Alt, LMFT
Primary Therapist, Santa Monica
Jane Alt is the Chemical Dependency Case Manager and a primary therapist at the La Ventana, Santa Monica location. Jane graduated from The University of Colorado at Boulder with a BA in Sociology in 2006. She is currently obtaining her Marriage and Family Therapy degree at Pepperdine Graduate School and will be an MFTI in the Fall of 2016. Jane has worked in the mental health field for over four years and her professional and personal experience drives her passion for recovery. Jane truly believes recovery is a WE program and is honored to be part of the highly professional and dedicated team at La Ventana.
Registered Dietitian, Santa Monica
Samantha Giertych is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) offering her services to the Eating Disorder and Chemical Dependency Programs at La Ventana’s Santa Monica location. Samantha graduated with distinction from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from the College of Human Ecology. There, she discovered her passion for guiding clients on an individual basis to achieve lasting behavioral changes in their relationships with food, body, and mind. Samantha later went on to complete her dietetic internship program at the City University of New York (CUNY) Hunter College, where she had the opportunity to intern with the prestigious Renfrew Center of New York, specializing in eating disorder treatment. She also possesses a Certificate in Adult Weight Management from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Samantha brings her expertise in Motivational Interviewing, Intuitive Eating, Mindfulness, and Values-Based approaches to the inspiring La Ventana team, working with clients one-on-one and in groups to reconstruct a supportive and loving relationship with food. In this role, Samantha also coordinates with accredited Dietetic Internships in the Greater Los Angeles area to empower future dietitians with nutritionally relevant skillsets in the context of treatment settings.
Westlake & Thousand Oaks Eating Disorder Staff
Ashley Domask, MS
Residential Treatment Center Program Manager
“The core of my learning and passion has come from my clients: from their stories, and the gift of human connection we share in therapy.”
Ashley comes to La Ventana with over six years’ experience working in the treatment of eating disorders, addictions, and relational trauma. She earned her BA in Psychology from Lakeland College and her Master’s degree in Clinical Health Counseling from the University of Phoenix. Her curiosity about the human condition inspired her training and continues to inform her work in the field. Ashley is well known to La Ventana clients and coworkers for her warmth and accessibility that creates space for connection, healing, and recovery.
Ashley is a member of the International Association for Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP) and serves as the Hospitality Chair for the Central Coast Chapter. Her clinical practice uses an experiential approach that pulls core themes from the trauma awareness and codependency work of Pia Mellody and John Bradshaw.
Michele Christopher, M.S., R.D.
Registered Dietitian RTC facilities
Michele Christopher M.S., R.D. graduated from California State University, Northridge with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry. She continued on to earn her Master’s Degree in Nutrition in Dietetics, where she received the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Student within the entire department of Health and Human Development. Following her degrees, she completed her Dietetic Internship at the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in West Los Angeles with additional rotations at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Michele conducted her graduate thesis as a component of a larger multidisciplinary investigation aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among elementary school aged children through garden-based education. Michele also participated as the lead research assistant and project coordinator in a research study investigating the relationship between dietary intake, exercise behaviors and body composition in 18 year old Freshman.Michele has been a member of the La Ventana team since 2015 and is passionate in her work to support, empower and encourage her clients through expressive and hands-on experientials like cooking classes, mindful eating activities and individualized one-on-one sessions. Michele possesses an extensive skill set and has worked in a variety of settings where she provides nutrition counseling and education to individuals struggling with substance abuse, eating disorders, nutrition in recovery, food allergies/intolerances, sports nutrition, gastrointestinal diseases, renal disease and diabetes.
Elizabeth Wray, MS, LMFT
Elizabeth received her Masters Degree in Counseling with an Emphasis on Marriage and Family Therapy from California State University, Northridge. She has been with La Ventana for 2 years, working with clients primarily struggling with eating disorders. She has gained invaluable experience and is very passionate about helping clients work through the recovery process. She has experience working with adolescents, adults, and families struggling with a variety of concerns including: eating disorders, depression, anxiety, interpersonal relationships, and self-esteem.
Residential Treatment Center Program Manager
Heidi Favia joined the La Ventana team in 2015 as a marriage and family therapist intern. She has recently completed all intern hours and is awaiting licensure. She received her Master’s Degree in Applied Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles and is currently working on obtaining her PhD. Heidi has a passion for working with clients who struggle with eating disorders and chemical dependency. In addition, Heidi has over 3 years of experience working with women and children coming out of shelters effected by intimate partner violence, teens dealing with depression and gender identity issues, and families struggling with past trauma. Heidi uses the techniques she has learned and developed as a therapist and life experiences to create a compassionate, empathetic environment for her clients. Her calm and loving demeanor allows her to build trusting, open, and honest relationships with her clients. Heidi’s primary focus is instilling hope and motivation in order for clients to believe that recovery is obtainable and sustainable.
Santa Barbara Eating Disorder Staff
Christina Donaldson, Ph.D.
Dr. Christina Donaldson is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. For over 15 years, Dr. Donaldson has focused her specialized skill set with adolescents in a myriad of settings, including: wilderness therapy, educational programs, eating disorder treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals, and in community counseling centers. Currently, she serves on the Advisory Panel and consultant for Y.P.A.D. (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance). A dancer since the age of three, Dr. Donaldson is a Psychologist specializing in adolescent mental health offering a unique perspective on dance and music as it relates to adolescent behavior. Since earning her Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate University, Christina has developed and piloted an in-depth study on the relationship between music and psychology. In her research, Christina is unveiling the importance music plays on connection both to one’s inner world as well as to each other. In addition to research, Christina serves as a guest lecturer at various Universities and Community Colleges. Her presentations focus on how eating disorders develop, the impact culture has on eating disorders, and different treatment options available. Along with a passion for music and dance, she has applied her talents towards mythology and storytelling, which she utilizes in consulting with screenwriters on character and plot development. She earned a B.S. in Microbiology from University of Minnesota, and did her graduate work at Pacifica Graduate Institute where she received a M.A. in Counseling Psychology and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.
Rachel Finch, LMFT
“I am real with my clients. Through holding a safe and loving space, I aim to develop an authentic relationship with each of my clients as they embark on the sacred journey of discovering and connecting to their true selves.”
Rachel brings her extensive experience working with individuals, families, and groups within Eating Disorder Treatment to her position as Program Director. She has worked as a primary therapist at the inpatient level of care, as well as a Clinical Director and clinician within partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient settings. Rachel works with a spectrum of Eating Disorder diagnoses including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Exercise Addiction, Obsessive Compulsice Disorder as it relates to Ed’s, and Binge Eating Disorder.
Rachel earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology from Westmont College, and her Master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy from Fuller Theological Seminary. She currently serves as a board member of the Central Coast Chapter of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP). She regularly presents ED educational material within a variety of Santa Barbara community venues. Rachel’s mission is to help those with eating disorders find a joyous and fulfilled life through recovery, as they discover how to live as their best and most authentic selves.
Athena Cameranesi, RDN
Athena earned her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. After gaining years of experience as a cook and nutrition counselor she decided to further her education and become a Registered Dietitian. So, she went on a grand adventure to New Orleans, Louisiana for Tulane University’s Dietetic Internship where she learned much beyond dietetics.
For as long as she can remember Athena has loved cooking and human sciences so nutrition seemed like the natural path to pursue. She wanted to choose a line of work where she could sincerely make a difference in people’s lives which eventually landed her at La Ventana. La Ventana is a locally owned company that offers a family feel to both staff and clients. The staff truly cares about each client and provides personalized, well-rounded care. Athena values her healthy relationship with food and is motivated to help empower others to restore their own relationship with food. She feels privileged to be able to help others on their road to recovery.
Kelly Spondello, LMFT
Kelly Spondello is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern and is a member of California Association of Marriage and Family Therapist. Kelly has recently completed all intern hours and is awaiting licensure. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from California State University Northridge in 2007. She went on to get her Masters Degree in Educational Psychology/Marriage and Family Therapy in 2010 from California State University Northridge as well, graduating with honors on the deans list. Kelly has a passion for working with clients who struggle with eating disorders and wrote her Master’s Thesis on the education and treatment of eating disorders. In addition, Kelly has had over 4 years experience working with depression, OCD, chemical dependency, anxiety and eating disorders. She uses the techniques she has learned and developed as a therapist to create a trusting, open and honest relationship with her clients. Kelly loves working as a therapist which allows her to give back back to her community.