La Mesa | Positive Change Counseling Center Therapists
La Mesa Clinicians
Paul Dooley, MFT
Paul Dooley is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over eight years of experience in mental health treatment. Paul completed his undergraduate education at San Diego State University and his Master’s in Counseling Psychology from National University in 2012. Paul has worked with adults, youth, and families in both inpatient (hospital) and outpatient (office and clinic) settings. He has extensive experience working with individuals with a diverse range of issues including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, behavioral dysregulation and clients experiencing crisis. Paul is certified in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He also employs a variety of treatment modalities which incorporate best practices from DBT, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Psychoeducation, Solution Focused, and Short-term Problem Solving. Paul is a strength-based therapist that enjoys working collaboratively with his clients toward positive change.
Thuy-Linh Thi Pham
Thuy received her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Literature/Writing from UCSD. She later went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Counseling, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy, from SDSU. She enjoys connecting with clients from all cultural backgrounds, and provides psychotherapy in Vietnamese for clients seeking a Vietnamese-speaking therapist. She understands that life is full of challenges and everyday stressors, but is excited about being a part of her clients’ journey in overcoming obstacles in their path towards achieving their goals. Her mission is to help clients discover and utilize their strengths to improve their mental health, manage stress, develop healthy boundaries, maintain healthy relationships, and foster positive change in their lives.
Thuy uses Narrative Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and Motivational Interviewing. She has experience working with youth, adults, and families whom have faced a variety of challenges including anxiety, depression, concerns with parenting, gender identity issues, anger management, substance use, concerns with aging, self-harm and suicidal ideation, and psychotic disorders. She also collaborates with couples to create a safe space where they can strengthen their relationship by learning skills that promote effective communication, intimacy, and trust.
Liza Helitzer, MFT
Liza is a strengths-based, empathic, client-centered therapist with a passion for working with children, adolescents, and transition-aged youth on their journey of self-discovery and developing ways to cope in the world we live in. She has also worked with numerous couples on not only improving the ways in which they communicate with one another, but also working on really trying to understand each other on the deepest levels in order to improve their marriage. Liza has over a decade of experience in mental health which ranges from treating those with anxiety and mood disorders, as well as victims of various kinds of trauma and their families, to those that struggle with drugs and alcohol to cope with life’s stressors.
Liza graduated with her Masters in Counseling Psychology from Boston College and has worked in community and nonprofit settings for the past ten years before coming to Positive Change. Liza has experience working with the effects of various kinds of trauma and is trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). Liza’s mission as a therapist is to empower others to create their happiest and most fulfilling lives by confronting any challenges that they face and implementing the healthiest ways to manage their stress.
Rachel Day, MFT
Rachel is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who brings warmth, compassion, and humor in her work with clients. She implements a strengths-based approach in helping clients identify what is going well, rather than solely focusing on what is wrong. Rachel knows the issues clients bring into treatment often stem from an earlier time in their lives, and strives to assist her clients in gaining insight and awareness as the first step towards change. She is particularly interested in working with couples and young adults by helping them feel empowered, and collaboratively finding practical solutions during the transitions and challenges that inevitably arise.
During her clinical training at Azusa Pacific University, much emphasis was placed on the importance of healthy interpersonal relationships and utilizing self-care. Rachel understands the need for both of these in order to have positive self-esteem and a sense of overall peace. Rachel draws freely on her clinical training and experience working in schools, group homes, non-profit community mental health, and private practice settings.
Sarah Ebert, MFT
As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Sarah specializes in working with children, adolescents, adults and families. After graduating from San Diego State University in 2003 with a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice Administration, she went on to work at a homeless family shelter in San Diego and it was there she developed a passion to counsel individuals and families from various backgrounds and help them to discover their strengths and grow. She went on obtain a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from National University in San Diego. Following graduation, Sarah worked within a local police department and school district treating clients with ADHD, depression, anxiety, trauma, communication issues and anger management issues, prior to coming to Positive Change Counseling Center.
Sarah uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing, Motivational Interviewing, Solution Focused and Family Systems Therapy. She is also a member of California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).
Ashley O'Quinn, MFT
Ashley is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who approaches therapy from a solution focused and strength-based lens. She enjoys providing clients with a place for meaningful collaboration of ideas in order to find short and long-term solutions to problems. Ashley has experience providing mental health in a variety of settings, working with individuals, families, and adolescents, and greatly appreciates the diversity of people she has had the opportunity to work with.
Ashley earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Child and Family Studies from Baylor University in 2007 and her Master of Science degree in Counseling from San Diego State University in 2011. Ashley has had years of work with children and families, but began her therapeutic work providing therapy to children and at-risk foster youth. She then had the opportunity to work with military families navigating pregnancy, parenting, and life transitions. Most recently, Ashley has worked with adolescents, and their families, dealing with depression and anxiety.
Ashley is interested in providing clients with a safe place where they can really be heard and be their true self, while finding solutions that move them towards happiness.
Megan "Meggie" Zanger, LPCC
Meggie provides a compassionate, judgement free, safe space in which she collaborates with clients to work through life challenges. Meggie believes practicing self-compassion is integral to achieving wholistic wellness and incorporates interventions that she practices in her own life.
Since earning her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of San Diego, Meggie has worked in a variety of settings including universities, community non-profit agencies, residential treatment facilities, and private practice, providing individual, family, and couples therapy to children, teens, and adults. She has experience successfully treating anxiety, depression, complex trauma/PTSD, adjustment disorders, grief and loss, issues of identity/self-esteem, relationship problems, and child/teen behavioral issues. Meggie’s compassion, multicultural competency, and self-awareness of her own social identities has assisted her in connecting with clients who represent a diverse background of ethnic, religious, socio-economic, and LGBTQ+ identities.
Meggie’s clinical passions include empowering survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, working with college students and military populations, aiding clients in their career discernment process as well as other life transitions, promoting sexual health, and incorporating spirituality and mindfulness into treatment.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” – Brene Brown, Ph.D.
Kasi (Kazaran) Barkawi-Buck, MFT
Kasi was born and raised in Southern California. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from CSU, Long Beach and Master of Arts in Counseling Educational Psychology, emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy, from the University of Nevada, Reno. Kasi is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional with the International Association of Trauma Professionals. She relocated to San Diego, California with her spouse who is active duty in the United States Navy.
Kasi provides therapy to individuals, couples, children and families. Kasi helps to guide her clients to achieve their optimal level of contentment. Specialized to work with life stressors, conflicts with interpersonal relationships, difficulty with communication, feelings of sadness and worry, grief, fluctuations in energy and mood, loss of interest, negative thinking, self-esteem, abuse and trauma. Familiar with the military community; welcome military spouses and children.
Trained in Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectal Behavioral Therapy, Brief/ Solution Focused Therapy, Stress Management, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
Chris Dooley, MFT
Chris has provided mental health services in a variety of settings since earning his Masters Degree from San Diego State University. These settings have ranged from working with at-risk youth involved with CWS to corporate executives addressing workplace issues. Throughout his experience, Chris has learned that understanding and valuing each client’s unique stories and the contexts of their problems is essential to the therapeutic relationship and achieving progress. He greatly values diversity and his continual work with a wide range of clientele. Chris strives to help empower his clients, and seeks to achieve realistic gains through goal setting and self-exploration. He utilizes cognitive behavioral and solution focused approaches and sees individuals and couples.
Chris works with clients facing anxiety, depression, substance abuse, workplace issues, stress and anger management problems, communication problems, relational conflict, intimacy issues, and sexual orientation and gender identity issues. Chris approaches therapy with humor and compassion to create a safe and collaborative environment for clients. He works with each client to find and practice practical and realistic solutions and gain and master new skills and knowledge to create their desired change. Chris enjoys working with couples in order to help them strengthen their relationship, improve communication and increase connection.
Lea Walchshauser, MFT
Lea has been providing mental health services for over 9 years helping families and individuals with her holistic approach to therapy. Lea has extensive experience developing treatment plans that combine talk therapy, play therapy, lifestyle modification, and incorporating yoga as a means for long lasting lifestyle changes. Lea serves a broad spectrum of clients with experience ranging from marriage and family therapy, drug addiction, trauma, and children, adolescents, and adults with anxiety and depressive disorders. Lea will work with you to build a personalized treatment plans aimed at helping you reach your specific goals.
Lea earned her bachelors degree from the University of Kansas in 2004. In 2010 she fulfilled her passion to be of service to others by completing the Master of Counseling Psychology program at National University in La Jolla, CA. Lea has certifications in Play Therapy and Mindfulness. In the spring of 2016 Lea graduated from yoga teacher training and offers weekly classes for the community. Lea incorporates elements from yoga such as breathing, mindfulness, meditation, and physical movement where appropriate for her clients.
Carol Dawidowicz, MFT
Carol Dawidowicz is passionate about helping people improve their well-being and relationships. She has been working as a therapist with children, teens and adults since 2005. Carol started her counseling career at a non-profit agency serving at risk youth. Carol has over 6 years of experience working with military service members and their families. She supports clients dealing with anxiety, depression, trauma, family of origin issues, grief & loss, separation & divorce, issues of identity/self-esteem, and relationship problems. She also works with couples facing a variety of challenges including parenting issues, infidelity, communication difficulties, intimacy problems, conflict and domestic violence.
Carol received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2000. She obtained her graduate degree in Marital and Family Therapy from the University of San Diego in 2006. Since graduation, Carol has continued to further her education and training by participating in programs focused on Gottman Therapy for working with couples, Prolonged Exposure for working with PTSD and multiple anxiety treatment related programs.
Carol values diversity and strives to understand the unique needs of each individual. She helps clients identify their strengths and develop the tools and relationship skills to lead a more productive and satisfying life.
Kelly Williams, MFT
Kelly Williams is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 10 years of helping children and adults achieve healthier family dynamics. It was in her beginning work with children where Kelly gained an interest in helping adults work to contain their interpersonal stressors that without treatment impact the rest of the family.
Kelly provides therapy for, couples, families and children. When seeing children, she finds it important that the parents have an active role in treatment, as it is a family effort to seek improvement.
Kelly strives to provide a space for clients to feel as comfortable as they do discussing their problems with a friend over coffee or while meeting for a play date. One way she helps build this feeling of familiarity is through her own awareness of cultural, sexual, and gender variances that impact everyone in different ways. Kelly understands that it can be a big step to start therapy for the first time. So it is in the relationship between client and therapist that encourages you to come back even after the hardest of sessions. Overall Kelly utilizes her sense of humor, humility and overall enjoyment of the therapy process to help her clients succeed.
Megan Martz, LPCC
LPCC #2676 (Not currently accepting new clients)
Megan is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. Since 2010, Megan has provided individual, family and group therapy to youth and adults struggling with a wide array of mental health symptoms related to trauma, depression and anxiety, behavioral difficulties, safety concerns, and ADHD. Megan’s compassion for others and professional demeanor provides hope and support for her clients.
Megan has worked in clinic and “higher level of care” settings before coming to Positive Change Counseling Center with teens and young adults. Her work with clients emphasizes providing support to clients and their families in order to more effectively navigate life's challenges. She approaches each individual from a collaborative and strength based lens; tailoring treatment interventions to each person's unique needs. At Positive Change Counseling Center, she aims to create a safe and supportive space where we can begin the process toward living a happier and healthy life.
Margaret "Meg" Olinger, MFT
MFT #104394 (Not currently accepting new clients)
Meg received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Loyola Marymount University and a Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy at University of San Diego. Meg has experience working with children who have experienced trauma and uses a trauma informed approach when meeting with her clients.
Prior to Positive Change Counseling Center, Meg supported families and children in foster care as well as individuals and families who have experienced adoption, in a non-profit setting. As an adoptee, Meg has learned the importance of providing support and guidance to families and individuals who have been touched by adoption. She uses an attachment-based lens to help strengthen the family bond and help find success and resiliency through the core experiences of adoptees and adoptive parents.
Meg is trained in EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which can help individuals who have experienced trauma as well as those who are experiencing anxiety and mood disorders. Meg utilizes Solution Focused techniques, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness-Based practices, as well as other interventions, tailored to the needs and goals for therapy.
Jennifer Lundy-Aguerre, MFT
MFT #42025 (not currently accepting new clients)
Jennifer specializes in treating adults with a variety of anxiety and depressive disorders. She will work with you to address past trauma, decrease work-related stress and teach you skills to help get "unstuck" with challenges you may be facing. She also does a great deal of work with couples and families to address common relationship concerns, such as: communication, conflict resolution, trust, intimacy issues and financial concerns. Relationship therapy focuses on providing couples with skills to help increase trust, gain intimacy and strengthen their overall relationship.
One of Jennifer's passions includes working with expectant and new parents on their journey as they work toward creating a special space for the newest member of their family. As an advocate for parents, Jennifer believes in the importance of understanding your rights during pregnancy, childbirth and beyond in providing the care you feel is best for you and your family. Jennifer is a Certified Facilitator for Gottman’s “Bringing Baby Home” curriculum.
Jennifer received her Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of Iowa in 2000 and a Masters of Arts from the University of San Diego in Marital and Family Therapy in 2002. Jennifer founded Positive Change Counseling Center in 2006 and with over 15 years of experience she continues to provide effective treatment to her clients. She has worked as a Research Therapist at the Veteran's Medical Research Foundation in La Jolla providing evidence-based Prolonged Exposure therapy to U.S soldiers returning home from combat who are challenged by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from combat and other traumatic events. Success rates are high in minimizing and eliminating issues such as increased fear, depressed mood, flashbacks, and poor concentration related to traumatic events including physical violence, sexual and combat trauma. Jennifer's background also includes human relations and diversity trainings, supporting survivors of domestic violence, providing in-home services for at-risk youth, facilitating anxiety support groups and providing residential treatment for adults with chronic mental illness and addiction.