Rancho Bernardo Clinicians
The therapists listed below offer both in-person and telehealth (video) psychotherapy at Positive Change Counseling Center
Marissa Massimini, AMFT
AMFT #133705 (Supervised by Cara McDowell, MFT #43358)
Marissa is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who obtained her Masters in
Marriage and Family Therapy from Chapman University. She has a particular passion
for working with adult individuals and couples, as well as those that are within the
military service community. She maintains a framework of attachment and Family
Systems Theory when working with clients, that emphasizes the human need for
connection and relationships. Marissa maintains a foundation of cultural sensitivity that
welcomes individuals of all faith, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation backgrounds.
She has gained experience working with children, teens, families, and couples in a
variety of settings, including outpatient, intensive-outpatient and partial-hospitalization
Marissa integrates a variety of modalities into her practice, including:
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical
Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Marissa
has gained additional EFT training through the EFT Externship, which provides
exceptional tools and perspectives based on a highly effective and research-based
approach to individual, couples and family therapy.
Marissa utilizes a client-centered and collaborative approach in her work, which
emphasizes that the client’s experience makes them the expert in their life journey. She
believes her major role as a therapist is to walk alongside clients on this journey,
providing tools, techniques and guidance regarding past, present and future
experiences. In order to guide clients effectively, Marissa emphasizes personalizing
treatment to create a safe space to connect with and empower clients to discover their
needs, humanness, and inner strength as they work towards greater fulfillment.
Yasamin Fani, AMFT
AMFT #121075 (Supervised by Heather Gibson, MFT #97630)
Yas is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who has had experience working with children ages 4-12, adolescents, adults, and families in both an educational and therapeutic setting for six years. She is trilingual in English, Persian and Spanish. Yas is originally from Shiraz, Iran and immigrated to the United States in 2004 with her family. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2014 and moved to Mexico City as an English instructor for three years. It was in the classroom where she realized she wanted to be a therapist more than an educator as she primarily focused on integrating mental health awareness into her students’ curricula.
In 2018 she returned to San Diego to pursue a professional degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at San Diego State University in order to participate in community healing across cultural and linguistic lines. Yas understands the importance of cultural sensitivity and open-mindedness. Because cultures adapt and change, she is invested in helping you examine the impact of cultural, social, and political forces in your own life/family dynamics.
Yas has worked across various therapeutic settings such as school-based, non-profit outpatient programs, community-based and private practice. Through her experience, she has provided therapy to clients who have endured traumas, abuse, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, relationship issues, parenting challenges and life transitions. As a therapist, Yas aspires to create a safe, nurturing and collaborative space for you and/or your family, so you may feel valued, heard, and able to show up authentically as yourself.
Kelly Pacheco-Gagner, APCC
APCC #5939 (Supervised by Rachel Dittmar, MFT #115165)
Kelly is an Associate Clinical Counselor and a San Diego native who adventured around living in different states before returning home to California to become a counselor. She completed her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Irvine in Psychology and Social Behavior, and her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Capella University. Kelly prefers to create a specialized treatment approach to work with each person holistically to address their mental and behavioral health which creates valuable opportunities for growth in individual, couples and family therapy.
Kelly utilizes an eclectic methodology to provide mental/behavioral health counseling through the art of trauma-informed and empathetic relationship building, information gathering, goal setting and treatment planning. She will incorporate integrative aspects of Cognitive Behavioral, Solution Focused, Dialectical Behavioral, Adlerian and Existential theories and their interventions. Kelly has experience working with individuals from a vast variety of multicultural backgrounds including those from indigenous cultures, individuals suffering from PTSD, substance abuse, victims of abuse, eating disorders, co-occurring disorders, life stage transitions or many others in residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient patient settings.
Kelly enjoys helping clients by striving to understand their unique process and creating innovative ways to connect with clients enabling them to take initiative for growth and healing towards positive outcomes thus allowing healing to occur at your own pace.
Leonor Donayre, ACSW
ACSW #99079 (Supervised by Cara McDowell, MFT #43358)
Leonor is an Associate Social Worker who obtained her Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington. Her experience includes working with adults, children, and families in a variety of settings such as: schools, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment facilities, partial hospitalization, and outpatient programs. In these different settings she has been able to specialize in a variety of mental health struggles such as trauma, PTSD, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, body dysmorphia and eating disorders.
Leonor is a Spanish and English-speaking clinician which gives her the ability to easily communicate with both client populations. Her approach is client-centered, strength based, and trauma-informed by paying attention to the client’s and family’s biological, psychological, and social aspects of their lives and how these things affect their mental health.
As a therapist, Leonor believes that each client and family is different and therefore she does not have a 'one-size fits all' perspective. She utilizes a collaborative approach with clients and families as they work together in identifying the issues they wish to work on and the goals they would like to achieve from therapy. Leonor utilizes an integrative approach to her family and individual sessions while utilizing aspects from Psychodynamic Theory, Attachment Theory, and Family Systems Theory. Depending on the goals of therapy, she utilizes different evidence-based practice approaches such as: Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Trauma Focused CBT (TFCBT), Exposure Therapy, and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT).
In her experience working with clients of different age groups, Leonor has received the feedback that clients and families are comfortable connecting with her due to her being personable and being focused on building trust.
Kimberly Rodriguez, ACSW
Registered ACSW #77132 (Supervised by Rebecca Boon, LCSW #84403)
Kimberly is an Associate Clinical Social Worker who has a passion to work with children, adolescents, and families. She is bilingual in English and Spanish. As part of her educational background, she has earned her Bachelors Degree in Social Work from California State University Northridge. Upon graduating she worked collaboratively on a non-profit community working with at-risk youth and families to achieve positive outcomes. Kimberly then pursued her career to obtain her Masters in Clinical Practice with Individuals and Families graduating from Azusa Pacific University.
Kimberly has developed a foundation in diversity, culturally responsive care and interventions, and engagement with interprofessional teams. In addition, with the integration of faith and spirituality. Also, has extensive experience working with the community, school-based settings, and non-profit organizations in the field.
Kimberly has a strong clinical background in Evidence-Based Practice modalities: Trauma Focus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Gottman Level 1 Clinical Training Couples Therapy, Managing and Adapting Practices Anxiety, Depression, Trauma and Conduct problems. In addition, having direct clinical experience working with Victims of Domestic Violence, Adult mental health, and addressing barriers to employment. Furthermore, Kimberly has experienced working with children in the foster care system, at-risk youths, and behavioral challenges. The integrity of her work is for the wellness of individuals
Pamela Berkinsky, ACSW
Registered ACSW #84133 (Supervised by Rebecca Boon, LCSW #84403)
Pamela Berkinsky is an Associate Social Worker specializing in grief and loss, trauma, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, chronic pain and illness, relationship issues, and questions related to identity and purpose. She works with adults, couples and children.
Pamela brings a holistic and deeply compassionate approach to her work, informed by her own personal development journey that includes reiki, meditation, breathwork, yoga and movement practices. She believes that, fundamentally people have a basic need to be deeply understood and seen. When this is achieved through a therapeutic alliance, healing and growth naturally follow. To this end, she offers a non-judgmental, safe space for her clients, and uses her intuitive nature to attune to her clients.
Pamela has a Bachelor’s Degree from Brandeis University, and a Masters in Social Work from New York University. Pamela was also a fellow at the San Diego Psychoanalytic Center.
Pamela is a lifelong learner and is enthusiastic about integrating new therapies and modalities into her practice. Pamela’s eclectic approach utilizing Mindfulness/Mindful Self-Compassion, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Internal Family Systems, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, Emotionally Focused Therapy and somatic therapies, offers clients a wide range of tools they can use.
Carly Shaul, MFT
Carly is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping teens, adults, couples, and families who struggle with anxiety, communication, intimacy and relationship issues, grief and loss, LGBTQIA+ related difficulties, and more. She understands the vulnerability that comes with seeking support and strives to provide a warm space where clients can be heard and understood without judgment.
She prioritizes catering treatment to match the diverse needs of everyone she works with and enjoys taking an active approach in collaborating with clients when exploring their biggest challenges. Carly has experience utilizing a range of culturally competent and evidence-based methods including Solution-Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy, Humanistic Techniques, Family Systems Theories, and Compassion-Based Therapy. She also completed Level 1 training in Gottman Therapy and prefers to utilize this method in her work with couples to improve conflict management, strengthen friendships, and create shared meaning within their relationship.
Carly received her Masters of Science degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. She has been described as a therapist that genuinely cares and is committed to providing that same care to you.
Cara McDowell, MFT, Clinical Supervisor
Cara received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 1999 and her Masters of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy in 2002, both from the University of San Diego. After graduating she worked in a variety of settings including schools, community non-profit agencies, outpatient hospital programs, community college, and private practice.
Cara’s approach to treating her clients is warm, respectful, responsive, and nurturing. She has a genuine interest in the happiness of her clients. She has experience working with adolescents, adults, couples, families, and groups treating a wide variety of issues, including depression, anxiety, parenting, adjustment to life changes/stressors, and relationship/marital issues. Cara utilizes cognitive behavioral techniques, as well as strength based and solution-focused models to help her clients. She tailors treatment techniques and goals to match each client’s needs.
Cara has a passion for working with couples and uses Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) in her treatment. EFT is a structured, research backed, and highly effective approach to couples therapy. Its main premise is to help replace negative cycles the couple has formed over the course of their relationship with new positive cycles to help nurture new bonding interactions. This enables permanent change in the relationship to become a safe and healing place for both partners. Cara also enjoys working with teenage girls. She has a special ability to offer active, authentic, and respectful insight by using direct and non-judgmental feedback. She helps them to take control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors by providing them with the skills and knowledge to make better
Heather Gibson, MFT
Operations Manager, Clinical Supervisor
Heather is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who has experience helping adult individuals who are struggling with Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, life stressors and trauma. Heather additionally has a special interest in helping individuals heal through bereavement, grief and all forms of loss.
Heather earned her Bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in 2010, and her Masters degree in Marriage & Family Therapy at the University of San Diego (USD) in 2014. She completed her internship as a Lead Therapist at the UCSD Family Medicine Collaborative Care Program. She then joined Positive Change Counseling Center after earing her MFT License in 2016.
Heather incorporates techniques from a variety of theoretical models including: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Person-Centered Therapy, Behavior Modification, Narrative Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, Structural Therapy, and Solution Focused Therapy. In her work, Heather adopts a “bio/psycho/social/spiritual” perspective: seeing all of the parts that make a person whole. Heather welcomes clients of all backgrounds, ethnicities, faiths/belief systems, genders, and sexual orientations to join her in working toward creating meaningful change. Through empowerment and teaching self-efficacy, Heather hopes to join clients on the journey of creating the life they envision for themselves. She aims to not only offer therapy, but also hold a space for healing. She looks forward to meeting you.
Janette Valverde, MFT, Clinical Supervisor
MFT #85853 (Not currently accepting new clients)
Janette is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has enjoyed working with children, adolescents and families. She has experience working with individuals who present with symptoms and behaviors related to depression, anxiety, trauma, Adjustment Disorder and life stressors. Janette focuses on collaborating and meeting clients where they are in their process to help support them in their journey.
Previously, Janette has worked in various settings as both a clinician and clinical supervisor, ranging from community and residentially based services, foster care, hospitals and acute crisis settings. She uses her past professional experiences to continue to inform her work with clients and looks to create individualized plans.
Janette earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at University of California, Riverside, and her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, MFT at Pepperdine University. Her training in the field has been influenced by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Solution Focused Therapy, Family Systems, Attachment theories, and Trauma. She is a certified in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT) with adolescents. Additionally, she enjoys bringing art into sessions as a tool for client’s to express themselves. She uses a strength based approach with a trauma informed lens, to join clients on their journey and process with life.
Psychotherapy for Individuals, Couples, and Families