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Therapists in Rancho Bernardo

The therapists listed below offer both in-person and telehealth (video) psychotherapy at Positive Change Counseling Center


Kera Wilson, APCC

Registered APCC ##13132  (Supervised by Jennifer Haggerty, MFT 99313)


Kera is an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor (APCC) who believes that engaging in healthy relationships is one of the greatest joys in life...but the most important relationship we have is with ourselves. Kera is passionate about helping clients strengthen their internal locus of decision-making, emotion regulation, and self-efficacy. Kera strives to help her clients gain insight into their feelings and behaviors so they can make choices that are in line with their core-values, thus bringing a greater sense of fulfillment into their lives.


Kera earned a Bachelor's of Science degree in Kinesiology and a Master's of Arts degree in Clinical Counseling from Point Loma Nazarene University. Kera works mainly using a blend of principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Psychodynamic Therapy and Narrative Therapy. She has extensive experience working with teens and adults living with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, negative body image, personality disorders, and co-occurring struggles that accompany life changes. Kera recognizes that every person comes into therapy with a unique cultural background, family of origin story, set of experiences, values and personality traits. She fosters a safe environment where clients can reflect on and process what they are going through without fear of judgement or condescension.


Life can be really difficult. It can feel too short, or it can feel really long. Life can be beautiful, or it can be boring. But most often it is a combination of many things all at once. For whatever you're experiencing right now, you do not have to go through it alone. It is brave to seek help. It is brave to be honest. And it is admirable to work on making positive changes.


Ariana Rivera, MFT

MFT #145875


Ariana (she/her/ella) is a bilingual Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in working with children, adolescents, adults, and family systems who are experiencing life stressors, the aftermath of trauma, symptoms of depression or anxiety, or early childhood (0-5 years of age) social/emotional/behavioral concerns. She takes a strength - based approach and works to create a safe and collaborative space for clients to share their range of feelings and thoughts while they work to reconnect to themselves and others. As an MFT, she believes relationships can be a source of healing and strives to create a relationship with her clients where they feel safe, valued, and seen. 

Ariana uses a variety of evidence - based treatments in her work including Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and child centered play therapy. She grounds and orients her work in attachment theory recognizing how relationships with others, including caregivers, shape our emotional and social development.

Ariana received her master’s from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and has extensive experience in the treatment of trauma including domestic violence, sexual abuse, and PTSD. She is currently in the UCSD Play Therapy Training program and has experience working with a range of developmental diagnoses, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, across a variety of settings.


Debbie Cecena, APCC

Registered APCC #6814 (Supervised by Rocio Garcia, MFT #122704)


Debbie is a bilingual Associate Professional Clinical Counselor who is passionate about guiding others along their journey of healing and growth. She believes that all people have an innate ability to find their way through struggles and hardships with the support of a caring therapist. She is a highly client-centered therapist who seeks to empower individuals to persevere in the face of depression, anxiety, trauma, or adversity. She aspires to help you find motivation, relaxation, hope and strength to navigate whatever challenges life may bring.


Debbie has years of experience working with children, adults, and families who struggle with generational trauma, stress management, attachment difficulties, and life transition challenges. She especially enjoys working with youth and transition-aged adults who are experiencing various stressors and uncertainties as they discover their sense of purpose in life. She is a strength-based therapist who is empathetic, understanding, compassionate, and non-judgmental of all individuals from all backgrounds. Debbie tailors her therapy to each person and draws from Solution-Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Motivational Interviewing, Experiential Therapy, and Expressive Arts Therapy. 


Debbie is a San Diego native and received her Masters in Counseling at the University of San Diego and her undergraduate degree in Psychology from UCSB. Debbie also has her Pupil Services Credential and has 5 years of experience supporting youth with social emotional challenges in the academic setting. She would cherish the opportunity to aid you on your journey towards personal growth.


Pearl Cohen (Chris Hannah Pearl), AMFT

Registered AMFT #129292 (Supervised by Liza Carr, MFT #77128)


Pearl Cohen (she/her) is an Associate Marriage Family Therapist who is passionate about supporting adolescents & teens, couples, and adult individuals. She strives to create spaces of inclusion and belonging for all clients, their unique identities and diverse backgrounds. 


A first-generation immigrant from South India and a Bay Area native since, Pearl completed her undergraduate studies at University of California, Davis in English Literature, Criticism & Theory. She worked for many years in the education non-profit world and lived abroad in Eastern Europe teaching English and supporting youth engagement in Roma communities. Pearl went on to complete her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology at The Wright Institute in Berkeley and has worked in community mental health settings as well as private practice, with extensive experience in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work.


Pearl employs a warm, person-centered approach to your healing that prioritizes your agency and dignity above all else. She will work with you to identify limiting patterns and beliefs, and will facilitate catharsis through storytelling and relationship. Pearl will utilize modalities such as Narrative Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and her background as a 200-hr Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) to emphasize mindfulness. She has experience working with trauma, grief, and identity challenges, and enjoys working with clients struggling with navigating gender expression and sexual orientation. Pearl enjoys weaving her cultural values of collectivism, community care and social justice into her therapeutic style. She strives to support the unique personal narratives of her clients across their healing journey. She looks forward to working with you! 


Karly Worth, APCC

Registered APCC ##13866  (Supervised by Cara McDowell, MFT #43358)


Karly holds a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Northwestern University. She specializes in working with motivated couples and adults aiming to foster deeper connections with themselves and their partners. Karly takes pride in her nonjudgemental and inclusive approach, and she has experience working across diverse cultural backgrounds and identities. 


Karly approaches her clients with compassion and warmth, acknowledging her capacity to offer a nurturing and secure environment while also challenging them when necessary and beneficial. She believes in customizing her approach for each client, adapting it based on their individual needs, preferences, and desired outcomes. Drawing from methodologies such as The Gottman Method and Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT), Karly is dedicated to helping couples overcome obstacles and deepen their emotional bonds. Recently completing an intensive EFT training program, she employs research-backed techniques to facilitate meaningful breakthroughs.


Karly also works one-on-one with adults dealing with anxiety, depression, life transitions, and relationship issues. She integrates approaches from Psychodynamic therapy, Internal Family Systems (IFS), and solution-focused models to help clients understand and navigate the unique parts of themselves. Karly looks forward to helping guide you on your journey towards self-compassion.


Christina Brouwer, AMFT

Registered AMFT #129541 (Supervised by Janette Valverde,MFT #85853)


During sessions with Christina, you will be met with warmth, empathy, and authenticity. She cares deeply about her clients and creates an affirming space for all. Christina specializes in working with families, children, teens, and young adults. She enjoys working with the LGBTQIA+ community and people experiencing trauma disorders, anxiety, depression, adoption and attachment issues, behavioral challenges, and other life and relationship stressors.

Christina’s approach is trauma-informed and strength-based. She incorporates techniques from a wide variety of theories to meet clients where they are, and draws heavily from Narrative, Solution-Focused, and Attachment theories. Using art therapy as an additional tool, Christina helps her clients work toward their goals while feeling safe and connected with themselves and others.

Christina (she/her) received her Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy with specialized training in Clinical Art Therapy from Loyola Marymount University. She has worked in various settings including schools, clinics, non-profits, and community-based services, and has worked with many different ethnicities, family types, cultures, gender identities, and sexualities.

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Marissa Massimini, AMFT

Registered 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.

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Yasamin Fani, MFT

MFT #141347


Yas is a Licensed 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. 

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Cara McDowell, MFT, Clinical Supervisor

MFT #43358


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

Janette (Sol) Valverde  | Positive Change Counseling Center

Janette Valverde, MFT, Director of Training and Therapist Development

MFT #85853 

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.


Heather Gibson, MFT
Operations Manager, Clinical Supervisor

MFT #97630  (Not currently accepting new clients)

Heather is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who has experience helping adult individuals who are struggling with Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, trauma, relationship concerns, and life stressors. Heather additionally has a special interest in helping individuals heal through grief and other 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.


Billy (William) Hale, MFT

MFT #146237


Billy (he/him) is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist who is passionate about supporting teens, couples, families, and adult individuals. He strives to create a safe space using warmth, humor, and unconditional positive regard where clients can be their true, authentic selves.   


Originally from the Bay Area, Billy completed his undergraduate studies at Tufts University in Boston and worked in finance before shifting life paths and moving to South America. After 5 years working with both non-government organizations and the Colombian public school system, Billy returned to the United States and completed a dual master’s degree in Marriage Family Therapy and School Counseling from St. Mary’s College of California. Billy relocated to Southern California in 2021 and could not be happier to have discovered the paradise of San Diego. 


Billy takes a person-centered, non-judgmental approach to meet his clients exactly where they are at. Billy believes that you, the client, are the expert of your experiences. He works alongside you in partnership drawing from Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Solutions Focused, Motivational Interviewing, and Narrative modalities to co-create healing and growth. Billy has extensive experience supporting trauma, anxiety, depression, attachment wounds, and life transitions across a mosaic of populations. He looks forward to working with you!


Carly Shaul, MFT

MFT #134759 *Not accepting new clients*


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.

Stressed Woman

Psychotherapy for Individuals, Couples, and Families

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