Sean Firtel, CEO/Founder
Sean received his undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University. In 2008 he began his coursework in addiction counseling, eventually earning several professional certifications and serves on the board of the Association of Intervention Specialists.
In 2011 Sean founded West Coast Recovery Centers where he serves as CEO. Prior to West Coast, Sean owned and operated Continuum Care Intervention Services, where he guided families, employers and friends as they reached out to those suffering from substance use disorder. Through his intervention work, Sean saw time and again that choice is a far greater long-term motivator than ultimatums. With this in mind, the West Coast vision and guiding principle emerged; That all treatment must inspire and empower change though a transparent and individualized path to self-determined recovery.
KATIE LAFLER, MFTI, PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Katie graduated from Alliant International University in 2014 with a Masters Degree in Couples and Family Therapy. Katie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Cal State University, Northridge. Katie’s experience includes working in substance abuse and mental health programs where she provided individual therapy, couples and family therapy, and group therapy to individuals struggling with addiction and mental health concerns. Katie’s journey includes working on a suicide and crisis hotline, and bringing suicide awareness and prevention to college campuses. During graduate school, Katie worked at San Diego City College providing crisis intervention, couples therapy, group therapy, and individual therapy to students and their families. Katie has also worked at a non-profit organization that provided direct crisis services, therapy, and advocacy to survivors of sexual assault and other violent crimes.
Katie is an advocate for mindfulness and radical self-acceptance, and is passionate about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She believes that authenticity, compassion, and unconditional acceptance foster a therapeutic relationship that is both supportive and challenging. As Program Director at West Coast Recovery Centers, Katie provides individual, couple, and family therapy, facilitates the DBT program through group therapy and individual sessions, and coordinates the development of holistic and evidence-based programming at all levels of care.
MATTHEW MORAN, COO
Matthew upholds operational standards and oversees West Coast’s commitment to best-practice through developing, implementing, and reviewing, organizational, administrative and clinical policy/procedure. He ensures West Coast is in compliance with Federal, State, and local laws/regulations. He is responsible for strategic planning, human resources management, payroll administration, HIPAA compliance & security provisions, digital marketing directives and companywide performance improvement. Outside of West Coast, Matthew composes pieces for classical guitar, is a prolific artist, and is actively involved in fraternal organizations which strive to improve the individual (“make good men better”) and serve the community.
DR. CHRISTIAN SMALL, MEDICAL DIRECTOR
Doctor Small is uniquely board certified in both psychiatry (ABPN) and family medicine (ABFM). Dr. Small is among a handful of doctors in the US who have completed additional training to acquire the skills necessary to treat full spectrum medical and psychiatric illness. His treatment philosophy is founded upon the idea of a mind-body connection, that true healing takes into account both the physical and emotional needs of our clients.
Dr. Small completed his residency training at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), where he currently holds the title of Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor. He continues to work part time as an addiction psychiatrist for the Veterans Administration in La Jolla and is a co-founding partner of BOLD HEALTH, an outpatient clinic specializing in personalized medical, psychiatric and addiction treatment in Encinitas.
DR. KIMBERLY ORTIZ, PSY. D., LMFT, CLINICAL DIRECTOR
Dr. Ortiz has been working in the mental health field for the past 11 years. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from James Madison University in Virginia where she worked with foster care children and taught martial arts for the Boys and Girls Club. Dr. Ortiz obtained her Master’s degree from Syracuse University, where she developed a passion for challenging social justice issues as she worked at Vera House; an agency dedicated to helping victims of rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence. It was here that she obtained her EMDR certification.
Dr. Ortiz was then accepted into the doctoral program at Alliant International University. While in San Diego, Dr. Ortiz has worked at several community clinics, residential treatment and private practices. She started her own private practice March 2016 in Encinitas, focused on prenatal and postpartum issues. Dr. Ortiz completed her doctorate degree in 2015 and is passionate about helping people separate themselves from their struggles and move towards their happy and healthy life journey.
HANNA HANSON, LMFT, PRIMARY THERAPIST
Hanna Hanson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with training in systems theory and EMDR. Hanna believes in working collaboratively with clients, using an integrative modality to empower them to explore life on a deeper level. Hanna has extensive experience working with Veterans, addiction, trauma, anxiety, depression, PTSD, art therapy and adolescents. Hanna believes the client-therapist relationship is invaluable in creating a safe environment to foster growth, healing and create change. Hanna earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Humboldt State University. Hanna then traveled for a few years and gained a cultural perspective. She then returned to Southern California and earned a Master of Science Degree from California State University, Fullerton in Counseling. Hanna has worked in many settings from a psychiatric treatment center for adolescents to the Veterans Village. As a result, she has experience working with a wide variety of ages and populations.
JAY WICK, MFTI, THERAPIST
Jay, San Diego native, who calls Encinitas his home, holds a Bachelor of Human Development with an emphasis in counseling from Cal State San Marcos, and a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy from San Diego State University. Jay feels a great deal of pride in his educational achievements after returning to school in his 30’s after struggling for over 10 years with alcoholism and other substance use. He has remained sober since entering treatment in 2010.
His combined lived experience and theoretical knowledge allow him to empathize and connect on a deep level while operating from a variety of treatment modalities. During his studies at San Diego State, Jay trained extensively in Narrative therapy and Emotionally Focused Therapy, and wrote his thesis paper about how to effectively combine the two. His intention for every client he works with is that they leave treatment having faced head on their biggest fears and insecurities, while embarking on their own discovery of passion and fulfillment.
JOHN DONOVAN , CADC II, LAADC, COUNSELOR
As the Men’s Recovery Director John boasts an extensive and diverse professional experience and expertise. He has served as a facilitator for Conflict Resolution Workshops at Folsom State Prison, offered community support to the homeless and mentally ill and was contracted with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office facilitating Relapse Prevention, Personal Development and Intentional Living Groups with violent offenders and addicts for over 12 years.
Through a culmination of everything John has absorbed both professionally and personally; John has employs a process of self discovery and is dedicated to guiding others to a place where they, perhaps for the first time, acknowledge their intrinsic value as a human being and in turn, offers them the tools necessary to live from that truth. John’s work centers around the belief that substance use disorder is not a moral issue but rather a belief and identity issue.
HUNTER GLAUM, CAADE, COUNSELOR
Hunter’s journey into the treatment of Substance Use Disorder field began shortly after 9/11 when he left the financial arena to seek understanding of the human condition. He was very blessed along the way to have been taught by shaman, a zen master, and taoist wisdom keepers. Through his personal journey of healing and learning he has been exposed to many different perspectives, experiences, and teachings on human dynamics. By virtue of his experience, Hunter discovered that his passion is in understanding human belief systems, where they come from, and how they construct the reality that we perceive to be true. In conjunction with Hunter’s ancient teachings, his degree in family and child sciences equips him in a transcendent way of offering tools, new information, and guidance to those who wish to “course correct.” Hunter’s work at West Coast guides our clients towards living lives that are centered, and authentic to their true nature.
EVAN CHODZKO, ADMISSIONS DIRECTOR
Evan has served as West Coast Recovery Centers’s admissions director for over 3 years and is passionate about assisting those that are struggling to find their path to recovery. Evan graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Agribusiness Marketing. Shortly after completing his studies, Evan found found his own personal recovery and has enjoyed a lifestyle of connection and vitality for the last 4 years. As our Admissions Director Evan walks families and their loved ones through the pivotal process of determining the best course of action, even if West Coast is not the best fit for you or your loved one.
EDDIE ROJAS, OPERATIONS MANAGER
As the Operations Manager at West Coast Recovery Center, Edward is responsible to oversee the many moving parts of an individualized treatment program. Edward is in recovery from a debilitating opiate addiction and brings a unique skill set to the team and the clients he serves; his professional background ranges from serving as an Emergency Medical Technician to being granted a professorship at the Cultural Center for Language where he taught English in Caracas, Venezuela for 2 years.
Such a vast spectrum of experiences illuminated to Edward the frailty and inherent value of each human life, the discrepancy of worldwide living conditions, and first-hand substance use treatment, Edward has developed a unique perspective that equates to a pure love for life and an opportunity to share in the collective, yet individualized path of recovery.
GARY CRITE, JR., CASE MANAGER
As a CAADE trained counselor Gary is passionate about educating and encouraging those suffering from substance use disorder. Gary’s intent with each client is to assist them in identifying their life goals, developing a plan to meet each goal and empowering each of his clients to lead more productive and fulfilling lives. In addition, Gary educates and empowers our clients to practice healthy coping skills and communication. Whether is be in a professional setting, social or otherwise, Gary has committed his life to helping others in recovery.
NOELANI DIZON-OATHOUT, CASE MANAGER
Noelani has worked in the recovery field for over a year and is actively pursuing her CAADAC. She has completed her Alcohol and Other Drugs Studies program at Palomar Community College and will go on to pursue her Bachelors Degree in Human Development with an emphasis in Counseling. Noelani works with the Women’s program and facilitates groups which focus on human dynamics- both inter and intra personal skills as well as family.
“The best part about working in this field and more specifically at West Coast Recovery Centers is how congruent the learning capacity is between myself and the clients.”
DR. WENDY WIEHL, GROUP FACILITATOR
Dr. Wiehl has a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of California, San Francisco, and completed her undergraduate work at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Wiehl completed a one year clinical pharmacy residency at the University of California, San Francisco as well.
Dr. Wiehl is a Professor of Behavioral Sciences/ Alcohol and Other Drug Studies (AODS) and has taught at San Diego City College (SDCC) for the past sixteen years. She is Co-Chair of the SDCC Behavioral Sciences Department and Director of the Alcohol and Other Drug Studies program. She has also taught in AODS programs at Palomar College and Diablo Valley College. Additionally, she held a full-time teaching position as Assistant Professor/Drug Detox Clinical Pharmacy Preceptor with the University of California, San Francisco, and served as a Chemical Dependency Clinical Pharmacist at the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic’s Drug Detox Center, where she assisted hundreds of chemically dependent patients to detoxify, developed drug detox protocols, conducted research and published scientific articles.
ANDY LAUB, MINDFULNESS & MEDITATION
Andy joyfully leads mindfulness training and sound meditations for the clients at West Coast Recovery Center. He has assisted in teaching the Mindfulness Based Stress Recovery course at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine for eleven years; he is a Certified Tea Master, Healing Touch practitioner and he plays in over forty sound meditations a year. His volunteer work includes serving Nepalese earthquake relief, meditation and recovery related organizations. He is thirteen years sober.
LESLIE AYRES BURRIS, PERSONAL CHEF & INSTRUCTOR
Leslie began her recovery from alcohol in 1990 in Westhampton, New York which re-started a lifelong interest in healthy culinary arts.
About four years ago Leslie moved to San Diego where she took on vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, and presented these dietary considerations to clients recovering from a myriad of addictions. This is her passion, to heal the person one meal at a time, one day at a time. Knowledge is power and recovering persons can benefit greatly with the aide of a Food Coach/Personal Chef to guide them to recovery in all areas. To become whole again.
She is also currently working with clients who are new in the recovery process, attempting to remain drug & alcohol free one day at a time. She has a proven record of living a wonderful life free of addictions for nearly twenty six years embracing life on life’s terms. Teaching workshops accompanied by trips to the local Farmer’s market illustrate the relationship of where our food comes from (farm to table) and how best to utilize the seasonal products to our best advantage.
David Thurman, MFTI
David is currently registered by the Board of Behavioral Sciences as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, with specialized training as an IATP Certified Family Trauma Professional. David is also certified by the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP) as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC-II). David integrates a person centered, holistic approach to the therapeutic process, integrat- ing Cognitive Behavioral skills, Dialectical Behavior skills with existential influences.
David is a San Diego Native who has completed his Masters of Arts in Counseling Psy- chology at National University with the goals of licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist. David also holds a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. He has been active in his local community, volunteering with YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, as well as the Big Brothers program. David has special interest in youth sports in his community, volunteering as youth sports coach and mentor. He has provided emergency services through the State Emergency Management System, Federal Emergency Management System and The Red Cross.
Barbara Seymour, Acupuncturist
Barbara Seymour, LAc is an acupuncturist in private practice in Solana Beach, CA. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiological Psychology and a Master of Science degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Barbara spent 9 years studying and living in China and Japan. Acupuncture has been a life-long study and she has a passion for educating and empowering her patients and students with information she has gathered through years of experience in the study and practice of Asian Medicine.
Amir Karkouti, Transformative Coach
Amir Karkouti is a transformative coach, owner of a San Diego based chain of restaurants, author of numerous titles, including Do NOTHING To Get EVERY- THING, Lessons From My Coach, and Happiness Formula. He has spent over ten years as an adviser, mentor, and coach to Fortune 500 CEO’s, military men/ women, and people who want to get more out of themselves and their lives. From his personal and professional experiences working with a range of clients, he has discovered that we all have the capacity for innate well-being. He lives in Carlsbad, and can be found spending time with his beautiful wife, French Bull- dog, and the world’s smallest and cutest coach; his daughter, Aria.
Madison Nees, Art Therapy
Madison has made it her mission to bring the healing that she personally found with art into facilities all over San Diego. Madison currently studies at Radical Aliveness Core Energetics Institute, a body based psychotherapy program and brings the aspects of spirituality and the wisdom of the body into all her groups. Madison feels most alive when guiding others to find the creative power that is within all of us. She gets great satisfaction from intuitively sensing others’ needs and helping them overcome their creative blocks.
Daniel Grab, Cello Lessons
As a private cello teacher in Southern California, Daniel has worked with beginning students through college graduates. His students have performed with local orchestras, and have won scholarships to such programs as Crossroads School, Center Stage Strings, and Aspen Music Festival.
In Summer of 2014, Daniel was on the cello faculty at Luzerne Music Center in upstate New York. There, he performed chamber music with principal players of the Sarasota Orchestra, solo- ist and music center president Elizabeth Pitcairn, and assistant concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Michelle Kim. Holding a bachelor degree and graduate certificate from the University of Southern California, and master’s from California State University Northridge, Daniel has studied under the nation’s finest teachers including Ron Leonard, and Eleonore Schoenfeld.
At WCR Daniel’s weekly cello group session provides a relaxed environment where patients can get their hands on a cello and learn some basic techniques, learn the fundamentals of reading music (which is not as complicated as most people think), hear live performances by Daniel and occasional visiting musicians, and gain understanding of classical stringed instruments, all in the casual atmosphere of a music appreciation based model.