Our Team

Alan Gordon, LCSW

Executive Director

Alan Gordon is a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, CA, specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and other physical symptoms. He developed Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT), a cutting-edge protocol for treating chronic pain, and just completed a large neuroimaging study on the efficacy of PRT in conjunction with the University of Colorado Boulder. Alan was featured on CBS's The Doctors, where he conducted the first fMRI case study of a patient eliminating chronic pain. He is an adjunct assistant professor at USC and has presented on the topic of pain treatment at conferences and trainings throughout the country.

Vanessa Blackstone, ASW

Co-Executive Director

Vanessa Blackstone is the Executive Director of the Pain Psychology Center and a clinical trainer/consultant at the Pain Reprocessing Therapy Center. She is a direct, transparent therapist, specializing in mindfulness-based approaches. She integrates cognitive behavioral and psychodynamic therapies with a solution-focused, strengths-based approach. Vanessa upholds a sophisticated set of interpersonal skills allowing her to connect with others and create a safe, supportive, and empowering environment. Following her own personal recovery with chronic pain, Vanessa understands the importance of meeting the unique needs of each patient. She also has a background in treating substance-use disorders, sex therapy, couples therapy, and works as an on set wellness professional.

Giovanna Carbajal, ASW

Associate Director

Giovanna earned her master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California. She has experience treating individuals with anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. Giovanna's personal healing and recovery from chronic pain have helped her understand the obstacles that clients can encounter. She integrates mindfulness, self-compassion, and a strengths-focused approach. Giovanna believes an essential part of healing is creating a safe therapeutic space. Therefore, she recognizes everyone's journey is unique and strives to build safety by implementing self-empowerment, patience, and humor.

Derek Sapico, LMFT

Clinical Director

Derek Sapico has been working in the field of chronic pain treatment for his entire career. In addition to serving as the Fieldwork Coordinator for the USC MFT Program, Derek was an adjunct lecturer at University of the West, served as lead therapist at the California Headache and Pain Center, and co-authored the Treatment Outline and Training Protocol for the Psychophysiologic Disorders Association. Derek is passionate about the clinical supervision process and the training and development of the therapists at the Pain Psychology Center.

Paulina Assaf, ASW

Director of Operations

Paulina Assaf earned her master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California. She utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy, pain reprocessing therapy and mindfulness techniques to help clients understand their own mind-body connection in order to deactivate pain signals in the brain. She encourages patients to approach their pain and subsequent healing not with expectation, but rather through a lens of empowerment. Paulina helps her clients to increase their self-compassion and self-care as essential tools in chronic pain recovery as well as personal growth.

Christine Archer, AMFT, APCC

Christine supports clients in navigating chronic pain and anxiety, with the ultimate goal of helping her clients to experience more balance and well-being in their lives. Christine’s approach weaves together mindfulness-based and cognitive behavioral therapies, and focuses on the process of cultivating deeper self-understanding and self-compassion. Some of Christine’s personal values that she brings into her work with clients include acceptance, authenticity, patience, humility, humor, and curiosity.

Mike Averill, ASW

Mike is a psychotherapist based in Los Angeles. He incorporates knowledge from meditation and breathwork traditions into a general psychodynamic approach to therapy. Mike emphasizes the natural tendency of nervous systems to seek out wellness by incorporating a priority of developing a relative sense of safety. He also weaves in tools to build self-compassion, resilience, and less rigid ways of thinking and being. Mike received his master’s degree from USC, is certified in yoga and breathwork, and is in training for Somatic Experiencing.

Anna Barnett, LMFT

Anna Barnett specializes in treating anxiety and chronic pain. Alongside Pain Reprocessing Therapy, Anna integrates mindfulness-based, existential, and solution-focused models in her approach to treatment. Anna previously developed an intensive outpatient program to support rapid recovery from anxiety, depression, and trauma through mindfulness and is trained in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. She also has a background working with people with cancer and their support systems. Anna is a certified yoga and Acro Yoga teacher. She has helped people build awareness, resilience, strength, and deeper connections through breathwork, meditation, and yoga.

Bianca Berzner, LMFT

Bianca Berzner has her master's in clinical psychology and works with clients of all cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations who have chronic pain. With extensive training in and personal experience with the mind-body connection, Bianca shares empathy, curiosity, humor, and her light-hearted nature. Holistically, she fosters healing and collaborates with clients to build safety and hope. Bianca incorporates mindfulness-based, cognitive-behavioral, and psychodynamic models into treatment with a strengths-based lens. She enjoys journeying with her clients on their paths toward self-awareness, self-compassion, and joy by providing them liberating and life-changing tools.

Steven Bradshaw, LMFT, SEP

Steven Bradshaw helps clients gain freedom from pain to achieve an abundant, connected, and joyful life. Steven brings a personal understanding to the recovery process having overcome migraines and back pain through his own therapy and practice. Along with his Masters in Clinical Psychology, Steven has three years of training in Somatic Experiencing, a modality that helps to decondition fear, discharge accumulated stress, and increase relaxation and vitality. In his free time, Steven loves to climb mountains and explore beautiful spaces in nature.

Michelle Avril Bush, MA

Michelle Avril Bush has over 20 years of experience in the mental health field, working in therapy, assessment, supervision, research, and teaching. Michelle uses an evidence and strengths-based integrative approach, focusing on client education, gaining insight, resiliency development, and interpersonal work. Michelle comes to the Pain Psychology Center with extensive experience in issues relating to depression, anxiety, trauma, abuse, loss, addiction, adjustment disorders, and behavioral problems.

Melany Cohen, LMFT, CHT, JD

Melany Cohen is a psychotherapist and certified hypnotherapist, specializing in the treatment of chronic pain. Her own positive experience with hypnosis inspired her to make a life-transforming decision. She gave up her law career so that she could pursue her true passion to become a healer and motivator. She incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy, guided imagery and mindfulness-based stress reduction to support patients in their recovery process.

Sherry del Campo, LCSW

Sherry del Campo is a psychotherapist who specializes in the treatment of chronic pain and other mind-body symptoms. Sherry approaches pain reduction from a holistic perspective. She integrates cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and pain reprocessing therapy to help individuals identify fear thoughts and decrease learned pain in their bodies. In addition, Sherry has extensive experience working with clients who have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. She is passionate about empowering clients to foster healthy relationships. Sherry emphasizes the importance of self-compassion and draws from each clients’ unique strengths to heal both their minds and their bodies.

Daniella Deutsch, ASW

Daniella received a master's in social work from the University of Southern California. Daniella individualizes her treatment approach to meet the needs of each patient. She encourages her patients to relate to themselves with self-compassion while using evidences-based practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy to achieve pain reduction and mind and body wellness.

Mercedes Elkoff, MFT

Mercedes “Sadie” Elkoff received a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from USC and approaches her work with clients from an integrative perspective, seeking to tailor treatment to the individual, with an emphasis on the therapeutic relationship as a source of healing and repair for emotional wounds. Sadie has experience working with many forms of trauma, depression, anxiety and addiction. She pulls from attachment and psychodynamic principles and filters them through a systemic framework, helping clients connect with their purpose and authentic self. Sadie integrates Pain Reprocessing Therapy, Mindfulness, DBT, CBT and Narrative therapy to best support her clients journeys of healing.

Kathleen Flaherty, AMFT

Kathleen integrates attachment, cognitive behavioral, and mindfulness techniques to support clients along their unique journey and meet an individual’s present needs. She views therapy as a collaborative forum for self-exploration and personal discovery to alleviate uneasiness, develop self-compassion, and examine values and patterns that may serve or block one from living a life of fulfillment. With a focus on the mind-body connection, Kathleen works collaboratively towards holistic growth and healing.

Carla Garcia, MSW

Carla Garcia is a psychotherapist based in Los Angeles, CA. She integrates Gestalt, CBT and mindfulness-based strategies to best support clients in their healing process. She values the relationship between therapist and client and views therapy as an opportunity to work collaboratively. Her goal is to always make her clients feel seen, valued and heard. Carla graduated from USC with a Master’s in Social Work and is passionate about mental health advocacy.

John Gasienica, MSW

Business Development and Outreach

Following his own recovery from chronic pain, John Gasienica brings personal understanding and empathy alongside contemporary methodology to clients experiencing pain, anxiety, and depression. Using a light-hearted demeanor, John uniquely caters Pain Reprocessing Therapy with a cognitive behavioral and mindfulness-based approach to each individual client. John received his master's degree from the University of Southern California.

Brandon Gescheidle, LMFT

Intake Coordinator

Brandon Gescheidle (He/Him/His) is a psychotherapist based in Los Angeles, CA who specializes in the treatment of chronic pain. He uses an integrative model of cognitive-behavioral, family systems, and narrative therapy and works from an LGBTQ+-affirmative, trauma-informed lens. Brandon understands that each patient’s relationship with pain is unique, and their treatment must be tailored to fit their individual needs and lived experience. His work aims to help patients understand their pain, increase self-compassion, and utilize Pain Reprocessing Therapy to reprogram the brain's relationship to pain. Brandon received his master’s degree from the University of Southern California.

Andrea Haro, LMFT

Andrea Haro is a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, California who specializes in the treatment of chronic pain and the mind-body connection. Her desire to understand how the body communicates emotion is rooted in her extensive background in mindfulness and holistic health. Andrea integrates psychodynamic, relational and cognitive behavioral based therapies. She treats pain through a non-judgmental and curious lens, believing a compassionate exploration of challenges can incite self-efficacy and a release of suffering. She also has a strong background treating substance abuse disorders and behavioral addictions.

Aasiyah Hill, LCSW

Aasiyah Hill is a psychotherapist based in Los Angeles who received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California. She has experience working with anxiety, depression, trauma and transitional stages of life. She utilizes pain reprocessing therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to help clients understand their pain, increase self-awareness, and achieve their individualized treatment goals. She is LGBTQIA+ affirmative, sex positive, and aims to facilitate safe spaces for clients to feel empowered.

Esti Jungreis, LMSW

Esti is a psychotherapist who received her master’s degree from Columbia University. She works collaboratively with her clients to develop insight and understanding into their life experiences. While chronic pain may bring one to therapy, Esti believes that the skills and clarity that clients develop in treatment will help them move through the world with a sense of ease. Esti utilizes a multi-faceted approach, integrating aspects of cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, and mindfulness therapies into her work.

Callie Kunz, MA, Certified Life Coach

Callie Kunz (she/her) is a pain recovery coach based in Minneapolis, MN. Callie began working with chronic pain patients shortly after her own recovery from fibromyalgia using Pain Reprocessing Therapy. She is a retired educator who feels passionately about mind-body approaches to chronic pain and is committed to using evidence-based strategies to support others in their recovery journeys. She believes in the body’s amazing ability to heal and approaches this work with positivity, honesty, and compassion. When she’s not working, Callie can often be found playing in the snow or chasing northern lights.

Shahnoor Khan, MSW

Shahnoor received her master's in social work from the University of Southern California. Shahnoor supports clients through various modalities including mindfulness-based therapeutic interventions, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution-focused strategies, strength-based interventions, and pain reprocessing therapy. Shahnoor’s previous experiences include working with trauma, gender, teens, grief, anxiety, and the LGBTQIA+ population. Shahnoor strives to ensure that her clients are supported in achieving their personal goals.

Josh Landsburg, MSW

Josh Landsburg received his master's in social work from the University of Southern California. Josh utilizes various modalities in his treatment approach, including cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, pain reprocessing therapy, motivational interviewing and mindfulness. Having overcome his own chronic pain, Josh offers a personal understanding of the recovery process. Josh brings energy, compassion, and empathy to his work, and strongly believes in a holistic approach to best help his clients achieve their goals.

Jamilla Lightner, AMFT, APCC

Jamilla supports clients experiencing pain, trauma, anxiety, and depression through a variety of therapeutic techniques. She incorporates Psychodynamic, Gestalt, and Relational therapy to invite clients to embark on the road to healing. She also introduces mediation, in-the-moment care, and help-now skills to allow the client to discover and rely upon their own inner strengths.

Michelle Malkoukian, MSW

Michelle received her MSW from UCLA with an emphasis in Mental Health and Health. Having experienced chronic pain first-hand, Michelle utilizes therapy as an opportunity to provide deeper insight to and promote healing around different physical sensations. She utilizes various evidence-based practices to alter old beliefs and build new coping mechanisms for pain, while addressing any anxiety or depression that may underlie such pain. Michelle believes that every individual is entitled to feel empowerment, relief, and control over one's own life.

Chelsea Moyer, LCSW

Chelsea Moyer has an extensive background in working with the connection between the body and the mind, both personally and professionally. She works relationally and experientially to support her clients in gaining personal insight into the mind body connection to promote healing on a deeper, more holistic level. Chelsea believes therapy functions optimally as a collaborative experience in which the therapeutic relationship meets the unique needs of each client. She utilizes an integrative approach to psychotherapy, pulling primarily from mindfulness and psychodynamic modalities, in an effort to promote more expansive self-awareness, authentic self-compassion, and improved self-care: the catalysts to change.

Tim Norton, LCSW

Tim Norton utilizes a mindfulness-based behavioral approach to treating chronic pain and mind-body disorders. Apart from receiving direct training from Alan Gordon, he has a strong background in both Dialectical Behavior Therapy and sex therapy. Tim works with his clients to set tangible goals, and helps them acquire the skills they need to achieve them. His methods emphasize self-acceptance and non-judgment.

Tracy Overly, LCSW

Tracy draws on elements of mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral principles, and trauma-informed care to support clients in their journey through chronic pain. She strives to create a safe, collaborative environment in which clients can learn skills to respond effectively to neuroplastic pain. Tracy’s background includes working with clients experiencing anxiety and mood dysregulation, survivors of complex trauma, and interdisciplinary treatment for addiction.

Natasha Rosow, LCSW

Natasha Rosow treats chronic pain and related psychophysiological barriers to wellness using a combination of psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction. She tailors treatment to each individual’s unique needs and emphasizes self-compassion as essential to healing and personal growth. Natasha’s approach is trauma-informed, and she has specialized training in working with survivors of interpersonal violence and abusive relationships.

Gina Safoyan Nercisian, LCSW

Gina is a psychotherapist based in Los Angeles and received a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California. She integrates psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral techniques to help clients cultivate a sense of self-compassion in their unique journey to treating chronic pain. Gina has experience working with anxiety, depression, adjustment disorders, and trauma in adults and adolescents. She strives to provide a safe and empathetic space for clients to grow and heal. 

Jackie Sarnecky, AMFT, APCC

Jackie is a psychotherapist with a personal healing journey from lupus, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue diagnoses. Her empathetic and holistic approach helps clients feel safe, hopeful, and confident in their own healing. Jackie integrates cognitive behavioral with somatic, attachment, and trauma-informed expressive art therapies. She has a faith-based background that includes deconstructing spiritual abuse. Jackie’s clinical experience is with domestic violence, betrayal-trauma, divorce, teens, anxiety, and depression. Clients find they’re empowered to break cycles and experience freedom to lead the life they’ve wanted.

Sadie Schlosser, MSW

Sadie Schlosser received her master's degree from the University of Southern California. Sadie tailors her treatment approach to meet the specific needs of each individual client, while working from a psychodynamic and attachment framework. Sadie utilizes various evidence-based practices such as CBT, DBT, and Pain Reprocessing Therapy to alleviate pain symptoms and maximize the mind-body connection, while emphasizing the importance of the therapeutic relationship in the client's unique healing process.

Sophie Shekarchian, AMFT

Sophie Shekarchian (She/Her) has her master’s in clinical psychology and specializes in the treatment of chronic pain and other symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. Sophie works with clients from various backgrounds, sexual and gender identities, and cultures. Sophie utilizes an integrative model of psychodynamic, mindfulness, family systems, and narrative therapy. She works from an LGBTQ+ affirmative and social-justice oriented lens. Sophie believes the therapeutic relationship can be powerful—it can break us and it can transform us. Particularly when it is a collaborative experience that tends to the unique needs of each client in an effort to empower the client as an active participant embodying authenticity and care.

Claire Summers, MSW

Claire Summers graduated from USC with her master’s in social work. Claire’s collaborative, warm, and empathic approach to therapy emphasizes self-compassion and curiosity as it relates to chronic pain. She strives to empower her clients to engage in authentic self-discovery to fully immerse themselves in the healing process. Through a combination of CBT, DBT, and mindfulness-based techniques, Claire works with her clients’ unique needs to foster a deeper understanding of the mind-body connection as they work toward healing.

Jumana Twal, AMFT

Jumana Twal graduated from Pepperdine University with her Master’s in clinical psychology. She integrates cognitive behavioral, family systems, and mindfulness-based strategies to support clients in their healing process. She approaches therapy with a genuine and empathic nature and helps foster a sense of safety in her clients. Jumana provides a supportive and non-judgmental environment to promote self-compassion and empowerment, as well as an understanding of the mind body connection. Jumana works collaboratively with clients to meet their individual goals, eliminate pain symptoms, and live authentically.

Ed Walton, MSW

Having faced chronic pain and subsequently overcome it, Ed Walton brings a deep level of personal understanding to the recovery process. In this way, he helps his patients improve their lives by addressing the pain from an experiential angle as well as drawing upon the strengths of his formal trainings and education. Incorporating all relevant modalities of therapy (including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and mindfulness), Ed customizes a specific approach to each patient’s individual needs in order for them to resolve chronic pain and return to the life they want.

Dani Weinstock, MSW

Dani Weinstock is a therapist who graduated from USC with her Master’s in Social Work. Having personally experienced and successfully recovered from chronic pain, Dani offers empathy and understanding to her clients. She incorporates evidence acquired through her own pain journey, along with therapy modalities such as mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy to eliminate client pain symptoms.

Sarah Agnew, MSW Intern

Sarah Agnew (She/Her), originally from the Seattle area, will graduate with a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California in Spring 2023. Sarah’s commitment to holistic healing uses a client-centered approach by incorporating cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, and mindfulness techniques into Pain Reprocessing Therapy. She sees the therapeutic process as a partnership where the client and clinician work together to create safety and well-being. Sarah explores the mind-body connection with patience, empathy, awareness, and authenticity. She is LBGTQIA+ affirmative and sex-positive.

Derek Ko, MSW Intern

Derek Ko is a Master of Social Work student specializing in Adult Mental Health & Wellness at the University of Southern California. Derek utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, mindfulness, and motivational interviewing to support clients in developing insight and understanding into their life experiences. He aims to create a safe, supportive environment with an emphasis on self-compassion and authenticity. Derek’s background includes working with clients experiencing anxiety and depression, mood disorders, and neurodevelopmental disorders including ADHD and autism.

Medical Advisory Board

The Medical Advisory Board of the Pain Psychology Center is a multi-disciplinary group of physicians who are among the most respected and experienced in their fields. These physicians, elected by our Board of Directors, serve in an advisory capacity to the Pain Psychology Center team.

David Schechter, MD

David Schechter, MD is Board Certified in Sports Medicine and Family Medicine, with a credential in Pain Medicine. He has served on the faculty of the USC School of Medicine since 1990, and has published and presented widely on the topic of musculoskeletal pain. Voted Top Doctor by US News and World Report, Dr. Schechter is a leading physician in the field of psychophysiologic disorders. He currently practices in Beverly Hills and Culver City, California.

Dr. Howard Schubiner, MD

Dr. Howard Schubiner, MD is board certified in pediatrics and internal medicine and is the director of the Mind Body Medicine Center at Providence Hospital in Southfield, MI. He is a Clinical Professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and has authored over 60 publications in scientific journals and books. Dr. Schubiner has conducted research on psychophysiological disorders and is currently working on a large grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the effects of emotional expression therapy for fibromyalgia.

David D. Clarke, MD

David D. Clarke, MD is President of the Psychophysiologic Disorders Association, Clinical Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology Emeritus and Assistant Director at the Center for Ethics at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and a Faculty Associate at Arizona State University. He is board-certified in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine and practiced Gastroenterology in Portland, Oregon from 1984 to 2009. Dr. Clarke frequently lectures on psychophysiologic disorders both nationally and internationally, and he has appeared on over 100 TV and radio broadcasts.