The Pointe Malibu Recovery Center Team
The Pointe Malibu Recovery Center employs experts in the field of recovery. Our broad range of addiction specialists are skilled and experienced in treating a variety of client issues, including drug addiction, alcohol addiction, process addictions, trauma, and related mental health disorders. Our treatment professionals operate in coordinated and integrated case-tailored teams to treat you, our valued client. To that end, we assemble the correct team of professionals and recovery field disciplines for your individual circumstances. And we structure our programs around our Integrated Care Alliance, a powerful bond of support that includes our medical/clinical staff, your referring professional, your family in the form you choose, and – most importantly – you.
The staff at The Pointe Malibu also includes recovery experts who are adept in treating depression and anxiety. In conjunction, we treat the frequently associated dependence on drugs and alcohol as depression and anxiety coping mechanisms. Our recovery facility includes staff experienced with, and sensitive to, the unique challenges facing the LGBTQ+ affirmative community.
Quite simply, The Pointe Malibu offers the highest class of treatment professionals, clinical staff, and medical care in the recovery industry. This elite team focuses on individually personalized treatment solutions that address your unique needs.
We invite you to meet the key members of our staff now:
Executive and Medical Team
Michael Gillis, MSW
Michael Gillis, MSW a graduate of Boston University School of Social Work, has worked in the private sector of behavioral health treatment for 30 years. Through his extensive experience in a multitude of roles within a treatment center, Michael creates, manages, and staffs all aspects that are expected of a world-class treatment provider. Michael believes in the human capital of clients, families staff, and the magic that can happen when clients and families are paired with the appropriate treatment center. Co-occurring substance use and mental health issues need to be treated concurrently in order to support the individual and family into long-term recovery. Michael weaves the best of evidence, abstinence, and holistic-based therapies into a comprehensive and dynamic treatment experience.
Chief Operating Officer
Chris made his start with The Pointe Malibu during our first year of business in 2008, working as a volunteer after relocating to Malibu from Northern California.
Having extensive experience contributing to his family’s business in the assisted-living healthcare field and inspired by his natural ability to connect with those suffering from addiction and guiding them into recovery, Chris made the decision to make a career change and permanently join the team at The Pointe Malibu in 2009.
Chris furthered his studies at Loyola Marymount, completing the coursework in Substance Use Disorders in 2012.
As Chief Operating Officer, Chris has been able to assist in helping build and oversee all areas of operations and management at each of our locations.
Chris contributes as a member of our Executive and Ownership Committee and as our longest-standing employee is a connection to almost all of our Alumni!
Mark E. Jaffe, MD
Dr. Mark Jaffe is board certified in general and forensic psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine. He graduated from UCLA cum laude before attending the University of Southern California School of Medicine. Dr. Jaffe completed his internship and residency in psychiatry at the Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center and completed two years of fellowship training at the USC Institute of Psychiatry and Law, where he is currently a clinical associate professor of psychiatry.
Dr. Jaffe currently consults for the Los Angeles County Superior and Municipal Courts and is a member of the expert witness panel. He has performed numerous evaluations for various agencies, courts, and attorneys on cases that involve the use of drugs and alcohol during the commission of crimes or during employment.
Dr. William Huang
Dr. William Huang is board-certified in both general psychiatry and addiction psychiatry. He graduated from UCLA undergraduate and completed medical school at St. George’s University. He completed his adult psychiatry residency and served as Chief Resident of Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. He stayed on and finished his fellowship training in the sub-specialty of addiction psychiatry.
Dr. Huang became very involved in the field of addiction during residency in the treatment of severe withdrawal cases in the medical center and ICU settings. He also provided trainings of alcohol withdrawal awareness and treatment protocol to medical students, interns, residents, and nursing staff in an effort to increase the level of care of alcohol withdrawal treatment hospital-wide. As a fellow at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, he helped set up the Addiction Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic and provided psychiatric evaluation and treatment for Dual Diagnosis Intensive Outpatient Program and Inpatient consultations. He also worked with Asian Pacific Counseling and Treatment Centers and Hollywood Mental Health County Clinic in providing evidence-based treatment for minority and underserved patient populations.
Dr. Huang was awarded the American Psychiatric Association/SAMHSA Substance Abuse Minority Fellowship for his special interest in working with minority groups with co-occurring disorders. He has also been the recipient of scholarships from the American Psychiatric Association/Lily Chief Resident Executive Leadership Program, Ruth Fox from American Society of Addiction medicine. He also participated in several of the California Society of Addiction Medicine’s legislative days in Sacramento to lobby for parity in addiction treatment. Dr. Huang is an active speaker for workshops, CMEs, and special lectures at international conferences and meetings with topics of biological perspectives on co-occurring disorders, state of substance use disorder training, suicide prevention, online Internet gaming, virtual reality and cybertherapy, videogame addiction, and integrating co-occurring disorder treatment in California prisons.
Dr. Jack Kuo
Dr. Jack Kuo, MD is board-certified in general and forensic psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He graduated from Yale University cum laude then attended the University of Hawaii School of Medicine. Dr. Kuo completed his internship and residency in psychiatry followed by a fellowship in addiction psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA.
Dr. Kuo began working in mental health and addiction treatment as a volunteer at the Youth Outreach (YO!) drop-in center for homeless adolescents in Waikiki, Hawaii. He then worked as a residential counselor at a group home for at-risk youth as well as the Safe Haven residential program for the homeless and mentally ill in Honolulu, HI During medical school Dr. Kuo worked as a community health outreach worker providing needle exchange, condoms, and harm-reduction based preventive education to IV drug users and sex workers. After completing his addiction psychiatry training, Dr. Kuo served as the Director of Psychiatric Services at Promises Malibu for 12 years. In addition, he has worked at several other mental health and addiction treatment centers at the residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient levels of care. Dr. Kuo also has a private practice in Santa Monica and works at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He has done numerous presentations at national and international mental health and addiction conferences on topics ranging from updates on treatment of methamphetamine use disorder to borderline personality to videogame addiction.
Jennell Maze, LCSW
Jennell Maze is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and received her MSW at the University of Southern California. Her professional career has granted her the chance to be involved in promoting wellbeing as it relates to individuals, families, and communities. She has provided more than 18 years of comprehensive outpatient, residential, and field based services. Her therapeutic practice has been focused on trauma, mood, anxiety, relationship dynamics, personality disorders, substance use, various addictions, as well as an extensive knowledge of co-occurring conditions. Her interventions are anchored in resilience and strengths based models, which foster hope and opportunity.
Her training and certifications include Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Trauma Informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Structural and Strategic Family Therapy, as well as Crisis-Oriented Services.
Jennell has also worked as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck for nearly ten years, teaching courses in Human Behavior and the Social Environment. Her approach to being of service is driven by ensuring one feels a sense of belonging and connection. This collective approach has led to countless opportunities to witness and support individuals and families on their path to recovery, acceptance, and change.
Mel Pohl, MD
Senior Medical Consultant Pain Recovery Program
Mel Pohl, MD, DFASAM is the Senior Medical Consultant of the Pain Recovery Program at The Pointe Malibu. Dr. Mel was a major force in developing Las Vegas Recovery Center’s Chronic Pain Recovery Program. He is a Family Practitioner, certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM), and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.
He is the author of A Day without Pain, revised edition (Central Recovery Press, 2011) and The Pain Antidote – Stop Suffering from Chronic Pain, Avoid Addiction to Painkillers, and Reclaim Your Life (DaCapo, 2015). Dr. Mel filmed a show for PBS on chronic pain which aired around the country in 2016.
Les Aria Ph.D.
Pain Recovery Specialist
Les Aria, Ph.D., a pain psychologist who has been practicing for the past 17 years with Kaiser Permanente Medical Group in Northern California and he served as the Lead Pain Psychologist for Kaiser Northern California to help redesign the chronic pain workshop curriculum to incorporate modern pain science, mindfulness and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT). Les specializes in treating psychophysiological disorders/persistent pain and medically unexplained problems. He is also part of the Opioid Safety Program (OSP) at Kaiser to help patients, who struggle with opioid dependency and chronic pain, to compassionately taper off their opioids. His passion for mind-body interventions promotes a unique style to help patients relate differently to their suffering, and thereby shift them into pain recovery and wellness.
Judy Ho, Ph.D.
Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychologist
Judy Ho, Ph. D., ABPP, ABPdN is a triple board-certified and licensed Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychologist, a tenured Associate Professor at Pepperdine University, and published author, most recently penning “Stop Self-Sabotage,” published by HarperCollins in August 2019; a book detailing a scientifically-driven six-step program which has been translated into 7 additional languages around the world. Dr. Judy maintains a private practice in Manhattan Beach, CA where she specializes in comprehensive neuropsychological assessments and expert witness work. She regularly appears as an expert psychologist on television, podcasts, radio, and contributes to other media including print and electronic periodicals. She is a co-host on the syndicated daytime television talk show “The Doctors,” co-host of CBS’s Face the Truth, and host of The SuperCharged Life podcast produced by Stage 29 Podcast Productions.
Dr. Judy Ho is an avid researcher and is a two-time recipient of the National Institute of Mental Health Services Research Award. She hosts an active research program to improve mental health care for high-need populations and is the chair of the Institutional Review Board at Pepperdine University. Her treatment approaches integrate the scientific principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She often speaks at national and local events including research, clinical, and corporate conferences and workshops for organizations and schools.
Dr. Judy received her bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Business Administration from UC Berkeley and her masters and doctorate from SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. She completed a National Institute of Mental Health sponsored fellowship at UCLA’s Semel Institute.
Christiana Grotlisch, MSW, ASW
Christiana is currently a primary therapist at the Pointe Malibu Recovery Centers after initially working at our Intensive Outpatient Program. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Antioch University with a dual major in Addiction Studies and Psychology and a minor in Urban Communities and Environments. Christiana is a master’s candidate at the University of Southern California School of Social Work studying Adult Mental Health and Wellness.
Christiana was formerly a youth pastor and the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at Brentwood Presbyterian Church and was in charge of programming. She led weekly groups and frequently incorporated surf groups into her work with the teenagers. Though she loved the job, Christiana felt that she was called to work in the field of addiction treatment after working alongside students and families who were struggling with chemical dependency and entered the addiction treatment field in 2015.
Christiana utilizes evidence-based practices to inform her work with clients, and frequently incorporates solution-focused therapy, motivational interviewing, strength-based practices, and psychoeducation in individual therapy sessions, case management, and groups she facilitates. She even incorporates these approaches into surf/ocean therapy groups.
Lorraine Sears, MS, AMFT
Lorraine is a licensed eligible Marriage and Family Therapist who completed her Master of Science in Educational Psychology at California State University, Northridge with an emphasis on Marriage Family Therapy. Lorraine utilizes a wide range of therapeutic modalities all with family systems in mind. She specializes in the treatment of trauma and how it manifests in substance use/abuse, mental health issues, and maladaptive behaviors. She believes in fostering an atmosphere of authentic openness, compassion, with a non-judgmental interpersonal and integrated approach to therapy needed to embark on the personal exploration that seeks to address the roots of long-standing psychological struggles; resolve past traumas; enhance healthier relationships with self and others; considering the whole field of human suffering and transformation.
Lorraine has fulfilled a wide range of clinical roles from working in non-profit and private sectors with at-risk youth; with domestic and intimate partner violence survivors; with sexual abuse, assault, and trafficking survivors; and has worked more than 15 years in the drug and alcohol substance treatment arena in the capacity of Group Facilitator, Case Manager, Counselor, Therapist; and Assistant Clinical Director.
Whitney Nuhn, LMFT, Restoration Therapy Level II Certified, EMDR Practitioner
Whitney Nuhn is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with 9 years experience partnering with adults, families, and couples facing mental health struggles relating to trauma, addiction, and spiritual issues. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Wheaton College, IL and received her Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fuller in Pasadena, California. Her experience in addiction spans the spectrum from working with the incarcerated and homeless populations to holistic concierge rehab facilities.
She has a special interest in the clinical treatment of Personality Disorders within the addiction treatment context, utilizing the science of attachment. She focuses on forming a strong therapeutic relationship with patients through the psychodynamic therapeutic approach. Together they explore patients’ core conflictual relationship themes and how this impacts their addictive behaviors.
Additionally, Whitney is an EMDR practitioner and a Level II Certified practitioner in Restoration Therapy. Traumatic events can create harsh and unsafe core messages about the self. In session, Whitney works with patients to identify their “Pain Cycle”. In dismantling unhelpful core messages, client’s have the opportunity to internalize new, more adaptive messages about themselves and create a “Peace Cycle”.
Whitney identified herself as an insatiable learner, keeping up to date on academic psychology. She is currently involved in research publishing with professors at Pepperdine University.
In her free time, Whitney enjoys time with her church community, backpacking with her husband and dog, and running half marathons.
Sam Sachnoff, MSW, ACSW
Sam holds a BA in Psychology from University of Santa Cruz and completed his Masters of Social Work from University of Southern California with a specialization in adult mental-health and wellness. He is currently credentialed as an Associate Clinical Social Worker and trained in EMDR and trauma-informed care.
Sam draws from existential, behavioral, and psychodynamic approaches in treatment to foster a safe and trusting relationship where clients can explore new ways of thinking and being in the world through recovery. His work focuses on identifying maladaptive beliefs, resolving unconscious conflicts, and is anchored in the belief that all people deserve and are capable of living meaningful and fulfilling lives.
Sam has experience working with children and adults of all ages, as a primary therapist in crisis residential programs, intensive outpatient treatment centers, and private practice.
Patrick Kenney, MA, CADC-II, CATC-III, P.C.C.T.
Patrick holds a BA in Psychology from Cal State University, Channel Islands, and an MA degree in Clinical Counseling from Concordia University in Irvine. Patrick is currently credentialed as an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor as well as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC-II, CATC-III). Patrick’s approach focuses on identifying and uprooting the narrative, or story, that underlies dysfunctional thinking and behavior. Because these painful stories have a traumatic origin, he uses interventions aimed at helping clients to finish processing these deep wounds, allowing them to find their best possible story as a result. Patrick is trained as an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist, which is a powerful tool in the treatment of trauma.
Because of his own history with depression and substance abuse, he is well-acquainted with the mindsets that accompany them, as well as what is necessary to fully vanquish them. Patrick takes great pleasure in helping people find the inspiration to “reinvent” themselves so that things like depression, anxiety, regret, and addiction no longer belong in their story and are replaced instead by gratitude, peace of mind, and abiding joy.
Marlene Henson, LMFT
Marlene Henson, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from California State University, Pomona, and then earned her Master of Science degree from Loma Linda University with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Marlene’s clinical training, area of interest, and expertise are in Substance Use and Co-Occurring Disorders with a focus on working with couples and families. Marlene utilizes Family Systems Theory to educate families on the complex interactions of the family and the effects of addiction on the family unit.
Marlene has 10 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families with reunification, completing mental health stipulations of Children and Family Services cases, and educating families on family systems. Through her work, she has found a passion for helping couples and families strengthen their unions that have been negatively affected by substance use, mental health issues, and patterns of abnormality that weaken the family unit.
Arthur J. Margulies, JD, CADC-I
Lead Case Manager
Art is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and SMART Recovery Facilitator. He began his education at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where he earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Sociology and Economics. Art earned his Juris Doctor degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City. He graduated from law school cum laude and was employed as a commercial litigator at the New York office of a large international law firm. After moving to Malibu, Art earned a Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling, which was awarded with distinction by the University of California in Los Angeles. Art leads 12 Step and SMART Recovery groups at The Pointe Malibu and works closely with clients to develop holistic continuing care plans that help ensure long-term freedom from addiction.
Holistic Program Coordinator
Ashleigh manages the dynamic holistic program The Pointe Malibu offers, and passionately brings together a team of world-class specialists and instructors. The diversity of holistic offerings creates a safe space to facilitate healing, growth, and recovery. This includes meditation, yoga, movement, energy healing, sound healing, equine therapy, art therapy, and beyond. Ashleigh is a 500 hour Certified Yoga Instructor, has Sound Healing training certification, 20 years of meditation and yoga practice, and is currently in pursuit of an MA degree in psychology. She is dedicated to guiding clients to integrate holistic practices into their treatment experience. This includes creating space for meditation, creative expression, self-care, retreat, and movement. She works with individuals seeking to cultivate and nourish these practices in their lives, using practical methods and steps to integrate spirituality in day-to-day living.
Christiana Grotlisch, MSW, ASW
Christiana facilitates our weekly group and individual surf therapy sessions to aid clients in their recovery from chemical dependency and mental health symptom reduction. She has created a DBT Surf Therapy program with a curriculum that focuses on supporting clients with therapeutic skills integration while teaching clients to surf.
Bat El is a certified massage therapist who’s trained in a variety of modalities. Qualified Massage therapist in Oncology massage, Burn & scar massage, and compassionate healing touch. All approved by the National Certification Board Of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork(NCBTMB). She values people who bring integrity, professionalism, and compassion to all aspects of care. Bat El is compassionate about healing and believes in respect, dignity, and quality care at all times.
She wants her clients to feel better! It sounds simple, and for some, it may be. Massage therapy may be needed to relieve the stress and tension that day-to-day life brings. Strain and pressure can bring havoc on a body’s muscles and structure. Bat El’s goals are to help each client form an individualized and balanced treatment plan, based on particular needs.
As an Equine-Assisted Therapist, I facilitate therapeutic group and private sessions for clients navigating a myriad of life challenges including PTS, anxiety, depression, and addiction. I act as a bridge between the individual client, or group, and my therapy horses; incorporating several healing modalities into my practice such as somatic experiencing, constellation family systems, yoga, and meditation. The horse becomes a guide and mirror for what is happening within the psyche of each participant, and this experience creates opportunities for trauma release, nervous system regulation, and an embodied sense of self.
My practice is located at Shakti Ranch in Malibu, CA. Set on two acres next to a running creek amidst oak and eucalyptus trees; the ranch provides a calm, safe space for both private and corporate clients.
Nikki Smith, LVN
Stephen Danielson-Ohiri, LVN
Amber Olaiz, LVN
Intensive Outpatient Program
Michele Jackson Powers
Director of Admissions
Since 2007, Michele has served the Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation community in several capacities, having held nearly every position in the field. Within her role as Director of Admissions, Michele utilizes both her personal and professional experience by providing guidance to aid clients, families and referral sources find clinical solutions to clinical problems.
Bridget serves as our Admissions Coordinator here at The Pointe Malibu. She is driven by a passion for helping people battling addiction and mental health issues. She is truly dedicated to assisting others discover their path to recovery.
Bridget brings with her a wealth of knowledge, compassion, and wisdom. She uses her personal experiences in recovery to connect with clients and their loved ones seeking support throughout the treatment process.
Clinical Outreach Team
Clinical Outreach Specialist
Michelle graduated with a BA in Science and double major in Policy Studies at UCLA in 2000. Although she was recruited through UCLA athletics, she focused on her studies and social works. It was through her Policy studies that she fell in love with social work and realized that working with people was her passion. From tutoring inner city Latino kids in a second language, to volunteering at MS clinics, to walking the streets of ground zero, she knew that being hands-on was her calling. These days, Michelle remains very active as being involved in health and wellness is what keeps her anchored.
Morgan Stiles, BA
Morgan Stiles holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from California State University, Channel Islands and is currently working towards her Master’s Degree in Social Work at Arizona State University. With four years of working in treatment, Morgan utilizes her personal experiences in recovery to provide clients with a nuanced level of understanding and compassion that promotes an efficacious treatment experience. As the Alumni Coordinator, she ensures that our clients, past and present, have a strong community to lean on as they progress through their journey of sobriety.
Greg Rigali, BA, MA
Greg has been working in the field of substance use and mental health treatment since 2015. He possesses a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Ashford University and a Master of Arts in psychology from the University of Arizona Global Campus, where he graduated summa cum laude. Greg has operated in a myriad of capacities including admissions, human resources, direct client care, operations, accounting, and compliance for The California Department of Healthcare Services and The Joint Commission. He has been instrumental in managing previous support teams of nearly 100 staff members and up to 70 clients. Greg is currently earning a doctorate in psychology with an emphasis in organizational leadership. He is passionate about serving others through a humanistic lens and compassionate approach.
Phil Scialabba, RADT
Lead Resident Advisor
Tony Rosales, CADC
Alan Lucky Botelho
Sal Savo, MFA, RADT
Marlen Ortiz, RADT
Renai Cariker Clark
Renai has worked in the health and wellness industry since 2009, and has been at The Pointe Malibu since 2017, where she now functions as the Billing and Program Coordinator. Renai works closely with the clinical team and assists with administrative needs to ensure a positive and productive programming experience for each client. Always looking to bolster her educational prowess, Renai has received education in Insurance Utilization Administration and Clinical Documentation Compliance since joining The Pointe. A Malibu native, Renai is proud to serve her community while working in the wellness and recovery field.
Culinary & Nutrition Staff
Chef Mangi is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives through nutrition and good food. He believes in the love and respect for food and loves seeing the difference healthy food can make in transforming people’s lives.
He received his culinary degree from The Art Institute of California, in Santa Monica where he was the recipient of the highest achievement award for the Fall 2005 commencement exercise. For the past 16 years, he has worked as an executive chef for an exclusive golf club, owned and operated a restaurant, and as an executive chef at Malibu residential treatment facilities.