ISLA VISTA

Isla Vista

Isla Vista Location
Goleta Location

Acacia Isla Vista offers individual, group, and psychiatric services in two locations! Located within walking, busing, or scootering distance from UC Santa Barbara, near Caje (Isla Vista) and Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant (Goleta). Come into the office to experience a little slice of modern design.

Isla Vista Location

Goleta Location

Perfect Match
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Acacia has been a wonderful place for me to open up and continue my mental health care journey. I've felt welcome since the first time I walked in the office and my specific therapist is such a perfect match for me. Thanks Acacia!
Couldn't Be Happier
Couldn't Be Happier
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So glad we found Acacia! The people are wonderful, and we couldn't be happier with the care we've received. Office manager [...] is awesome at making you feel welcome and working around your schedule, and they even makes billing a breeze. Plus, there's Charlie the Therapy Dog, who is always there with tail-a-waggin' to make you feel at home. We love how Acacia makes us feel like family...they're the best!
Tools I Needed
Tools I Needed
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When I file my dissertation and graduate from UCSB with my Ph.D., I will have two unlikely people to thank for my success - Dr. Robbyn Jackson and Dr. Keith Higginbotham. I say “unlikely” only because I had no idea in 2014 how much I needed regular therapy and how much Acacia would change my life. Through individual consultations and group work, I came to recognize that I wasn’t the only person struggling; that change required a level of commitment I didn’t know I needed to make; and that the change was lying dormant inside me. Keith and Robbyn were so supportive and nurturing over the last four years and they gave me/helped me unlock the tools I needed to succeed in school, with family, and in relationships. I love Acacia Counseling!
In LOVE
In LOVE
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I am just totally in LOVE with the entire staff at every single Acacia!!! Every person, be it the people working admin, business, dealing with putting in new lights, whatever. I just think you are all SOOOO awesome, and I LOVE this company!!!! It is honestly just beautiful!!!!!!
In LOVE
In LOVE
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I am just totally in LOVE with the entire staff at every single Acacia!!! Every person, be it the people working admin, business, dealing with putting in new lights, whatever. I just think you are all SOOOO awesome, and I LOVE this company!!!! It is honestly just beautiful!!!!!!
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Isla Vista Team

Acacia providers have experience working with diverse clients in a variety of areas including anxiety, depression, stress management, relationship issues, attention difficulties, eating/body image concerns, identity exploration, trauma, and substance use issues.

Click on a provider to learn more about who they are and their individual specialties.

Dr. Kristen Strong

Director | PhD

Trieasha Dillard

Office Manager

Karima Shamma

Therapist | LMFT

Meredith Conry

Nurse Practioner | PMHNP

Vas Todoriko

Therapist | LMFT

Michelle Lebeau

Therapist | LCSW

Jack May

Therapist | LMFT

Dr. Steven Razo

Psychologist | PsyD

Dr. Jean Stultz

Therapist | LMFT

Juliet Betita

Therapist | LMFT

Dr. Dara Goldyne

Psychologist | PhD

Dr. Jackie Henretig

Psychologist | PsyD

Brandi Davis

Therapist | LMFT

Solomon Ndungu

Therapist | LMFT

Nicole Botaitis

Therapist | LMFT

Elizabeth Phillips

Therapist | LCSW

Jennifer Cox

Therapist | LMFT

Haley Beckwith

Therapist | LMFT

Sonja Lindstrom

Therapist | LMFT

Dr. Amber Stickerod

Psychologist | PsyD

Rudi Lion

Therapist | LMFT

Isla Vista Services

All of our Acacia offices offer individual therapy, couple’s therapy, group therapy, and wellness events. Below are services offered specifically in Isla Vista!

Isla Vista Rates

At the time of session, you can pay with credit card, cash, or paypal although a credit/debit card is required to be on file.

*We accept Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna, MHN, and Optum insurances. Pricing of services will vary by plan and will be discussed prior to your first session. 

Please note, you are required to provide us with notice of cancellation at least 24 hours in advance. Failure to do so will result in late cancellation or missed appointment fee charge. Coordinate additional billing inquires with your Office Manager prior to your sessions.

Paypal payments can be sent to counseling@acaciacw.com

Dr. KRISTEN STRONG|#PSY30375

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Anxiety, Depression, OCD, ADHD & Executive Functioning, Autism Spectrum, Social Skills, Relationships, Self-esteem

therapeutic orientation

Person-centered, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Behavioral

about me

I am honored to be a part of the Acacia Counseling & Wellness team and to work with the Santa Barbara community. I am a licensed psychologist and obtained my doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from UC Santa Barbara in 2017. I completed a pre-doctoral internship at UNC Chapel Hill and post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University. I am happy to return to Santa Barbara and get to work with the diverse and wonderful population in this area.

It is important to me to foster a strong and collaborative relationship in therapy. You will find a real person in me, genuine in our interactions, caring, nonjudgmental, and encouraging. It is my goal that you feel comfortable and supported to open up, grow, and work on areas that are challenging for you. Whether it be worrying, feeling down, difficulties in relationships, self-esteem, stress, feeling lost, academic challenges, or low motivation, it is my hope that we can explore and work together to help you accomplish your goals.

I have received specialized training in treating individuals with anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD, and Autism/Aspergers. I also work with students on relationship concerns, stress management, self-esteem, family difficulties, identity and diversity issues, life transitions, academic concerns, and learning disabilities. I will individualize therapy to fit your symptoms, needs, and treatment goals. I generally approach therapy from an integration of person-centered, behavioral, and cognitive behavioral (CBT) strategies, and I incorporate evidence-based strategies for your unique concerns. It would be my pleasure to get to know you and work alongside as you navigate college and adulthood.

Outside of work, I enjoy watching sports, hiking, spending time with friends and family, games, and exercising.

TRIEASHA DILLARD| SHE/HER/HERS

Isla Vista Office manager

ABOUT ME

I am an east coaster born in New Jersey and moved from Virginia here to sunny California in July 2018.

I ended up at Acacia because I saw the position online on the same day my children started school in California. I was not really cut out to be a stay at home wife and mom, also with my background and current career interest I thought it would be a great place to work and learn.

What makes me most excited about my job as an office manager at Acacia is when I schedule a client for their first intake and after the session that they have had a good experience. It makes me feel really good that I can be a small part of facilitating the beginning of a relationship between a client and therapist and the client getting the help they need.

Who is the most impressive person alive today? Why?

The most impressive person alive today to me is Michelle Obama. The reason why is because I think she is just the epitome of grace, humility and intelligence. She has always remained positive in every situation even when faced with negativity towards herself and her family.

What is the most important object you currently own?

If I have to pick something I will say my phone is my most important object that I own at the moment. The reason is that it allows me to be in communication with those who are important to me near and far. I can call or Facetime my children on their cell phones if I need to and I can Facetime with my parents, siblings and friends back home in Virginia.

KARIMA SHAMMA | #LMFT88034

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Attachment & Trauma, Food & Mood Connections, Mindfulness & Meditation Practices, Anxiety & Stress Management, Depression & Self-Worth Concerns, Alcohol & Other Substance Misuse, Social & Generalized Anxiety, Developmental life transitions, Emotional Intelligence, Eating & Nutritional Concerns

therapeutic orientation

Cognitive Behavioral, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Psychodynamic, Mind/Body Mindfulness, Internal Family Therapy, Solution-Focused, Emotionally Focused Therapy (Couples)

about me

I am thrilled to be a part of the fabulous Acacia team of caring psychotherapists. I was born in Orange County, California and have lived in Santa Barbara since 1992. I am the proud mother of two sons who are in their early 20’s. I am of biracial Middle Eastern and European descent.

I consider myself a former cowgirl having spent my childhood on a ranch riding horses. Consequently, I believe in the power of outdoor “therapy.” In our harried, multitasking lives something as simple as stopping to appreciate the environment, to be mindful of the intricacies of nature can be one of the best anti-anxiety medications.

I received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Cal State Northridge, and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Santa Barbara. As an adjunct instructor at Santa Barbara City College, I taught classes in personal development, stress management, and tobacco addiction & recovery. I also facilitate quarterly smoking cessation classes at Cottage Health.

My internship training included family and individual therapy in a youth home for teens, and providing personal counseling at Santa Barbara City College. I see each client in a holistic way considering genetic and life experiences, as well as addressing potential imbalanced lifestyle habits around nutrition, stress management, sleep issues, drug and alcohol use/misuse, because all can contribute to distress, anxiety and depressive moods. I value psychoeducation in the healing process and some modalities that shape my perspective include Cognitive Behavioral, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Psychodynamic, and Positive Psychology.

Many people feel they have to handle their academic and personal life stresses alone when the truth is that sometimes we ALL need empathetic, nonjudgmental support in order to flourish as resilient and confident individuals. The college years can be fun, exciting and yes, very demanding and stressful. My own life’s journey is fraught with countless academic and personal setbacks towards my career as a teacher and therapist. While confusing at the time, each hurdle taught me important lessons. One of the most important is to know that you don’t have to face it alone.

MEREDITH CONROY | #NP95005117

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Coping Skills, Depression, Impulsive Control Disorders, Life Coaching, Obsessive-Compulsive (OCD), Self Esteem, Sleep or Insomnia, Stress, Trauma & PTSD, Women's Issues

therapeutic orientation

Coaching, Cognitive Behavioral (CBT), Humanistic, Interpersonal, Psychiatric Medication Management, Solution Focused Brief (SFBT), Strength-Based

about me

My family and I recently relocated to Santa Barbara from New York City, and are enjoying the beauty and the slower pace of this part of the county. As a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, I draw upon my nursing/medical background to holistically assess the client's biological, psychological, social, as well as spiritual health. With the client, I develop a treatment plan that may involve medication management. I highly prioritize collaboration with clients’ therapists, and always try to understand ‘the bigger picture’ and not simply focus on symptoms.

I have been working in the mental health field since 2002 with a wide range of experiences and settings that include Chemical Dependency Programs, Methadone Maintenance Programs, HIV/AIDS clinics, Assertive Community Treatment Teams, Inpatient Psychiatric Units, and private practice. While working in my former private practice in New York City for four years prior to moving to Santa Barbara in 2016, I worked with many college students. I have always found this particular phase of life interesting, as many factors are at play, such as the first-time emergence of mental illness symptoms, as well as the developmental milestone of searching for identity and meaning.

I received both my RN and NP degrees from NYU College of Nursing, and completed the one year Eating Disorders, Addictions, and Compulsive Behavior educational course at The William Alanson White Institute.

VAS TODORIKO | #LMFT102320

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Anger Management, Art Therapy, Assertiveness Skills, Cultural Issues/ Immigration, Dating/Premarital/ Marital Relationships, Dream Interpretation, Family Conflict, Identity Formation, Life Coaching, Mindfulness Meditation, Music Therapy, Peer Relationships, Religious Issues, Self Esteem, Self-Harming Behaviors, Spirituality

therapeutic orientation

Psychodynamic, Existential, Gestalt, Systems

about me

Relationships move us, give us life, and can even suck the life out of us. We were made for them. That is why I specialize in them -- relationships with friends, family, co-workers, ourselves, our higher power. Proper realignment of these problematic, conflictual, strained, distant, ignored relationships can lead to a rewarding life and ultimately that is my goal as a therapist. The greatest gift you can bring to your relationships is you. The best gift you can give the world is your relationships. What will you choose to do with these two important aspects of your one chance at life?

MICHELLE LEBEAU
SHE/HER/HERS|#LCSW78436

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Life transitions, depression, anxiety, identity formation, relationships, gender & sexuality, women’s issues, self-esteem, stress management, PTSD, trauma, social & emotional intelligence, family conflicts, mindfulness

therapeutic orientation

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Psychodynamic, & Client centered strength-based approaches. I am trained in attachment focused EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing). I tend to weave teaching mindfulness/meditation & self-care into the overall healing approach.

about me

I am a psychotherapist living in Santa Barbara, and I appreciate and admire the people of this community. I have worked with two nonprofits in the area providing therapy for children and adolescents who have experienced abuse, trauma, and/or the foster care system; as well as facilitating teen groups that center around social and emotional intelligence. I have also focused on women’s and LGBTQ+ empowerment. As someone who has gone through both undergraduate and graduate school, I understand the stressors, demands, and joys of higher education commitments and expectations along with the social and emotional components.

I truly love working with the college population and am grateful to be able to offer help and guidance to those who are currently working on becoming their best self. Life is a journey, and college is such an important milestone in a person’s life. I believe we are always learning and growing, and I would be honored to help you along your path to living your best life. Therapy is a safe space to explore where you may find opportunities to work on healing and growth.

JACK MAY | #LMFT94423

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Addiction, Anger Management, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Career Counseling​, Couples, Depression, Domestic Abuse/ Violence, Life Coaching, Men's Issues, Obesity, Obsessive-Compulsive, Self Esteem, Sex Therapy, Spirituality, Sports Performance, Substance Abuse, Suicidal Ideation, Trauma/PTSD, Additional languages: Spanish, Portuguese

therapeutic orientation

Coaching, Cognitive Behavioral, Family Systems, Mindfulness, Interpersonal, Strength-Based, Solution Focused

about me

I am a goal oriented Marriage & Family Therapist with an emphasis on your strengths, committed to helping you find solutions to reach your desired life goals. As your therapist, I will emphasize being in the present moment with non-judgemental self reflection for character growth and development. Let me help you become the catalyst for your own change. Life lessons and experiences reveal to us how important it is to have self-awareness.

As your therapist, I will supply you with the tools and skills to give you the strength to breakthrough barriers. Part of the reason we stress or get stuck is that we are not in the “now”. As your therapist I will gently guide you to the present moment to be your best self. Give yourself permission to allow the space in your life to make change!

DR. STEVEN RAZO | #PSY31156

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

College & Community Counseling, Multicultural Psychology & Migrant Mental Health, Trauma, Grief & Loss, Phase of Life Conflicts, Relationships, Depression, Anxiety, LGBTQ, Adjustment, Couples, Family, & Group Therapy

therapeutic orientation

Psychodynamic, Psychotherapy, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, & Systemic Therapy

about me

Dual licensed Clinical Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist with extensive mental health experience as a practitioner and clinical supervisor. Native of California with approximately 10 years of practice in Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo County, and Fresno County. My scholarship is in community and Latinx mental health. I completed a formal APA internship and postdoctoral fellowship for the State Center Community College District, and I look forward to ongoing work with college students and staff.

DR. JEAN STULTZ | #LMFT95091

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

PTSD/Trauma, Mind-Body integration, Life transitions, Identity Formation, Peer Relationships, Gender & Sexuality, Disabilities, Fostercare & Adoption Issues

therapeutic orientation

Somatic Psychotherapy, Interpersonal Neurobiology, EMDR, Developmental Psychology

about me

COMING SOON

JULIET BETITA | #LMFT18740

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Multiculturalism

therapeutic orientation

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic

about me

COMING SOON

DR. DARA GOLDYNE | #PSY28343

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, adjustment problems, substance abuse/dependence, eating disorders, family conflict, pregnancy & post-partum concerns, stress & anger management, learning disabilities, couples/relationship issues, college transition, self-esteem

therapeutic orientation

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Family Systems, Client-Centered

about me

I have lived in Santa Barbara and worked at several local agencies and non-profits for the past 14 years. I received my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Fielding Graduate University in 2013 and my Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University in 2007. I am an adjunct faculty member at Fielding Graduate University, teaching Critical Thinking in Clinical Psychology and Research Methods.

Most recently in the private practice setting, I have focused on treatment for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse among teens and young adults. I have also conducted psychological evaluations for learning disorders, ADHD, and giftedness. I have a specialty in parent-infant mental health and a passion for working with new parents, individually and in groups, during pregnancy and the post-partum period to address mental health issues, stress, and relationship challenges that arise.

Earlier in my training, I conducted psychotherapy and psychological evaluations in Santa Barbara-area settings addressing domestic violence, childhood trauma, substance abuse, conduct disorders, parenting concerns, and eating disorders. I enjoy working with young adults who are in the exciting and often stressful stages of identity development and individuating from the family of origin. I aim to offer emotional support and effective, evidence-based treatments to those who need help when learning to cope while away from home for the first time.

In a compassionate and collaborative setting, I strive to utilize the best research evidence to address each unique client's specific needs, while also considering their personal preferences, values, and culture. I draw upon cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness practices, developmental psychology, and attachment theory when appropriate in session.

DR. JACKIE HENRETIG | #PSY30160

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Anxiety & Panic, Depression, Emotion Dysregulation, Trauma, Insecurity & Fearfulness, Problems with Alcohol & Drug-Use, Grief & Loss, Self-Acceptance, Stress, Sexuality, Relationship Difficulties, & Peak Performance

therapeutic orientation

Evidence-based techniques including CBT & DBT combined with psychodynamic/insight oriented therapies

about me

Hello! I'm excited to be part of the team at Acacia. I'm a licensed clinical psychologist and I completed my doctorate in Clinical Psychology from California Lutheran University in 2016. My background includes working in college/university psychological service centers, an outpatient psychiatric center, and an outpatient treatment program specializing in DBT (Dialetical Behavior Therapy). More recently, I've completed my EMDRIA approved EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) training. Prior to my doctoral training at Cal Lu, I worked at a non-profit community counseling center in Santa Barbara, CA.

The way your course of therapy unfolds will depend on a number of things, including your goals for therapy, your strengths and your history. In our sessions, I will be focusing on understanding your needs and goals, and getting to know you as a whole person. By exploring your current life and personal history, we develop an understanding of why you think, feel and behave as you do.

Therapy is a place to focus on yourself, which is a rare opportunity in our extraordinarily busy lives. Therapy can help you solve a specific problem, provide symptom relief, gain more general self-acceptance, as well as create personal change. I work collaboratively with individuals struggling with issues including: Anxiety and Panic, Depression, Emotion Dysregulation, Trauma, Insecurity and Fearfulness, Problems with Alcohol and Drug-Use, Grief and Loss, Self-Acceptance, Stress, Sexuality, Relationship Difficulties, and Peak Performance. I use evidence-based techniques including CBT and DBT, and have found through experience that these methods combine well with psychodynamic/insight oriented therapies. My knowledge, experience, and care are dedicated to helping clients meet their goals and live a more fulfilled life.

BRANDI DAVIS | #LMFT112153

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Couples, Relationship Conflict, Communication Skills, Peer Relationships, Substance Abuse, Attachment & Trauma, Anxiety & Stress Management, Life Transitions, LGBTQIA+, Life Coaching

therapeutic orientation

Cognitive Behavioral, Attachment, Person-Centered, Solution-Focused, & Family Systems

about me

Hi, my name is Brandi. I specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for generalized anxiety and substance abuse. In addition, I work with couples and families affected by mood disorders or the use of substances by one or multiple family members. My approach to therapy integrates several empirically supported treatment models in an effort to help clients meet their goals and ultimately improve their lives.

In short, I aim to offer one thing:
Outside, non-judgmental perspective.

In my work and in my life, I have come to recognize the need we all humans have to know three important things:
Do you hear me? Do you see me? Does what I say matter?

We, in life, are not always able or comfortable sharing our deepest truths with just anyone. Moreso, how hard it often is to tell someone when we aren’t feeling heard, seen, or valuable. Having a scheduled time with a safe person to vent, cry, bounce ideas off of, explore alternative ways of coping with emotions or issues, seek advice, etc. can make all the difference when trying to manage all of life’s crazy expectations and happenings.

Who am I?
I classically moved to Santa Barbara to go to UCSB and never left! I love spending time outdoors with my two dogs, cooking, dancing, eating, and ultimately enjoying all the beauty this town has to offer.

SOLOMON NDUNGU|#LMFT100741

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Behavioral Issues, Relationship Issues, Self-Harming , Life Transitions, Coping Skills, Family Conflict, Grief, Sexual Abuse, Domestic Abuse, Transgender, Racial Identity, Men's Issues

therapeutic orientation

Cognitive Behavioral (CBT), Humanistic, Imago, Interpersonal, Multicultural, Narrative, Person-Centered, Psychodynamic, Reality Therapy, Solution Focused Brief (SFBT), Strength based

about me

This is your time. To make a different choice, to learn more about yourself, to heal and most importantly to learn how to thrive. I practice in a psycho-dynamic way, using the most appropriate and beneficial modality that fits with the client and their need. I work collaboratively with a client to arrive at their personal goals in therapy. I have found life is a journey of learning how to live to the fullest with all the gifts that we possess and discovering others we did not know we had. I invite you to do exactly that.

I have worked with many clients on many of life's challenges. Anger management and domestic violence, grief, depression, life changes, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, bi-polar disorder and more. My clients have been from pre-teens to seniors, both genders, diverse races and all sexual orientations.

I am a multicultural therapist, with vast personal experiences and having learnt from many individuals. My graduate work and work with clients has given and continues to give great insight into how we all can live better, healthier lives with a sense of fulfillment and peace of mind. We can start from where you are and go from there. Take the step, call.

NICOLE BOTAITIS | #LMFT47319

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Multiculturalism, Life Transitions, Adjustments, & Acceptance, Anxiety, Depression

therapeutic orientation

Solution Focused

about me

Often individuals feel “stuck” and are fearful to make changes in their lives. In the beginning stages of counseling I assist clients in identifying what is not working for them as well as helping them make sense out of what is confusing or holding them back from change. This process brings about clarity.

Once things are clearer and fear has been put to rest, the empowerment process can begin. Throughout the counseling process I view myself as a safe support and guide. I help individuals realize that they possess all they need within themselves to have a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

My approach is proactive and solution focused. Together we generate a game plan and construct effective strategies to accomplish the transformation you want.

ELIZABETH PHILLIPS
WE/US/OURS|#LCSW64021

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Working with college students, somatic based work, anxiety, LGBTQ issues, relationship issues, career confusion, identity confusion, Additional language: Spanish

therapeutic orientation

ACT, mindfulness/meditation, strengths-based, solution-focused counseling

about me

I grew up in Boulder, Colorado and have extensive training/teaching expertise in the area of mindfulness/meditation/yoga/dance/somatic studies. My master’s degree in social work focused on movement/mindfulness/music as a means of doing somatic healing. I have been working as an LCSW for 16 years. I teach at SBCC in the Sociology Department and continue to teach movement classes.

JENNIFER COX | #LMFT108033

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Communication, Self-Esteem, Depression, Anxiety, Life Transitions, Grief & Loss, Relationships, Social Skills, Family Conflict, Career Confusion, Eating Disorders, Couples

therapeutic orientation

Client-Centered, Gestalt, Psychodynamic, CBT, Existential, Coaching, & Systems

about me

Hello and welcome. I’m glad you’ve taken the step toward the support of therapy. Being a therapist includes being a counselor, mentor, mirror, coach, and cheerleader. I feel honored to hold the unique stories and experiences of each individual. I endeavor to help identify what’s working in a client’s life, and to celebrate that, as well as what’s not working, and to make change with that. Life is a journey, a trip, a ride, with peaks and valleys. It’s our job to get to know this person we are, to find out what our work is, what joy looks like to us, to find out what’s in our toolbox and what we may need to add to it so we know how best to take this journey.

My journey has included education in many forms, from fasting in the wilderness to traveling and working. I have had many “mini-careers.” - As a waitress: which taught me a lot about teamwork, hard work, and the joy of community. As a wilderness educator and challenge course facilitator: which taught me an even greater love for the outdoors and taught me to step into uncomfortable, but ultimately rewarding, challenges. I attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I received a BA in psychology. I took some time to become a licensed therapist, trying on a couple of programs to see what fit. I attended Antioch University, Santa Barbara where I received an MA in Clinical Psychology.

My internship was in private practice and at Santa Barbara City College. I also taught courses through Santa Barbara City College Professional Development Center and the SPARC program to students, faculty and staff, and local businesses, related to communication, diversity, and life skills. As a therapist at Santa Barbara City College for four years, I felt fortunate to help support the college students there. Being a student and a young adult can be fun and exciting and there are often newfound freedoms. But it’s not always an easy time. There are many pressures, questions, concerns, and challenges that are not addressed, in our society and in our families. And in whatever time of life we're in, we all need support and guidance, mirroring and acceptance, kindness, and empathy.

I’m glad that I landed here at Acacia and I look forward to the journey and to welcoming you.

SONJA LINDSTROM | #LMFT37335

Life Transitions, Spirituality, Women's Issues, Trauma & PTSD, Grief, Coping Skills, Relationship Issues, Self Esteem, Sleep & Insomnia, Anxiety, Depression

therapeutic orientation

Art Therapy, Attachment-based, EMDR, Expressive Arts, Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness-Based (MBCT), Psychodynamic

about me

It takes a village...Navigating through the transitions and challenges in our lives is meant to be a collaboration with our family, friends, elders, wise women and men. However, in the times of instant change and mobility, we may find ourselves lost and alone, far from those we confide in and look up to. Sometimes we isolate because we fear vulnerability and the pressure to appear like "we have it together". When this self-judgement and drive to be “perfect” eventually takes its toll, one can be left feeling bereft of deep connection to self and others. Finding a therapist you can trust and confide in, can help you find your way.

In my diverse background as an RN, MFT, I have trained at Parnell Institute in EMDR, a technique to help with healing trauma. I also specialize in Hypnosis, Guided Imagery, Drama Therapy, Art Therapy, Therapeutic Yoga and Reiki. I have worked with end of life individuals and families in hospice. I welcome those who are exploring their unique spiritual path.

My approach in working with clients is ecclectic, that is, I draw from many modalities tailored to fit each individual. Offering support and compassion, my intention is to help clients learn and utilize a variety of tools with the goal of helping them to eventually discover the answers within themselves, thereby building self-esteem/confidence/trust.

Rudi Lion | #LMFT48741

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Couples Therapy, Trauma/PTSD, Additional Languages: Swiss, German

therapeutic orientation

EMDR

about me

We all suffer at times. We all don’t like it. Therefore we do what we can to relieve the pain; we over eat, drink too much, watch excessive amounts of TV, or play video games, anything that lets us forget about our misery. It works. Unfortunately, only temporarily.

Think of your body and its minor and major scratches, sometimes even serious injuries. If you do not take care of these ailments, your body might still function but often at a reduced capacity. You might be too sensitive to touch in certain areas, not able to climb the mountain you dreamt of climbing, or you might feel a chronic, lingering pain somewhere in your body. Not taking proper care of your injuries leaves you with a body that is diminished.

This is true for your inner life as well. If you do not deal with your greater or lesser sorrows, you might experience yourself suddenly being provoked into either rage, where you become unnecessarily critical or defensive, despair and/or withdrawal without understanding what just happened.

“Wait,” you might say, “I know lots of people who never examine their lives and are just fine.” Yes, yes I know these people too. Do I believe that they are fine? Yes! And that’s it right there! Just fine! I want more out of this life than ‘just fine’. I want a deep and full experience. It is, after all, the only ride we might get. I believe that dealing with my own pain, sorrow, darkness has a direct correlation to my access to joy, pleasure and happiness. Joy and sorrow live on continuum, the deeper I dig, the higher I can fly. I want you to have the best life you can. My wish for you is to experience the freedom to access all emotions; to not have to shy away from certain ones because they bring up memories of an old unresolved agony.

The philosopher Socrates said ‘Self-knowledge is the highest form of knowledge.’ I agree. All of your relationships, be it with friends, lovers, spouses, children or co-workers are rooted in your relationship to yourself. You might have experienced trauma such as a severe accident, had an abusive or neglectful parent or a bully at school that still haunts your nightmares. These more or less traumatic life events cloud the mirror of self-knowledge, for the pain of acknowledging the trauma would be too great, or so you fear.

Here is where I come in. I help you polish the mirror, giving you access to the preciousness inside of you. I see my job as two-fold. First I listen to your story and help you connect the pieces; to weave a beautiful Persian rug from the different strands of your memoir. Insight into and understanding of your personal story can be tremendously beneficial. It will help you to understand your triggers, so the sudden, uninvited moments of withdrawal, rage or despair will happen less frequently and might even eventually vanish. Understanding your past, the environment you were raised in, the experiences that shaped you, are important pieces of information in discovering your authentic self.

Sometimes though, understanding your story is not enough. You need to create new pathways of action. If a certain trigger calls forth a certain response, often involuntarily, that leaves very little choice. I like to have choices, I like to be able to say YES or NO and give myself enough time to truly know which one it is. Wouldn’t you?

I was born and raised in Switzerland and moved here at the age of 25. You can speak to me in English, German and Swiss German and if you have come from another country, know that I understand the pain of missing one’s homeland. I look forward to meeting you.

INDIVIDUAL THERAPY

Also known as psychotherapy, talk therapy, or counseling, Acacia individual therapy is a collaborative process between you and your therapist, aiming to understand problems, facilitate change, and improve quality of life.

A staple of every Acacia office, we believe that individual therapy is an incredibly effective process of healing through self-exploration, skills training, and other various forms of change. Ask your therapist how they view the change process. Remember, not every therapist is a good fit and it is important for you to find an Acacia therapist who you feel connects best to your specific needs. If you don't get a good fit, don't fret. You can ask for a change and we will accommodate you!

The therapeutic process can range in length from a few sessions to several years and is appropriate for goals ranging from focused on solving immediate problems to facilitating self-growth and discovery.

Sessions generally last 50 minutes and provide a safe, caring, and confidential space where you can deeply explore the challenges in your lives and, with the help of the therapist, find effective responses and solutions. The process of therapy is largely determined by your individual needs and the nature of each problem but will likely involve exploration of emotions, beliefs, behaviors, internal conflicts, relationships, and both current and past experiences.

Individual therapy can be effective in helping you better understand, manage and express your emotions, learn to deal effectively with stress and anxiety, improve relationships, heal from past traumas, change behaviors that are counterproductive to your goals and values, gain confidence and self-esteem, work through difficult family dynamics, and many other situations. Individual therapy has been shown to be highly effective for many mental health conditions.

mha program

Acacia Counseling and Wellness’ Mental Health Advocacy (MHA) Internship is a team of college students gathered by their passions in advocating for others. The MHA program advocates for mental health awareness through fundraisers, events, and other creative methods. Students collaborate with each other and with local establishments to raise funds for Acacia Counseling and Wellness’ ROOTS fund, a fund which aids local college students with the financial costs of utilizing mental health services. This awareness of challenges and concerns among mental health services is equally reflected in our interns’ passion projects.

Passion projects are events initiated by interns with the intent of advocating for underrepresented communities and proactively aiming to destigmatize notions of mental health. These events range from podcasts and published articles to art nights for de-stressing and presentations in regards to minority groups in mental health. Our team of interns welcomes a commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and mental health advocacy. We are understanding of growth in all its forms and are eager to encourage others in their growth as well.

PSYCHIATRY

At Acacia, we believe that psychiatry services and medication management are often an essential part of your treatment. As such, our psychiatrists focus on diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioral issues through psychotherapy and medication. Acacia psychiatrists and nurse practitioners are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of mental health. We will help you understand the complex relationship between emotional and other medical issues. Your genetics and family history are evaluated along with medical and psychological data, to make a diagnosis, and to develop treatment plans suitable to your needs.

Psychiatrists and nurse practitioners use a variety of treatments – including various forms of psychotherapy, medications, psychosocial interventions and other treatments. Medication treatments may include the following:

Antidepressants – used to treat depression, panic disorder, PTSD, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder and eating disorders.

Antipsychotic medications – used to treat psychotic symptoms (delusions and hallucinations), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder.

Sedatives and anxiolytics – used to treat anxiety and insomnia.

Hypnotics – used to induce and maintain sleep.

Mood stabilizers – used to treat bipolar disorder.

Stimulants – used to treat ADHD.

Please be sure to speak with your psychiatrist regarding any of your concerns regarding medication use. Acacia psychiatrists and nurse practitioners will always listen to your needs and will be there to help you throughout the process!

GROUP THERAPY | ISLA VISTA

Undergraduate Women's Group

Join a supportive and connected space for female-identified students to explore who they are, how they care for their well-being, and what they would like to change in their personal lives and relationships. This group is open to any undergraduate student who is seeking an empowering feminine space for personal growth, support, and connection.

Group meets Mondays 5:30 - 6:45 PM
Led by Dr. Megan Donahue

COUPLES THERAPY

Would you like to explore relationship dynamics and change problematic cycles to improve interactions with others? If so, couples therapy might be just the thing for you! At Acacia, we allow you to decide how you would like to define 'couple'. It does not always have to be romantic in nature and it can be defined in multiple ways (parent-child, roommate-roommate, partner-partner).

In couples therapy, we will help you work through communication issues, loss of connection and intimacy, financial issues, affairs and betrayals, family issues, and more. Acacia therapists will work hard to understand each of you and we will not take sides. Rather, we will explore patterns and try to find healthy alternatives and positive change.

We also understand how life stressors and relationship issues can sometimes make sex a challenge. Sex therapy is used to help couples or individuals reach greater sexual/emotional intimacy and create a satisfactory sex life. Our therapists will work hard to understand your sexual drives, limitations, desires, traumas and more to help you find your sexual peace of mind.