The Cottage at Seasons in Malibu has been at the forefront of cutting-edge mental health treatment, attracting the finest professionals in all areas of behavioral health medicine and treatment. The medical, psychiatric, and psychotherapy staff at The Cottage are among the best in their fields—many of whom have been called upon to provide their expert opinions and insights for national media and academic publications.
We are committed to excellence in our treatment methods and management. That is why we have chosen the most experienced and advanced behavioral health professionals at our Malibu treatment center.
Learn more about our staff below:
Chief Operating Officer
Sheila Shilati has been in the field of behavioral health for more than 17 years. She has served as an international ambassador and participant on two separate expeditions in the Middle East and Africa, working directly with victims of natural disasters and HIV/AIDS. She has guest lectured at several universities and colleges, including California State University Northridge, Pepperdine University, California Lutheran University, and Oxnard College. Sheila also has served as a media consultant for various outlets to discuss general trends in the rehabilitative industry.
Sheila has served as the Chief Operating Officer for more than ten years at Seasons Recovery Centers. She oversees all day-to-day management including but not limited to standards of practice, employee relations, licensing, organizational compliance and corporate infrastructure. She is highly regarded for her leadership, integrity and cultivating a culture of inclusivity and equity.
Sheila received her BA from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2001, and her Doctorate degree from the Phillips Graduate Institute in 2009.
Reuben Vaisman-Tzachor, Ph.D., FACFEI, DABPS, FAPA, DABCHS,
Dr. Rueben Vaisman-Tzachor brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to Seasons in Malibu. He obtained his doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in 1993 and has been a Licensed Psychologist since 1997. He has taught as an adjunct professor of clinical and forensic psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles and others for over 25 years, and served as an Attending Psychologist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for 16 years.
Dr. Vaisman is a Fellow at the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute, a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychology Specialties in Clinical and Forensic Psychology, a Fellow at the American Psychotherapy Association and a Diplomate of the American Board of Certification in Homeland Security.
He has conducted research and published over 20 professional journal articles, and has written or co-authored 8 books and 3 psychology-based novels. Many of his research articles are about addiction and chronic mental illness. Additionally, he has served as an expert witness for various courts including the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
During 6 years of counter-terrorism service as a navy captain and gun-ship commander for the Israeli navy, he developed an expertise in terrorism prevention. He was subsequently recruited to head a research project at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico to study and produce a national terrorism prevention protocol for the George W. Bush administration. The project was subsequently integrated by the CIA into the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden and has been adopted into the official curriculum at the FBI Academy.
Dr. Vaisman-Tzachor is a writer, reader and speaker of English, Spanish, and Hebrew.
Tiffany Towers, Psy.D,
Program Director and Primary Therapist
Dr. Tiffany Towers is a licensed clinical psychologist. She received her Bachelor's degree in psychology and theatre from Barnard College-Columbia University, graduating cum laude in 2003. She received her Doctorate in Clinical Forensic Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2013, after having worked as an executive assistant to a renowned clinical/forensic psychiatrist for many years. With over a decade of experience working in the field of mental health and forensic psychology, Dr. Towers has provided therapy within widely diverse settings across Los Angeles and Ventura counties, including substance abuse treatment programs, university counseling centers, community mental health centers, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.
Before pursuing her doctorate in psychology, she gained international theatrical training and experience in respected institutions and venues, such as Yale School of Drama, New York Film Academy and the Santa Monica Playhouse. Her extensive theatrical training and experience, combined with her collaborations with several nonprofit organizations, inspired her dissertation research, which examined the impact of drama therapy techniques on veteran reintegration. Dr. Towers often incorporates drama therapy and narrative therapy techniques in her clinical work, in order to deepen her patients' insights into "the drama of life experience" and help them harness their creative instincts as they continue to direct their life stories.
Dr. Towers has also given psycho-educational presentations and in-service trainings at the request of several organizations, including The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She is a member of the Los Angeles County Psychological Association (LACPA) and the California Psychological Association (CPA).
Nancy B. Irwin, Psy.D,
Primary Therapist and Certified EMDR Specialist
Originally from Atlanta, Dr. Nancy Irwin moved to New York City in 1985 to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian. She worked all over the country and abroad, and moved to L.A. in 1994, where she experienced an epiphany when she began volunteering for Children of the Night, a shelter for sexually abused children in Los Angeles. This experience awoke the healer in Dr. Irwin, prompting her to pursue a doctorate in psychology at California Southern University with a specialty focus on the prevention and healing of sexual abuse.
Dr. Irwin graduated from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in Tarzana, California, in 2003, with honors and the Director’s Award. She has frequently been called upon to provide her expertise on numerous radio and TV shows, including CNN, CNBC, Fox, and MSNBC. She is a member of the American Hypnosis Association, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, the California Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, and she is a Diplomate in the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Nancy also serves on the Education Committee of the California Coalition on Sex Offending, and she treats more than 100 emotional and behavioral issues, including addictions, phobias, and sexual abuse trauma.
A certified practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Time Line Therapy, and Emotion Free Therapy, Dr. Irwin tailors each client’s treatment to effect the most rapid transformation possible. Dr. Irwin’s academic accomplishments, life experience, and personal approach together enable her to provide clients with a unique treatment experience. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from California Southern University, and has a background as an opera singer and stand-up comic—this unique combination of skills enables her to inject heart and humor into her healing. A powerful keynote speaker, she insists: “Change does not have to be scary and hard. It can be creative and fun.”
Dr. Irwin is also the author of many articles and two books, including co-authoring Breaking Through, Stories of Hope and Recovery.
Damon Raskin, M.D.,
Internist & Detox Specialist
Dr. Damon Raskin is board certified in internal medicine and received his Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University. In 1993 he graduated with distinction from George Washington School of Medicine in Washington DC, after which he completed his residency at UCLA.
For the last 16 years, Dr. Raskin has been specializing in preventive and addiction medicine. He has a full-service office with X-ray, cardiac stress testing equipment, and a lab, and he holds privileges at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Raskin has extensive experience helping patients safely detoxify from alcohol, opiates, and other drugs.
Whillma Quenicka, Ph.D., M-RAS, MS, MA, Masters Level Registered Addiction Specialist,
Primary Therapist and Certified EMDR Specialist
Dr. Quenicka aka “Dr. Q” was born and raised in Indonesia. She moved to the United States as a young adult, where she went on to graduate with honors from UCLA, earned 3 master’s degrees and received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Fielding Graduate University.
Dr. Q is one of the authors of the book Hidden Cultures in Clinical Psychology. Her graduate research projects in Neuropsychology were published in Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology and Applied Neuropsychology Journals. Dr. Quenicka is a member of Psi Chi and the National Honor Society in Psychology.
In her clinical work, she emphasizes recovery principles such as self-compassion, strength based, resiliency, empowerment, and hope. Dr. Q believes that one’s mental health is highly influenced by biopsychosocial factors including spirituality, cultural embedded beliefs, and values. Dr. Quenicka’s clinical experience and training includes working with adults with severe mental illness; intensive outpatient treatment for women with co-occurring disorders; the Brain Injury Center of Ventura County and her neuropsychology private practice.
Dr. Q is a writer, reader, and speaker of English, Indonesian and Sundanese, and is currently learning Spanish. She loves travelling, soccer, reading and exploring culinary experiences. You can listen to her radio talk show “Psychs with Mics” at 104.1 FM KPPQ-LP Ventura, California.
Daniel Hai, PsyD,
Psychologist, Primary Therapist
Dr. Daniel Hai is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist who combines the latest research with the knowledge he has gained in his years of practice and lifelong study of both western and eastern psychotherapy treatments.
As an experienced neuropsychologist, trauma specialist, somatic practitioner, and brain-behavior specialist, he treats a wide range of issues, including neurological disorders, psychiatric conditions, autism, trauma, addiction, attachment issues, personality disorders, acculturation stress, and other clinical concerns.
He is passionate about helping and incorporates a humanistic approach that recognizes the uniqueness of each client. Dr. Hai considers the whole person from a functional holistic view that seeks to identify and resolve the root of the problem rather than just treating symptoms.
Dr. Hai is a published author and an associate editor of a peer reviewed journal. Dr. Hai received professional experience, training, and education at Berkeley, Cal State University Northridge, UCLA, Fielding, Ryokan College, and Cedars Sinai Hospital. His post-doctoral clinical neuropsychology degree was from Fielding Graduate University.
James Luzano, MD,
Dr. Luzano has a background in working with a multitude of mental health illnesses and chemical addictions. He is a graduate of Columbia University, completed medical school at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and residency at UCLA. He is double board-certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry.
Dr. Luzano has extensive experience in therapy that promotes empathy, understanding cognitive-behavioral processes, psychodynamics and motivation for change. He applies these to complex trauma, PTSD and other anxiety, depression and mood disorders.
Benjamin Nakanishi Psy.D,
Dr. Ben Nakanishi is a licensed clinical psychologist who has many years of experience working with clients struggling with addiction and mental health issues. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California Santa Barbara and went on to obtain his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University.
Dr. Nakanishi has worked in a range of settings including community mental health, schools, correctional institutions, and in private practice providing individual, group, couples, and family therapy. He strives to create a collaborative and supportive environment so that issues can be explored openly and honestly. He draws from a wide range of therapeutic orientations and techniques but specializes in psychodynamic and psychoanalytic approaches which focus on exploring the unconscious motivations that drive our behaviors.
Spiritual Advisor, RASi
Audrey Hope harnesses her gifts of finely-tuned perception and healing in her work as a Spiritual Intuitive Healer and Addiction Expert. Audrey served for eight years as Director of Spiritual Counseling at a popular rehab center in Malibu. The revolutionary techniques she uses to help clients in their personal transformations have been lauded by people from all walks of life around the world.
Audrey’s Spiritual Counseling transcends the boundaries of traditional therapy, with its mind-focused approach, helping clients reach the deeper soul, where true healing happens. Her goal is to help each client achieve full transformation in the physical, emotional, and spiritual body. “One must work with an alchemist, one who knows how to go down into the cave with you and solve the riddle of the soul, at the ‘root of the root of the root.’ When you unlock the keys, transformation is possible and life becomes a miracle of free creation.”
Michael Malone, M.A., AMFT, APCC,
Aga Pedroso, M.Sc., M-RAS, DCP, TQUKDC,,
For the past fifteen years, as a certified cognitive therapist, Aga has been helping patients with neurodegenerative disorders and their families find ways to manage challenging behaviours. In 2019 she created a medical package including orientation, multi-sensory and reminiscent therapy for patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. She is a developmental board member for the Brain Injury Research Foundation. Along with the board of directors, she makes sure all people affected by neurological diseases receive the treatments they need and deserve. Aga obtained her Master’s Degree in International Healthcare Management at Essex University in England and is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Health and Medicine with a speciality in the Management of Neuropsychiatric Behaviours in Neurodegenerative Disorders. Aga is a certified Brainspotting practitioner, Dementia Care Practitioner, and she is Master-Level- Registered Addiction Specialist(M-RAS). Her past experiences give her the skills to help and understand clients diagnosed with trauma and PTSD.
Lynda McCloskey, SEP,
Lynda McCloskey is dedicated to fostering safety, attunement, and a personalized approach that caters to her clients' unique needs. She addresses mental health concerns from a holistic perspective that encompasses the body, mind, and emotions.
Drawing from over three decades of experience in the field of somatic healing, Lynda utilizes a range of therapeutic modalities including Somatic Experience, NeuroAffective Touch, Integrative Somatic Parts, Integrative Trauma Therapy, Spiritual Life Coaching, CranioSacral Therapy, and Inner Child Work.
Her professional journey is rooted in the philosophy of embracing and nurturing all aspects of oneself, including those parts that may seem challenging to love. Her goal is to enhance the body's capacity and resilience, enabling her clients to effectively navigate the ebbs and flows of life and heal from stress and trauma. Through this somatic exploration, she constructs a compassionate bridge for her clients, helping them establish self-trust, body/mind awareness, embodied self-worth, cultivate healthy boundaries, and build a nurturing relationship with the Self.
Teri Terusa, M.A., LCSW,
Psychotherapist, DBT, EMDR, & Brainspotting Specialist
Teri Terusa has worked in a wide variety of clinical settings, including County Mental Health Youth and Family Services, the Ventura County Mobile Crisis Team, as a Psychiatric Social Worker and in private practice.
She received her Master’s degree in public health from the UCLA in 1993, and a Master’s degree in Social Work from California State University Northridge in 2014.
Ms. Terusa brings great skill to a variety of therapeutic modalities, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Brainspotting (BSP) and Emotional freedom Techniques (EFT).
Marit Lee, M.A.,
Marit Lee earned both her B.A. and M.A. in psychology from California State University Humboldt, where she researched parental bonding and substance abuse, examining the relationship between attachment and addiction.
As Admissions Director at Seasons, Marit guides you through the process of admissions, from your initial contact to your arrival and admission into treatment. She will help arrange all aspects of your initial steps to recovery. Her focus is on treating clients and their families with empathy and respect. She will help you and your loved ones to understand the unique benefits of our renowned treatment program and answer any questions you might have about options for insurance or financing. Please call Marit today to learn why our program is the best choice for those seeking a dual diagnosis program in a luxury setting.
Laura Smith, LCSW, CAC, CEAP,
Director of Business Development and Clinical Outreach
Based in the New York City area, Laura comes to Seasons in Malibu with a long career of developing and implementing large, multi-sited EAP, business development and clinical outreach programs for nationally and internationally recognized chemical dependency and mental health treatment centers.
She is a graduate of both Skidmore College and Hunter College School of Social Work, and has over 20 years of experience in providing clinical treatment to adults, adolescents, couples, families and groups. She formerly had private psychotherapy practices in New York City and Greenwich, CT., was a consultant to Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and an Adjunct Professor in Marymount Manhattan’s Department of Psychology.
When it comes to recovery, Laura believes that “the only thing harder than doing it, is not doing it” and looks forward to being a resource to anyone in that process!