The average length of time each staff member has in the field of addiction treatment is over 12 years. This is a substantially higher average when compared to most facilities, many of which have clinical directors with less than half as much time in the field.
Founder/Executive Director: Kansas Cafferty, LMFT, CATC, MCA, NCAAC, CAMF
Kansas Cafferty has worked in the fields of mental health and addiction treatment since 1997. He has worked in several settings, including detoxification, inpatient, and intensive outpatient treatment as both a clinician and administrator. He also has experience in private practice therapy where he works with adolescents and adults in individual, couples, and family therapy. He holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from National University in La Jolla, CA, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Master Counselor of Addictions, and a Certified Clinical Supervisor among other related designations. He has advanced training in EMDR, Psychodrama, and uses an eclectic therapy style that draws from several paradigms.
His primary areas of specialty are in substance abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders. Widely considered an expert in the treatment of addictive disorders, he also serves as a Commissioner for the National Certification Commission of Addiction Professionals (www.naadac.org), where he works toward the development and advancement of national standards for alcohol and drug counselors, an historically under-educated group. His work has been featured in Counselor Magazine and Addiction Professional Magazine; he has been a frequent presenter to the North County Bar Association, and he has been a presenter for industry conferences and internationally broadcast training programs for other clinicians. He also served for over four years as the Director of Clinical Services at Orange County Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, a thriving psychiatry, psychotherapy, and TMS center then located in the Neurosciences Institute at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, CA.
Kansas is involved in group therapy and the therapy process. He also serves as the clinical supervisor at True North Recovery Services, where he provides clinical oversight for all of the therapy services at True North Recovery Services. His approach with his staff is one of empowerment and the expression and utilization of staff strengths. This approach can be found throughout the clinical model patients engage in as well.
Co-Founder/Medical Director: Valeh Karimkahni, D.O., ABAM
Dr. Valeh Karimkhani, D.O. is an adolescent and adult psychiatrist and is board certified in Addiction Medicine. Since successfully leaving her position as Chief of Psychiatry, C/L Services at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, CA, she has taken on medical directorships at several independently owned and operated programs throughout Southern California. Valeh Karimkhani, D.O., is truly one of the most sought-after physicians in the country in the addiction treatment field.
Dr. Karimkhani, was born and raised in Denver CO, where she completed her undergraduate studies with a double major in biology and chemistry. She then moved to Texas, and attended medical school at the University of North Texas Health and Science Center, College of Osteopathic Medicine. During her four years at UNT/HSC, Dr. Karimkhani was granted a summer research scholarship and participated in cardiovascular physiology research. Her internship was completed at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, located in Dallas, Texas.
Dr. Karimkhani completed her psychiatry residency at University of Colorado Health and Science Center in 2007, with an emphasis in adolescent psychiatry. Since 2007, Dr. Karimkhani has been dedicated to community medicine in both emergency and outpatient settings. She has extensive experience in emergency psychiatry, dual diagnosis, trauma, substance abuse, adult, and adolescent psychiatry.
Dr. Karimkhani is also a Major in the Army Reserves and has completed two tours of duty in Iraq and a tour of duty in Kuwait. She is dedicated to helping and healing our American heroes and soldiers of PTSD and a myriad of other psychiatric conditions.
Psychiatric Physician Assistant: Nelae DeChurch, PA-C
Nelae DeChurch, PA-C is a Board Certified Physician Assistant and is licensed in the state of California. She is also Board Certified by the California Physician Assistant’s Board as a specialist in psychiatry. She completed both her undergraduate and Master’s studies at Gannon University in Erie, PA. She was born and raised in Punxsutawney, PA and relocated to Southern California to advance her career in medicine. Nelae provides psychiatric services under Dr. Karimkhani for several reputable residential and outpatient treatment programs in San Diego and Orange County. In addition to this, she has extensive experience in acute and emergency psychiatric assessment, diagnosis, and treatment as a result of her experience providing psychiatric consult services for Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach and Irvine, CA, where she provided psychiatric care in the emergency room, the chemical dependency unit, and throughout the hospitals.
Nelae has additional interests in natural and alternative medicine, and was a 2011 recipient of the Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database Recognition Award, an award that recognizes those with a dedication to evidence-based uses of natural medicine.
Program Coordinator: Linda Burdett, LAADC, CADC II
Linda Burdett is one of the best relapse prevention specialists in the state of California. Having been originally trained in the intricacies of the relapse prevention process by relapse prevention guru Terry Gorski, she has fine-tuned these skills by spending ten years coordinating one of the most intensive relapse prevention programs in the country. She specializes in working with those who have a long-term history of relapse. When all else fails, people suffering from addictions seek out Linda’s skills and she delivers.
In addition to expertise, Linda also brings to True North Recovery Services a level compassion and understanding that is essential in this field. Linda’s experience with complex addiction makes her an exceptional addition to our team!
Program Counselor: Michael C. Koch, BS, CADC II, SAP
Michael C. Koch comes to True North Recovery Services with several years of experience in the alcohol and drug addiction fields. In the past, Michael has worked as the director for multiple sub-acute detoxification programs and as a counselor at another intensive outpatient program in San Diego. Notably, he also worked under the direct supervision of John E. Milner, MD, a physician and true pioneer in the field of addiction treatment in San Diego County.
In his former life before becoming a counselor, Michael was no stranger to the consequences and damage brought about by addiction. He spent 19 years of his life serving the public as a peace officer, first as police and then for 10 years as an undercover narcotics detective. As you can imagine, Michael has seen and done it all. He is one of the rare and exceptional counselors who comes to the field with a background of harrowing experiences that ground him day in and day out. He knows what life and death look like in addiction as a result of the front row seat that inspired his dedication and career change.
In addition to bringing a unique background into this work, Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree from San Diego State University in Criminal Justice Administration, is a Certified alcohol and Drug Counselor, Level II, and holds the rare distinction of carrying the highly specialized NAADAC SAP credential, which qualifies him to work with employees of the Department of Transportation that have substance use disorders.
Michael has dedicated his life to assist those suffering from drug and/or alcohol dependence. He believes the choice to stop the behavior is hampered by the physiological dependence and the lack of coping mechanisms to live life in the present. He believes each person has the ability to adopt a positive program of recovery and live a life free from alcohol and drugs. The choice is back in the hands of the person seeking help when dependence stops and true recovery begins. Honesty, open-mindedness and the willingness to change are what it takes to begin a new life and experience a new found freedom from active addiction.
Admissions Counselor/Administrative Assistant: Sandy Miller, BA CATCIII
Sandy was born and raised in Southern California with roots in neighboring Orange County. She has travelled the world with her husband and children, living in places such as Japan, Okinawa and India. After living abroad, she returned to California where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Sciences from Ashford University. She then went on to obtain her teaching credentials from Cal State Fullerton’s TEACH post-graduate program. After many years as a school teacher, her love of teaching and helping those around her led her to a natural transition from the classroom to the group room. She has completed a strenuous course of study, including internships in Alcohol and Other Drug Addiction Studies. Concurrently, she has also been working toward completion of her Master’s Degree in Psychology at Cal Southern University to become a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist.