BAKERSFIELD BEHAVIORAL STAFF
MBA, LMFT, Division Chief Executive Officer
Yessica Avancena, MBA, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in children, adults and blended family structures. She is also the current Division CEO of Aspire Behavioral. Her work experience includes both private clinical practice and County Mental Health/Hospital roles where she was in leadership and management. She is a psychotherapist that is UCLA-trained in Mindfulness Application Practices which have been shown to be effective to treat ADHD, Anxiety and Mood Disorders as well as overall stress reduction. She has received additional training in the areas of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which utilizes awareness and mindfulness concepts along with progressive relaxation and guided meditation techniques for symptom reduction. Trained in alternative healing methods such as guided meditation, essential oils, and Reiki healing energy, she uses an empathetic and client-centered approach to change which meets the individual where they are for a holistic approach to healing. She is bilingal in Spanish and bi-cultural with extensive knowledge of Hispanic culture.
LCSW, Division President
Maria Martinez, a Bakersfield native, began her career as an office manager in 2004 where she managed a construction company for five years. She then decided she wanted to expand her knowledge and obtained her Associate’s in Science, and began working as a Medical Assistant in 2010 in Lead, Supervising, and Management positions before becoming the Office Manager for Aspire Behavioral Health. Maria has a passion for people, and is proud to assist those in the mental health community. When she’s not working, she’s spending time with her husband and their three children. She enjoys traveling to new places, and experiencing new things with her family.
Clinical Manager M.S., AMFT, APCC
Rachel earned two baccalaureate degrees in Psychology and Religious Studies, followed by a master’s in Counseling Psychology from California State University, Bakersfield. She is currently working towards an additional degree in Philosophy. Rachel has provided services to children, adolescents, and adults focusing on the utilization of evidenced-based practices and explorations in existential and mindfulness concepts.
Barby Rodriguez, B.A., M.S., is a recently graduated Marriage and Family Therapist, trainee. Barby earned her second baccalaureate in psychology with a minor in child, adolescent, and family studies, followed by a master’s in counseling psychology from California State University, Bakersfield. Barby has provided services to children and adolescents as an Intervention Specialist focusing on the utilization of evidenced-based practices. In addition, she has also worked with minors, adults, couples, and families at CSUB’s University Counselor Training Clinic.
Katie Romley, M.Ed., APCC, is an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor. Katie is a former school counselor who has a heart and passion for kids and families, teaching, and many different forms of wellness. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology from Santa Clara University and a Master of Education degree in Human Development Counseling from Vanderbilt University. She currently works as a mental health clinician and teaches future counselors and students affairs professionals in the Educational Counseling program at CSUB. She has been trained in Peer Helping programs and the Trauma Resiliency Model. She is a level 1 Reiki practitioner and hopes to continue training in this healing modality. She loves empowering clients to advocate for themselves and believes in a client-centered model to facilitate support and growth of all her clients. She enjoys time with her family and dogs, playing the piano, cooking, and gardening.
Abneet Sohi is a Bakersfield native and a newly registered Associate Marriage Family Therapist. Abneet returned to Bakersfield after earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Psychology and Social Behavior from University of California, Irvine in order to pursue her Master’s of Science degree in Counseling Psychology from California State University, Bakersfield. She has experience working with high-risk individuals with severe mental illness in both an individual setting and a group setting. Additionally, Abneet has experience working with low-income individuals and individuals with substance abuse diagnoses through various mental health programs funded through Kern County. Abneet utilizes various modalities in her approach to therapy, with an emphasis on a client-centered approach and integration of Gestalt and Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques and interventions. Abneet is currently a facilitator for the teen group at Aspire Behavioral Health. When she’s not working, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
Ka’i (pronounced Kah-EE) is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist working towards her licensing hours. Born and raised in Hawaii, she moved to San Diego to complete her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Clinical Counseling at Point Loma Nazarene University before relocating to Bakersfield with her husband. She has experience working with a range of individuals, including children, adolescents, adults, and couples. She especially has a heart for children and adolescents and sees great value in the authentic human experience of connecting with others. Humor and authenticity play an important role in her interactions with those around her and she takes joy in walking alongside others when they need it most. She works mainly through a Cognitive-Behavioral lens, looking at the ways our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs influence our behavior and overall wellness. When she’s not working, she can be found watching the Office for the nth time, cuddling with her kitty (Hiwa), and spending time with her family.
Denisse is currently pursuing her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology in California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) to become a licensed therapist. She earned her baccalaureate in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and minored in Spanish & Sociology. Denisse is currently completing her traineeship at the University Counseling Training Clinic (UCTC) in CSUB where she provides therapy to adults and children. As a yoga instructor, Denisse is teaches mindfulness and trauma informed yoga at Aspire Behavioral Health, blending her love towards mental health and this Eastern practice.
Life Coach – M.S., ERYT200
Candace has a Master’s Degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology and specializes in mindfulness and body-based interventions, and has been teaching yoga for more than a decade. She has extensively studied yoga for trauma, anxiety, and depression extensively with teachers including Bessel van der Kolk, Bo Forbes, and David Emerson. Candace facilitates workshops and trainings focusing on the mind/body connection and movement meditation across the country.
Daisy is a CSUB Alumni who graduated in 2016 with a double major in Psychology and Spanish. She is currently in pursuing her M.S. in Counseling Psychology at CSUB and is currently in her third-year doing her traineeship as a Clinic Manager. Her experience includes working with individuals from a variety of life stages, as well as families and couples. As a soon to be graduate she looks forward to continuing to learn more and acquire more experience to continue to help the community.
Chelsea Acosta is one of our receptionists you’ll see at our front desk usually in the evening at Aspire Behavioral Health. She was previously an office manager for a private medical practice specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology after graduating UEI with a certificate in medical billing and insurance coding. Originally Chelsea had plans to become a registered nurse, but after taking a coding and administrative management course she realized she enjoyed the administrative side of the medical field more, as she’s able to be the voice for patients.
Taylor Pouncy, MFT Trainee, was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from the California State University of Bakersfield. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Palo Alto University and plans to graduate in 2020. As a trainee at Aspire Behaviorial Health she works with individuals who are experiencing severe mental health symptoms via group and individual counseling sessions, using evidence based practices that help them improve the quality of their everyday lives.
Andrea is a third-year student in the Master’s program for Counseling Psychology at CSUB. Prior to entering this program, she pursued a bachelor’s in criminal justice with a minor in Sociology because she felt drawn to professional fields that help enhance the wellbeing of our community. Throughout her experience working with children, at-risk youth and adults, she saw the need for mental health services, and the importance of advocacy to break the stigma around mental health conditions. In her two years of training as a Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee, Andrea has used a variety of evidence-based therapeutic modalities to reduce mental health symptoms. Andrea is currently completing her traineeship at Aspire Behavioral Health, where she is applying her education and therapeutic knowledge to help individuals better their mental health.
Jens is a Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee here at Aspire Behavioral Health for his internship. Jens is a graduate from Humboldt State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology. After obtaining his BA Jens decided to move down to Bakersfield to enjoy the wonderful air quality of the area. He is currently in his third and final year of the master’s program for counseling psychology at California State University Bakersfield. He has experience working with minors, teens, and adults at the CSUB counselor training clinic. Jens incorporates a mindfulness and DBT based approach.
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