Available 24/7 (888) 585-7373


John Poleno

Executive Director of Chemical Dependency Services, CADC II

Meet John Poleno, Executive Director of Chemical Dependency Services at Aspire Simi Valley! John joined the Aspire team because he embraces the vision of transforming the lives of individuals and families that have been impacted by the devastating disease of addiction and mental health challenges. John wants families to know that where there is a breath there is hope, and that he is here to provide that hope. John has a unique way of relating to addicted individuals and their families as John has been in recovery for 10+ years and has been surrounded by the addiction of loved ones his whole life.

John has firsthand knowledge of the progression of the disease of addiction as well as the destruction it causes to loved ones. John began using substances at the age of 12 and was able to get sober at 30 years old. After 18 years of continuous use of substances, John has gained a tremendous passion for helping people recover. He works relentlessly to help the addicted and their families. John’s work as a counselor, program director, executive director, and as a founding board member for Not One More is grounded in his community and in his desire to be of benefit to communities across the country. John is constantly working with families and loved ones to find hope and to provide help.

John began his career in 2010 as an intern and progressed to directing several chemical dependency programs. His commitment and dedication has touched countless families. John graduated Addiction Studies with honors in March of 2010 from ICDC college and since has become CADC II certified through CCAPP, CATC through CAADE, and a CAODC through CADTP. John is also a certified Anger Management Specialist.

Since 2010, John’s extensive experience as an addiction specialist includes managing Chemical Dependency and Dual Diagnosis Intensive Outpatient Services, Partial Hospitalization Services, and Residential Treatment Services. John has a reputation for delivering top-notch client care and his excitement and enthusiasm rubs off on his peers and the populations that he is in service to. In his free time, John enjoys spending time with his son whom he has raised as a single father. Together they enjoy watching and attending Dodgers, Lakers, and Raiders games. John enjoys regular drives to the beach where he can reflect on life and connect to inner peace.

Yajaira Alvarez Executive Director of Behavioral Health Services, MS, AMFT

Yajaira Alvarez

Executive Director of Behavioral Health Services, MS, AMFT

Yajaira Alvarez earned her Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology with an emphasis on Child, Adolescent and Family Studies, and Sociology. She went on to earn her MS in Counseling Psychology at California State University of Bakersfield. Yajaira’s first interest developed when working with teens and families at the Boys and Girls Club. She found a passion for aiding families with limited resources and helping them build a stronger foundation to help increase insight, awareness, recognizing abilities, and developing a sense of self.

Since, she has developed a multicultural approach when working with individuals and families. She understands that cultural identity affects how people view mental health illnesses and the world, which is a crucial factor to integrate into therapy. Her therapeutic approach is always tailored for the benefit of the individual. She is diverse in working at different levels of care, different populations, individuals of all ages, different life circumstances and stressors, and finding the best approaches to help individuals succeed, achieve and heal. She implements a variety of evidence-based approaches related to cognitive behavioral, dialectical behavioral, person-centered, and experiential therapies, in combination with trauma-informed techniques. She is a firm believer that individuals are the drivers of their life and will walk along with them to help them navigate the world toward the road of healing and recovery.

In her downtime, she enjoys the outdoors: hiking, gardening, kayaking, jogging, and playing with her animal companion, Coco. Yajaira’s self-care also consists of downtime: movies, chips, and ice cream sandwiches to de-stress after a long day.

Rebecca Santos Therapist, AMFT

Rebecca Santos

Therapist, AMFT

Rebecca Santos is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist at Aspire Counseling in Simi Valley. Rebecca has been working with people with mental health and substance use challenges. Her own experience and difficulties with mental health growing up allowed for a compassionate and new perspective toward other individuals being confronted with mental health challenges. Rebecca understands that mental health and substance use are complex issues with combined needs for ongoing support from a treatment team, family, and friends.

Rebecca has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from National University and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Cal State Northridge. Rebecca provides services to adults, adolescents, children, and families. She uses various evidence-based practices, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, experiential therapy, and trauma-informed therapies, to provide psychoeducation according to the individual’s needs. Rebecca has previous hands-on experience in residential treatment centers and outpatient programs.

For fun and self-care, Rebecca enjoys spending time with her family, being out in nature, taking day trips, traveling, listening to music, and practicing meditation.

Shannon Thompson Administrative Assistant

Marina Katrjian

Therapist, ACSW

Marina Katrjian, MSW, ACSW, is an Associate Clinical Social Worker with a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California, with an emphasis on individuals, families, and communities. In clinical practice, Marina strongly believes in a multidimensional approach to therapy that involves exploring each individual’s biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs. Compassionate to commit the desire to come alongside others to assist them in healing from trauma, building self-worth, improving communication in their relationships, and reaching their goals. Marina’s dedicated and empowerment-focused therapeutic approach is to evaluate each person within their environment and provide support and practical feedback to help clients effectively address personal life challenges. She is an active learner and researcher of evidence-based practices and interventions to improve the quality of social work services. She is versatile and an active, highly involved therapist, combining experience, education, creativity, and a sense of humor with a down-to-earth, realistic approach to counseling with focused and energetic

Shannon Thompson Administrative Assistant

Shannon Thompson

Administrative Assistant

Shannon Thompson is our Administration Assistant, you’ll recognize her greeting you at our front desk. She strives to make everyone feel welcome and help in any way she can at our facility. Shannon was born in Oak Park, a neighboring city to Simi Valley. Shannon enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons.

Shannon Thompson Administrative Assistant

Julie Romero

SUD Counselor, CATC II

Julie Romero is the Lead Substance Abuse Counselor at Aspire Counseling Services in Simi Valley. With a 7-year college education in addiction and psychology, Julie holds dual degrees in Addiction Studies and Behavioral Social Science/Psychology, which she obtained while pursuing her specialization in addiction at Pierce College. With a career spanning 15 years, Julie began her journey in addiction treatment as a graveyard technician on a dual diagnosis detox unit while pursuing her studies in Addiction Studies. She is committed to continuous education, attending workshops and seminars on topics such as positive psychology, CBT, advanced group skills, and heart and brain coherence through meditation and positive thought. Having personally experienced the devastating effects of addiction, Julie understands the profound impact it has on individuals and their loved ones. She believes that addiction is a real and treatable condition, and through surrendering to the process, education, meditation, and self-belief, individuals can find lasting solutions to their pain. Julie stated that she chose to join Aspire because of the team’s unwavering dedication, commitment, and genuine care for our clients. And she takes pride in being part of a compassionate team that wholeheartedly invests in the well-being and recovery of their clients.

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Planting Seeds, Saving Lives

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Planting Seeds, Saving Lives

Available 24/7 (888) 585-7373




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Copyright © 2023 Aspire Counseling Services®
Powered & Designed by Citryn, LLC

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