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Our Team

We love empowering others!

Ashley Ruiz, MSW, LICSW

Executive Director

[email protected]

 I am a licensed social worker in Washington State, with a Master of Social Work and a BA in Human Services. I hold a professional certification in the Strengthening Families Program, with Washington State. I have more than 18 years working with diverse family systems, ​promoting optimal outcomes for individuals and youth. My experiences in body health, conditioning, and naturopathic approaches have shaped my belief that an integrated mind-body-soul approach is essential in therapy. I offer services to empower people to identify goals and to access inner strengths needed to meet both individual and family goals.

My scope of therapeutic practice includes play therapy, behavioral therapy, family therapy, solution-focused therapy, mindfulness, sensory integrative therapy, applied behavioral analysis, functional behavioral assessments, Christian counseling, and cognitive behavioral therapy. My focus is working with children, adolescents, and adults, and family systems on many issues relating to mental health, parenting, behavior and social problems, depression, anxiety, stress, anger management, as well as recovery from trauma. I also specialize in offering assessments, supports, and training for adults, youth, and families with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Briana Trageser, LMHC

Clinical Director

[email protected]

I have been working in the field of human services for over fifteen years. I obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2008 and Master of Science Degree in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University Maryland in 2011. I gained experience in the areas of special education, program management, and behavior support prior to shifting exclusively to outpatient counseling and clinical supervision.

I work with individuals and families across the lifespan, providing therapeutic interventions to individuals, couples, groups, and families. I specialize in providing support to those with neuro-diverse backgrounds including social skills challenges, sensory processing differences, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Other areas of specialty include supporting LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals, working with those experiencing life transitions, and helping those healing from past trauma/PTSD. I utilize cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused modalities, mindfulness, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), person-centered therapy, narrative therapy, family systems, strengths-based approaches, sensory integration, social skills training, and expressive arts & play techniques in my treatment.

Marcie McAlister

Executive Administrator, Billing Specialist, & Credentialing Manager

[email protected]

I am a highly detailed and compassionate Executive Administrator and Office Manager. As the gatekeeper for Alta Vista, I assist clinicians in credentialing processes, in addition to maintaining HR files. With more than 6 years billing experience, I also assist clients in insurance and billing processes. I follow HIPPA standards in employee and client record management. If you have an admin question or have questions or concerns about establishing new or ongoing care, I am often your frontline guidance. I am committed to maintaining efficacious and streamlined practices.

Kimberly Burke, LICSW, CMHS

Therapist

I earned my MSW from USC. My first career was as a teacher and I’ve taught almost every level from kindergarten through college. I ran my own day care/ preschool/kindergarten for 10 years after teaching in public schools. In my mental health career I have worked with children, adolescents and adults, and I enjoy a combination of clients in my caseload. I love working with gender questioning and transgender individuals, and individuals with trauma, depression and anxiety. I use CPT, EMDR, DBT, CBT, ACT, self-compassion, IFS, and reflective listening, play, art therapy, sand tray with children.




Robin Lunsford, LABA, BCBA

Disabilities Manager

[email protected]

I have been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst since 2004 and have worked in the field of developmental disabilities since 2001. I obtained my MS degree in applied psychology from Eastern Washington University in 2002. I worked with adults and older children in developmental centers for over 10 years and with young children and adults with autism in homes for the past 11 years. My experience is with using applied behavior analysis (ABA) to increase skills and decrease problem behaviors in people with developmental disabilities. I focus on teaching skills to increase communication, social interactions, and functional life skills. I strive to develop programs that are enjoyable for patients as well as staff and caregivers. I work with a patient’s strengths and reduce weaknesses to increase overall outcomes. I have research experience with preferences and reinforcers and how they change over time. I use the least restrictive approaches possible for each patient with developing programs. I am passionate about individualized, child-centered learning and embedding learning into everyday activities and play. I am also enthusiastic about teaching, especially functional communication to replace challenging behaviors, teaching parents and caregivers how to address problem behaviors in better ways, and collaborating as a team to help each individual reach their goals and the highest quality of life.

Bethany Donovan, LMHC, MHP

Mental Health Counselor

Counseling is my passion, and I steadfastly believe that being of service to others through my role as a mental health professional is my life purpose. I earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology in 2014 and a Masters of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology in 2017, both from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (Sofia University) in Palo Alto, CA. My background working in the field of mental and behavioral health includes an internship in a correctional facility, as well as varied experience in community mental health settings, working with an incredible variety of people from all walks of life, struggling with issues just as varied.


As both a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and the spouse of an active duty military member, I have a wide swath of experience and understanding of military culture and the unique challenges military families and spouses face on a daily basis. I work with adolescents (13+) and adults dealing with trauma, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and serious emotion dysregulation, as well as with couples.

As a therapist, I believe that: (a) knowledge is power and education about your unique needs or struggles is imperative; (b) as human beings, we are whole people—not a diagnosis—and deserve to be treated as such; and (c) it is never too late to start working on healing and improving your mental health.


As an eclectic therapist, I use a variety of methods from relevant theoretical approaches when collaboratively treatment planning and engaging with you in sessions. My preferred methods & theoretical approaches include—but are not limited strictly to—Dialectical Behavior Therapy [DBT], Cognitive Behavioral Therapy [CBT], Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction [MBSR], Internal Family Systems [IFS], Person-Centered Therapy [PCT], Solution-Focused Therapy [SFT], expressive arts therapies, and psychoeducation. One size does not fit all, and by focusing on your unique experiences and strengths, we can focus on what is right for you.

Steven Thomas, MA, MFTA

Therapist

I have a Family and Marital Therapy Associate license. I received an M.A. in Psychology from Brandman University on the Joint Base Lewis McChord campus in 2018 and a Masters of Christian Education from Asbury Theological Seminary. I served in the Army as a Chaplain 2005-2015. I have also been a licensed teacher in several States and now hold an Elementary certificate in the State of Washington. Mental Health care is a commitment. Like other commitments success is linked to reaching goals and understanding the responsibilities, and understand how each person involved will commit. As there are many different types of people, there are different approaches that can be utilized for the circumstances.  I believe that the person seeking help can grow best if the positive is the main concentration.  Additionally, people are never an island; Specifically with children, it is important that caregivers are involved and support change to maximize results will. 


My primary approaches are Solution Focused based and Play Therapy combined with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help in behavior modification and helping individuals change beliefs that are leading to unwanted behaviors. I also use Dialectic Behavioral Therapy that helps in emotion regulation,  and in guiding better choices. Narrative Therapy/spiritual guidance, trauma-informed therapy, family/ couples therapy techniques guide communication. My approach often involves continuous evaluation of the participant and caregiver to find what is succeeding and what areas need to be adjusted. I believe all people are not perfect and so a major part of the growth of a person is when a family is willing to make changes together.

Peggy Goodman, MSW, LSWAIC

Therapist

I started with Alta Vista as an intern, and now that I just finished my graduate program from USC, I am looking forward to becoming a full-time employee. I work closely with clients affiliated with DDA, implementing programs based on ABA principles that increase communication, self-help, social, and play skills. I am a veteran and a single mom with two sweet eight-year-old twin boys who keep me very busy, one of whom has learning and behavioral challenges. I earned my BA in social work from UWT, graduating in 2019, and immediately entered my Master’s. program.

I primarily work with youth and I have a passion for their success in our difficult world. I also work with parents, families, and adult individuals. I have worked with high school students as an intern during my Bachelor’s program, and I have been a Sunday school teacher for K-5. I am looking forward to growing with Alta Vista and to serving the needs of our community. 

Heidi Sturgeon, MSC, LMHCA

Therapist

I have a BS in Bible and a BS in Counseling from Clarks Summit University (formerly Baptist Bible College), I have also recently completed the requirements for my MS in Counseling from Clarks Summit University. I have worked as a case manager for individuals who experience Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) for 14 years, working with both children and adults. I was introduced to the world of I/DD when I provided direct care at a large community-based residential facility for adults and found a niche that I greatly enjoy. Additionally, I have been a volunteer youth leader for the last 20+ years. In this capacity have worked with both middle school and high school students, leading small groups, mentoring, and helping to plan and execute camps and retreats.

I strongly believe in a holistic approach to therapy and plan to pursue continuing education and certifications toward my goal of helping my clients find their path to mental, psychological, and emotional health.

Melissa Punzalan, BA

MSW Intern

I am currently completing a Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern California with a focus on children, youth, and families. I hold a BA in English with a minor in Sociology.

For the past 7 years I served as a Public Hea​lth technician for the United States Air Force until honorably discharged. I have a passion to work the military population whether working with children and their social and emotional development but also with military veterans and their mental health. I also understand the importance of working with individuals as a family system in order to provide the best care for the individual and entire family unit.

Prior to the Air Force, I worked in the Department of Defense education system abroad as a paraprofessional assisting children with physical, mental, medical, and psychological disabilities.

My other interests include working with children in early intervention in order to help them be successful. I have a strong desire to work with women and children who suffer from maternal health issues such as postpartum depression, anxiety, birth trauma or other perinatal mood disorders. With regard to therapeutic practices, I am drawn to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, play therapy, Art Therapies, Behavioral Health, Parenting, and Mental Health counseling.

Stephanie Menorca

Behavior Aide

I am in my third year at Brandman University working towards my BA in Psychology. Someday I would like to work as a therapist or in school psychology. My interest in psychology stems from a family background of dementia and developmental disabilities. I believe that mental health is just as important as physical health and that we should assist people in underserved communities. Outside of school, I also work as a writing tutor and a human resource specialist in the Washington Army National Guard.