Our Staff

The founder and staff at the Sexual Recovery Institute (SRI) are master’s or doctoral level therapists with degrees in counseling, psychology, family therapy and social work. All staff members have expertise and training in addictive disorders and sexual concerns, and many are also certified sex addiction therapists.

Sharon O’Hara, MFT, CSAT-S
Clinical Director

Sharon O’Hara is a licensed marriage & family therapist with over 20 years of experience working with sex addicts/offenders and their families, spouses and partners. She is a certified sex addiction therapist supervisor, a certified The Daring Way™ Facilitator and a certified sex offender treatment provider.

Sharon is the former Program Director of the Sexual Dependency program at Del Amo Hospital in Torrance, California. She utilizes trauma integrative work such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Somatic Experiencing and Emotional Freedom Technique in her work with sex addicts and their spouses. Sharon has appeared on a number of television and radio programs discussing sexual addiction, with a special emphasis on the problems of female sex addicts and spouse/partners of sex addicts.

Monica BlaunerMonica Blauner, LCSW, CSAT
Program Director

Monica Blauner is a licensed clinical social worker and psychoanalyst with over 30 years of experience in addictions and mental health. She integrates her knowledge of cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy into her dynamic work with clients. She has taught courses on neurosis, narcissism, chemical dependency and trauma. Monica is a board certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work and a member of the International Psychoanalytic Association, the California Society for Clinical Social Work, the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work, the National Association of Social Workers and the Academy of Certified Social Workers.

Prior to joining SRI, she worked in the Department of Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She holds a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from The New York Freudian Society Psychoanalytic Training Institute, and a Master of Social Work from Smith College School for Social Work. She maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Los Angeles.

Gregory Pospisil, LMFT, CSAT
Treatment Specialist

Gregory Pospisil graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in communications and received his Masters of clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles. A certified The Daring Way™ Facilitator, Gregory has experience working with sex addiction and sexual compulsivity as well as drug and alcohol addictions. He is currently a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) and the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH).

martyMarty A. Simpson, LMFT, CSAT, CDWF Candidate
Addiction Specialist

Marty Simpson is a graduate of the Master’s of Clinical Psychology program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. She is trained in LGBT Affirmative Psychotherapy, is a certified The Daring Way™ Facilitator and has a special interest in the relationship among family of origin, trauma, religion, addiction and intimacy. Marty specializes in couple’s communication, mindfulness and nurturing a differentiated sense of self, all of which are key to developing healthy intimacy in relationship. She utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic modalities (including Jungian and voice dialogue techniques) with mindfulness practices, and works relationally.

SarahSarah Knowlton, MA, CSAT-3
Addiction Specialist

Sarah Knowlton holds a Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, where she was a member of the inaugural cohort of the spiritual and depth psychology specialization. She is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the Women’s Association for Addiction Treatment, and has experience in treating both substance and process addictions with a wide range of populations, including clients with criminal backgrounds seeking treatment through alternative sentencing programs.

Sarah works in a mindfulness-based paradigm, utilizing cognitive behavioral and psychodynamic approaches, in combination with 12-step and other wisdom traditions. Sarah seeks to help clients recover their authentic selves through exploring family of origin issues, examining core beliefs and cognitive distortions, modifying behaviors that have become maladaptive, and learning to live life on a daily basis with meaning, integrity and joy.

joseph-verroneJoseph Verrone, LCSW, CSAT Candidate
Clinical Social Worker

Joseph Verrone is a licensed clinical social worker with over 10 years of mental health and addictions experience. Prior to joining SRI, Joseph worked at the Fifth Avenue Counseling Center in New York City and trained in the Contemporary Freudian Society’s Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy program. He has extensive experience with the LGBTQ community and approaches the therapeutic process with empathy and care.

Joseph helps individuals and couples develop their own concept of healthy sexuality by identifying their needs and finding ways that they can be met. Joseph received a master’s degree in social work at CUNY-Hunter College. He is a member of the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association of Southern California (LAGPA) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

Leadership

Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S
Founding Director

Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S, is an international sexual addiction expert, author and educator. Rob is the author of Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men and Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide to Healing from Sex, Porn, and Love Addiction and co-author with Dr. Jennifer Schneider of both Untangling the Web: Sex, Porn, and Fantasy Obsession in the Internet Age and Closer Together, Further Apart: The Effect of Technology and the Internet on Parenting, Work, and Relationships. He is a regular contributor to Psychology Today, PsychCentral.com, The Huffington Post, and CounselorMagazine.com, writing primarily about the intersection of technology with sex and intimacy.

David Sack, MD
CEO

Dr. Sack is CEO of Elements Behavioral Health, the parent organization of SRI. Dr. Sack has enjoyed successful careers in clinical, research and administrative psychiatry. After receiving his medical degree from Rush Medical College, he completed his residency in psychiatry at the UCLA-Neuropsychiatric Institute. Dr. Sack served as a senior clinical scientist at NIMH where his research interests included affective disorders, seasonal and circadian rhythms and neuroendocrinology. Dr. Sack is board certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine, and is a certified Medical Review Officer.

Administrative Staff

Bill Owen, CADC
Intake Director

Bill Owen is a certified alcohol and drug counselor and has been working with sex addicts for the past 15 years. At SRI, Bill runs the intake department and assists with administration and treatment coordination. He also maintains a small private practice.

Bill previously worked at Del Amo Hospital in Torrance, California, where he was a clinician on the Sexual Disorders Unit as well as the director of the intake department. Bill works primarily from a cognitive behavioral theoretical orientation in conjunction with a focus on 12-step program principles. Bill is known for his caring, nonjudgemental, engaging approach and his dedication to helping sex addicts and their families find resources for treatment, whatever their situation.

Consulting Staff

Michael Alvarez, MS, MFT
Clinical Consultant

Michael Alvarez is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in addictions. In 1981, he established a private practice while concurrently working in various residential and psychiatric facilities. In 1991, he was the first program director for Dr. Patrick Carnes and Dr. John Sealy in the establishment of the sexual disorders program at Del Amo Hospital in Torrance, California. In 1994, he created a specialized track for the treatment of nonviolent sex offenders.

Michael has established himself as a forensic expert, providing expert testimony for both prosecutors and defense. In 2004, he was invited to England to help establish an addiction treatment center, Lifeworks Community, in Old Woking, just outside of London. Mr. Alvarez has been a presenter at the National Council on Sex Addiction (presently SASH) and for The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA). Additionally, he has published in Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention. Mr. Alvarez is currently in private practice in Torrance, California.

Jeffrey Gandin, MD

Dr. Gandin received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and master’s degree in physiological psychology from California State University. After completing medical school at Sackler School of Medicine, he performed his internship and residency in psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. He then received subspecialty training in geriatric psychiatry at the Semel Institute.

Dr. Gandin is licensed as a physician and surgeon by the medical board of California. He is also board certified in psychiatry as a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He is currently an assistant clinical professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. Dr. Gandin has received psychoanalytic training at the New Center for Psychoanalysis and is a member of and remains active in various organizations including the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Upcoming Two-Week Intensives

  • Oct6 - Oct17
  • Oct27 - Nov7
  • Nov10 - Nov21
  • Dec1 - Dec12

Evening Intensives
for Addicts

 

TUE 6:30PM - 9:00PM

THURS 6:30PM - 9:00PM

Online Treatment of Sexual Addiction
Some facilities, including SRI, offer online services for sexual addiction treatment patients and partners on the phone or via webcam. Nearly all of the 12-Step sexual addiction programs also provide online support group meetings and weekly sexual recovery chats.
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