Who We Are

Our Team

Sanjai Thankachen, MD | Medical Director

Dr Sanjai Thankachen completed his residency in psychiatry in 2008 from Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in New York, where fifty percent of his rotations were at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. After his residency he worked at Ventura County, Medical Centers in an adult out-patient setting and now lives in Orange County, California.

Dr. Thankachen’s mission at Dana Point Rehab Campus is to provide world-class treatment that sets a high standard with science-based practices to treat mental and behavioral health issues.  In addition to substance and alcohol abuse treatment, Dr. Thankachen is highly qualified to provide an array of care for secondary disorders, including depression, bipolar illness, schizophrenia, anxiety, and dementia related problems.

Niloufar Nekou, LMFT | Clinical Director

Niloufar Nekou is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California with several years of experience providing psychotherapy to adults. Niloufar believes every individual is unique and it takes a very hands-on approach to work with each individual. Her specialties include working with depression, anxiety, all types of trauma, substance and alcohol abuse, cultural diversity, and handling life’s transitions. She has completed training in EMDR and uses this technique to supplement the talk therapy, as needed.

Modalities that guide her treatment are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and solution-focused therapy. Niloufar received her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Charleston. Niloufar’s therapeutic approach is to create a compassionate and non-judgmental space to address the difficulties that bring clients to therapy.

Tami Tucker, PhD | Executive Therapist and Clinical Strategy

Tami L Tucker, Ph.D. is an Industrial Psychologist. Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Management Consultant. She has been a licensed psychologist for over 25 years and began her research in the area of Industrial psychology prior to that. She consults to large Fortune 100 companies and small organizations as an Executive Coach and Management Consultant specializing in the pre-hiring assessment. She brings her dedication to performance optimization and assessment to the field of recovery in an effort to expand the approach and tools used to treat addiction. Dr. Tucker has developed a program that is specialized for each client through psychological assessment not only to determine underlying co-occurring disorders but to also assess cognitive and personality variables as we seek to optimize knowledge and skills within our clients as they fight addiction.

Dr. John Biroc, PhD, LMFT, Therapist

Dr. Biroc has been a college professor, Clinical Director and Clinical Supervisor for recovery centers in Southern California. He has also been a consultant for the film industry and a motivational speaker for major corporations. When he initially started to run groups in addiction treatment centers, he noted that some key, engaging components were missing from the group requirements and he began to add some of his training and studies to enhance the empowerment and experience of the clients with a focus on improved outcomes.

He holds two master’s degrees (theatre and psychology) and a doctorate from USC in Psychology. Dr. Biroc blends the concepts of intellect and creativity in his approach to recovery and has taught at UCLA, California State University, Northridge, and Antioch University. In addition, he has worked as a contract therapist for mental hospitals in California. With a background and passion for theatre, he also worked with rock bands, has been acknowledged in articles in the Los Angeles Times, Boulder Times, the London Sunday Express, Toronto Star, Baltimore Sun, and the Orlando Sentinel, and appearances on MTV and radio shows around the country. He is pleased to be with Dana Point Rehab Campus and is helping to innovate and advance addiction treatment practices.

Katarena Arger, Clinical Manager

Katarena Arger is a Marriage and Family Therapist who joined Alter Health Group in January 2021.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Government & Law, French, and Philosophy from Lafayette College in 2002 and her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist she is trained to work with individuals, couples, and families using a systemic lens and is passionate about mental health inclusive of co-occurring disorders and their impact at the individual, family, societal level. 

Katarena has extensive clinical experience working with a wide variety of disorders including problematic substance use.  Prior to joining Alter Health Group she worked for a behavioral health hospital in both the inpatient and outpatient setting.  Katarena is comfortable with multiple modalities including Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, and Attachment-based Therapy.  She is formally trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy, Emotionally Focused Family Therapy, and Brainspotting.  Katarena utilizes a post-modern, humanistic approach and applies an ecological perspective to provide uniquely individualized treatment for each client with the primary goal of facilitating recovery and assisting individuals and their support system to achieve optimum health and wellness.

Ariel Wiggins, Case Manager

Ariel Wiggins is an Associate Clinical Social Work who received a Masters in Social Work from California State University of Dominguez Hills. Ariel also studied Critical Race Theory which is a legal framework that examines inequalities and injustices of many marginalized populations as well as dominate groups that hold power and privilege. From an early age, Ariel was deeply compassionate towards others and had an inclination to help people. She also had her own mental health challenges as well as experiencing poverty and trauma. Given her background, Ariel has been able to acknowledge a need for mental health resources for those who experience hardships. One of her goals is to continue to accumulate hours to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Lily Munroe, Nursing Manager

Depression Treatment in Orange County

Depression isn’t just temporary sadness and lethargy or chemical imbalance. It’s a severely debilitating disorder that often has its roots in brain chemistry as well as personal struggles. As such, Alter Behavioral Health leverages unique, patient-specific applications of medication and psychotherapy to help people recover from depression. If you’re suffering from depression or have suffered depressive episodes in the past, get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help.

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