Why Compass

Why Compass

A program with a purpose

Our purpose lives and breathes in the symbolism behind our name. Compass: An elegant tool that puts the power to find your true north in your hands. Without forcing you to take a single step or promising to take your steps for you. Without judgment and with an unshakeable sense of direction. Relying on a compass makes you stronger and more confident, not weaker and more dependent. A compass is your guide, not your master. And as every skilled guide knows, no journey should be undertaken without the right tools.

The path ahead will be tough. And beautiful. Frustrating, and exhilarating. You will stumble. And you will soar. It may not be easy. But with the tools and insights you’ll gain here, you will forge ahead.

We’re not your ordinary program. If you’re ready to find your way, define your why, and map out your how, we can’t wait to meet you.

A program on a mission

Defining our principles is simple. Living up to them daily is anything but.

1. Every young person deserves access to evidence-based treatment, such as DBT.
We believe that effective Evidence-based therapy should be accessible and believe that the ability to pay should not stand in the way of the ability to thrive. That’s why we go the distance to work with your insurance provider, reach whatever agreements we can, and ensure that you can utilize your benefits to cover the cost of treatment. We assign every family a dedicated financial account manager, to help you make your coverage work as hard as you do.

2. It takes a community to support stronger treatment outcomes.
We practice what we teach, living in community through weekly staff mindfulness practice, to communal meals and group exercise. At the same time, we strive to build community among our families through programs like Family Connections, Multi-Family Skills Training Groups, Compass Talent Shows, and sponsorship of community events such as the Walk Out Of Darkness for suicide prevention.

3. Let the evidence lead the way—redefine the standard for clinical excellence.
Our understanding of the human mind and human behavior never stops advancing. And neither do we. Our partnership with Duke University and the continuing education we provide through the Compass Training Institute mean that your family receives the highest caliber of evidence-based treatments at all times.

4. Open our doors—and our training—to the community.
We believe that when it comes to advancing the cause of mental health treatment, we’re all in this together. That’s why we commit ourselves to providing education to the larger Southern California community on childhood mental health issues, advocacy, and the evidence-based treatments that bring healing.

5. Multi-disciplinary and culturally-competent.
The mind is not a one-size-fits-all puzzle, so we house a multi-disciplinary, culturally-competent team committed to providing expert care to the families we serve.

Committed to excellence. And to you.

Most Compass’ Clinicians are DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinicians™ and calibrated DBT Adherence Coders through the University of Washington, coding and scoring videos and case formulations for DBT adherence for the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification™. In Compass’ commitment to excellence and quality assurance, a percentage of all Compass sessions are randomly selected and coded for adherence to the research protocol.

Compass was the first DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Program™, in California. Achieving this certification was a rigorous process that ensured our families were receiving the “gold standard” in DBT treatment and care.

As a designated Performance Site through Duke University, we track our treatment outcomes in the pursuit of advancing the development of evidenced-based treatments. Every 6 months, we measure our treatment outcomes through a standardized battery of tests. A summary of these test results are available to our families on a quarterly basis. In addition, Compass is conducting a longitudinal study of its program treatment gains post discharge as the ultimate source of accountability to our families.

Our program is a required rotation in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for UCI Medical School psychiatrists in training. This rotation will help psychiatrists incorporate DBT skills into their practice so that all forms of treatment can work together.

Compass Treatment Outcomes:

What the Evidence Tells Us

The evidence is clear: Compass works! From our patients’ first day at Compass to the 6-month mark in their treatment journey, the results show marked reduction across the board in depressive symptoms, suicide severity/risk, emotion dysregulation, identity dysregulation, and borderline symptoms.

Our patients continue to make progress in every single one of these areas 6-12 months into treatment. In many areas, average scores approach or fall below the non-clinical range, where we would consider a patient’s symptoms as being “normal” and not in need of treatment.

Empirical Evidence of Effective Treatment at Compass

Data collected 2016-2019

MEASURE OF DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS

MEASURE OF IDENTITY DYSREGULATION

MEASURE OF EMOTION DYSREGULATION

MEASURE OF SUICIDE SEVERITY & RISK

MEASURE OF BORDERLINE SYMPTOMS

MEASURE OF BORDERLINE SYMPTOMS

Summary & Conclusions: All measures graphed above are standardized, validated, commonly used assessments that are administered to our patients at intake and every 6 months after throughout the course of treatment. This is one of our main ways of assessing severity of symptoms across a variety of areas and of tracking treatment outcomes to ensure that treatment is working. The graphs show treatment outcomes at intake, 6, and 12 months into treatment for all people who have consented to be part of our research study (approved by the Duke University Institutional Review Board).

The results show marked reduction across the board in depressive symptoms, suicide severity/risk, emotion dysregulation, identity dysregulation, and borderline symptoms from intake to 6 months into treatment. The results also show that our patients continue to make progress in all of these areas from 6 to 12 months into treatment. Moreover, these are not just numbers; as treatment progresses scores are approaching (and in several areas dipping below) clinical “norms,” meaning that symptoms are nearing a non-clinical range. This evidence directly from our clinic provides evidence that DBT at Compass does work!

Primary Treatment Target Data

Collected from diary cards

ACTIVE SUICIDAL IDEATION

PASSIVE SUICIDAL IDEATION

SELF-HARM

NEGATIVE SELF-JUDGMENTS

Summary & Conclusions: Our new medical record system allows us to track precise data from session to session. Results show that our kids have significant reduction of life-threatening behaviors over the course of the first 7-8 months of treatment. The biggest treatment gains were made within the first 6 months, and these gains were maintained over the next few months while other targets became the focus of treatment.

Other Noteworthy Conclusions from our Clinic:

  • Drastic reduction in suicide behaviors (e.g., planning, accessing means, writing suicide notes, suicide attempts) across patients:
  • 0-10 range reported at time of intake
  • <10% of patients reported suicide behaviors during first 12 months of treatment
  • Kids achieve better treatment outcomes if their family participates in Multifamily Group:
    • Significantly lower borderline symptoms
    • Significantly lower identity dysregulation
    • Family therapy enhances treatment outcomes
    • Lower identity dysregulation & depression
    • Skills coaching makes a difference!
    • Lower identity dysregulation, lower borderline symptoms, & depression

Note: Data analyzed from patients who consented to be part of our study. At this time, our sample size is too small to make broad generalizations and to test for significant differences in some cases. We plan to continue tracking data over time to determine if these trends prevail.

Clinical Team

Cherie Mills

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist
(LMFT #40443)
DBT-Linehan Board of Certification,
Certified DBT Clinician™

Dr. Clive Robins, Ph.D.,

DIRECTOR OF COMPASS
TRAINING INSTITUTE

Licensed Clinical Psychologist
(License No. 1421)
DBT-Linehan Board of Certification,
Certified DBT Clinician™

Now Hiring

Research Director

Lizbeth Gaona

Field Instructor

Matt Reino

Associate Clinical Director

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT #97638)
DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified DBT Clinician™

Marissa Colangelo

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF
COMPASS TRAINING INSTITUTE

Licensed Clinical Social Worker
(LCSW #78805)
DBT-Linehan Board of Certification,
Certified DBT Clinician™

Angel Amaro

Program Clinician

Associate Clinical Social Worker
(ACSW #89927)

Erin Bray

Program Clinician

Licensed Psychologist (PSY #27381)

Megan Plakos Szabo

Program Clinician

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT #98658)
DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified DBT Clinician™

Natalie Day

Program Clinician

Associate Clinical Social Worker
(ACSW #96792)

Naoki Hemmi

Program Clinican

Associate Clinical Social Worker
(ACSW #89676)

Dr. Nicole Zaha

Program Clinician

Licensed Clinical Psychologist
(Lic. PSY29916)
DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified Clinician™

Resha Altai

Research Assistant, Case Manager, and Clinical Intern

Madonna

Therapy Pet

Mochi

Therapy Pet

Administrative Team

Aerie de la Cruz

Human Resource Representative &
Executive Assistant to the Executive Director

Kellie Severin

Billing Department Manager

Ashley Ikai

FINANCIAL ACCOUNT MANAGER

Corine Corral

Claims Analyst

Elizabeth Gonzalez

Certified Medical Biller

Melody Sadowski

Project Specialist

Sarah Proctor

Program Administrative Assistant

Johanna Severin

Office Assistant