Support Team

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Barbara Vance

Billing Specialist

Barbara Vance started with us in 2021 as Billing Specialist at Grow Through Life Counseling. She is perpetually curious, with a desire to make a difference in the lives of children and teens. Barbara has a Bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley in Native American Studies. She is also a Certified Resource Teacher in Elementary Special Education, from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Barbara has spent much of her career working in customer service in the hospitality industry. She enjoys interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds, having travelled often. Barbara enjoys learning new things and looks forward to being of service to the counseling community.

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Sarah Vita

 Lead Intake Coordinator

Hello, my name is Sarah and I am from San Diego, CA. I have my Bachelors in Communication from Cal State University, San Marcos. I am currently on the path of gaining my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy with Touro University Worldwide. I have always been an advocate for mental health and find helping people very healing and fulfilling. I am a certified yoga instructor and have a strong passion for anything health and fitness related. I hope to one day take my knowledge of health and wellness within the body and incorporate that with healing of the mind. 

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Janette Etchings

Intake Coordinator

Janette Etchings joined our team as an intake coordinator in September of 2020. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychological Science from California State University, San Marcos. She is currently applying for graduate school to pursue her Master’s Degree in Psychology with the goal of becoming a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Art Therapist. Janette has over four years of experience working in the field of Memory Care encouraging residents to experience purposeful and meaningful engagements. Her compassionate and nurturing personality makes others feel comfortable and accepted. Janette has spent the last 5 years teaching painting classes to encourage others to express their artistic abilities. She has a passion for creativity through art and believes it is an integral part of the healing process.

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Shakera Yusufi

Human Resource Director 

Shakera Yusifi joined Grow Through Life Counseling in 2019 to support clients and therapist in providing great care and assisting in billing on boarding processes. Shakera brings with her her talent for working compassionately with people and addressing their needs. Shakera has previous HR experience at a Client Support Manager for EA Health Corp with complex organization and support tasks. Prior to this, Shakera was the Head Neurophysical Training at the Drake Institute in Vista, CA. She provided direct care as well as managed a team of technicians in assessing and treating ADHD, Autism and other Learning and Processing Disorders. Shakera is passionate about helping others.

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Melanie Carrion, LMFT

Clinical Director

Melanie Carrion is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with the state of California. She has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from National University, a Bachelor of Art in Psychology from California State University, Fresno. Melanie has worked with families for over twenty years and has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient, outpatient, correctional facilities, group homes, school, and in the home. Melanie has a great deal of experience working with struggling adolescents and families, working to build support systems, and working on family dynamics.  As a licensed clinician at Grow Through Life Counseling she supports clients who struggle with anxiety, depression, anger, self-esteem issues, gender identity, substance abuse and trauma. Melanie is a clinical supervisor of associates and oversees the clinical managers to ensure high quality care and top notch facilities.  

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Kara Kohnen, LMFT

Director of Growth, Founder 

Kara Kohnen is the Director of Growth at Grow Through Life Counseling and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego with over 19 years of experience working with children, teens and families in behavioral health. Kara's current role is focused on helping grow our team. She began Grow Through Life Counseling for specialized treatment of children, teens and families. Her areas of expertise include: parenting, behavior modification, ADHD, Learning Disorders and high functioning Autism. She enjoys working with younger patients and frequently works with families as part of the treatment process. She also helps adults with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, transitions and grief.  She uses several techniques including CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) as part of the treatment process. She has been a clinical supervisor of pre licensed clinicians for the past 9 years and has taught in graduate programs.  In 2017, Kara wrote two books: one for children called "Why Am I Going to Counseling?" to help parents explain the benefits of treatment and the therapeutic relationships of children starting and in treatment and "13 Reason Why Am I Going to Counseling for Teens" to help teens actively engage in the process and to promote suicide prevention. Kara enjoys networking, meeting with other mental health providers, speaking at schools and in communities of topics about:  pediatric mental health awareness, teen mental health and suicide prevention.