Steve Thomason is a cofounder of Alta Loma. After working in the mental health and addiction field for 14 years he became aware that individuals with higher acuity psychiatric issues were being underserved in traditional treatment programs. This knowledge became the impetus for Alta Loma. Creating a program that focuses on individuals that have experienced multiple attempts at recovery through psychiatric hospitals and substance abuse treatment centers is his passion.
Steve is a Licensed Master of Social Work and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. A Texas native, he obtained his Master of Social Work from The University of Texas at San Antonio and his Bachelors in Psychology from Texas State University. Steve believes that a strong continuum of care after residential treatment is critical for long-term recovery. Steve brings to Alta Loma over 13 years of Clinical and Executive experience working with numerous recovery programs throughout Texas.
He is responsible for the development and vision of Alta Loma, as well as building partnerships throughout Texas to impact community awareness on dual diagnosis treatment.
Josh has a passion for helping individuals find their path to continued success. He brings to Alta Loma over a decade of experience working in the Substance Abuse field and has succeeded in jobs as direct care staff, business office administrator, Admissions, Marketing, and Operations.
As the Director of Operations for Alta Loma, Josh oversees daily operations and facilitates all admissions into our program. Josh is an avid consumer of all things geek culture and feels that celebrating our differences can truly bring individuals together.
Robert struggled with addiction from an early age, but it came truly apparent to his friends and family while he was attending the University of Denver.
Robert initially worked in sales and became very successful in his career but realized he was unfulfilled and took a side job managing a sober home. During this time, he realized his true passion was working in recovery and mental health. With this newfound passion, Robert went on to open his own sober living company and is Co-owner of Sunlight Sober Living. Robert has a true passion for recovery, mental health, and helping others.
His passion along with his wide range of personal and work experience allows him to help residents bring real change to their lives while at Alta Loma. He is currently working on getting a PRS (Peer Recovery Support Specialist) certification. After completing his PRS certification, he plans to continue his education further to become a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor.
Dr. Lam brings nearly 25 years of experience in psychiatry to Alta Loma. Fellowship trained and double board certified (in both general psychiatry and child/adolescent psychiatry), Dr. Lam has served as Chief of Staff at Shoal Creek Hospital, Outpatient Director at Charter Hospital, staff psychiatrist at St. David’s Hospital, and Executive Medical Director at Austin Lakes Hospital. His distinguished career serving patients and families across Central Texas is hallmarked not only by his widely respected professional expertise but also by his genuine, warm, and kind bedside manner. Dr. Lam has extensive experience treating severe mental illness as well as substance use disorders. He will build trust with our beloved residents through in-person visits as well as after-hours care as he engages them actively in their treatment.
Ella has devoted her entire healthcare career to mental health nursing and brings fifteen years of psychiatric experience to Alta Loma. More recently, she completed her training as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner under Dr. Lam’s preceptorship and has partnered in practice with him ever since. Ella is deeply knowledgeable and compassionate and supportive to her patients and their families. She values collaboration and ensures that those in her care as well as their loved ones feel heard, valued, and cared for.
Hayley is an experienced psychiatric registered nurse with many years of practice in a variety of mental health settings. She has spent her career working with children, adolescents, adults, and geriatric patients in acute care, residential, detoxification and long-term care settings. She is currently pursuing graduate studies in nursing, with the goal of becoming a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
As the Director of Nursing at Alta Loma, her foremost goal is to provide truly individualized, holistic, and compassionate care to our residents and their loved ones alike. She values kindness, open, and honest communication and building therapeutic, healing relationships with those in her care – and recognizes the importance of doing the same with the friends and family of her patients. Hayley considers it a privilege to walk with others on their journey toward optimal mental wellness and sobriety. She wholeheartedly encourages our residents and families to contact her at any time to learn more about medications, treatment planning, convey medical concerns or simply receive extra support. Mental health work is truly a passion for Hayley, and she is deeply grateful to have the honor of serving others in this role.
Outside of work, Hayley enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and writing. She is an avid home cook and loves trying out new recipes and making every meal special for her loved ones. Hayley also adores her two family dogs, a sweet boxer and an affectionate Chiweenie.
Katie has been a nurse for over three years with experience in detox and residential recovery centers that included caring for a dual diagnosis population. She has started her LVN to RN bridge program through Galen College of Nursing. She is passionate about the mental health of others and finds it just as important as their physical health.
Katie is a caring mother to two wonderful boys. They enjoy going to the park, playing sports, and painting together.
George Stark has had a passion for helping others from an early age. Initially having a career in IT, he was not fulfilled in that role and entered the behavioral health field. After working in direct client care, George made the shift to case management. In a typical day George will help numerous clients coordinate outside medical needs. George bridges the gap between outside providers and Alta Loma’s medical team. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife Kaitlin and son Wesley. When not spending time with his family or working, George enjoys playing golf.
Dr. John Lopez completed the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum at the University of Texas College of Pharmacy in Austin in 2004. He has served the greater Austin area as a community pharmacist for over 18 years. In 2016, Dr. Lopez expanded his scope of practice to inpatient mental health and has a goal of obtaining his board certification in Psychiatric Pharmacy in the near future. Additionally, Dr. Lopez is a certified immunizer and has participated in numerous immunization clinics throughout the community, including at Alta Loma!
Jerry Cypert is a dually licensed master level therapist who has been working in the behavioral health field since 2006. Jerry brings a diverse background of experience which allows him to guide his team to providing spectacular care for the complex cases treated at Alta Loma. Jerry’s experience includes but is not limited to multiple modalities of psychotherapy, psychiatric inpatient treatment, and dual diagnosis treatment with adult and adolescent populations. Jerry puts great emphasis on helping people grow, heal, professional development, and education. In his personal life Jerry is a father to two beautiful young girls, a blacksmith, and a carpenter..
Meghan developed a passion for helping people overcome their challenges at a young age by doing volunteer work with individuals with disabilities. During this time she watched her younger brother struggle to learn and fit in the same way as others in society. In 2015, while finishing her last semester of her bachelor’s in Psychology, Meghan was introduced to the field of behavior analysis, which sparked an interest.
Behavior analysis uses science-backed data to help individuals overcome challenging behavior patterns and develop healthy life skills. From there she received her master’s degree from Texas Tech University in Applied Behavioral Analysis while also working as a behavior technician helping children and young adults gain important skills. 6 months later, in 2017, she became fully licensed and holds the designation of Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
While most of her work has been helping people on the Autism spectrum, Meghan knows she can be of service to a wider population. She believes most challenges people face can be tackled by learning more effective ways to communicate their wants and needs, which sometimes must be taught differently than traditional methods.
Meghan strives to help clients find the right motivation which ensures new ideas will “click” and become “ah-ha!” moments. Meghan has helped many people learn to communicate more effectively, reduce challenging behaviors, attain new life skills, and successfully interact with their environment no matter the situation.
Her end goal is to help clients to be successful and decrease challenging behaviors that interfere with their learning, communication, and everyday life.
Hannah earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and neuroscience from Texas A&M University and her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Houston. While attending graduate school, Hannah completed a clinical internship at The Menninger Clinic in Houston, Texas, where she provided group and family therapy.
Hannah is a firm believer in systems theory and assesses environmental factors that contribute to mental illness and substance use, as well as internal factors. She implements DBT and mindfulness skills into her practice and takes a strengths-based approach.
Hannah’s professional areas of interest are substance use, mental health, and family systems. She is passionate about decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness and works to help her clients practice radical acceptance.
“I chose Social Work because the profession calls us to be an advocate for others and because I am passionate about social justice issues.”
Hannah enjoys being a dedicated mom to her calico cat, Chicken, and exploring new places with her family and friends.
Maxie Carvajal, LMSW, is a Primary Therapist at Alta Loma Transformational Services. She earned her Master of Science in Social Work degree at the University of Texas-Pan American in 2014 and is currently working toward obtaining her licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Texas.
Maxie brings with her over 15 years of experience in social services with 11 of those years focused on working with individuals living with severe mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders in the non-profit, acute inpatient psychiatric hospital, and inpatient substance abuse treatment settings.
essica completed her master’s in social work at University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) focusing on Clinical and Behavioral Health. Jessica has over ten years of experience in working with mood and thought disorders such as Bipolar I & II, Schizoaffective disorders and Schizophrenia, and other complex diagnosis such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (ODC), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Co-Occurring Disorders. Jessica also has extensive experience working with people who have been diagnosed with various personality disorders such and Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD), Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) using a combination of evidenced based treatment (EBT) modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI) and other psychodynamic theories of therapy.
After over 10 years in the field working with adults with severe mental illness, Jessica decided to join the dedicated team at Alta Loma in Georgetown, TX. Her personal interests include visiting friends and colleagues in various parts of the world, Texas Ice Hockey, swimming, kayaking, gardening, camping, and biking with her teenage son.
Garrett completed his Masters of Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in 2018 and became a fully Licensed Professional Counselor in 2021. He also has participated in ongoing trainings in psychoanalysis with the Clinical College of Colorado since 2020. He has significant experience helping people who experience psychosis, struggle with issues concerning substance dependence, and who are contemplating suicide find new grounding for authorizing a life for themselves that they desire. He has been an Austinite since 2000 when he moved here from Ft. Worth, TX to attend the University of Texas. He enjoys spending time with his family, throwing dinner parties (he used to be a chef years ago in St. Louis, MO) and reading and writing poetry.
Paul received his bachelor’s degree from Texas State where he majored in Psychology and worked in a social cognition laboratory where he eventually published research. He then went on to obtain his M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Paul is experienced in Cognitive Behavioral and Solution Focused Brief therapy frameworks. His Theoretical foundations all come down to one idea: you must feel valued, nurtured, and supported to grow into your authentic self.
His passion and commitment to working with the population served at Alta Loma shows in his work not just with clients, but also their families. In Paul’s free time he enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons, playing the drums, and reading historical fiction.
Phoebe Rankin is a licensed master social worker who studied social work at Texas State University, earning both her bachelor’s and masters while there. Phoebe started her career in case management before moving into therapy. Phoebe has worked with a wide range of individuals, including but not limited to; individuals with severe mental illness, individuals with complex trauma, at-risk youth, foster care children, individuals experiencing homelessness, and people reentering society after incarceration. She uses a person-centered, strength-based approach with her clients. This allows her to provide a safe place for people to discuss their mental health so that they can reach their goals. Phoebe values kindness, and open and honest communication which ensures people get the most out of their treatment. Phoebe is truly passionate about assisting her clients in managing their mental health so that they can live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
Phoebe is an Austin native and has lived in the area her entire life. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, traveling, crafting, and all things Harry Potter. When not busy with her hobbies, she enjoys spending time with her family, and her two pets Buster the weenie dog, and Teddy the tuxedo rag doll cat.
Charlotte brings to Alta Loma 13 years of experience in the counseling field and 21 years being in recovery. Charlotte received an Associate degree in 2006 from Odessa College specializing in alcohol and drug addiction and is a Licensed Chemical Drug Counselor as well as being Nationally Certified as an Addiction counselor.
Charlotte has worked in the recovery field and held many positions including, Direct Care Counselor, Program Coordinator, and Clinical Director. She is honored with the opportunity to participate in the healing process of many individuals and families impacted by addiction and mental health issues.
Kelsey Michalewicz is a registered and licensed dietitian. She is the owner of Texas Total Health, Inc., a contracting nutrition services company. Kelsey and her dietitian teamwork with many mental health and behavioral health facilities in the Austin to Temple, Texas areas.
Her company participates in wellness fairs and mental health charities. Before starting her business, Kelsey worked as an eating disorder dietitian in San Antonio. Kelsey has a true passion for the mental health field of nutrition. She has worked in the mental health, and behavioral health field for 14 years.
Kelsey knows the role nutrition plays in mental health and substance abuse recovery. She enjoys sharing nutrition education with her patients, co-workers, family, and friends. In her spare time, she loves cooking at home with her family and introducing new foods to her children. Kelsey also loves hiking, biking, running, yoga, and playing with her kids and dogs.
Stephanie is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist in the State of Texas. She was born and raised in Austin. Post high school graduation she obtained a scholarship to play volleyball at Huston-Tillotson University and had the opportunity to also play for the USA international Volleyball League in Scotland. She graduated with her Bachelors in Kinesiology at Huston-Tillotson University and continued her education at Texas State University to obtain her master’s in science and Leisure Services to become a Recreation Therapist. She has been a certified Recreation Therapist for 10 plus years working with all ages in mental health, skilled nursing, rehabilitation, and community settings. She is also certified in instructing Chair Yoga, Chair Chi, Drumtastic (drumming while performing rhythmic movements), and is currently studying to be a certified brain injury specialist. As a recreation therapist, she uses activity-based interventions such as music, art, sports, and other leisure activities to help enhance the clients’ physical abilities, independence and their overall well-being. Additionally, she also coaches a juniors volleyball club in the springtime. Her interests are being in the outdoors, rock climbing, volleyball, exercise, and engaging in other activities with her son.
Wes Hortert is a certified personal trainer dedicated to working with men with mental health and substance use disorders. He spent several years working in direct client care in a variety of behavioral health programs. Wes realized he wanted to combine his passion for physical fitness and working with individuals struggling with mental health issues. After this realization, he went on to become a certified personal trainer which led him to his current role. Wes utilizes his education, professional experience, and personal experience to meet the fitness needs of Alta Loma’s clients.
Originally from a town just north of Pittsburgh, he has been in Texas since 2017 and has never looked back. Wes also loves to cook, watch horror movies, and play video games in his free time.
Having grown up with a brother who is on the spectrum and struggled with mental health issues, Carter has firsthand experience of having a loved one with unique challenges. After his own struggles with substance use disorder in early adulthood, Carter began his journey of recovery from substance use disorder.
With his own unique experiences, this has given Carter a passion to help both families and individuals that struggle with mental health and substance use disorder.
With this new devotion of working with those that Alta Loma assists in their own journey, Carter is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Global Healthcare Policy & Management at Concordia University. Outside of his professional endeavors, Carter is a fan of the NBA and the Dallas Mavericks.
Amit is an admissions specialist dedicated to the work done at Alta Loma. He is passionate about mental health and substance use disorder treatment because watching clients make progress, and their families find hope for the first time is the most rewarding feeling for him. He has worked in Substance Use Treatment for 5 years in multiple capacities including Recovery Coach, Clinical Intern, and Revenue Cycle Management.
He has always believed in quality post-treatment services and went on to create his own program. He is currently the managing partner at Clear Horizon Sober Living.
In his spare time, Amit enjoys running with his dog and playing basketball with his friends. He currently lives in Westlake Hills, Texas with his best friend.
Sarah earned both her Bachelor’s degree in sociology and Masters in Social Work from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. She has worked for mental health crisis teams, on inpatient psychiatric units, as well as managing admissions departments. She has held positions in both direct patient and family care, as well as business development since graduating with her masters in 2016. With a strong passion for building relationships in the field of behavioral health, business development has been a favorite role of hers.
Sarah enjoys working directly with clients and families to find the best treatment options for them. With mental health being so close to home in her family, Sarah has found a great purpose in the work she does.
In her personal life, Sarah is an avid beach goer and enjoys spending all the time she can with her family, friends, and favorite dog, Bowie.
Kristin Brassfield is a highly accomplished professional in the field of behavioral healthcare, currently serving as the Regional Manager of Business Development for Alta Loma. With a career spanning over 13 years in this specialized industry, Kristin brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her role. Her journey in the behavioral healthcare space has been nothing short of remarkable, encompassing a diverse range of roles such as direct client care, business development, admissions, operations, and executive management.
Kristin is deeply passionate about making a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals struggling with mental health and addiction issues. Her commitment to this cause has been the driving force behind her successful career, allowing her to connect with clients, colleagues, and communities on a profound level. Beyond her professional endeavors, Kristin enjoys a variety of creative outlets, including reading, writing, and painting. She finds solace and inspiration in the great outdoors, particularly in settings around water. Most importantly, she cherishes spending quality time with her loving family and her faithful canine companion, making each moment a treasured memory. Kristin Brassfield is a dedicated professional who brings both expertise and compassion to her work in the behavioral healthcare industry, making her a true asset to Alta Loma and the individuals she serves.
Joe is a local rescue that provides our residents with all the snuggles and playtime they can handle. When they aren’t engaged in these activities, they can be found napping or gnawing on a chew toy of their choosing.
We encourage our residents to experience the soothing demeanor Joe displays.
You understand your needs best. If you have found yourself at a crossroads in your treatment and feel like your program options don’t fully understand you or aspects of your recovery, it’s time to contact the specialists at Alta Loma. We will help you craft the ideal care plan and secure the support you need, quickly, to avoid unnecessary problems. At Alta Loma, that’s our mission — to provide each individual with optimum care for the wellbeing they deserve.