Director of Counseling and Psychological Services
Dr. Allison Peters
Dr. Allison Peters, (she/her/hers) received her M.A. and Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles, and her B.A. at UC San Diego. Before coming to CSUSM, Dr. Peters worked clinically with children, adolescents, adults and the elderly in various settings including community mental health centers and in her training at the USC, Cal State Dominguez Hills, and Mount St. Mary’s University student counseling centers. She was active in program development and administration in community mental health. She was an instructor of clinical psychology courses at the graduate level and served as the Practicum Training Director for the Clinical Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs at the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles.
Her passion is working with young adults and college students with concerns about anxiety, depression, relationship challenges, transitions, self-esteem, formation of identity, as well as self-injurious thoughts and behaviors. She works from an eclectic perspective, with a belief that the best therapy is ultimately about self-discovery that is best nurtured in a safe and supportive space, free of judgment and guided by the client. She has a passion for clinical training and clinical supervision. She is the Training Director for the Psychology Internship in Health Service Psychology at SHCS. Dr. Peters provides clinical supervision to Psychology Interns.
CA Lic. PSY24321
Clinical Psychology Staff
Dr. John "Jay" Robertson-Howell
Dr. John “Jay” Robertson-Howell, (he/him/his) received his Psy.D. and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University – Seattle and his M.S. in Social Work from University of Texas – Austin. He completed his psychology internship at the University of Washington Counseling Center and has received formalized training in two community mental health clinics, a male adolescent inpatient facility and an alternative high school. Before joining Cal State San Marcos Student Health and Counseling Services, Dr. Robertson-Howell worked for seven years at Seattle University’s Counseling and Psychological Services. He is a generalist clinically and has expertise, training and experience in college developmental and mental health concerns. He utilizes an integrative approach for psychotherapy drawing upon psychodynamic, interpersonal, developmental and different cognitive-behavioral therapies. Areas of special interest include anxiety and depression, mindfulness, men and masculinity, gender and sexual identity, alcohol and substance abuse, couples counseling, multicultural issues, and grief and loss. Dr. Robertson-Howell provides clinical supervision to Psychology Interns.
CA Lic. PSY 25920
Dr. Juan Alvarez
Dr. Juan Alvarez, (he/him/él) is a bilingual counselor who strives to provide multi-culturally competent student services in English and Spanish. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at Washington State University, and his B.A. in Cognitive Science at the University of California, Irvine. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Student Health and Counseling Services at California State University San Marcos, and an American Psychological Association accredited psychology internship in Health Service Psychology at the University of Northern Colorado Counseling Center.
Dr. Alvarez is passionate about college mental health and has worked in college mental
health centers in Washington, Idaho, Colorado, and California. He is a generalist
clinically and has experience working with a variety of presenting concerns typical
of the college student population, including anxiety, depression, identity development,
relationship issues, transitions, and sexual identity. Areas of special interest include
Latinx mental health, working with Student-Athletes, sports psychology, and mindfulness.
Dr. Alvarez has experience providing individual, group, and couples therapy. He utilizes
an integrative approach drawing from humanistic psychology, cognitive-behavioral therapy,
narrative therapy, and self-compassion.
Dr. Alvarez provides clinical supervision to Psychology Interns.
CA Lic. PSY 30185
Certified in Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dr. Lissa Lim
Dr. Lissa Lim, Orientation and Didactic Training Coordinator, (she/her/hers/ella) is a bilingual counselor who specializes in Latinx mental health,
sexual trauma, immigrant communities, and first-generation college students. She earned
her B.A. and M.A. in Psychology at CSUSM, and her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at
Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her treatment approach is integrative, rooted
in Feminist-Multicultural, Interpersonal, and Person-Centered therapy. What this means
for clients is that she attends to the ways relationships shape and affect us, attends
to experiences of power and oppression, and focuses on empowering clients to heal
in ways that are consistent with their sociocultural context. She also emphasizes
empathy, compassion, and authentic connection, and uses a Trauma-Informed perspective
when working with all clients. Dr. Lim founded the SHCS Health Assistance Fund, and
co-founded the Gender Equity Center.
For self-care, Dr. Lim enjoys joyful movement like dancing, yoga, and exercise. She loves to garden and has a bountiful veggie and fruit garden. She enjoys cooking and considers herself a foodie, and can share some great local restaurant recommendations. She enjoys reading and is often in the middle of at least three different books at one time. She is a cat lover and fosters cats and kittens from a local shelter. She is also an extrovert and loves spending time with family and friends.
CA Lic. PSY 30077
Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP)
Dr. Ryan Stevenson
Dr. Ryan Stevenson, (he/him/his) received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and his Masters of Social Work from the University of Utah. He completed his psychology internship at the UC – Santa Barbara’s Counseling and Psychological Services and his post-doctoral fellowship at UC – San Diego’s Counseling and Psychological Services. He has experience working in university counseling centers, community mental health, rape crisis centers, and private group practice. Prior to joining CSUSM’s Student Health and Counseling Services he worked at UCSD, the VA in San Diego, and on a clinical trial treating veterans with PTSD. He also taught a course called Strategies for Academic Success for three years in graduate school and he enjoys helping students with these skills in therapy and in campus workshops.
Dr. Stevenson has experience providing individual, group, and couples therapy. He utilizes an integrative approach drawing from interpersonal, mindfulness, feminist-multicultural, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Areas of special interest include PTSD/trauma, working with veterans/service members, anxiety, depression, mindfulness, multicultural issues, men and masculinity, conflicts around religion and spirituality, performance psychology, and substance abuse. Dr. Stevenson enjoys working with students from diverse backgrounds and providing a safe space for healing and growth. Dr. Stevenson is the coordinator of the MSW Internship Training Program and also provides clinical supervision to the Psychology Interns.
CA Lic. PSY 27441
Dr. Leakhena (Leah) Tappero
Dr. Leakhena (Leah) Tappero, Training Coordinator, (she/her/hers) received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in Psychology from San Diego State University. After enjoying much sunshine for most of her life, she moved to the Pacific Northwest and got to experience all four seasons and learned to love coffee and hiking. She received her M.S. in Counseling, Family and Human Services and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Oregon. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at California State University, Long Beach Counseling and Psychological Services. She completed her post-doctoral residency at the University of California, San Diego Counseling and Psychological Services.
Utilizing an integrative therapeutic approach, Dr. Tappero includes interventions from Interpersonal, Emotion-Focused, Cognitive Behavioral and Client Centered therapy in her work with clients. Some of her special interests includes Asian/Asian American mental health, first generation college student concerns, immigrant, refugee, & acculturation issues, and multicultural/diversity issues. When working with Dr. Tappero she helps clients explore and examine how relational, social, educational, and cultural factors impact life experiences. She takes a holistic view and adapt her roles to meet clients’ needs, creating a safe, supportive, and accepting space for clients to feel empowered to make decisions about their life. Dr. Tappero believes that therapy can help clients work towards creating positive changes to heal and live authentically.
In her free time, Dr. Tappero enjoys spending time with her family and three dogs. She likes watching television shows, reading books on her Kindle, and photography.
CA Lic. PSY 28653
Marcy Ryan, LMFT
Other interests include the treatment of anxiety, ADHD, grief/loss, attachment, trauma, family and relationship struggles. She holds a B.A. in Human Development from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Santa Barbara. Prior to moving home to San Diego, she worked for Casa Pacifica, Centers for Children and Families, becoming Clinical Supervisor for their Therapeutic Behavioral Services program serving Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.
Marcy is dedicated to inclusive practices supporting students while fostering a sense of safety and belonging. She enjoys connecting with students from all different backgrounds and providing treatment that highlights her client’s individual strengths. Marcy is passionate about student social emotional health and wellness.
CA Lic. LMFT 53126
Dr. Kara Kornher
Dr. Kara Kornher, Psychologist and Learning Disabilities (LD) Specialist with Disabled Student Services, serves as CAPS' primary testing supervisor in addition to providing clinical supervision for interns. Dr. Kornher received her B.A. in Psychology from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University in Ohio. She moved to California to complete a psychology internship at UCSD's Psychological & Counseling Services. Her diverse professional experience prior to coming to Cal State San Marcos in 1996 includes working in a correctional facility, university counseling center, community mental health clinic, crisis center, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and Scripps Hospital. Areas of professional interest in addition to psychological assessment include women's issues and humanistic psychology.
Dr. Kornher provides secondary clinical supervision to Psychology Interns
Clinical Case Manager
Katie Ramos, LCSW
Katie Ramos, LCSW (she/her/hers) received her double major bachelor's degree in Human Development and Criminal Justice Studies in 2010 from CSUSM. Katie then went on to obtain her Masters in Social Work at CSUSM and was in the first graduating cohort. Katie became a LCSW in August 2018. Katie has focused much of her career working in community based organizations with former foster youth and young adults who are at risk of homelessness or who are currently experiencing homelessness. Katie is passionate about linking individuals to resources in the community and has a strong sense of community. Katie works in a way to teach individuals techniques in advocacy to one day become their own case manager. Katie's approach is empowering, empathetic, and trauma informed.
CA LCSW # 85336
Laura primarily utilizes cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and DBT skills in her treatment. She provides culture and trauma informed care that is tailored to the client based on their presenting concerns, identity, and goals. She is passionate about providing care to Transitional Aged Youth (TAY), Latinx individuals, and individuals who have experienced trauma. Laura has worked in multiple integrated care teams and enjoys collaborating and advocating for her clients when necessary.
In her free time, Laura enjoys spending time with her family, her dogs, reading comics, watching movies and playing video games.
Supervised by Dr. Juan Alvarez
Liya Levanda, MA (she/her/hers) is a pre-doctoral intern at CSUSM Student Health and Counseling Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Sonoma State University where she majored in psychology and minored in sociology. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology Psy.D. program at the California School of Professional Psychology in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she also completed her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.
Liya is passionate about working with college students and communities, and has trained in community mental health, school, and university settings. She approaches her work with clients from an integrative perspective, drawing from cognitive-behavioral, solution-focused, Bronfenbrennerian, feminist-multicultural, and intersectional approaches. Liya is adaptive to each student; working to ensure therapy is a supportive space and centering each student’s goals and collaborating on the best way to achieve them. Her research has been focused on intersections of traditional masculinity and rejection sensitivity, as well as coping mechanisms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Liya’s clinical interests include working with college students, developing coping and emotion regulation tools, exploring gender and sexuality, and working with Jewish students. Liya is bilingual and bicultural, and provides therapy in English and in Hebrew.
In balancing personal and professional life, Liya engages in self-care by dancing, hiking with her rescue pup, spending time with loved ones, and playing video games.
Supervised by Dr. Lissa Lim
Lilly Parks, M.A. (she, her, hers), is a Psychology Intern who provides services in English at CSUSM Student Health and Counseling Services. She earned her B.S. in Developmental Psychology and Minor in Education Studies at UC San Diego. Prior to continuing her education, Lilly worked as a research assistant at the UCSD Eating Disorders Center where she gained experience in the assessment and diagnosis of eating disorders. She then received her M.A. in Clinical Psychology from CSPP at Alliant International University, San Diego. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology PsyD program at CSPP at Alliant International University, San Diego. Her current research involves childhood trauma, self-esteem, and disordered eating.
Lilly utilizes an integrative approach to psychotherapy, drawing upon cognitive-behavioral
therapy (CBT), psychodynamic, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and mindfulness.
Her areas of interest include sport psychology, eating disorders and disordered eating
behaviors, self-esteem, emotional and psychological abuse, anxiety, and non-suicidal
self-injurious behavior. She is passionate about promoting positive relationships
with exercise and movement, as well as de-stigmatizing conversations about mental
In her free time, Lilly enjoys swimming, traveling, painting, and going to live music concerts. She is always looking for restaurant recommendations and places to explore with her dog/fur child.
Supervised by Dr. Robertson-Howell
Jennifer is passionate about providing care to Latinx individuals, first-generation college students, transitional aged youth, undocumented and mixed-status individuals. Her areas of interest include managing stress, anxiety and depression, multicultural/diversity issues and acculturation. Jennifer utilizes a collaborative and integrative approach with interventions from cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and DBT in her treatment.
In her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, painting, exercise, trying new coffee shops and reading.
Supervised by Dr. Lissa Lim
MSW Social Work Interns
Rebecca Elster is a Master of Social Work Intern at SHCS. She is earning her Master of Social Work
right here at Cal State San Marcos. Previously, Rebecca earned her Bachelors degree
in Dance and Education from University of California Santa Barbara in 2017.
Her many years of experience with students throughout San Diego County drives her passion for providing mental health care to all students on campus through a compassionate, holistic approach to both therapy and case management.
In her time outside the office Rebecca enjoys dancing, knitting, and spending time outside with her family and friends.
Jade Hernández (she/her/hers) is currently a part time Social Work Intern at CSUSM’s Student Health and Counseling Services. She received her Bachelor’s in Sociology from CSUSM and is currently in the Master of Social Work at CSUSM. Jade's previous internship experience includes working with students in elementary and middle school settings.
Jade also has experience working with adult individuals in psychiatric crisis. She is passionate about using a strengths- based and empowering approach to help college students succeed and grow.
Neda Jafar, B.A. (she/her/hers) is a Social Work Intern at CSUSM’s Student Health and Counseling Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychological Science from CSUSM in 2018. She is currently completing her Master’s degree in Social Work at San Diego State University.
Neda has previous experience working with adults in transitional residential treatment, teens with mood and anxiety disorder in residential treatment, and outpatient treatment for adult with dual diagnoses. Neda also has several years of research experience in health psychology and environmental psychology research projects.
In her free time, Neda enjoys trying different sushi restaurants, painting, and spending time with her cat, Aladdin!