Larry Snyder, M.D.
Medical Director, Family Medicine and Addictionologist
Specializing in Dual Diagnosis, Addiction Medicine and Family Medicine and a Member
of the American Society of Addiction Medicine,
Dr. Snyder received his
M.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has
over 30 years of experience in the medical field. He bis a clinical faculty member
at the UCI Medical Center and a member of the American Academy of Addiction Medicine,
the American Academy of Family Practice and the California Medical Association.
Dr. Snyder worked for several years as medical consultant to Capistrano by the Sea
Hospital in Dana Point, treating eating disorders, chemical dependency and dual
diagnosis conditions. He has served as the Medical director of Sovereign Health
of California since it its founding. With extensive experience in both addiction
and eating disorders, Dr. Snyder has become an invaluable resource to hundreds of
patients and their families suffering from addiction, bulimia, anorexia and overeating.
He has a special interest in Mindfulness Meditation and its application to all of
the above disorders.
Sarah (Sunny) Steinmeyer, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Director, Eating Disorders Treatment Program
Dr. Sarah Steinmeyer
is licensed as a clinical psychologist by the state of California and has a vast
experience of more than 30 years, working in a variety of mental health and medical
settings. She obtained a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Edinboro State College,
Edinboro, PA in 1978 and a Doctorate in General Psychology from United States (Alliant)
International University, San Diego, CA in 1986. She was the Clinical Coordinator
at Capistrano by the Sea Hospital for many years, where she also facilitated a multi-family
treatment program. Dr. Steinmeyer has served as an eating disorder therapist at
various medical centers, most recently Mission Hospital of Laguna Beach, California.
In addition to her hospital work she maintains a private practice in Laguna Hills,
treating adolescent and adult patients. Dr. Steinmeyer was selected Winning Author
of the First-Paper Competition, sponsored by the National Association of Private
Psychiatric Hospitals, in 1991. She has been a teacher and presenter at various
universities and institutes on diverse topics including neuropsychological assessment
as well as transgender adaptation and the treatment of dissociative disorders. She
frequently makes community presentations on parenting, anger management and relationship
issues. Her work at Sovereign Health of California includes leading the Eating Disorders
Program and providing clinical training and supervision for psychology practicum,
pre- and post-doctoral fellows.
Diana Cho, Psy.D.
Director of Mental Health Program
Focus of Mental Health
Dr. Cho graduated from Argosy
University with a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She has experience working with
a wide range of patients, including those suffering from severe mental illness.
She also has clinical experience in chronic inpatient, acute psychiatric and outpatient
community treatment settings. Dr. Cho assisted in the launching and the on-going
development of a Dialectical Behavior Therapy-based Intensive Outpatient Program
for adults with dual diagnosis. She also directs both the Partial Hospitalization
and Intensive Outpatient Mental Health programs, as well as Sovereign’s residential
treatment program. Dr. Cho uses a wide ranging form of therapy to cater patient
care and is consistently focused on providing the best and most innovative care
to patients of Sovereign Health.
Dr. Donald E. Wallens
Specializing in Psychiatric Illness
Doctor Donald E. Wallens, is Sovereign Health’s faculty psychiatrist. Dr. Wallens
received his M.D. from Cornell University, in New York, and has over 40 years experience
in the medical field. Dr. Wallens currently operates a private practice in Beverly
Hills and Los Angeles, is an attending staff member at a number of major Los Angeles
Hospitals and is both an assistant professor and resident supervisor at UCLA and
Cedars-Sinai Medical center respectively. He is also a diplomat for the National
Board of Medical Examiners and a member of the Southern California Psychiatric Society,
American Psychiatric Association and the Los Angeles County Medical Association.
Dr. Wallens has a special interest in helping others manage and overcome psychiatric
illness, and has made treating mental illness the primary focus of his career.
Dr. Jennifer O’Connor
Specializing in Child, Adolescent and Family psychology
Dr. Jennifer O’Connor is the faculty psychologist for Sovereign Health. Dr. O’Connor
graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s in psychology from Georgetown University.
She went on to receive both her Master’s and Ph.D. from Alliant University with
an emphasis in Child, Adolescent and Family psychology. Dr. O’Connor has been a
part of both the Phi Beta Kappa, and Psi-Chi national honor societies and received
the Outstanding Doctor of Philosophy award while at Alliant. Dr. O’Connor maintains
a private practice in San Clemente and had numerous positions in the field before
joining Sovereign including serving as the Clinical Director for the OCD Residential
Program at Remuda Ranch and serving as a predoctoral intern at the Children’s Hospital
Los Angeles. Dr. O’Connor also has broad teaching experience in the field of psychology
and has numerous publications and presentations on the fields of mental health and
eating disorders. Along with her depth of knowledge and experience Dr. O’Connor
brings a strong passion about caring for those with mental illness to Sovereign
Dr. Fred Bekhrad
Specializing in Biomedical Rehabilitation Engineering
Dr. Fred Bekhrad is
the Biofeedback technician at Sovereign Health. Dr. Bekhrad received his Bachlor’s
of Science with honor in Biology and Chemistry from St. Louis University and his
Master’s in Clinical Rehab Engineering from Washington University, St. Louis. He
received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Iowa State University and has
certifications in CPR, Biofeedback and Assistive Technology. Dr. Bekhrad is currently
both a practitioner and consultant for Biomedical Rehabilitation Engineering in
addition to being part of the Sovereign Health Staff. Before joining Sovereign,
Dr. Bekhrad served as the Director of Rehabilitation Technology Laboratories and
Senior Tech Solutions across the country and also acted as a Rehabilitation leader
and expert for numerous organizations, including the UCLA Medical Centers. Dr. Bekhrad
has helped design numerous innovations in the field of mental and physical care
and has many publications and presentations on the topic of Rehabilitation Engineering
Dr. Kelly Souza
Associate Clinical Director
Specializing in Eating Disorder Program
Dr. Kelly Souza is the associate
clinical director of the eating disorder program at Sovereign Health of California.
Dr. Souza received her Bachelor’s degree in generally psychology from Point Loma
Nazarene University in 2003. She then went on and completed her Master’s degree
and Doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Southern California Seminary in
2010. Dr. Souza has been working in the mental health field for the past ten years
in various setting including residential treatment and foster care for severely
emotionally disturbed children and adolescents, residential treatment for adolescent
males on probation, treatment of chronically mentally ill adults in inpatient and
outpatient settings, and treatment for adults with eating disorders, mental health
issues, and substance abuse issues in partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient
Licensed Vocational Nurse and Medical Liaison
Jennifer McGruder, is Sovereign
Health’s Licensed Vocational Nurse and Medical Liaison. Jennifer received her Vocational
Nursing Diploma from Stanbridge College, while maintaining a position on the Dean’s
List for much of that time. She also is certified in Basic Cardiac Life Support
(BCLS) by the American Heart Association and is IV therapy and blood withdrawal
certified. Before joining Sovereign’s staff Jennifer was deeply involved in care-giving.
As both a student LVN in a variety of positions and as a fully Licensed Vocational
Nurse for Alzheimer’s and Dementia clients at ComForcare Senior Services, Jennifer
has consistently demonstrated a passionate attitude towards assisting in caring
and helping clients.
Deborah McCarthy, R.D., C.P.T.
Deborah received her
Bachelor's Degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1984. In 1992,
she began a post-baccalaureate program in clinical nutrition at Cal Poly Pomona
and obtained her registration as a dietitian with honors from Gamma Sigma Delta.
Deborah has been a registered dietitian with the American Dietetic Association for
16 years and received a secondary certification with the American Council on Exercise,
in 2006, as a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. Deborah's current
specialties include eating disorders, vegetarian nutrition, sports nutrition, nutrition
for addictions and recovery, weight management, pediatric nutrition and wellness.
Deborah uses her years of nutritional expertise to assist and educate patients at
Sovereign Health who are suffering from nutritional deficiencies due to disordered
eating, depression and addictions. With nutrition education, patients can be given
tools to improve their physical health, mood and energy level.
John D. Tobias
Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor – II
John D. Tobias is the Certified
Alcohol and Drug Counselor - II (CADC - II) for Sovereign Health. He received his
Bachelors Degree in Journalism at the University of Wisconsin and continued on to
receiving his Masters of Science Counseling at the National Louis University in
Chicago, Illinois. John is currently a board member of Recovery Beyond Borders,
who provide assistance to developing countries in their alcohol and drug treatment
efforts. He is especially well versed in the 12-step recovery and has considerable
experience as a member of the multi-disciplinary therapeutic treatment teams. John
has extensive experience within his field and before coming to Sovereign, he accumulated
over 20 years of experience in the field of addiction counseling. We are proud to
have John Tobias as a member of Sovereign Health’s team, and we know that his experience
in counseling will help provide our clients with the necessary tools towards a positive
Marriage and Family Intern
Jill Robinson is a Marriage
and Family Intern with Sovereign Health of California. Jill received both her Bachelor’s
and Master’s, in Psychology and Clinical Psychology respectively, from Vanguard
University and is specifically certified in dealing with Co-occurring Disorders.
Jill has experience working with many of the more well-known mental health service
centers in Orange County and Los Angeles County including, College Hospital Costa
Mesa and StarView Community Services. She is also a registered member with the California
Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. At Sovereign Health we benefit greatly
by having Jill’s experience and dedication to the field of therapy as part of our
Captain Larry Smith, CAS, ALPA EAP REP
Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor
Specializing in Holistic Treatment
Larry Smith graduated cum
laude from the University of Toledo in 1977 with a major in Business Management
and a minor in Psychology. He is currently certified under CAARR - California Alcohol
and Addiction Recovery Resources. He is also certified in EEG Neurotherapy. As an
Airline Pilot Association Representative, he has over a 10 years experience working
with Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA). In that capacity he guides pilots with addiction problems through a rigorous
recovery program and recertification process.
Larry's extraordinary passion for recovery is indicated by his work as an author,
lecturer, columnist and radio talk show host. His book, 'Captain Larry Smith's Daily
Life Plan Journal' has been endorsed by Dr. Joseph Pursch, MD and TV's Dr. Drew
Larry is a retired Air Force Officer and Fighter Pilot. He has accumulated over
20,000 hours of flying time and is currently a 747-400 pilot for a major international
airline. Larry attends the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego CA.