M.F.T. Program

Counseling West
4419 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 310
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

(818) 990-9898  

Fax: 818 783 2243
Email: counselingwest@gmail.com

Your communication is private
and confidential.
Hours: Mon- Fri, 8am to 9pm
               Sat, 8am-6pm

For Training Program inquiries
Email: debra@counselingwest.com
Phone: (818) 990-6558

We are conveniently located in
Sherman Oaks, close to the 101
and 405 freeways.


Click for Larger Map6558

M.F.T. Internship Training Program Introduction

Counseling West, a non-profit mental health center, was founded in 1976 to provide quality, affordable counseling and psychotherapy to individuals and families, and to provide a training program for mental health professionals of depth and value. Our program is designed to meet the needs of both those with no prior experience in the field and those who have acquired experience toward licensure. Interns and trainees begin to take on clients as quickly as readiness and previous experience allow and based on availability of new clients.

The agency's office is staffed by a carefully selected group of pre-licensed trainees and interns from top schools in southern California. Staff members are characterized by their compassion, personal maturity, warmth, degree of self-awareness, and commitment to the rigors of a life lived in the presence of the psyche. Staff members are encouraged to be in therapy and, although it is not mandatory, it is typical.


The agency believes strongly in facilitating a supportive, nurturing environment for trainees and interns as well as clients. We believe that staff members can benefit greatly from knowing each other and each other's work; therefore, supervision and training are conducted in groups. In this way, staff members have an opportunity to observe a variety of counseling approaches as well as developing deep bonds with others at the agency.


Counseling West staff members utilize a variety of orienting approaches in working with clients. Many cases involve family issues, and a systems approach is appropriate. For other clients, more in-depth therapeutic interventions utilizing psycho-dynamic, Jungian, and Humanistic-Existential approaches are used. In all cases, therapists use an orienting philosophy, which is tailored to meet the needs of the client.


In addition to opportunities for additional training offered during the year through guest speakers and clinical presentations, our staff is required to become involved in community outreach programs. These provide invaluable experience in acquiring additional skills in areas such as networking, public speaking, and public relations that are necessary for successful practice after licensure. Some interns/trainees choose to offer groups in areas of specific interest to them, i.e. bereavement, adolescence, children of divorce.


Because of the diversity of our client population, we are able to provide interns and trainees with a broad base of experience with many kinds of presenting problems. We strongly encourage our interns/trainees develop various groups such as, parenting groups which we may then offer to the community.


Many interns who begin their training at Counseling West apply to stay on and complete their entire 3000 hours of experience. We are pleased with the environment we have created at Counseling West and we strive to constantly improve our services to both clients and staff.


Program Requirements

1. FIRST YEAR INTERNS AND TRAINEES: (Approximately 12-14 hrs/wk.)
  • Thursday: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (This includes a 2-hour supervision group, 1-1/2 hour training group, monthly in-service presentations, staff meetings, etc.)
  • Carry a client caseload of 6 sessions / week by the end of the first 6 months.
  • Be present for training on the telephone intake procedures. Be available to answer intake calls for about 2 hours per week during business hours (Mon thru Fri.9-5).
  • All trainees and interns are highly encouraged to be in personal therapy or analysis during their training.
2. SECOND AND SUBSEQUENT YEAR INTERNS: (14 - 20 hrs/week)
  • Thursday: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. weekly, trainings from 11:15 to 1:00 p.m.
  • Carry a client caseload of at least 8 client sessions / week through the remainder of your internship.
  • Individual supervision provided when the intern has consistently carried a sufficient caseload.
  • All trainees and interns are highly encouraged to be in personal therapy or analysis during their training.
3. Administration Fee: One time fee of $750 payable upon commencement of training. Upon hiring, you will be required to sign a supervision contract with your designated supervisor.

4. Provide proof of malpractice insurance before beginning to see clients, continually updating your file with current insurance documentation.


5. Have voice-mail on your home or cell phone, and a designated voice-mail # where your clients may leave messages. Your message to clients must include your position as an intern or trainee at CW.


6. Design and implement an annual 24-hour project of your choosing, as a service to CW, individually or with a team that may also be done as a monthly ongoing project. We will provide guidance, suggestions, and mentoring. The first year interns / trainees engage in 2 hours per week answering intake calls instead.


7.This is an unpaid internship.

8. Maintain an acceptable level of attendance and participation in the internship program, notifying your supervisor when you are unable to attend supervision/training.


9. Agree to clear all vacations with your supervisor, and to notify the office and your supervisor of any out of town away time greater than a few days.


10. Satisfactorily pass bi-annual evaluations with your current supervisor.


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Our Leaders

Debra Sharon, Ph.D.
Executive Director

Dr. Sharon is a licensed Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist.  She has worked in various agencies as well as graduate schools. She has taught at Mount Saint Mary’s College, Argosy University, and California Graduate Institute. More recently, she was core faculty teaching in the Clinical Psychology, School Counseling, and Marriage and Family Therapy Departments as well as being Director of Clinical Training and Dean of Students at Phillips Graduate Institute. Dr. Sharon has an extensive background working in Special Education Schools.  She was Director of School-based Mental Health Services at the HELP Group as well as being the Clinical Director of Summit View and Coldwater Canyon Prep Schools.  Dr. Sharon has a Pupil Personnel Credential in School Counseling and many years of experience working with children, adolescents, and their families.

Gianna Maunu, M.A., M.F.T.
Clinical Coordinator
MFT Clinical Supervisor
Gianna has followed the professional path of psychology and education since early adulthood.  She earned her degree in psychology from the University of Oregon.  Upon her graduation she focused on teaching.  Gianna taught in various settings for 15 years.  Part of her teaching experience included English in Spain for 2 two years.  Her experience in Spain led her to earning a MA in bilingual/bicultural education from Columbia University.  She went on to teach high school Spanish for 9 years in California.  During her time in secondary education, she also became an academic counselor, assisting high school students achieved their goals for college as well as reminding her of her psychology and counseling interest.  At Pepperdine University, she earned her MA in psychology.  She completed her internship and became a licensed MFT in 2013.  Currently, Gianna is combining her love of education and psychology as the Clinical Coordinator and supervisor at Counseling West  and enjoying the educational process for both her clients and herself in her private practice in Encino.

Joni Lavick, M.A., M.F.T.
MFT Clinical Supervisor

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Graduate Loyola Marymount University. Twenty years experience as a psychotherapist, fifteen as a clinical supervisor. Specialized training in Mary Main's Adult Attachment Interview. Certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. Recipient of TheBody.com National HIV Leadership Award and The Los Angeles Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapists Community Service Award. Board member of The Women's Association for Addiction Treatment. 

Ian Stulberg, LCSW, M.F.T.
MFT Clinical Supervisor

Ian received his MSW from UCLA and has been a clinical social worker for over 28 years.  For the majority of his professional career, he has focused on, written about and presented on the LGBT and HIV communities.  He has worked on inpatient AIDS units early in his career; was Manager of Mental Health for AIDS Service Center in Pasadena for almost eight years; and worked for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Mental Health Services program for ten years, initially as Manager of Clinical Training, and, for the last three years, as Director.  Ian has also worked for Kaiser Permanente as a Clinical Program Manager, and for the Department of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  Currently, Ian works as an independent contractor, providing clinical supervision and documentation review for Lamp Community in downtown Los Angeles. 

Carol Tanenbaum, Ph.D., M.F.T.
MFT Clinical Supervisor
Carol Tanenbaum is a Marriage Family Therapist and psychoanalyst. She has been in private practice in Sherman Oaks since 1978. While she works with families, couples and individuals, she also has had an interest and a great deal of experience working in community/non profit settings both here in the United States and overseas. 
Carol was a founding member of Global Children’s Organization, a non-profit organization that organized cross cultural summer camp programs for the children of the war torn Balkans, the children of Northern Ireland and young adults of Palestinian and Israeli backgrounds . She helped run these camping programs, which focused on bringing children from ethnically strife ridden war zones together to live, play, and heal from the war traumas of their young lives.
Carol also ran the Ernest S. Lawrence Trauma Center at The Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies. This program offered psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy to young at-risk mothers who were living in and around Echo Park, Los Angeles.
She was also a founding member and therapist for The Soldiers Project, a Los Angeles based non-profit organization that provides free psychotherapy to military families and soldiers coming home from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars She has worked with  families and individuals returning from these wars for the past 12 years and understands how important and helpful psychotherapy can be for their transition into civilian life.  
She is also an adjunct on the faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute in their Community, Liberation, Ecology track and has been a fieldwork adviser there for 8 years. Here, she is able to combine academic expertise, clinical, and community psychology in supporting her students through their degree programs.  She also teaches in the Trauma studies course at LAISPS in the area of war trauma and collective trauma. 
She continues to work in her private practice and with students who are pursuing their careers in psychology. Her training in psychoanalysis and her hands on experience of working on the ground with traumatized groups has enlarged and enriched her psychological perspective and continues to be a great interest of hers. 

Debbie Mego, Ph.D, LCSW 
MFT Clinical Supervisor
Debbie has published in the Journal of Sandplay Therapy and the Jewish Chronicle of London. She has presented at National and Regional Conferences of STA. and has taught as adjunct faculty at Antioch University’s Masters in Psychology Program, at UCSD extension and as a presenter in the advanced course on Sandplay at the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles.  Debbie has supervised psychotherapy interns in clinics as well as privately. Debbie currently provides Sandplay supervision for psychotherapists who wish to learn more about the modality or to become clinical members of STA. 

Marion Anderson, Ph.D., CST-T/STA/ISST 
Marion is a Jungian Analyst in private practice in Santa Monica. She is a founding member of the Ibtsandplay (Brazilian Society for Sandplay), and serves as Co-Coordinator of the Sandplay Community of Los Angeles. She teaches Jung and Sandplay at the Reiss-Davis Graduate Center for Child Development and Psychotherapy. She gives workshops on painting inner images at the Jung Institute of Los Angeles. A teacher both nationally and internationally, she has published several articles in the Journal of Sandplay Therapy

Marion is a native German, practiced Jungian analysis and sandplay in Brazil for 13 years and moved to California in 2009 where she now is licensed as a clinical psychologist, certified Jungian Analyst (IAAP) and a certified Sandplay therapist and teacher STA/ISST. She teaches nationally and internationally and works in private practice in Santa Monica, California.

Twice a year she gives workshops on painting inner images and teaches Jung and Sandplay at the PsyD program in Clinical Child Psychology at Reiss Davis, She published two articles in the Journal of Sandplay therapy on flooding in sandplay.

She works with people who are depressed, anxious, undergoing cultural adaptation, changes and transitions in their lives and therefore have symptoms or difficulties in balancing out their lives and find fulfillment.



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