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Our Eating Disorder Treatment specialties, at our La Jolla, CA a residential center specializes in Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, & Orthorexia Recovery.

Eating Disorder Treatment Team | La Jolla, CA

Deandra Christianson, MA, LCPC, NCC, CCMHC, CDWF

Deandra Christianson, MA, LCPC, NCC, CCMHC, CDWF

National Director of Operations, Residential Eating Disorder Division

Deandra Christianson received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and then continued on to receive her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. While in her Master’s program she earned a Counseling Specialization and focused on treatment of children and adolescents. She is currently completing her PhD in Organizational Leadership at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
Deandra has been with Center for Discovery in many capacities, both clinical and administrative, since 2013. She has been afforded many opportunities to speak at conferences and other engagements throughout the country. Deandra has worked with individuals with eating disorders, self-injurious behaviors, mood disorders, and other co-occurring issues in both residential and outpatient treatment settings. Additionally, she has worked with schools in program development and implementation that focuses on student leadership and bullying prevention and intervention. Deandra is passionate about her work, as well as, eating disorder awareness, advocacy, and treatment.

Perla Vilhjalmsdottir, LMFT, CEDS-S

Perla Vilhjalmsdottir, LMFT, CEDS-S

Assistant Director of Operations, ED Residential Treatment, West Coast

Perla completed her undergraduate studies at The University of Iceland where she studied Early Childhood Development and completed two master’s degrees at Washington State University, Los Angeles. While earning her degree in Research Psychology focusing on multi-cultural issues and conflict resolution between adolescents and their parents she received an award by the American Psychological Association for outstanding research. Once completed, her focus became Marriage and Family Therapy as she was already passionate about making a difference in the field of eating disorders.

Perla has over 14 years of experience working with both adolescent and adult populations with eating disorders and co-occurring disorders in inpatient, residential, and day treatment settings. She has been supervising other eating disorder professionals for the past 5 years and now holds a certificate as a CEDS Supervisor.

The quote: “Returning to the Center For Discovery team has been a blessing for me. I feel like I’m amongst family, there is a sense of belonging. It is clear that our team is compassionate and invested in treating eating disorders as well as other mental health issues. Center For Discovery provides a healing place for people and their loved ones recovering from an eating disorder and that is the kind of team I want to invest in and be a part of”.

Amy Costa, LMFT, PsyD

Amy Costa, LMFT, PsyD

Regional Director, San Diego

Dr. Amy Costa has more than a decade of experience in treating mental health disorders. She has worked at all levels of treatment, including residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient as well as private practice. Her doctorate in psychology includes an emphasis in marriage and family therapy. Dr. Costa has also completed advanced training in dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and group therapy.

In addition to her work with eating disorders, Dr. Costa has experience in treating depression, anxiety and trauma in adolescents, adults and families. In treatment, Dr. Costa emphasizes skill building to help promote personal strength and mastery. Her goal is to empower individuals that seek overall healing and a transformed sense of self.

Julia Cassidy, RD, CEDRD

Julia Cassidy, RD, CEDRD

Director of Dietary Services- Adult ED RTC

Julia Cassidy is the Director of Dietary Services- Adult ED RTC for Center For Discovery where she has worked for over 13 years. Julia is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and a Licensed Body Positive facilitator. Through her passion for nutrition, food, positive body image and eating disorder recovery, Julia has developed the nutrition program used with all clients in the adolescent residential programs at Center For Discovery. Julia’s belief in having a healthy relationship with food through balanced nutrition is the baseline to attaining the tools necessary while on the road to recovery. The core ingredient for success for patients with eating disorders can be summed up in the words of Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Amanda Smith, MA, IMF 77055

Amanda Smith, MA, IMF 77055

Facility Manager

​Amanda completed her Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Psychology at Vanguard University of Southern California. From there she pursued a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Azusa Pacific University. Amanda began her journey with Center for Discovery as a graduate student and found a passion for working with young adults with eating disorders and has been with the company now for over four years. Beginning as a floor counselor Amanda has taken on many responsibilities and brings her dedication and strong work ethic to the facility manager role.

Ashley Rist, RD

Ashley Rist, RD

Registered Dietitian

Ashley Rist completed her undergraduate degree in Foods and Nutrition at San Diego State University. In May 2017 she completed her Dietetic Internship at Sodexo’s Distance with a concentration in Pediatrics. Ms. Rist’s employment with Center For Discovery began shortly after completing a rotation during her internship at both the PHP/IOP and RTC levels of care. Since then, Ms. Rist has experience working in all levels of care with mental health and eating disorders. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling, hiking, practicing yoga, and spending time on or around the water. Ms. Rist thoroughly enjoys the field she works in and it shows through her interactions with clients and her colleagues.

Dr. Christine Wood, MD, FAAP

Dr. Christine Wood, MD, FAAP

Adolescent Medicine

Dr. Christine Wood is a pediatrician with a special interest in pediatric nutrition. Dr. Wood is the author of the book, How to Get Kids to Eat Great & Love It! and has been in private practice at El Camino Pediatrics in Encinitas since 1990. She often consults with parents, children and teens in the practice on nutrition concerns ranging from picky eaters and overweight children to eating disorders in children.

Locally, she serves as the Co-Chair for the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative and as the Co-Medical Liaison for the San Diego Chapter International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals. She is a frequent speaker at medical conferences on nutritional issues for children, including dealing with overweight children, body image issues, eating disorders and the impact of environmental toxins on health. She graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School and went on to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for her pediatric residency.

Dr. Shashita Inamdar, MD

Dr. Shashita Inamdar, MD

Program Psychiatrist

Doctor Inamdar is a licensed physician and a board certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist. She serves as a member of the Clinical Faculty at UCSD School of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry and Adjunct Clinical Faculty, Department of Family Practice, and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Inamdar is also the Medical Director at the Center for Discovery.

Dr. Inamdar’s care is based on the premise that patients who require mental health care respond best to a combination of therapy and medication. She places special emphasis on the integration of a psychotherapeutic approach, with careful and limited use of medication prescribed only when necessary. Dr. Inamdar applies her knowledge in neuropharmacology and ongoing research towards newer treatment options to improve patient health. Her willingness to work with patients seeking to explore alternative/complementary treatments, and working in collaboration with a dietician/nutritionist, and personal trainer, helps to look at treatment options beyond the traditional medications-only approach.

Dr. Nicole Posner, MD

Dr. Nicole Posner, MD

Psychiatric Services

Nicole Posner, M.D. is a board-certified psychiatrist in private practice in San Diego. A graduate of the University of Vermont with a degree in psychology, she received her medical degree from The Sackler School of Medicine. Dr. Posner trained in psychiatry at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine and also obtained post-graduate training in psychotherapy at the San Diego Psychoanalytic Institute and at Columbia University Psychoanalytic Training and Research. She has extensive experience in working with people who are struggling with eating disorders.

Emily Kron, MA, AMFT

Emily Kron, MA, AMFT

Primary Therapist

Emily Kron is a Primary Therapist at Center for Discovery La Jolla Residential Treatment Center treating adolescents, emerging adults, and families impacted by eating disorders, mental health, and substance abuse. Emily is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology at Loyola University Chicago and her Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of San Diego. Her clinical theory of practice is a client-centered approach within the framework of Family Systems and Narrative Therapy. She is interested in how one’s experience with attachments, relationships, and narratives can be used in the healing process. Emily practices using evidence-based treatment modalities including DBT and CBT, while cultivating hope and resilience through a strengths-based approach. She has experience working with a broad range of issues including eating disorders, grief and loss, mood and anxiety disorders, family conflict, attachment issues, developmental disorders, trauma, co-occurring disorders, gender identity issues, and crisis intervention. Emily previously worked in a DBT private practice setting treating couples, families, and individuals. During her graduate studies, she worked as a therapist at UCSD Eating Disorders Center, providing psychotherapy to adolescents struggling with eating disorders and their families. Emily has previously worked with special needs and developmental disorders in a school setting as well as high-risk youth in a residential foster care setting.

Maria Wilson, MA

Maria Wilson, MA

Primary Therapist

Maria Wilson is a primary therapist at Center For Discovery La Jolla Residential Treatment Center, treating adolescents, emerging adults, and families impacted by eating disorders, mental health and trauma.  Maria earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology at San Francisco State University, and her Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at John F. Kennedy University in Berkeley.  Her clinical theory of practice is a client-centered approach within the framework of Narrative therapy and Attachment therapy, which provide clients with the opportunity to rewrite their life story, and to strengthen their relationships with loved ones and most importantly the relationship to themselves.  During her graduate studies, Maria has previously worked in a school-based system working with children and their families for two years as a floor counselor, providing psychotherapy to young children and families suffering from a variety of mental health issues.  Maria has also had experience working in a community setting for one year as a therapist working with adults suffering from a variety of issues such as suicidality, eating disorders, low self-esteem, transitional hardships, and significant loss.  Maria has experience working with a number of mental health issues such as eating disorders, mood disorders, trauma, grief and loss, family and relationships problems, and crisis interventions.   She has worked with Center For Discovery as a counselor and therapist for 1 ½ years, and continues to enjoy working with a multidisciplinary team in order to provide clients and their families with the best continued care.

Kelsey Peterson, MS, RD

Kelsey Peterson, MS, RD

On-Call Dietitian

Kelsey graduated from California State University Long Beach with a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. From there, she entered CSULB’s combined dietetic internship and Masters of Science in Nutritional Science program. In 2014, Kelsey completed her dietetic internship and successfully passed the Commission on Dietetic Registration Examination making her an official Registered Dietitian. Kelsey has recently moved to San Diego and is currently working towards becoming a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian.

Kelsey combines her empathetic nature, love of food, and educational background in nutrition to provide a client-centered approach to counseling. Her background consists of nutrition counseling and education to those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases, eating disorders, diabetes, and hypertension, as well as those looking for general nutrition information and weight management. Kelsey roots her nutrition beliefs in evidence-based practices combined with Intuitive Eating principles. Kelsey believes that obtaining a healthy relationship with food is essential for long-lasting health and vitality.