Mission: The Bay Area Mandala Project is a group of consumers, family members and mental health and medical professionals holding expertise in psychiatric crises, spiritual emergencies, peer support, wellness and recovery support services. The Bay Area Mandala Project promotes alternative approaches to healing and recovery; public education to build understanding of mental health and wellness as it relates to extreme states. The Bay Area Mandala Project supports development and implementation of such services and programs that offer choices and options for recovery.
Michael supports the Bay Area Mandala Project as the Clinical Director. He is a Jungian/Laingian psychotherapist who went through his own intense experience of transformative madness without medication or treatment that formed his vocation. For over 30 years he has specialized in providing psychotherapy for people in psychotic states in medication-free sanctuaries and community settings. He completed his doctoral study of Diabasis House, the Jungian early episode, medication free psychosis sanctuary founded by Michael’s mentor, Dr. John Weir Perry. Michael is an Esalen Institute workshop leader and psychology grad school lecturer and CEU trainer on alternative approaches to madness.
Bay Area Mandala Project Advisory Board
Michael Cornwall, Ph.D
As a graduate student at CIIS in the Integral Counseling Program, Naas is interested in helping people reach their full potential using healing modalities from fun, evidence-based practices, and shamanism.
Judith Pentz, M.D.
Judith supports the Bay Area Mandala Project as the Medical Directing Consultant. As an MD, Judith practices holistic, alternative/integrative psychiatry with board certification in child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. She seeks to combine the best of western and integrative medicine for support of mental well being. Her goal is to be as gentle as possible and to stimulate the natural healing mechanisms within the body. The integrative approach includes the spiritual/emotional part , as well the mental and physical part. She provides therapy to support the many changes that are part of the integrative approach, which include brief therapy, family therapy, or more intense, depth psychotherapy.
Sharon brings deep roots in the values of the consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement to her innovative, forward-thinking approaches to creating wellness and whole health programs and systems. Her love of life and personal commitment to balance, authenticity and inclusion allow her to collaborate with focus and clarity on the current redesign of our national, statewide and local healthcare systems. She has served Love More, Judge Less Campaign, Peer Support, W.R.A.P & Employment Programs Manager. Sharon also served as a member of the Alameda County BHCS Consumer Relations Team, the Executive Director of the California Network of Mental Health Clients. Sharon’s leadership in the California and national consumer movement included serving as a lead consultant in the development of Recovery Training content for the California Institute for Mental Health.
Pursuing a Masters Degree in Drama Therapy at California Institute of Integral Studies, Ilya also participates in Re-Evaluation counseling, a peer counseling organization for 7 years and where he has organized many workshops.
Laysha Ostrow, Ph.D
Laysha Ostrow supports the Bay Area Mandala Project as a Researcher. She is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, with a joint affiliation at the University of California San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital. She earned her doctorate at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Laysha has served on several federal work-groups to promote the consumer/survivor voice in policy and research, and provided technical assistance and consulting services on system reform to local governments as well as peer-run organizations in several states. Her particular interest is in collaborating with community-based programs, state & local governments, and academic institutions on designing and implementing projects that are inclusive of people with lived experience of behavioral health and social services.
Dina supports the Bay Area Mandala project as Co-Director. Since 2010, she has held the positions of Outreach Coordinator, Young Adult Outreach Specialist and currently as the Peer and Family Support Services Coordinator for PREP Alameda County (Prevention and Recovery in Early Psychosis). Facilitating peer support groups, providing individual peer support, supervising peer interns and the family support specialist, she trains clinical staff on recovery-based language and approaches. Dina has also recently brought WRAP (Wellness and Recovery Action Plan) into the program for the young adults and family members. She has served on the advisory committee for the Alameda County Social Inclusion Campaign, TAY Initiative, Bay Area Hearing Voices. Dina has a degree from UC Berkeley in Sociology, with a focus on mental health and stigma. Dina has also been trained in ECPR, Intentional Peer Support, WRAP, and Coming Out Proud.
David Lukoff, Ph.D
As an MFT,MPH, along with academic backgrounds in humanistic psychology and public health, Dawn brings 20+ years’ experience to the Bay Area Mandala Project as a community mental health therapist in Contra Costa County where she provided assessment, psychotherapy, case management, intern supervision, parent support groups, and substance abuse counseling in hospital, school and clinic settings. In Alameda County, Dawn has worked as a peer counselor/wellness mentor for Bay Area Community Services. As a consumer/family member, she also served on Alameda County POCC Advisory and 10X10 Campaign Committees. Dawn is a member of ISEPP (International Society for Ethical Psychiatry and Psychology), Safe Harbor (alternativementalhealth.com), and wrote an op-ed for Robert Whitaker’s, madinamerica.com, titled “A Call for a National Research and Training Institute for Safe Psych Drug Withdrawal.”
John Bola, Ph.D
David Lukoff, PhD, is professor of psychology at Sofia University in Palo Alto, Calif., a licensed psychologist, author of 80 articles, and co-author of the DSM-IV and DSM-5 category Religious or Spiritual Problem. He has been actively involved with the mental health consumer movement since 1994.
John Bola received his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1998 and taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Southern California, Yonsei University in South Korea and Peking University in Beijing, China before assuming his current position as Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences at the City University of Hong Kong. Dr. Bola's dissertation combined the two cohorts of data from the Soteria study, demonstrating better two-year outcomes and a 43% drug-free responder rate in Soteria. He has published two empirical papers endeavoring to discriminate people in an early episode of psychosis who can recover without antipsychotics to help refine the criteria for schizophreniform disorder. His 2006 paper in Schizophrenia Bulletin demonstrated there was no evidence of harm from short periods without antipychotics in carefully conducted early episode psychosis studies. This paper was featured in the Science Section of the NY Times. Dr. Bola has coauthored with European psychiatrists Luc Ciompi, Klaus Lehtinen and Johan Cullberg comparing the psychosocial treatment programs used in Soteria with those later developed in Switzerland, Finland and Sweden.
Our Consultants & Support Facilitators
Yaffa Alter works as a independant contractor providing wellness activities/workshops to agencies in Alameda County. Yaffa served as the Empowerment Coordinator at PEERS (Peers Envisioning and Engaging in Recovery Services) for three years where she helped mental health consumers thrive by providing them with choices and tools to become empowered and self-determined. Yaffa was the coordinator and facilitator of the Alameda Spirituality for over a year. She connects with members of the community, educates them on improved health and wellbeing. Yaffa holds a Bachelor’s of Science from SFSU in Health Education with a double minor in Holistic Health & Psychology, and is an Advanced Leveled Certified W.R.A.P Facilitator, eCPR Certification Trainer, Domestic Violence Counselor and Sexual Assault/Rape Counselor, Certified Coming Out Proud Facilitator, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, and Facilitator of Self-Determination. Yaffa recently authored a book of poems entitled Uncover, Discover, and Recover Victoriously, which depicts her journey of wellness and recovery.
With a M.A. East-West Psychology California Institute of Integral Studies and B. A. Degree in Inter –Disciplinary Studies, Bill is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program. He completed a 4-year degree in Alternative Healing & Counseling at the Healing Light center Seminary.
Natalie is a medical anthropologist, who did fieldwork in India, Sudan and UK. Her “Training Pack” on Cultural Equalities offers a teaching protocol, to raise awareness of spiritual beliefs about mental health, for staff and students in medicine and healthcare. She specialises in participatory seminars facilitated in hospitals, universities, and medical schools; and runs workshops on Death, Dying, and Beyond. Natalie’s new book “Spiritual Psychiatries” is based on conversations with physicians at Sri Aurobindo’s ashram in India. It brings fresh perspectives to the dialogue about mental health and extreme experiences, as she explores whether Indian principles are transferable to western populations.
Natalie Tobert, PhD
Oryx, M.P.A. is a leader in the international consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement. Currently he is the Director of the National Empowerment Center’s Technical Assistance Center. Oryx is featured in Agnes’s Jacket, a book by Gail Hornstein, where Oryx and fellow
Freedom Center co-founder Will Hall are compared to the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Oryx is also a board member of the Hearing Voices Network USA and an Emotional CPR trainer.
Lorenzo Quan is a retired Social Worker and current Pool of Consumer Champions (POCC) member and chair of the POCC Asian-American Committee in Alameda County, Calif. He serves on the Board of Alameda Network of Mental Health Clients. He was diagnosed with depression after a suicide attempt and later diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar disorder. He attributes his success story based on a life of survival and recovery utilizing a holistic approach taken from his distinctly Chinese (East Asian) Culture of herbal & Eastern preventative medicine.
Will Hall, MA, DiplPW has been a group facilitator and community development worker for more than 25 years. A survivor of a schizophrenia diagnosis, today Will works as a counselor and consultant on mental health, trauma, domestic violence, conflict resolution and organizational development. He has been widely featured in the media and his writing has appeared in the Journal of Best Practices in Mental Health and Oxford University Press' "Modern Community Mental Health Work: An Interdisciplinary Approach." Assistant Director of Portland Hearing Voices, host of Madness Radio, co-founder of Freedom Center and longtime organizer with The Icarus Project, Will's own experiences of madness and recovery inspired him to bring his group facilitation training to communities internationally, bringing together survivors as well as professionals, family members, and advocates to create new social responses to what gets labeled as psychosis.
Renee Ramcharitar currently works as the Lead Trainer for BestNow!, the only Peer Specialist training program in Alameda County where she co-facilitates the trainings as well as develops unique Work and Wellness workshops. She enjoys integrating her Whole Self into her work. Renee was an elementary school teacher by profession for about eight years until a series of Life Challenges called her to evaluate her direction and motives. Due to those challenges Renee finds that her Spiritual life is more well-developed and she no longer judges the unique differences that she and individuals may exemplify in this journey we call "Life". The Hearing Voices Movement is especially interesting to Renee as she has had many Divine experiences that urge her to go deeper into her multi-dimensional Self. The Mandala Project is dear to her heart as she knows how options and "alternative" approaches to Mental Balance and Recovery are essential to a person's evolution towards a higher being. Renee has a 23-year old son and two little "doggies" that enrich her life immensely and keep her on the "Wellness - Health and Wealth" tract.
Sascha Altman DuBrul is the co-founder of the Icarus Project (www.theicarusproject.net), a radical community support network and media project that is actively redefining the language and culture of mental health and illness. He is the author of Maps to the Other Side: The Adventures of a Bipolar Cartographer, a document of one person’s odyssey to transform his experiences navigating the psychiatric system by building community in the face of adversity - a set of maps for how rebels and dreamers can survive and thrive in a crazy world.
Sascha Altman DuBrul
Lauren is experienced in human liberation and community building work, coalition building, program and community development, evaluation, training, inter-agency collaboration, strategic planning, and policy and procedure development. With a Masters degree in Clinical/Community Psychology, she's worked in the human service field for the past thirty years focusing on enhancing mental health recovery, cultural attunement, service delivery and systems change and community building. She is the co-founder of Emotional CPR, a primary prevention, public health education project that trains people to support others through emotional distress.
Matt is a community college student who is soon to transfer to a four-year university, where he will study social work. He serves as the social media intern for Mandala Project and PREP Alameda County. He is passionate about working in the mental health field and wants to focus on alternative solutions.
Ron Unger is a therapist and educator specializing in "CBT for psychosis," and has personal experience of, and a strong interest in, the connections between "psychosis," trauma, creativity and spirituality. He identifies as an activist for human rights within mental health treatment, and shares his views on his blog: recoveryfrompsychosis.org
Tara Samiy, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist with special interests in non-ordinary states of consciousness, psychosis/madness, culturally sensitive and trauma informed care, and body-oriented practices. She sees adults, adolescents, and elders in her psychotherapy practice in San Francisco where she blends clinical skills with open inquiry into the here-and-now, somatic experience. She’s interested in reframing concepts of pathology; she believes that we find relief from suffering by being more fully who we really are, rather than trying to change who we are. Tara enjoys practicing and teaching tools that help people develop greater awareness of themselves, so they can inhabit the body, and their relationship to self and others in new ways. She wants to support people in developing the capacity to "know", not only through language and thinking, but through the guidance of direct experience.