Jo Christner, Psy.D.

Executive Director and Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Jo Christner, Psy.D was elected Executive Director of HOPE Connection in November 2012. With over 26 years of experience in private practice and working as a HOPE therapist, Dr. Christner has extensive experience working with a variety of individuals and businesses with problems of adult life including: issues of bereavement and loss, trauma, time management/stress related issues, depression and anxiety. She utilizes an eclectic approach with an emphasis on cognitive behavioral and mind/body psychotherapy (Somatic Experiencing/SE and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing/EMDR) as a way to holistically treat each individual’s needs. As a long-time member of the HOPE Connection therapeutic staff, Dr. Christner has facilitated a variety of groups, and specializes in trauma, grief and loss. She is the Past President of the Group Psychotherapy Association, is currently an active member of various professional associations and is committed to staying abreast of the most current changes in the field of psychotherapy and psychology.

Dr. Christner has private practice offices in Encino, West Los Angeles and Westlake Village. For additional information: Or call (818) 879-7777. 

Susan Rowen, M.A., MFT

Director of Parent Loss Program
HOPE Therapist and Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist

Susan Rowen received her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in 1974 and was licensed in 1975. Her orientation is Cognitive Behavior with an emphasis on individuals experiencing major life changes, life transitions, and stress management associated with personal crises such as death or divorce. Sue has had training in working with grief and loss support issues and has a special interest in losses associated with death of a parent, and adoption, including the birth parent(s), the adoptive parents, and the adopted child. She specializes in the treatment of Anxiety Disorders , Agoraphobia, and Panic Attacks. Additionally, she served as staff therapist for Cali-Camp Summer Day Camp from 1975-2008.

Ms. Rowen has a private practice office in Encino, California and offers individual, as well as group therapy.  For additional information: Or (818) 699-6688.

Dr. Shiela Newton

Sheila Newton, Ph.D., MFT

HOPE Therapist and Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist

Wanting to support those infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS virus, Dr. Sheila Newton began her career as a mental health professional consulting for various non-profit AIDS organizations throughout Los Angeles County. Dr. Newton maintains a private practice in which she offers counseling services, assessments, evaluations and expert witness testimony.  Her experience spans over 30 years, treating grief, loss, posttraumatic stress disorder, unresolved sexual abuse, geriatrics, women’s issues, adoption, multicultural and blended families. Dr. Newton has a PhD in Clinical Psychology. For additional information: (323) 852-6909 ext. 2 .

Natalie Taback, M.A., MFT

HOPE Therapist and Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist

Natalie Taback received her Master of Arts degree in Educational Psychology and support and Guidance from California State University in 1970. She received her Marriage and Family Therapist license in 1981. She had been in private practice specializing in couple support. For further information: (310) 275-1424.

Evelyn Pechter, Psy.D.

Director of Educational Training Programs
HOPE Therapist and Licensed Psychologist

Dr. Pechter has private practice offices in West Los Angeles and Encino, where she specializes in adult life changes including grief/loss, trauma, relationships, and anxiety, integrating her knowledge of cognitive/mindfulness, and psychodynamic theories.  Dr. Pechter is a Board member and Past-President of the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, a Past-President of the Southern California Group Psychotherapy Association, and the Los Angeles Group Psychotherapy Association.  In addition, Dr Pechter maintains memberships in the California Psychological Association, and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. For additional information: Or (310) 622-5741.

Rachelle Elias, M.A., MFT

HOPE Therapist and Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist

Rachelle graduated from California State University in 1986, with a Master’s degree in Psychology, and was licensed in 1989. She received training in bereavement counseling in Brotman Hospital’s Life Transition Program, the Glendale Adventist Hospital Bereavement program, as well as workshops and seminars with grief leaders such as Elizabeth Kubler Ross, Steven Levine, Joan Halifax, Stan and Christina Grof. She worked part-time in the Emergency Services Dept. of Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, doing crisis intervention, and at The Survivors of The Shoah Visual History Foundation, as counselor for the staff dealing mostly with secondary trauma. She has facilitated  bereavement groups for widow/widowers at the Wagner Program of the University of Judaism, and created a group called Morning After Mourning, for widows and widowers who, after several years are no longer actively grieving, but who have not yet re-engaged with life. Rachelle has a private practice working with individuals and couples. Her interests include working with spirituality and creativity. For additional information: (310) 559-2025.

Fern Lippert, M.A., MFT

Licensed Marriage Family Therapist
MFT# 22320

Fern Lippert has been in private practice over 30 years. She received her Master’s Degree from California State University, Northridge.  At her Calabasas office she works with clients going through life changes, such as, relationships, job loss, addictions, loss and grief.  Often depression and anxiety are major impetuses to seek solutions for their situation.  She has extensive experience running groups at hospitals as well as in her private practice. Fern Lippert uses a cognitive approach with the assistance of her two dog co-therapists, Sally a beagle and DeeDee a Lhasa Apso. For additional information: (818) 591-8000.

Bettina A. Schneiderman, M.A., LMFT

HOPE Therapist and Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist
LMFT #45970

Bettina A. Schneiderman received her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology in 1996 from Pepperdine University. During the last 20 years she has been dedicated to working with multicultural populations of children, adolescence, adults and families who experienced trauma ranging from victims of crime to experiencing all forms of abuse and trauma. Her extensive background includes treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sexual abuse, anxiety, depression, loss, attachment issues, eating disorders, and substance abuse. She is a certified bereavement therapist and co-facilitated a suicide group at Glendale Adventist Hospital.

She has private practice offices in Encino, Pasadena and Westlake Village and can be reached at  at (818) 642-6157.

Lori Oberman, M.A., MFT

Lori earned her Master’s Degree in Psychology from Philips Graduate Institute; she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from UCLA. Lori began her career working in a domestic violence clinic.  She then worked in LAUSD and LVUSD assisting students with complex issues of depression, loss, anxiety and self-esteem, both individually and in a group setting.  She also has experience with patients at a drug rehabilitation center.

Lori has a private practice in Westlake Village, CA where she works with individuals and families. For more information please visit her website or she can be reached at 818-754-4676.

Carolyn Warren, MFT

HOPE Therapist and Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist


Carolyn graduated from UCLA and received her Master of Science degree in Counseling – Marriage and Family Therapy from California State University Northridge. Carolyn was licensed in 2010, and has worked as a grief therapist since licensure. Working at Roze Room Hospice of Ventura as the bereavement counselor and coordinator, Carolyn reawakened to her passion for serving those who are grieving and going through major life changes. Her training and work experience also include family counseling, trauma healing, stress reduction, and women’s empowerment.

In her Westlake Village private practice, Carolyn offers a customized eclectic approach to serve individuals challenged by upended life situations and/or mental health concerns of depression and anxiety. (805) 270-7441

Grief group therapist

Channie Amato, M.A., MFT, AT

HOPE Therapist and Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist
LMFT #94845

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Art Therapist (AT), Channie provides individual, group and family play & art therapy as well as evidenced-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Solution-Focused strategies to best support her client in reaching his/her collaborative therapeutic goal. Channie received her Masters Degree (MA) from Phillips Graduate Institute, with a major in Marriage and Family Therapy and Art Therapy. Art therapy is a non-verbal modality of self-expression utilizing the right hemisphere of the brain to better understand one’s emotional conflicts, develop social skills, improve self-esteem, decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger and improve overall functioning. Channie specializes in bereavement counseling, trauma, anxiety based disorders and child development.

Practicing in Tarzana, Channie can be reached at (818) 814-8344.