LIFE
Ludington Institute for Family Enrichment

875 South Westlake Boulevard, Suite 211
Westlake Village, CA 91361

Telephone: 805.449.4375
info@ludingtoninstitute.com

Map/Directions: Click here to view map.

LIFE Therapists

 

Alan Ludington, M.S., M.Div., MFT
Ron Sharpshair, M.A., MFT
Jimi Magner, M.A., MFT
Melody Black, M.A., MFT
Daniel Veselak , M.A., MFT
Julie Tunick, M.S., MFT
Cara White, M.A., MFT
Ericka Carrick, M.S., MFTI
Lauren Sangster, Administrative Assistant

 

 

 

Alan Ludington, M.S., M.Div., MFT

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Born in Steubenville, Ohio, Alan moved more than 30 times, living in 8 states and 2 countries. The challenge of adapting to new geographic settings and a variety of communities fostered his curiosity about human relationships and the dynamics of individual behavior.

Alan received a Bachelor’s Degree in Religion and Philosophy, with a minor in History, from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His unquenched curiosity led him to pursue a Doctorate of Ministry from Claremont School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree, focusing on Pastoral Counseling. In 1978, Alan moved to Westlake Village to work with the Westlake United Methodist Church. There, he established a thriving youth ministry program, developed youth curriculum and deepened his love for pastoral counseling.

In 1981, Alan left the church to found Conejo Counseling Center, a multidisciplinary counseling center, offering psychological services to individuals and families throughout the greater Los Angeles area. As managing partner, he navigated the practice through 15 years of community service. Two years into his counseling practice, he perceived a gap in the treatment of adolescent substance abuse. Alan and one of his partners created Be Free—a revolutionary and comprehensive outpatient program for teens and their families. Under his direction, Be Free grew to 5 offices in 4 cities, and provided services to more than 2000 people.

To fortify and update his education in psychology, Alan returned to California Lutheran University to earn a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family in 1991, and became a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. By 1993, his commitment to the efficacy of integrated comprehensive treatment led him to establish the Ludington Institute for Family Enrichment (LIFE). He now specializes in providing services to couples and families.

Alan is a member of American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, American Psychotherapy Association, as well as several local organizations. He has received honors and awards from California for Drug Free Youth, Rotary International Foundation, Who’s Who Among American Professionals, various school boards, and Ventura County Drug and Alcohol Commission. He has published magazine articles, appeared on local television and radio, and consulted with corporations and major universities in the Los Angeles area. He has also recorded a series of CDs focused on marriage and family management issues.

Alan has been married to Peggy for over 22 years. They have two sons, both university students.


Ron Sharpshair, M.A., MFT

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Born in San Fernando, California, the youngest of four, Ron Sharpshair learned the importance and value of family at a very early age.  When Ron was 8, he lost his father to a sudden heart attack and it dramatically impacted the course of his life.  Looking back, it was in this moment of loss where Ron felt called not only to be of service to his family, but ultimately serve others.  This led him to pursue a degree in Psychology from California State University, Northridge and then to obtain his Master’s Degree from Pepperdine University.

From the beginning, Ron met and worked with families in their most challenging moments.  He spent time in Florida mastering the dynamics of addiction and families in crisis. Learning from every experience, he managed adolescent inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, as well as adult inpatient chemical dependency and dual diagnosis treatment units. Successively, Ron accepted a position with one of the nation’s largest behavioral health care companies, credentialing, training and the direction of thousands of licensed professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed LCSWs and MFTs), hospitals, and health care facilities in the five western states. After 7 years as the director of network management, Ron left corporate America to return to where his heart and values had always been with the experience and compassion to meet and heal families. He found his home and family at LIFE with his dear friend and mentor, Al Ludington.

Ron has been working with LIFE for over 15 years and has been a Licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist since 1990. He specializes in working with young adults, adults, families, and couples. In addition to helping families navigate the choices and complexities of everyday life, he also has the compassion and expertise to meet individuals and families in crisis. Whether you’re struggling with addiction, infidelity, lifestyle issues, or loss of a loved one or self, he can help you manage commonly experienced symptoms such as stress or depression. He has extensive personal and professional experience in crisis intervention, critical incident stress debriefing, and emergency psychiatric treatment. His expertise and training in trauma, acute stress disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder protocols include state-of-the-art trauma modalities such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), hypnosis, and mind-body integration work. .

He also conducts management and employee trainings, and works with executives, senior management, CEO & high profiles – athletes and entertainment and eSports persons.

Ron is a proud father of two sons, both attending college and pursuing their dreams. For leisure, he enjoys traveling and outdoor activities. Ron is an avid scuba diver, also an assistant instructor with one of our local dive shops, and a member of the Ventura County Sheriff Search & Rescue Team.  He is trusting to be of further service.


Jimi Magner, M.A., MFT

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For more than 45 years, Jimi Magner has dedicated his life to the service of others. His lifelong passions as an entrepreneur, extreme sports enthusiast, soldier, law enforcement officer, and therapist have blessed Jimi with the opportunity of helping many individuals, families, and teens push through extreme challenges and achieve their maximum human potential.

Born and raised in Southern California, Jimi’s passion for extreme sports took hold as a boy. Surfing, skate boarding, bike- motocross, skydiving, scuba diving, water skiing, and football were among his favorites.  Jimi entered the work force at age 10 as a paperboy and discovered his love for business. Before leaving to attend the University of Colorado Boulder at 22, Jimi worked as a diesel truck washer, UPS worker, salesman, restaurant waiter, carpenter, and SCUBA instructor, while he simultaneously created, owned, and operated several small businesses, which enabled him to pay for college. At Boulder, his love for extreme sports grew. He joined the CU ski club and competed in downhill ski racing, trained with the Marine Corps ROTC Unit, and served as the vice-president of Sigma Chi. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Soviet Foreign Policy, Jimi returned to California where he began his career as a peace officer.

During his years in law enforcement in South Los Angeles County, Jimi worked patrol during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, was promoted to Detective in the Violent Crimes (VCU), and then the Gang Unit (GES). He served as an undercover gang detective, tactical team leader for the gang enforcement section search warrant entry team, crime scene investigator, and developed expertise as a licensed California Drug Recognition Expert (D.R.E.). This training lends him unique insight into today’s drug and alcohol scene. Jimi’s service earned him awards and commendations including a class A medal, for bravery above and beyond the call of duty at great risk to the officers safety.

Injured in the line of duty, Jimi retired and went on to earn his Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University. Before joining LIFE, he worked at the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (CADA) in Santa Barbara where he restructured and coordinated the parent-teen program SUPER, designed to assist families in crisis. He also created the multi-media presentation, “Marijuana and Our Children’s Future” which has been viewed by thousands of parents, educators, law enforcement, and mental health workers in the Santa Barbara County. Additionally, Jimi worked at the UC Santa Barbara Student Health Center, helping to launch and lead the CASE program which helped students navigate the complexities of college life.

At LIFE, Jimi offers services to individuals, families, and teens. Although many of Jimi’s clients are profession athletes, business owners, soldiers/first responders, actors, and musicians, he has also worked extensively with adolescents and families dealing with drug and alcohol, crisis, and anger issues.

Married over 26 years, Jimi and his wife Heather have two very successful adult children, Connor, 23 and Tabitha, 20. His family enjoys camping, mountain biking, surfing, skydiving, waterskiing, and just hanging out together.

Jimi is also CEO of the Magner Institute for Human Achievement in Montecito, CA.


Melody Black, M.A., MFT

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Born in California, raised in Boerne, near San Antonio, Texas, Melody Black had first-hand experience in sensitive and often complicated relationships coming from a large blended family. These dynamics planted the seeds for her interest in psychology.  She has practiced for over 10 years in Southern California, specializing in working with children, adolescents, adults, and families.  Issues such as depression, anxiety disorders, family discord, alcohol and drug abuse, academic performance, and working through divorce are all areas she addresses.

Melody graduated from Texas A&M University, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology. While a student, Melody worked as a mentor at the Eagle Academy, an alternative school for troubled adolescents, as well as interning at two private practice therapy offices.

Receiving her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in Santa Barbara, Melody began her career as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working as a manager and counselor at the Phoenix of Santa Barbara, a psychosocial rehabilitation treatment center, providing therapy to adult clients with addiction and mental illness. She served as the counseling center coordinator and was also a child therapist for Girls Incorporated, a 150 year old national non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold. Following this she provided therapy for Carpinteria High School students which led to becoming a therapist for Vive, Inc., where she provided intensive home-based therapy to troubled adolescents and their families.

Working at LIFE since 2008, Melody offers empathy and expertise in treating children, adolescents, adults, parents, and families, utilizing a broad range of therapeutic modalities to create a comprehensive and integrative psychological treatment plan for each client.  In addition to these services, Melody offers support groups for teenagers and young adults, as well as providing workshops and presentations to parents, students, school counselors, and peer counseling programs.

Melody is a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and the CAMFT local chapter.

Melody married her husband Michael in 2010 and they welcomed their son in 2016. In their leisure time they enjoy traveling, outdoor activities, and spending time with family and friends.


Daniel Veselak , M.A., MFT

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Daniel Veselak was born in Camarillo, CA and is the oldest of three boys.  Daniel graduated from UCLA, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a minor in Education. During his time at UCLA, Daniel became very interested in the psychological aspect of childhood and adolescents, and worked in an after school program for students struggling with behavior issues and academics.  Earning a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in Los Angeles, Daniel began his career towards licensure at the Antioch University Counseling Center in Culver City.  Daniel worked at Antioch’s main clinic, while also servicing clients at a local high school

Daniel has worked with children and adolescents in many different avenues. He originally became interested in working with kids at Camp Newman, where Daniel was the Counselor in Training Advisor.  This program helped teach high school students to become successful counselors.  Daniel also works as the youth director of Temple Ner Ami in Camarillo, and continues to run teen groups, which help build self-confidence and self-awareness.  This past year, Daniel had the opportunity to be the Junior Varsity water polo coach at Adolfo Camarillo High School, where he was able to take his passion and sportsmanship for the sport and instill it into young athletes. 

At LIFE, Daniel offers individual therapy for children, adolescents, and young adults who are sad, scared, stressed, anxious, or irritable when they are home, in school, or social setting.  I am interested in fostering positive identity in my clinical practice with individuals, families, and couples.  My work is guided by a belief that clients need to feel safe enough to explore why they “feel” the way they do, and to help them develop a positive self-regard.  As they say, “We can’t heal what we can’t see.”  My role in the context of the therapeutic relationship is to help clients “see”.

Julie Tunick, M.S., MFT

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 Julie has been a Conejo Valley Resident for 35+ years and feels blessed to be working here in her home town. Julie has practiced therapy for over 15 years here in Westlake, Thousand Oaks, Santa Clarita and in Van Nuys.  Julie specializes in working with children, teenagers and families and has an extensive background in working with youth struggling with drug/alcohol issues, defiance, anxiety/depression and parental conflict. Julie trained early on in her career with Alan Ludington and is thrilled to be a part of the LIFE team once again.

Julie always knew she wanted to work with children/teens, and started her college journey pursuing a degree in Child Development in preparation for a teaching credential.  During her junior year in college, Julie became inspired to become a therapist after taking a class about family relationships. Coming from a divorced family herself, Julie then began her own therapy and graduated from the California State University, Northridge with a Bachelor’s Degree. Julie  went on to obtain a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology and Counseling and became licensed in 2001 with a Marriage, Family Therapy License.  Julie is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

Julie has also pursued a career working as a Program Manager and Administrator within the Community Mental Health field managing intensive counseling programs for young adults, children and teens with chronic mental illness. 

When Julie is not working, she and her 2 son’s enjoy the beach, baseball, playing video games and spending time outside by the pool. Julie is passionate about being a mother to her boys and understands the struggle of being a single mother. Julie prides herself in working through the tough issues divorced and blended families face today. Julie has dedicated her life in helping children to thrive both at home and in her practice. 

Here at LIFE, Julie specializes in working with pre-teens, adolescents and young adults struggling with school, friends, family relationships, depression and anxiety. Julie provides individual and family therapy using a team approach. Julie helps youth to find positive coping strategies and outlets versus self-destructive behaviors. In addition, Julie works with her clients to strengthen their self-esteem, to actively participate in the community and school environment and to develop healthy relationships with peers and family. Julie utilizes cognitive-behavioral therapy and develops reward systems to strengthening the family communication cycle. Julie uses a developmental approach along with psycho-education for parents and caregivers. This comprehensive client centered treatment plan is established based on the age and development of the client. 


 

Cara White, M.A., MFT

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Cara was born and raised in Oak Park, California and is the half- sister to two older siblings. Cara’s passion for the field of psychology was first sparked by a class she took at Oak Park High School.  

Cara went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from California State University, Channel Islands. After graduation , she began working as a life coach for foster teenagers . In this role, she helped teens navigate daily life to promote success in adulthood and their community. She assisted teens in job-readiness training, weekly goal-setting, educational advocacy, college applications, and managing daily life skills (i.e. cooking, hygiene, physical fitness routines, money management).  

Several years of working in the foster system led Cara to pursue a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis is Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University. Cara began her career as a mental health counselor at Interface Children and Family Services in Oxnard. There , Cara provided individual therapy addressing a broad range of issues, such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, adult children of alcoholics, familial discord, substance abuse, and crisis intervention.  

With deep roots in Ventura County, Cara has a passion for and strong connection to this community. At LIFE, Cara works individually with pre-teens, adolescents and young adults, as well as collaboratively with other professionals to ensure her clients are receiving exceptional care. She helps them explore the areas that prove troublesome like interpersonal relationships, depression, anxiety, family relationships, and romantic relationships. Coming from a blended family, Cara understands the multitude of stressors that arise in such a setting. She has the experience and tools to help her clients navigate the difficult times that arise.

cara@ludingtoninstitute.com


Ericka Carrick, M.S., MFTI

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Ericka Carrick has been a resident of the Westlake Village area for the last nine years. Prior to coming to California, Ericka was born and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and received both a B.S. in Zoology as well as a B.F.A. in Industrial Design from the College for Creative Studies.

Ericka began her career as an exhibit designer both in Detroit and Portland, Oregon. After taking a break from the design field to focus on raising her two sons, Ericka embarked on her passion for psychology and received her Master’s degree in counseling psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from California Lutheran University.

Ericka has counseled diverse populations, from couples to adolescents, as well as working within various cultural contexts. She spent the last school year co-facilitating group therapy for sixth grade students in the Port Hueneme school district, as well as counseling at California Lutheran University’s Community Counseling Center in Oxnard. She has also co-facilitated a psycho-educational, parenting group that teaches parents how to emotionally connect with their children.

Ericka brings, compassion, empathy and extensive life experiences to her work, enabling her to connect with her clients in establishing a positive and trusting therapeutic relationship.

Ericka specializes in attachment theory and helps her clients understand and gain insight into how their attachment system becomes activated in their interpersonal relationships, and how this can create insecurity and conflict. Through enlightenment about the attachment style that each client has established, creating healthier and stronger bonds with others can be achieved.

ericka@ludingtoninstitute.com


Lauren Sangster, Administrative Assistant

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Hi, my name is Lauren Sangster. I am thrilled to be working at LIFE as the administrative assistant. I was born and raised in Turlock, CA. I am the oldest of two children. I played volleyball competitively throughout junior high and high school. I moved to Camarillo in 2014. I am currently studying psychology at CSU Channel Islands. I look forward to helping staff at LIFE ensure that our clients are receiving the best care possible.

lauren@ludingtoninstitute.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I wanted to thank you, really thank you, for your guidance and love, without which I would never be standing on the eve of my fondest dream"

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