Finding The Right Therapist For You

The Ventura College Student Health Center offers current students mental short-term health therapy at no cost. Our goal is to work with you collaboratively and to provide the individualized support that will help address whatever is bringing you into therapy.

Research has shown that the most significant factor in whether therapy is successful is the quality of the relationship between the client and the therapist. Some of the factors that go into a good therapeutic relationship include respect, trust, and the ability to communicate openly. Other factors may be unique to you, and it is important to find the "right fit" in working with a therapist.

Please feel free to review our current therapists and their bio sections below to see who might be a good fit for you before calling to schedule your initial appointment!

Andrew Nelson, LMFT, Clinical Supervisor

Hello VC Student! My name is Andrew, and I've been working for Ventura College since 2013. I started here as a young therapist working on my internship hours and became a licensed therapist five years (and 3,000 soul crushing intern hours) later. Ventura College is also where I started my college and psychology career taking classes here back in 2008. VC has always felt like a second home to me, and sometimes my two-year-old daughter even calls my work office "daddy's home". I've been working on finding more balance in my life lately.

I now serve as the clinical supervisor for our mental health services and support our team of therapists as they provide mental health services to the Ventura College community. I also work with faculty in coordinating mental health outreach to students on campus and serve as the mental health member on our VC Behavioral Intervention and Caring Team (BICT). Most days you can find me in my office at the Student Health Center with our therapeutic support dog, Bing Bong!

My clinical experiences have primarily been working with young adults, adults, and older adults. I have helped clients address issues related to depression, anxiety, a history of trauma, self-esteem issues, and building healthier relationships. I help clients find clarity, insight, and motivation to make the changes that brought them into therapy. More importantly, I enjoy the process of getting to know each person and gaining a better understanding of who they are. I do still see some clients occasionally through Ventura College Student Health Center, but the majority of my work now is spent supporting and developing our VC Student Health Center therapists as they pursue their hours for licensure.

I am a CAMFT Certified Supervisor, QPR Suicide Prevention Instructor, and level one trained in motivational interviewing. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Cal State Channel Islands in 2011 and my Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Santa Barbara, in 2013. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, traveling, and spending time with my beautiful wife and out of control toddler. I'm also an avid movie lover and can quote most of the Netflix series I Think You Should Leave.

Don't hesitate to reach out to me directly with any questions or concerns!

(805) 289-6401

andrew Nelson
Sophia Mateo, Therapist, AMFT

Sophia is a Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with experience working from a wide range of therapeutic approaches. Sophia offers comprehensive and tailored support to her clients by utilizing approaches from various therapies such as person-centered therapy, solution-focused therapy, psychodynamic therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, emotionally focused therapy, motivational interviewing, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

With experience in addressing various issues, Sophia has successfully treated individuals dealing with ADHD, adjustment challenges, anxiety, attachment disorders, body imaging, communication difficulties, depression, eating disorders, familial trauma, struggles with identity, suicidal ideation, self-harm behaviors, values clarification, trust issues, schizophrenia, relationship problems, addiction, time management issues, cultural complexities, and has worked with survivors of abuse.

Dedicated to providing compassionate care, Sophia Mateo creates a safe and supportive environment for individuals seeking assistance with their mental well-being. Her vast knowledge and diverse therapeutic approaches enable her to address a wide range of concerns, helping her clients navigate life's challenges and foster personal growth.

Sophia Mateo
Dennis Goldenson, Therapist, AMFT

Hi, my name is Dennis and I’m a Mental Health Therapist focused on the various needs and support of college students, ranging from transitional adjustments to depression, anxiety, social phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, and family/relationship issues.  In addition to my experience, I also have three children that are either transitioning into college, are in college or have just graduated, so I really get it!  I understand the needs of the local community college population and provide a range of therapeutic treatment interventions that align with the goals of the students.  When it comes to young adults, I specialize in person-centered therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and solutions-focused models that can provide a fresh perspective on identifying coping techniques that students from all walks of life can adapt in making positive change.   

I’ve worked in various communities and environments including mental health agencies, school districts, colleges and private practice and have sizable experience working with culturally diverse individuals, children, adolescents, young adults, couples and families.  I currently work with various communities including LGBTQIA+, nursing, veterans and athletes focused on mental health awareness prevention and support.   I’m a big advocate of “be where your feet are,” creating opportunities to be present, grounded and well-rounded.   

Speaking of growth and development, I earned an M.S. in Counseling, Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy from California Lutheran University and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  I can offer a wide range of professional and personal life experiences and always happy to listen, empathize and validate to support your health and wellness.  I have a family of my own with three children and a wife from Cape Town, South Africa.   I’m originally an East Coast guy from Washington D.C., and I enjoy traveling, spending time with my family, walking my two dogs (Shadow and Phoebe), laughing over TikTok videos and listening and playing music.

I hope to see you soon! Keep well.

Cait Ismay, Therapist, AMFT

As a therapist at Ventura College, my priority and commitment is to help provide a healing and safe space for the students who are seeking support. I’m passionate about helping clients navigate their struggles and finding the growth and fulfillment that they were always capable of. I believe there is always a light at the end of each tunnel that we walk through in life, and my goal is to be there to help guide each of you to the other side.

Whether you’re going through a major transition in life, are dealing with past traumas that still affect you today, are dealing with difficult symptoms like anxiety or depression, or if you’re even looking for someone to simply listen and understand, I would be honored to be on that journey with you. It is my belief that healing is possible for every person and that therapy can be one of the most helpful tools in getting there.  

My training and specialties are in PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression. I have two Master’s degrees, one in Clinical Psychology, and the other in Marriage and Family Therapy, both from California Lutheran University. I work from an approach that encompasses many different therapy styles, and have found that it’s usually best to find what works for each client, as each of you are individuals with your own unique experiences. 

I am trained in Brainspotting, which is a specific treatment modality used for trauma, anxiety and depression and is focused on helping the brain and nervous system release the effects of our traumas or stressors. I may also use components of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, and Solution Focused Therapy, which can all help us better manage our thoughts, behaviors, and how our bodies react to stress. Please feel free to contact us at the VC Student Health Center at (805) 289-6346 if you are interested in seeking therapy and I would be happy to discuss how I can best support you.

cait ismay
Fernan Diamse, Therapist Trainee

Hello! My name is Fernan. I am a mental health counselor here at Ventura College. My focus in counseling and psychotherapy is very person centered and humanistic. While holding space and creating an environment of trust and calm, I am here to listen and learn along with you as we work together to adjust perspectives and navigate through challenges and difficulties. My approach leans towards understanding and listening to your current situation with consideration and compassion. Essentially, we will work collaboratively to spotlight solution focused mindset and development.

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley and served in the U.S. Navy as a Corpsman from 2001-2015. I am now a Veteran with 15+ years of experience in health and administration. I have a background working in small clinics, field medical operations with the U.S. Marines, surgical operating rooms, forward resuscitative surgical units and major scaled hospitals in different parts of the world. I am currently connected to and volunteer with several diverse veteran and local organizations to assist and support the community.

As a student with Antioch University in Santa Barbara I am working towards earning my masters in counseling and psychotherapy to become a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT). I received my undergraduate degree at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks (2020), where I was involved in various organizations within the student body. In my spare time, I work with horses to conduct “equine assisted psychotherapy”(EAP). Where traditional therapy is typically held in an office, with EAP we go outside in a large arena with the horses free roaming that are integrated in assisted growth and learning that encompasses connection and trust.

I am dedicated to serving and providing compassionate care by creating a supportive climate for those seeking counsel and assistance for their mental health and well-being.

Fernan Diamse
Leah Breen, Therapist Trainee

Hi! I’m Leah, and I am a mental health therapist trainee here at Ventura College. I understand what it’s like to be both curious and nervous about therapy; it’s funny how something so rewarding and hopeful can be incredibly difficult to initiate!

My goal is for you to feel safe, seen, and secure when you come to see me. I view people through a lens of curiosity, hopefulness, and an appreciation for both the similar and different ways life’s challenges show up for all of us. My approach is strongly informed by attachment theory, intergenerational dynamics, family systems, and interpersonal neurobiology. In other words, it matters how we bond, where we come from, how we interact with family, and how we integrate our mind/body/relationship experience.

I am a graduate of Ventura College (AA), UCSB (BA), and Pepperdine (MA), and I currently attend Antioch University in Santa Barbara, working towards my master's in clinical psychology. My goal is to ultimately become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). I am a veteran of the US Marine Corps, and I spent 20 years working in probation, primarily with youth and young adults in and out of a custody setting.

I am trained in Motivational Interviewing and have experience working with clients struggling with addiction, which has informed my approach and given me a deep sense of the personal suffering that accompanies addiction. I am also a parent of two teenagers, have experience working in the school system, and currently work with children and families in crisis. I am passionate about the importance of listening to our children and attending to the child within all of us. My hope is that with the current trend toward greater awareness of mental health, our compassion for others will continue to grow and will help us all reach a higher level of personal and collective well-being.

Bing Bong, Therapist In Training*

Hi, my name is Bing Bong!

I am a four year old mixed breed (Chi-Poo) and am currently employed full time at the Ventura College Student Health Center. I love meeting students, doing classroom presentations, and taking walks around campus! Feel free to say hi if you see me out and about!

Bing Bong spends most of his time working from his papa's office (LMFT Supervisor Andrew Nelson), but he can be made available for meet and greets. If you would like to schedule a visit, please contact our Student Health Center front office!

*Bing Bong is a certified emotional support animal, but is not a certified service animal

Bing Bong