Meet our Exam Prep Faculty

Gerry Grossman, MA, LMFT

Gerry Grossman has successfully trained thousands of exam candidates for their BBS licensing exams since 1985. His teaching style is clear, incisive, humorous and empathic. As a trained hypnotherapist, he has assisted many people with test anxiety and other clinical issues. In 2016 Gerry received the Educator of the year award from AAMFT-CA.

In private practice, Gerry specializes in working with young children and their families.


Vivian Aizpuru, MA, LMFT

Vivian is a bilingual marriage and family therapist for San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. With the help of Gerry Grossman Seminars, Vivian passed both licensing exams on the first attempt. She found the MFT prep courses to be so helpful and enjoyable, that she readily accepted when asked to join the instructional team. In addition to a Master's in Social Clinical Psychology, Vivian holds BA degrees in International Relations and Spanish Language from UC Davis and spent one year attending university in Mexico. Vivian works full-time at a residential treatment facility for high-risk youth, where she facilitates DBT skills-building groups, and provides individual, family, and milieu therapy.


Teresa Alvarado, MS, LMFT

I have been in the healthcare industry for the last 22 years. I am currently working as a Bilingual Social Worker for United Healthcare/Optum where my main concentration is helping the aging population as well as disabled adults in stabilizing their psychosocial needs while coordinating their medical needs, providing counseling both telephonically and at the home, and in optimizing their overall wellbeing. I gained my clinical hours at Family Service Association where I worked with children, adolescents, adults and the aging population using a variety of theoretical perspectives. I have a special interest in depressive and anxiety disorders.
I earned my Bachelors and Masters Degrees from California Baptist University, Riverside. My Bachelors degree is in Psychology and my Masters degree is in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Therapy.
I am a newly licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and am excited about what the future holds. I thrive on new challenges and helping those in need. I am currently working on building my private practice to include all ages while still working as a Social Worker.


Cory Anderson, MA, LMFT

Cory earned his masterís degree in 2005 from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and his bachelorís degree from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. Like many of Gerryís students, Cory passed both licensing exams on the first try, and he understands the challenges you face as a student. In addition to working with Gerry Grossman Seminars, Cory is a therapist at RCA Counseling, one of San Diegoís most prominent group practices. Cory specializes in treating sexual addiction as well as chemical dependency. Heís received advanced training from Patrick Carnes, PhD, and the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals. Cory looks forward to meeting you at one of the San Diego-area courses.


Jessica Bloom, MA, LMFT

Jessica Bloom earned her BA in Education at the University of Michigan in 2004, and her M.S. in 2011 from California State University, Fresno in Marriage and Family Therapy. She also holds a Pupil Personnel Service Credential, which allows her to work as a counselor in the K-12 setting. Over the last 15 years, Jessica has worked in a variety of educational, social services, and mental health settings.

Jessica has worked as an instructor in the Master of Science Counseling program at Fresno State since 2012 teaching courses including Counseling Theories, Practicum, Life Span Development, Therapeutic Methods of Children and Adolescents, etc. In addition, she currently practices as a therapist, in which her specialized training and focus centers around families experiencing domestic violence and traumatic stress. In her clinical practice, Jessica has also worked in areas such as sexual assault, crisis counseling, child welfare, family and couple life transitions, children and adolescents counseling, infant mental health, and multicultural and social justice counseling, particularity for LGBTQ+ persons. Thus, with this background in mental health community counseling and teaching at the secondary and graduate level, she believes she can offer her students the knowledge and encouragement needed to best prepare students for their licensure exams, while attending to their different learning styles.


Samantha Deming, MA, LMFT

Samantha has been part of the Gerry Grossman instructional staff since January 2000. Samantha is an asset to the seminar because she has had many years of teaching experience prior to her teaching for the seminar. Students find her easy to follow because she very organized in her presentation. She is also very animated and brings a lot of her natural humor into the classroom.

In addition to teaching for Gerry Grossman Seminars, Samantha maintains a full-time private practice split between Santa Clarita and Encino. Her specialties include couples, anxiety, depression, trauma, E.M.D.R., grief, survivors after suicide, and the treatment of twins.


Renee A. Duffey, Psy.D., LMFT

Renee has been teaching with Gerry Grossman Seminars since 1995. She enjoys helping people learn to think critically and utilize their own learning style while preparing for the exams.

Renee has master's degrees in Communications, Applied Spirituality and Counseling Psychology and completed a Doctor of Psychology from the Graduate Theological Foundation with an emphasis on Clinical Family Therapy. She is the Director of Guidance in a private high school and a lecturer in the Counseling Psychology and Gerontology program at Notre Dame de Namur University. Her private practice in Burlingame specializes in the integration of psychology and spirituality and she frequently consults with churches and schools regarding issues of abuse and crisis management.


Tim Elhard, MSSW, LCSW

Tim received his Master's degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. A recent transplant to California, Tim is licensed in Texas, Ohio and California.

Tim has 20 years of experience in social work including state hospital work, medical social work, child and family therapy, private practice and managed care. He is proud to be affiliated with the excellent materials of Gerry Grossman Seminars. Having recently passed the CVE on 1-25-2010, Tim has an empathetic understanding of the challenges facing license candidates.


Leslie Farber, PhD, LMFT

Les has been in private practice in the SF Bay Area for 25 years. He primarily provides long-term psychodynamic therapy for adults and couples. As a clinical faculty member at UCSF Medical School, he trained medical students in consultation-liaison psychiatry at Mt Zion Hospital, where he also served as a clinical supervisor for psychology trainees in the crisis clinic. At Kaiser Permanente in Oakland he coordinated on-site and work-site health promotion programs and, as coprincipal investigator of several studies on integrating mental health care into the primary care setting, he provided training and consultation for physicians on detecting and treating psychosocial factors in medical care.


Shelly Frasier, MSW, LCSW

Shelly Frasier is a licensed clinical social worker currently working in the city of Los Angeles in a dialysis clinic. With a 23 year professional history in the field of clinical social work, she has worked in her current clinic for 14 years in a position of advocating for people living with chronic kidney disease. She received her bachelorís degree from University of California, Riverside and a Masterís Degree in Social work at Arizona State University.

Prior to entering the field of dialysis, Shelly worked in a variety of settings, including foster care, inpatient behavioral health, and internal medicine. She has also worked as a member of the trauma team in the very busy emergency room at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, California. Prior to that, she worked in cooperation with Maricopa County Sheriff Department as a lead mobile crisis therapist for a Suicide Prevention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Shelly serves on the executive committee for the Los Angeles Chapter of National Kidney Foundationís Council for Nephrology Social Workers and has partnered with Renal Network 18ís patient services and the Learning Action Network to identify ways to improve patient care. Her motto is, ďAll of us have been, or will someday become patients.Ē She is a preceptor for new dialysis social workers and the lead social worker for her region.


Dario Ghio, LMFT

Dario is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who earned his masterís degree at California State University Dominquez Hills. Dario also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Southern California and is currently a Doctoral Candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute.
Dario is a Certified Domestic Violence Counselor as well as a Master Addictions Counselor.
Dario was also an Associate Professor at California State University Dominquez Hills and taught Introduction to Alcoholism for eight years.

Dario is currently in private practice as well as the CFO/ Founder of Harbor Area Counseling Services Inc, a Non-profit Counseling center in the city of San Pedro, CA.

Dario has worked in the social services field for over twenty-five years. In the past he served for over ten years as the Clinic Director for an Adolescent and Adult Substance Abuse Treatment program, as well as serving on the management teams of several different organizations which include, a residential facility for disabled children, a Mental Health/Substance Abuse Assessment Center, an Educational/Job Advocacy Program.


Vicki Goodman, MA, LMFT

Vicki is one of our new staff members having recently passed the licensure exam. Having claimed victory around managing her test anxiety, Vicki has a desire to help others do the same.

Prior to graduating with her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Meridian University in 2011, Vicki was an instructor for over 20 years. She assisted people of various professions in obtaining licensure. The majority of that work consisted of helping those same professionals prepare for their license exams.

Vicki has worked with clients of all ages and stages but most extensively with adolescents and their families within the Marin school system. Vicki and her dog, Missy, became certified by the Humane Society as a dog therapy team in 2006. They worked together as Patient Care/Complimentary Care Providers for Hospice By The Bay. Missy has since passed away and Vicki plans to become certified with her dog, Max. She believes very strongly in the healing power of dogs and other animals.


Rebekka Helford, MA, LMFT

In addition to teaching and tutoring for Gerry Grossman Seminars and providing comprehensive writing support to doctoral students, Rebekka Helford, MA, LMFT, offers psychotherapy for adults, youth, couples, and therapists in training at her West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills offices.

Rebekka earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Brown University and her Master's degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University. She has trained at the Maple Counseling Center (Beverly Hills, CA), Vista del Mar Child and Family Services (Los Angeles, CA), and Friends of the Family (Van Nuys, CA).


Rocio Hernandez, Ph.D., LPCC, LMFT

Dr. Cio HernŠndez is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Marriage Family Therapist in California and Hawaii. She received her doctorate from UC Davis in Health Care leadership, where she designed an app to reduce test-taking anxiety. In her clinical practice, Cio specializes in psychological evaluations for Immigration, childhood development, adolescent sexual assault, family violence prevention, and offers EMDR Therapy to replace haunting memories with a new outlook on life.

Dr. HernŠndez is a member of the Institutional Review Board for the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute. She is the founder of the Marin Latino Health Policy Partnership and recently published Viva Marin: Latino Health Policy, Data, and Action Guide. After serving 9 years for the Marin First 5 Commission, Cio has joined the Contra Costa First 5 Commission. Cio has also served as a Public Information Officer on the Sheriffís Office of Emergency Services Emergency Management Team.

Most importantly, Cio is a mom of a 19-year-old son who is studying at Seattle University.


David Highfill, LCSW

David Highfill is an LCSW with over 19 years of experience in a variety of healthcare and clinical settings. David received his Bachelorís degree in Psychology from California State University, Northridge and his Masterís degree in Social Welfare from UCLA. Currently, David is working as a dialysis social work clinical supervisor, serves as the Program Co-chair with the California Nephrology Social Workers-Greater Los Angeles Chapter, maintains a small private therapy practice, is the clinical social worker for the Ahmanson-UCLA Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center, and is happy to be a new presenter with Gerry Grossman Seminars.

David has worked with a wide variety of patient and client populations in a variety of settings including solid organ transplant, HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ, renal disease, dialysis, the Veteranís Administration, Home Health, Hospice, senior care, PTSD, and substance abuse. Davidís private practice has been active for 6 years where he sees individuals and couples, focusing on living with chronic and terminal illness, relationships, and LGBTQ issues.


Andrea "Annie" Kotok, LMFT

Andrea "Annie" Kotok, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist in Los Angeles and the Executive Director of Harbor Area Counseling Services, Inc. a non-profit counseling agency in San Pedro, CA. She has extensive experience as an educational consultant, having coached candidates to obtain the necessary skills to pass the CA and National MFT and Social Work licensing exams. Andrea has a unique perspective on testing having passed both exams on her first attempt. Andrea works with candidates to better understand content, develop test taking skills and manage test taking anxiety. For more information, go to


Natalie Liberman, MSW, LCSW; M.A, LMFT

Natalie Liberman is a multi-lingual Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, as well as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and her first Master's degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University. Natalie also holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Dubna.

Shortly after passing her LCSW exams in 2011, Natalie began teaching for Gerry Grossman Seminars, where she leads workshops helping candidates prepare for the LCSW and LMFT state exams, and a number of live Continuing Education classes. Natalie is well-regarded for her clear, engaging, effective and enthusiastic teaching style. She brings a wealth of clinical experience, knowledge, humor, and curiosity to all of her classes. She enjoys all aspects of working with candidates during the exam process.

In addition to teaching for Gerry Grossman Seminars, Natalie is part of the Adjunct Faculty at Pepperdine University since 2015, where she is a Professor at Graduate School of Education and Psychology at the West LA campus, as well as Pepperdineís online Master's Degree programs. Natalie teaches the following courses: Individual & Family Treatment of Substance Abuse, Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders, Psychopathology, and Techniques of Counseling and Psychotherapy.

Natalie has worked in various clinical settings (Adult Day Health Care Centers, Outpatient Substance Abuse Agencies, foster care agencies, home health care agencies, and private practice). In her private practice, Natalie works with an array of clients dealing with substance abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety, relationship issues, career and life transitions, sexual problems, social anxiety disorders, communication issues, self-esteem and general quality of life issues. Natalie has extensive training in contemporary psychodynamic theory, and also uses Humanistic-Existential, Cognitive-Behavioral treatment, and EMDR therapy depending on the unique needs of each client.


Suzanne Mell, MA, LMFT

Suzanne has been teaching courses and providing one-to-one tutoring for Gerry Grossman mostly in the Sacramento area, since September 1999. She received her Masters degree from National University - Sacramento in 1995 and passed her licensing exams in January 1999. Her area of expertise is working with children, adolescents and their families, but over the years she has worked with many different ages and stages.

Suzanne has worked for Amador County Mental Health as a child clinician and as their Children's System of Care Coordinator, and has also provided clinical supervision for MFT and CSW Interns. Currently she is in private practice in the Amador & Sacramento County areas and is a contract clinician at Rite of Passage - Sierra Ridge group home.

Suzanne is empathetic to those preparing for their exams. She presents the course materials in a well organized manner and also uses humor to decrease her students' test anxiety so that they can remember that they are competent human beings.


Adriane Nada, MA, LMFT

Adriane received her master's degree in Counseling from California State University, Fullerton. Using Gerry Grossman study materials and courses, Adriane passed both the written and clinical vignette MFT licensing exams on her first attempt. She is now teaching Gerry Grossman courses and provides tutoring services for those licensing candidates in the Orange County area.

In the past, Adriane has worked in the school system, providing therapy for elementary aged children. Adriane is currently working, and has worked for the past four years, with families who have experienced domestic violence and abuse at a local agency. As a licensed therapist Adriane is pursuing a practice that will integrate a holistic approach to psychotherapeutic healing.


Jorid Nygard, MA, LMFT

Jorid has been preparing therapists for their MFT licensing exams since 1991. Through the many years of helping develop course materials and teaching courses for the MFT Written and WCV exams, Jorid has developed a comprehensive mastery of all the subject areas involved in passing the exams.

Her high level of energy and wonderful sense of humor make her a popular teacher. Many exam candidates experience the exam preparation process as an overwhelming and daunting challenge and greatly appreciate her command and overview of the many subjects involved, finding her teaching style and structure extremely beneficial.

Jorid has been a practicing psychotherapist since 1988 and has specialized in the areas of couples therapy, addiction, trauma, divorce and chronic illness. She runs divorce support groups as well as groups for people in early recovery from addiction. Jorid combines a contemporary psychodynamic approach with an experiential style. In addition to teaching for Gerry Grossman Seminars, Jorid is an adjunct faculty member at Pepperdine University.


Patricia E. Patton, Ph.D.

Patti is a clinical psychologist (PSY 13266) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC 27419). She created such Gerry Grossman Seminars Continuing Education courses as Domestic Violence, Anxiety Disorders and Anger Management. She was also instrumental in the development of the Gerry Grossman Seminars BBS exam prep courses for LCSW candidates, and continues to teach those courses.


Pam Sirota, Psy.D., LMFT

Pam has a private practice in West Los Angeles and Encino specializing in social skills groups, family issues, children and adolescents, grief support, and parenting. Her extensive experience as a special education teacher and pre-school director makes her an ideal instructor. She has been working as a private GGS tutor since becoming licensed in 2005. Pam has received her doctorate as a Clinical Psychologist.


H. Dan Smith, EdD, LMFT

Dan is a licensed marriage and family therapist whose practice has been within a busy psychiatry office for over 15 years. His primary clinical interests include treatment of adolescent and adult populations as well as family therapy; most of his clinical practice has been within managed care and EAP environments. He is a professor of counseling at California State University, Fresno where he specializes in law and ethics, child abuse assessment and treatment, therapy techniques, and supervision of therapists in field settings. Dan has developed various supervision technologies that are in widespread use within counselor training programs across the country.


Mary Catherine Snyder, MA, LMFT

Mary Catherine has her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. She received her Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California. She additionally did post-graduate studies in art therapy at Phillips Graduate Institute in Encino, CA.

Mary Catherine is the Clinical Director at the Center for Grief and Loss for Children, a division of Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services. The Center for Grief and Loss provides first responder emergency services and ongoing therapy to children that have experienced traumatic loss. In addition, she has a small private practice. She began working with Gerry Grossman Seminars in 2005 after taking the GGS classes and passing her Board exams. She enjoys all aspects of working with the students during the exam process.


Karrie Stafford, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC

Karrie Stafford holds a doctorate in the field of art therapy. She is a board certified, and registered art therapist, as well as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Through her private practice, she provides individual, couple, and family therapy as well as case consultation, training, and supervision. Trainings focus on mindfulness practices, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and a variety of art therapy related subjects. Counseling, consultation, training and supervision experiences with Karrie include verbal and/or visual modalities, determined case by case in response to the needs and sensibilities of the recipient(s) of her services. Karrie has taught for Gerry Grossman Seminars since 2010, and she teaches part time for the graduate art therapy psychology department at NDNU. She has over a decade of experience working with adults, youth and families, toward overcoming hardships, reaching desired goals, and generally becoming more intentional with thoughts, feelings and actions. Through the years, Karrie has become a passionate believer in the wellness and healing potentials offered through psychotherapy and art therapy and loves sharing her passion through teaching.


Christina J. Stimmann, MSW, LCSW

Christina earned her BA in Biochemistry from Mills College, her MS in Health Services Administration from St. Maryís College, and her MSW Ė specializing in public child welfare Ė from California State University, Stanislaus. Over the last 20 years Christina has worked in various health and social service settings including HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, sexual assault, child welfare, child forensic interviewing and health education. Currently, Christina is the Coordinator for the Solano County Family Justice Center and maintains a small private practice in Davis.

Christinaís teaching experience includes working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon, West Africa, an outreach educator for domestic violence and HIV/AIDS prevention and intervention, and as an instructor for UC Davis Extension teaching social work courses to adult learners for the last five years. She is trained in E.M.D.R and is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (M.I.N.T).

In addition, Christina has taken the entire Gerry Grossman Seminar preparatory program for both the written and clinical vignette portions of the LCSW exam. She is very confident that you too will gain the study skills, knowledge base, and testing focus needed to pass both exams.


Andrew Teton, MA, LMFT

Andrew received his Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Santa Barbara, and has also participated in the Hakomi Body Inclusive Therapy training. He studied with Gerry Grossman Seminars for both his written and orals exams, and, after passing both on the first attempt, Andrew started offering Gerry Grossman Seminars classes for both licensing exams in Santa Barbara where he has found associates in the Central Coast area extremely receptive to having locally based licensing classes.

In 2017 Andrew received the Excellence in Teaching Award from Antioch University, Santa Barbara. He is also noted for his sense of humor and has served as the "comedy break" entertainer at several local CAMFT functions.


Anne Wilford, MA, LMFT

Anne received her Master's degree from John F. Kennedy University and has been an instructor with GGS for 20 years. Prior to her clinical work, Anne had an extensive career in Expressive Arts and Theater. She co-authored and performed in the award winning theater piece "Leftovers...the Ups and Downs of a Compulsive Eater". This is an improvisationally developed show about women and body image. Anne's DVD of the show, used in concert with the accompanying "Leftovers" workbook and experiential workshops have helped many who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder.

Anne's early clinical experience included working with adolescent psychiatric in-patient programs and adult dual-diagnosis day treatment. For the last 20 years, she has had a private practice in Berkeley, working with individuals utilizing depth psychotherapy and transformational couples' work. With individuals she specializes in Binge Eating, issues with aging, anxiety, depression, life transitions, and has experience with a variety of other issues. In her work with couples she emphasizes identifying and repairing problematic relationship dynamics. This will lead to communication and growth. She also specializes in conscious divorce/uncoupling.

Anne has over 40 years of teaching experience and truly enjoys the balance of teaching and practicing depth psychotherapy. She teaches exam preparation for the California Clinical exam and a number of Continuing Education classes. She brings humor, curiosity, and a wealth of experience to all of her classes. Over the years she has found that she is able to help students identify their particular challenges with the test taking process. She has developed a number of anxiety management techniques that students can utilize before and during the testing process. Anne's intention is to make a challenging process positive and interesting.