Ken Starr M.D., FACEP

Diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine

Dr. Ken Starr is board certified in emergency medicine and addiction medicine. He founded the clinic in 2012 after the overdose death of his brother. Dr. Starr utilizes medications, supplements, traditional and non-traditional therapies to help patients achieve optimal wellness outcomes.

Elaine Power, LMFT, NCC

Clinic Director

Elaine Power is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Nationally Certified Counselor with 7 years in the mental health field. She spent several years providing therapy services in the schools of the Central Valley, allowing her to see first-hand how the fields of childhood trauma, family systems, and addiction all overlap. She is passionate about keeping our clinic on the cutting edge of addictions recovery and incorporating trauma-informed, evidence-based therapies such as EMDR, CBT, and DBT. She brings great compassion and warmth to her interactions with every patient and will be excited to welcome you to the clinic. After escaping the Valley heat, she enjoys exploring the Central Coast with her husband and daughter.

Melissa Wheelock


Our Master Level Clinicians guide you through a truly integrative healing process for an improved quality of life and wellbeing.

Melissa Wheelock is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has over twenty years of experience in various clinical settings. Melissa currently has a private practice in San Luis Obispo but she is a transplant from the Central Valley, where her career blossomed with several nonprofit mental health agencies. Over the years, Melissa has served as a Therapist, Supervisor, Trainer, and Consultant. Early in her career, Melissa received training in Theraplay and other attachment based child and family therapies, from which she still draws inspiration today. As a supervisor and program manager, she developed community based prevention and suicide intervention programs as well as training programs for new therapists. In the past decade, Melissa also managed programs serving individuals experiencing life threatening mental health crises. It was in this position that she received intensive training in the evidenced based model, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Melissa is a firm believer that DBT skills can be a positive, life changing learning experience for individuals struggling with Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders or experiencing emotional turmoil in any aspect of their lives.

As a licensed therapist, I feel so fortunate to have chosen this field and so privileged to be able to help people learn new skills to cope with life’s challenges. I believe that therapy, in its’ truest form, is really about providing compassionate support and guidance so that people can get in touch with their true thoughts and emotions and have a safe place to express themselves. Through the years, my training and experience has allowed me to offer more to my clients, but it is from this strength based philosophy that my journey as a therapist began.

My clinical orientation and training is in Cognitive and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which helps people to understand their own thought process and to link their thoughts to triggering events and emotional reactions in their life. In turn, they can then understand their behavior more fully; once clients feel less confused and fearful about various aspects of their lives, they are often freer to explore and accept the need for growth or change. DBT helps people learn to accept all aspects of their thoughts and feelings through a process of balancing seemingly opposite experiences, such as accepting themselves for exactly who they are today AND recognizing the need for positive change to happen in their lives.

Through my work with individuals struggling with severe depression, anxiety, substance abuse and eating disorders over the past years, I have also become aware that much of our emotional pain and suffering is either caused or exacerbated by a lack of compassion for self. We are often taught the measure of our worth is in our accomplishments. Personal success can be measured in the form of material possessions, school or career achievements or even having the perfect physical appearance. Kristen Neff, PhD, researches the benefits of self-compassion and reports that while high self-esteem is valued in our culture, the drive for it can cause us to compare ourselves to others or expect perfection rather than to accept our challenges and our true strengths. I believe that when individuals learn to practice self-compassion and recognize their own judgmental thoughts, they can truly engage in the change process. Luckily, our human brains have great plasticity, so an old brain can learn new tricks and self-compassion is one more important tool that can be learned through the therapeutic process.

Additional Resources:

Julian Varela, MS-CSCS, MA-MFTI


Our Master Level Clinicians guide you through a truly integrative healing process for an improved quality of life and wellbeing.

Julian J. Varela, MS-CSCS, MA-MFTI has worked in the health and wellness field for two-decades with the focus of his work directed towards childhood obesity prevention, community health and organizational wellness. As a health and wellness expert and Marriage and Family therapist specializing in health behavior, Julian regularly presents and publishes on the importance of connecting the dots between mental and physical health.

Julian is the founder and CEO of MVME Wellness, a nationwide wellness company, providing integrated services from wellness design, programming, access to wellness coaches and a nationwide network of Physical Therapists. Julian is enthusiastic about assisting organizations improve the health of their employees by emphasizing prevention and the development of a strong company culture. To help facilitate this effort, Julian also serves as a Master Trainer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Work-At-Health” corporate wellness division. Outside of the world of wellness, Julian enjoys playing music, traveling, cooking and spending time with his family.

Emily Maddox, MS LPCC M-RAS


Our Master Level Clinicians guide you through a truly integrative healing process for an improved quality of life and wellbeing.

Emily J Maddox is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor working in the Substance Use field for over 15 years. Emily has extensive experiences working with adults with substance use issues in inpatient, intensive outpatient and out patient programs in San Luis Obispo County as well as Fresno County. She has ten years experience working with substance use forensic populations in jails and prisons in both San Luis Obipso County jail, Men’s Colony State Prison, and Fresno County jail as well as Chowchilla State Prison. Emily collaborated in researching and building a variety of evidence based practices models as well as working directly with UCLA in improve current assessment and screening tool by implementing standardized requirements. Emily’s specialization is trauma informed treatment and how traumatic events lead many individuals to substance use issues. She currently teaches addiction studies at Cuesta College as well as contracts with various treatment programs in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo county to consult on how to improve quality of care and retention for individuals in treatment.

Maureen McGuire

Clinician & Community Outreach Manager

Our Masters Level Clinician and Outreach Manager cultivates valuable provider relationships and opportunity for community impact and engagement.

Maureen McGuire has over 30 years experience working as a clinician and behavioral health practitioner on the Central Coast of California. Maureen first worked with juveniles engaged in criminal behavior through Santa Barbara County Probation Department. She successfully managed a large cross section of clients and families as a field officer, and wrote very involved criminal investigation reports for the court. After finishing graduate school, Maureen interned as a marriage and family therapist in private practice and non-profit organizations specializing in client victims of child abuse struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It was through work with victims that she first directly observed the link between trauma and addiction. After moving to San Luis Obispo, Maureen supervised the first Deferred Entry of Judgment Program in the county and wrote the guidelines for the new program.

Maureen went on to make clinical assessments and resource referrals for high needs inmates paroling to counties on the Central Coast through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. There she worked primarily with clients suffering from severe mental illness, gay and transgender clients suffering from HIV/AIDS, and veterans struggling with Substance Use Disorders and PTSD. After state budget cuts forced the closure of the parole office, Maureen began teaching preventative health education classes through local hospitals while developing her own unique curricula for wellness getaways. Maureen then developed the CARF approved Partial Hospitalization Program and Intensive Outpatient Program curricula for Substance Use being utilized at the clinic. Maureen promotes an integrative approach to treatment with an emphasis on motivational interviewing methods and solution focused treatment as well as the use of research supported alternative therapies and techniques for long term healing.

Maureen believes the biopsychosocial approach (mind-body interventions) to treating addiction at Ken Starr MD Wellness Group is key to long term recovery, and the wellness services available offer the tools necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Debbie Kaminski, BSRN

Registered Nurse

Our Registered Nurses provide the highest quality of nursing and infusion services to ensure you experience a safe, comfortable, and restorative visit.

Debbie Kaminski graduated from University of San Francisco. Her 35 plus years as a Registered Nurse include ICU, ER, Triage, Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab, Industrial Nurse, Hospice, Case Management, Functional Medicine, Research, Addiction, and Oncology. Debbie took her first IV nutrition class with Doctor Virginia Osborne, Doctor Dan Carter, and Paul Anderson in 2007 and was asked to join the team in 2010. As a member of INS- Nurses Infusion Society and ONS-Oncology Nursing Society, Debbie stays abreast of the Standards of Infusion Care. Currently Debbie works in San Luis Obispo with Ken Starr MD and Todd Thoring ND. Debbie is an IV consultant with IIVNTP for support in setting up IV Clinics.

Tiffany Kutchai, BSN, RN

Registered Nurse

Our Registered Nurses provide the highest quality of nursing and infusion services to ensure you experience a safe, comfortable, and restorative visit.

Tiffany has been a nurse for going on twenty years. She has spent most of her career in the Emergency Room, ICU and Surgery departments and the last seven years as a Trauma Consultant helping hospitals all around the country prepare for their Trauma Designation visits.

Tiffany is currently an Infusionist for Ken Starr MD Wellness and a Major Pharmaceutical Company. She is a member of the Infusion Nurses Society and feels it’s extremely important to keep up to speed on the cutting edge of Infusion Care and Eastern and Western Medicine in general.

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