Bakersfield Behavioral Health Staff

Meet the Behavioral Health Treatment Team at Aspire Behavioral Health in Bakersfield, CA

Yessica Avancena

MBA, LMFT, Division Chief Executive Officer

Yessica Avancena, MBA, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in children, adults and blended family structures. She is also the current Division CEO of Aspire Behavioral. Her work experience includes both private clinical practice and County Mental Health/Hospital roles where she was in leadership and management. She is a psychotherapist that is UCLA-trained in Mindfulness Application Practices which have been shown to be effective to treat ADHD, Anxiety and Mood Disorders as well as overall stress reduction. She has received additional training in the areas of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which utilizes awareness and mindfulness concepts along with progressive relaxation and guided meditation techniques for symptom reduction. Trained in alternative healing methods such as guided meditation, essential oils, and Reiki healing energy, she uses an empathetic and client-centered approach to change which meets the individual where they are for a holistic approach to healing. She is bilingual in Spanish and bi-cultural with extensive knowledge of Hispanic culture.

Courtney Rayne

LCSW, Division President

Courtney Samari Rayne is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Division President for Aspire Behavioral Health. She has provided psychotherapy services and consultation since 2007in various capacities working with children, adolescents, adults and families. In addition, she has developed and directed behavioral health, medical, and substance abuse programs for several organizations in Kern County.She has a passion for involving creative expression using art, yoga, and other mediums into the therapeutic process. She also has specialized training in the field of somatic psychotherapy which is a holistic therapeutic approach, incorporating a person’s mind, body, spirit, and emotions into the healing process. Courtney’s other treatment modalities include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. All of which are evidence-based treatment approaches that seek to increase an individual’s ability to increase self-awareness of the mind and body, identify and challenge distortions in thought, improve coping skills and problem solving capabilities, strengthen internal resources, and re-gain a sense of overall well being.

Gerard Iru Fernando, M.D., Division Medial Director- Aspire Behavioral Health - Bakersfield, CA IOP and PHP

Gerard Iru Fernando, M.D.

Division Medial Director

Gerard Iru Fernando, MD, is a board certified psychiatrist and the Division Medical Director for Aspire Behavioral Health. After completing medical school, he finished his residency at Harvard South Shore and his addiction psychiatry fellowship at Boston University. He has experience in political advocacy regarding harm reduction practices and quality improvement projects involving substance use disorders, in particular opioid use disorder. In addition to his work with Aspire Behavioral Health, he is also a provider with Truxtun Psychiatric Medical Group and Psychiatric Wellness Center where he serves as the Medical Director of Addiction Services, as well he provides in-patient psychiatric services at Bakersfield Behavioral Health Hospital.

Maria Martinez

Office Manager

Maria Martinez, a Bakersfield native, began her career as an office manager in 2004 where she managed a construction company for five years. She then decided she wanted to expand her knowledge and obtained her Associate’s in Science, and began working as a Medical Assistant in 2010 in Lead, Supervising, and Management positions before becoming the Office Manager for Aspire Behavioral Health. Maria has a passion for people, and is proud to assist those in the mental health community.  When she’s not working, she’s spending time with her husband and their three children. She enjoys traveling to new places, and experiencing new things with her family.

Rachel Lanier

Clinical Manager M.S., AMFT, APCC

Rachel earned two baccalaureate degrees in Psychology and Religious Studies, followed by a master’s in Counseling Psychology from California State University, Bakersfield. She is currently working towards an additional degree in Philosophy. Rachel has provided services to children, adolescents, and adults focusing on the utilization of evidenced-based practices and explorations in existential and mindfulness concepts.

Barby Rodriguez


Barby Rodriguez, B.A., M.S., is a recently graduated Marriage and Family Therapist, trainee. Barby earned her second baccalaureate in psychology with a minor in child, adolescent, and family studies, followed by a master’s in counseling psychology from California State University, Bakersfield. Barby has provided services to children and adolescents as an Intervention Specialist focusing on the utilization of evidenced-based practices. In addition, she has also worked with minors, adults, couples, and families at CSUB’s University Counselor Training Clinic.

Rufus Roark


Rufus Roark is a native of Santa Barbara County who moved to Bakersfield to pursue a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Cal State University Bakersfield.  After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a BA in English Literature, Rufus returned to school in order to follow his true passions of psychology and helping people.  He is an LGBT+ affirmative clinician, who has experience working with children, teens, and adults.  Rufus uses an integrative client-centered and psychodynamic approach with clients and incorporates trauma-informed, mindfulness-based, and DBT-informed practices.  In his free time, Rufus enjoys reading, hiking, and cuddles with his bearded dragon. 

Abneet Sohi


Abneet Sohi is a Bakersfield native and a newly registered Associate Marriage Family Therapist. Abneet returned to Bakersfield after earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Psychology and Social Behavior from University of California, Irvine in order to pursue her Master’s of Science degree in Counseling Psychology from California State University, Bakersfield. She has experience working with high-risk individuals with severe mental illness in both an individual setting and a group setting. Additionally, Abneet has experience working with low-income individuals and individuals with substance abuse diagnoses through various mental health programs funded through Kern County. Abneet utilizes various modalities in her approach to therapy, with an emphasis on a client-centered approach and integration of Gestalt and Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques and interventions. Abneet is currently a facilitator for the teen group at Aspire Behavioral Health. When she’s not working, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

Denisse Silva

Life Coach

Denisse is currently pursuing her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology in California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) to become a licensed therapist. She earned her baccalaureate in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and minored in Spanish & Sociology. Denisse is currently completing her traineeship at the University Counseling Training Clinic (UCTC) in CSUB where she provides therapy to adults and children. As a yoga instructor, Denisse is teaches mindfulness and trauma informed yoga at Aspire Behavioral Health, blending her love towards mental health and this Eastern practice.

Candace Stevens

Life Coach - M.S., ERYT200

Candace has a Master’s Degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology and specializes in mindfulness and body-based interventions, and has been teaching yoga for more than a decade. She has extensively studied yoga for trauma, anxiety, and depression extensively with teachers including Bessel van der Kolk, Bo Forbes, and David Emerson. Candace facilitates workshops and trainings focusing on the mind/body connection and movement meditation across the country.  

Daisy Espinoza

Life Coach

Daisy is a CSUB Alumni who graduated in 2016 with a double major in Psychology and Spanish.  She is currently in pursuing her M.S. in Counseling Psychology at CSUB and is currently in her third-year doing her traineeship as a Clinic Manager. Her experience includes working with individuals from a variety of life stages, as well as families and couples. As a soon to be graduate she looks forward to continuing to learn more and acquire more experience to continue to help the community.

Chelsea Acosta


Chelsea Acosta is one of our receptionists you’ll see at our front desk usually in the evening at Aspire Behavioral Health. She was previously an office manager for a private medical practice specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology after graduating UEI with a certificate in medical billing and insurance coding. Originally Chelsea had plans to become a registered nurse, but after taking a coding and administrative management course she realized she enjoyed the administrative side of the medical field more, as she’s able to be the voice for patients.

Taylor Pouncy

MFT Trainee

Taylor Pouncy, MFT Trainee, was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from the California State University of Bakersfield. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Palo Alto University and plans to graduate in 2020. As a trainee at Aspire Behaviorial Health she works with individuals who are experiencing severe mental health symptoms via group and individual counseling sessions, using evidence based practices that help them improve the quality of their everyday lives. 

Andrea Fernandez

MFT Trainee

Andrea is a third-year student in the Master’s program for Counseling Psychology at CSUB. Prior to entering this program, she pursued a bachelor’s in criminal justice with a minor in Sociology because she felt drawn to professional fields that help enhance the wellbeing of our community. Throughout her experience working with children, at-risk youth and adults, she saw the need for mental health services, and the importance of advocacy to break the stigma around mental health conditions. In her two years of training as a Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee, Andrea has used a variety of evidence-based therapeutic modalities to reduce mental health symptoms. Andrea is currently completing her traineeship at Aspire Behavioral Health, where she is applying her education and therapeutic knowledge to help individuals better their mental health.

Jens Blum

MFT Trainee

Jens is a Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee here at Aspire Behavioral Health for his internship. Jens is a graduate from Humboldt State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology. After obtaining his BA Jens decided to move down to Bakersfield to enjoy the wonderful air quality of the area. He is currently in his third and final year of the master’s program for counseling psychology at California State University Bakersfield. He has experience working with minors, teens, and adults at the CSUB counselor training clinic. Jens incorporates a mindfulness and DBT based approach. 

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Century Anger Management Certified Provider