Ali Nikbakht
LMFT, Executive Clinical Director of California

Dr. Ali Nikbakht, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He has a specialization in addiction studies and co-occurring disorders. He earned his bachelor’s degree from UCLA, graduated from Trinity Law School, and has earned his doctorate in Psychology in Marriage and Family Therapy from the California School of Professional Psychology. Currently he is finishing his doctorate in Business Administration specializing in Health Care.  

Dr. Nikbakht has been with We Level Up California since its development in 2021 and has brought 15 years of his professional work experience and knowledge in the field of psychology, addiction, and family systems to helping individuals and families heal from internal conflict. The fundamental elements to his practice are respecting life choices and deep beliefs regardless of the individual and families’ circumstances. Dr. Nikbakht’s role is and always has been to create the necessary space in which new choices and solutions will unfold to help enhance the lives of individuals and their loved ones.  

Dr. Chris Small, M.D., ABPN, ABFM, ABPN
Medical Reviewer

Dr. Chris Small, M.D., ABPN, ABFM, ABPN, is a certified addiction psychiatrist with medical and psychiatric care expertise. He is one of the few doctors in the United States who has completed additional training to treat various medical and mental health conditions effectively. With a strong emphasis on the mind-body connection, Dr. Small brings a unique healing approach that addresses physical and emotional needs. As the founder of Headlands Treatment Services, he is dedicated to providing the highest level of patient care in substance abuse and mental health programs. Prior, Dr. Small served as a behavioral health psychiatrist at the Veterans Administration and the University of California, San Diego. With a solid foundation in medical education from the University of Hawaii, Dr. Small is passionate about delivering quality care to patients struggling with addiction and mental health disorders.

Yamilla Francese
Content Specialist & Editor

As the content specialist and editor at the We Level Up treatment center network, Yamilla Francese utilizes her experience to help create and edit content to enable others to easily understand substance abuse and mental health disorders. Yamilla is a Florida Atlantic University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies. She has extensive experience editing and writing authoritative relevant content for various businesses, health, and wellness websites.

Working with We Level Up’s team of licensed medical and clinical professionals, Yamilla’s objectives include focusing on important content to offer value and awareness along with practical knowledge to the website readers. Information is relayed in an easily accessible format with helpful resources and information to people in recovery, their families, friends, and communities. Yamilla is motivated to lighten the social stigma of addiction recovery, provide credible treatment resources, and support others to live healthier lifestyles.