About Oak Forest Recovery Center

We help you with mental health through
comprehensive treatment programs. 

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RJ Elizarraz
– Founder & CEO

RJ’s continuing mission is to provide more and better support to people struggling with addiction and mental health problems.



RJ grew up in the Conejo Valley Region of Southern California just north of Los Angeles. He was raised in a healthy environment by loving and successful parents. By the time he was 17, he had been expelled from several high schools. 2 years later, he was a full time drug addict. Over the next decade, a long slow drug induced decline finally ended in homelessness. When he finally hit bottom, his friends had given up on him and his family was exhausted. He turned his life around by doing everything his mind to told him to resist. He opened himself up to a new way of living. He sought out others who had gotten cleaned & sober (and followed their advice). He joined a 12 step program and made it is NUMBER ONE PRIORITY. In the process, a miracle occurred in his life. His old sense of self obsession gave way to a new purpose of helping others. He became completely committed to seeing others recover the way he did. His first venture was a high structure men’s sober living. The success of that home lead to a women’s sober living. And then a third sober living which consists of 3 houses on one property - all gender specific. He now oversees the operation of 5 sober living homes in the Agoura/Westlake/Thousand Oaks area. To give even more help to people who are struggling with mental health and addiction issues, he opened an PHP/IOP treatment center in Agoura/Westlake. RJ’s continuing mission is to provide more and better support to people struggling with addiction and mental health problems.

Melissa Burke, LCSW – Executive Director

Melissa is a motivator who believes that clinical treatment should achieve tangible results. She likes to ask her clients to imagine themselves as Emotional Vikings. She challenges them move past simple coping skills toward heart and mind warrior training that produces practical life improvements.  



Melissa is a licensed psychotherapist with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences who has over 10 years of clinical experience working with: combat soldiers; people suffering from addiction; competitive athletes; artists; entrepreneurs; and people recovering from traumatic events at home.

Treatment Philosophy

Melissa is committed to evidence based treatment modalities that have a proven track record of success. She specializes in helping patients identify multiple layers of emotional pain and dissonance. She helps her clients heal quickly by developing: emotional intelligence; critical thinking; and an expanded understanding of the entire human experience. She offers specific visualizations and writing strategies to create corrective memory experiences for her clients. She also uses Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) to help clients disconnect from negative belief patterns and neutralize triggers connected to trauma and undesirable life events. Melissa comes from a perspective of equality when it come to human struggles. She sees commonalities between the combat soldier struggling to reconnect with everyday life, the addict struggling to live a clean & sober life and the entrepreneur struggling to climb to the next level of their dream.

Melissa’s Goals for Clients

Melissa wants clients to heal quickly and completely so that they can embrace life and function at a high level. She does not believe that gender, age, career status, relationship status, financial status, social media stature, etc. should restrict (or expand) upon a persons ability to achieve personal growth and inner peace.

Karina Santillo MA LMFT – Clinical Director

The goal of our clinical program is to help clients change how they think and act so they can stop patterns of self destructive behavior (as well as the collateral damage it creates) and begin a new chapter of life that is centered around healthy ways of thinking, living and being.


Karina earned her Bachelor’s Degree from UCLA. After graduating, she spent several years building a successful business and raising a family. During that time, she faced consistent interpersonal challenges and abrupt life disturbances. As she did her own work to bring hope, balance and joy back into her life, she realized that her true calling was to help others overcome the kinds of life difficulties as she had endured. As part of her own personal transformation, Karina returned to school and earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute in 2012. As a licensed marriage and family therapist, she specialized in working with individuals & families in crisis, couples dealing with highly conflictual marital problems and individuals processing trauma and loss. While she was a private practitioner, Karina also served her community through work for non-profit organizations.

Treatment Philosophy

Karina has extensive experience with Family Systems Theory (FST), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) & Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Therapy (MBSRT) Family Systems Theory gives the therapist a unique perspective on seeing clients as unique individuals within the context of a whole family system. FST focusses on family & cultural history to help gain insight into how a client may react and manage challenging circumstances and personal issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provides clients with direct strategies to modify behaviors by learning to identify and change thought patterns. When clients respond well to CBT, it can assist in relapse prevention as well as: improve self esteem, create positive thoughts, manage anger and improve coping & communication skills. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Therapy uses mindfulness various techniques and practices to help clients appreciate the present moment and access inner peace regardless of current circumstances or emotional disturbances. MBSRT can reduce anxiety, alleviate depression, increase body satisfaction, improve cognition and help the brain reduce distractions.

Karina’s Goals for Clients

Under Karina’s leadership, the OFR clinical team has developed a collaborative care approach that combines the most innovative evidence based treatment modalities with deep compassion for clients who are facing challenges and/or are in crisis.

Dr. Robert Rymowicz – Psychiatrist

Research into dual diagnosis conditions has increased significantly over the past 2 decades. Dr. Rymowicz is passionate about treating patients who are at highest risk suffering from or developing this disorder,


Robert Rymowicz is fellow in addiction psychiatry at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, an APA/APAF Leadership Fellow serving on Council on Addiction Psychiatry, and a trainee representative to the board of directors of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. Robert attended medical school at Western University of Health Sciences, and served the National President of PsychSIGN, the American Psychiatry Association's medical student organization. He completed his psychiatry residency training at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, where he served as a vice-president with the Committee of Interns and Residents, representing all unionized programs in New Jersey, and as chief resident in psychiatry in his senior year.

Treatment Philosophy

Dr. Rymowicz’s experience is that, in the vast majority of cases, conservative approaches to psychopharmacological interventions combined with therapy and holistic healing modalities gives dual diagnosis patients the best chance at recovery

Dr. Rymowicz’s Goals for Clients

Dr. Rymowicz ’s goal is to help patients regain proper balance in the chemistry of the brain, and restore optimal functioning. In most cases he prefers conservative approach to using medications helps to control symptoms and encouraging patients to embrace adjunctive therapies in order to heal.

Jenna Foster
Program Manager 

Alekz Khanlian
Lead Behavioral Technician

Emma Spalding
Program Coordinator


Spencer Ortiz
Behavioral Technician

Austin Van Huisen
Behavioral Technician

Chris Martinez
Behavioral Technician


Chris Pickett
Behavioral Technician 

Colleen Carroll
Behavioral Technician 


Kevin Dunn
Behavioral Technician


Matt McGee  
Behavioral Technician

Riley Becker
Behavioral Technician

Alec Morreau
Behavioral Technician