Love First Professional Interventionists

experience makes the difference

Jeff Jay, CIP

Jeff Jay is a professional interventionist and co-author of Love First: A Family’s Guide to Intervention (Hazelden). He has been working full time in the alcohol and drug treatment field since 1986, including work for the Hazelden Foundation. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and is a Certified Addictions Professional and a Certified Intervention Professional. He has appeared as an expert on CNN, PBS, and the Jane Pauley Show. His latest book is Navigating Grace, a solo voyage of survival and redemption.

Jeff specializes in complex interventions for impaired executives and licensed professionals. He is also skilled in working with baby boomers, older adults, and younger adults. His expertise is sought after for cases which are complicated by psychological issues, such as anxiety disorders, bipolar disease and trauma. He also conducts interventions for eating disorders, gambling addiction, sex addiction, and other issues. His personal recovery from addiction dates from October 4, 1981.

“I believe in intervention for a very simple reason,” says Jeff.
“Intervention saved my life.”

Debra Jay

Debra Jay is a noted author, speaker, and trainer for addiction professionals. She worked for Hazelden as an inpatient counselor for both men and women, was interim supervisor of the women’s program, facilitated the weekly family program, designed the evening outpatient family program, and was the coordinator of the older adult track.

Debra was a guest lecturer for Wayne State University graduate studies on addiction for fourteen years. She has been writing a newspaper advice column on families and addiction since 1996. She has served as board member for Brighton Hospital, St. John Providence Health System, and Dawn Farm. She is a recipient of the 2012 Letitia M. Close B.V.M Award in recognition of a significant ministry in helping women with the disease of addiction.

Debra was the addiction expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show for 3 seasons and has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and the Hazelden Addiction Professionals Training Program.

To learn more about Debra’s books, click here.

Our Clinical Associates

Michael Parr, MD

Michael Parr, MD, is a professional interventionist in Sacramento, California. He has been helping families for decades. He is a Love First certified clinical interventionist, and is board certified in addiction medicine.

Dr. Parr  has over 30 years experience in chemical dependency treatment and pain management. He served as a consultant to the National Basketball Association Player Assistance Program for 25 years.

Stephanie Christy, DSW, LCSW, CIP

Dr. Stephanie Christy began her work in the addiction and recovery fields over a twelve years ago.  She strongly believes in the impact addiction has on the entire family and in the recovery of the family system as a whole.  Her passion for recovery continues to lead her to work with both those suffering from addiction and their families.  Her personal story of recovery is an inspiration to everyone she helps.

Stephanie has worked in a variety of clinical settings, including residential and outpatient treatment.  She previously acted as a Program Manager at the Hanley Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. She has performed clinical research at the University of Michigan’s Addiction Research Center (UMARC) and served as Adjunct Faculty in Addiction Studies at Madonna University and Wayne State University.

Stephanie has a specialization in trauma therapy and has been trained in DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy).  She is equally adept at working with young adults as she is with Baby Boomers and older adults.  She specializes in complex cases including those suffering from multiple addictions and other co-occurring disorders.  In her work as an interventionist, Stephanie’s broad personal and professional experience allow her to quickly, compassionately, and effectively analyze a family’s situation and offer the perspective of the unique blend of her experiences

Stephanie earned her doctorate in social work at the University of Southern California. She earned both her Bachelor’s degree in History and Psychology and her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan.  She is a licensed Social Worker in both Michigan (LMSW) and Florida (LCSW), a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC) in Michigan, a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) in Florida, and an Internationally Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICAADC). Stephanie also serves on the of the Michigan Gambling Disorders Treatment Panel.

Stephanie Christy is passionate about imparting the gifts of recovery to individuals and families.  She is also a devoted mother.

Lowell Duncan, LADC, CAP

Lowell Duncan is a clinical interventionist based in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has more than 30 years experience in the addiction treatment field. Lowell is a graduate of the Hazelden Chemical Dependency Counselor Training Program, and he an LACD, CAP, and an Internationally certified counselor.

HeroinLowell worked at Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota for 26 years as a therapist and Unit Supervisor. He is also the author of Hazelden’s publication Heroin: The First Few Months of Recovery  and many of Hazelden’s smoking cessation materials. He has served as educator, counselor, supervisor, manager, director and executive director.  He has experience working on women and men’s units, extended care, tobacco services and chronic illness. He has worked in many settings outpatient, residential, halfway houses and classrooms.

Lowell has presented a number of national and local workshops. He helped start treatment programs, and participated in creating a mental health model into 12-step abstinence based program. Lowell developed and facilitated meth-related programs in the community and prison programs. He published and facilitated groups for youth at risk in the community. He participated in tobacco, meth and ethic panels.  He has served on a number of different innovation committees, and treatment design groups.  Lowell believes in 12- spiritual programs for people of all backgrounds and beliefs. He uses a number of different counseling theories to supplement 12-step treatment.

Lowell’s intervention experience is as wide and deep as his professional experience. He joined the Love First team in 2013. He is married and has 4 adult children. He is interested in reading, history and meditation. He enjoys riding motorcycles, skiing, snowshoeing, traveling, living in the country, organic farming and helping those suffering with addiction.  He has an active recovery program and believes in combining avocation and vocation to give life meaning.

Elisabeth Escobar, MA

Elisabeth Escobar is an interventionist in Washington, DC. She has been working in the field of counseling and substance abuse for over 25 years, in both the United States and Europe. Elisabeth served as The Director of Admissions at Thunder Road Adolescent Treatment Center in Oakland, CA for several years before moving into the same position at MPI-an adult treatment program, also located in Oakland, CA. During this time, Elisabeth helped hundreds of clients and their families understand the disease of addiction and choose a treatment option most suitable for them.

Elisabeth has conducted numerous interventions which helped family members understand the effects of substance abuse on the whole family. She has guided family members on how to manage behavior and expectations, as well as learn how to break the cycle of addiction and take the necessary steps to keep Recovery in the forefront of each family member’s mind. Elisabeth works well with all age groups and facilitates each family member’s personal growth and development around what it means to be in Recovery.

For nearly a decade, Elisabeth was a School Counselor at three International primary and secondary schools in Rome, Italy. She established the most successful psychological consortium of English language therapists in Rome for 5 consecutive years. In both capacities, she offered parenting classes and consultations to parents, educators and administrators on issues related to children’s emotional well-being. Her areas of focus included co-dependency, anxiety, substance abuse, prevention, education and treatment, bullying, social skills development and learning disorders. Elisabeth has also served in the capacity of Clinical Outreach Representative for The Menninger Clinic, at Baylor Medical School in Houston, TX and as the Director of 3 Dormitories at Barnard College/Columbia University in NYC, NY. Her volunteer work encompasses Grief Counseling at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospice Care Program in NYC, NY and as a Counselor for a Suicide Hotline in the Wash DC area.

Elisabeth holds an M.Ed in Counseling Psychology from Columbia University and an M.A. in Guidance & Counseling from Eastern Michigan University. Her treatment approach draws heavily from the 12-step program and she utilizes Carl Roger’s approach of Un-Conditional Positive Regard in her work with clients. She also currently maintains a private Coaching, Counseling & Consulting Practice via Skype and is a regular contributor to the London based, “Intervene” magazine.

Cheryl Emery, MS, CAP

Cheryl Emery is an interventionist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She is deeply passionate about helping families and their addicted loved ones. She has worked in psychiatric centers and addiction treatment programs since 2003.

Cheryl earned her Master of Science Degree with Honors from Georgia State University. She additionally earned her credential as a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) upon moving to Miami.  She specializes in complex addiction and developmental trauma. Cheryl excels in helping highly resistant clients including young adults and families affected by the disease, as well as its aftermath.

Cheryl believes that the disease of addiction is a family disease and affects the entire system. She feels that recovery needs to be fostered on a systematic level for it to be lasting. She has spent many years as a family therapist and multi-family group leader working to educate each family member on how the disease can affect each relationship in insidious ways. She is most passionate about inspiring and empowering each family member to become enthusiastic about working a program of recovery.

Cheryl is a fan of Fred Rogers and agrees with his statement: “Love is at the root of everything. All learning, All relationships. Love, or the lack of it.” She believes, and has witnessed first hand, that love is the most powerful healing force and agent of change in the process of recovery.

Clayton Sponhaltz, LCDC

Clayton Sponhaltz is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and Clinical Interventionist based in San Antonio, Texas. He has worked in the field of chemical dependency and recovery since 2008. He received his primary clinical training at a nationally renowned treatment facility in Texas and worked there as a case manager for five years. He has also held positions in outpatient treatment, private practice, youth recovery communities and as the drug and alcohol counselor for a local school district.

Clayton is passionate about helping people who are suffering from the effects of drug and alcohol addiction find the hope and purpose available in a life of recovery. He has taken this motivation towards developing recovery programs in educational settings including implementing a large collegiate recovery program at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Most recently Clayton has served as Director of Outreach and Education for a non-profit drug and alcohol recovery community in San Antonio and he oversees the training for students pursuing licensure in chemical dependency as well as educational programs for the community.

Clayton considers his personal delivery from drug and alcohol addiction one of the greatest gifts of his life. He enjoys reading, hunting and fishing and spending time with his family outdoors. He and his wife Kelly have two children and they are active in their local church.

Lori Forseth, Clinical Coordinator

Lori answers questions and coordinates appointments for clinical intervention and Structured Family Recovery®. She has been working with families at Love First for years and is very knowledgable, available, and an easy-going, warm person to talk with about addiction and family needs. Lori has degrees in psychology and sociology, graduating with distinction in both areas. You can call Lori’s direct line: 888-533-1312.‬ For text: 313-409-4951. Email:

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