Dr. Abaci is certified in anesthesia and pain management by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. Abaci received his undergraduate education at UC San Diego, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and attended medical school at the University of Southern California. During his last year of residency, he served as Chief Resident and participated in a senior elective in pain management. That experience sparked an interest that led him to UC San Francisco, where he completed his fellowship training in Pain Management. In private practice since 1996, he serves as the Medical Director of the nationally recognized Bay Area Pain and Wellness Center, located in Los Gatos, California, which he co-founded with Dr. John Massey. A widely respected expert on chronic pain management and a highly successful chronic pain sufferer, he is the author of 'Take Charge of Your Chronic Pain: The Latest Research, Cutting-Edge Tools, and Alternative Treatments for Feeling Better'.
Dr. Abaci began his quest to radically change conventional chronic pain thinking and treatment after dealing with the agony of his second anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. There is help for conquering chronic pain, without a life addicted to drugs, and hope for healing and long-term health. Commonly prescribed pain-killing medications—Vicodin, Demerol, Oxycontin, and other narcotics—can result in a heightened sensitivity to pain, along with addiction. This has lead Dr. Abaci to focus on developing alternative solutions to treating chronic pain. Drawing on neuroscience research, evidence-based medicine, ancient Eastern spiritual traditions, stress management techniques, nutrition principles, exercise programs, art therapy, and real-life lessons, Dr. Abaci focuses on creating an integrative pain-fighting regimen for his patients.
Dr. Allison Alonas is a physical therapist practicing at IPM Los Gatos, delivering individual patient care. She had a love of movement from a very early age as a dancer and completed her undergraduate education at Chapman University, receiving a Bachelor of Biological Sciences and a Dance Minor. She later received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco State University, combining her loves of movement and science. During her time as a Student Physical Therapist, she developed particular interests in teaching others about pain. This interest led her to Bay Area Pain and Wellness Center in Los Gatos, now IPM Medical Group, for one of her clinical rotations. She was impressed with the clinic’s unique philosophy of treating the whole person and recognized the therapeutic potential of working as part of a multidisciplinary pain management team. After completing nine months of post-graduate training at Kaiser Vallejo and receiving her certification in Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation as a Level V Therapist, she is happy to be back at IPM Los Gatos. Dr. Allison Alonas has a passion for educating patients about their pain, empowering them to take an active role in their treatment, and seeing them return to valued life activities. When she’s not in the clinic, you can find her hiking on the trail, grooving in the studio, or catching the latest modern dance performance in the theater!
Alyssa Gomez, FNP-C attended Santa Clara University where she completed a bachelor’s degree in biology. She received her Master’s degree in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Samuel Merritt University in 2016. Since then, she has worked at IPM Wellness Center where she is helping her patients regain function and cope with their chronic pain. Alyssa focuses on educating her patients about the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach in dealing with chronic pain as well as promoting patient involvement in their healthcare. When she is not working, you will find her either at a San Francisco Giants or a 49ers game.
Dr. Angela Giertych earned a Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of California San Francisco and San Francisco State University and a certification in Health and Wellness Coaching from Wellcoaches. Through her clinical training and diverse patient care experiences, she developed a passion for empowering people through intrinsic motivation and the use of mindful behaviors for lifelong wellness. She values the power of empathic communication, interdisciplinary collaboration, and courageous presence to uplift patients and providers alike. Angela champions well-being by illuminating patient strengths so they can overcome daily challenges and feel their very best. Looking toward creative innovations for the future of chronic pain care, she promotes impactful wellness solutions through personalized health management technologies.
Erika Palmquist Smith, LPCC, RYT-500 is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor as well as a Registered Yoga Teacher at the 500-hour level. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Scripps College in Claremont, California in 2003, and received her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2006. She also pursued post-graduate studies at St. Mary’s University to learn advanced diagnostic and treatment planning techniques. She spent five years providing in-home counseling and support for adults, families, and children dealing with chronic illness and a traumatic brain injury before moving to California in 2011. Once she moved to the Bay Area, Erika was able to pursue her second passion of teaching yoga and meditation and received specialized training in functional anatomy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and adaptive yoga for clients dealing with cancer or other chronic illness. Additionally, she spent time providing counseling and support to families with children on the Autism Spectrum, as well as providing mental health training for volunteers on the county crisis line. In 2017, Erika was able to combine both interests of clinical counseling and mindful movement in her position at IPM Los Gatos. Erika leads psychoeducational groups within the Functional Restoration Program to facilitate a greater understanding of the effects of mood, stress, and cognition on chronic pain. In individual counseling sessions, Erika utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) strategies as well as mindfulness, relaxation, and breathing exercises to help foster a deepening awareness of our internal capacity to heal.
Clinical Psychology and Behavioral Medicine Dr. McKellar began his career as a researcher and clinical educator at the Palo Alto VA and Stanford University studying interventions for addiction, pain, and PTSD before spending several years as a national trainer for cognitive-behavioral pain interventions in the VA. His approach for helping patients with chronic pain incorporates Mindfulness/CBT interventions with pain neuroscience education. Whether working with pain or trauma Dr. McKellar helps patient use their understanding and self-com passion to develop effective ways to cope with pain and negative mood.
Kayla Ormandy, AMFT, ATR-P is a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and Provisional Art Therapist. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Antioch Los Angeles in 2017, and Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and Art Therapy from Notre Dame de Namur University in 2020. Prior to studying psychology, Kayla studied the healing of the body. She graduated in 2007 from Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy where she studied Neuromuscular Therapy, Joint Movement and Sports Massage. In 2011 she completed a 200-hour Yoga Teaching Certification from Root Education and Apprenticeship which deepened her understanding of the effect of mindfulness and breath work on restoring balance to the central nervous system. This background provided Kayla with unique insights into how interwoven the mind and the body are when it comes to the healing process. In clinical practice, Kayla brings these experiences to her psychotherapeutic clients by incorporating art-making, breathing practices, and mindfulness. Her professional experience includes treating anxiety and stress, grief, self-esteem issues, substance use, adjustment difficulties, neurological disorders, and trauma. Kayla approaches pain management through DBT, redefining values, and reconstructing identity. She feels honored to assist clients in developing a more positive relationship with themselves and their bodies at both Los Gatos and Capitola Bay Area Pain & Wellness Centers.
Lindsey began practicing yoga more than 13 years ago when she was searching for a way to have a healthier connection to her body and mind. What began as a method of relaxation, turned into a journey of self-discovery that encompassed mindfulness and fitness. In her practice, Lindsey found better body alignment, reduction in stress, and a passion for helping people feel the same. This leads her to complete a 500-hour teacher training through the JOY of Yoga with Jennifer Prugh and 200 hour Qigong training. As a practitioner and an instructor, Lindsey blends several styles of yoga including Yin, Restorative, Gentle flow, Qigong, and Chair with meditation and visualization techniques. A common theme across all the styles that Lindsey teaches is aligning to the body, not the posture. Further, she believes in focusing upon breathing for the purpose of unifying body and mind to alter an individual’s energy. Aligning the body with breath yields positive results on a person’s frame of mind, leaving the practitioner relaxed and empowered to face the challenges of the day. Lindsey believes in making yoga an accessible and enriching experience for all people; working with a broad range of ages and levels, from teenage beginners to daily practitioners and seniors.
Marianne Benforado, licensed acupuncturist, is delighted to be a Wellness Education Provider for IPM. This position is an excellent fit because of her expertise in chronic pain, ability to deliver top notch educational presentations and highest intention of supporting people in need. Also, as a daily meditator for over two decades, she has been told that she has a calm and grounding presence which is important for interacting with people in chronic pain. Marianne is also a Qi Gong teacher and it is one of her passions to share this knowledge with others as these simple movements coordinated with breathing can create the foundation for health in the body, mind and spirit. As a holistic health care provider, she believes that the daily lifestyle choices people make have the biggest impact on health and she loves to educate others on the best choices to make in terms of relaxation, sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
She received a Bachelor of Science from University of Wisconsin-Madison and then earned a Masters of Chinese Medicine from Five Branches University in Santa Cruz California. The MTCM is a four academic year professional degree. The curriculum totals over 3,000 hours of which 900+ hours are clinical study and practice. Marianne also received advanced certification in sports medicine and orthopedics. After graduation she completed a two year residency program mentoring with a leading orthopedic acupuncturist in the Bay Area. She then completed The Acupuncture Sports Medicine Apprenticeship Program. The mission of this intensive program is “ integrating traditional Chinese acupuncture with anatomy, orthopedics, and western sports medicine practices.” She had a successful private acupuncture practice in Santa Cruz for many years. On a personal note, she finds that getting regular exercise, having a daily spiritual practice, and staying connected with nature are essential for her wellbeing. She often says “laughter is the best medicine” and is grateful to her sweet doodle for daily doses of smiles and laughs.
Matt heard his calling after spending 6 years in corporate customer care and returned to school to receive his B.S. in Sports and Health Sciences with a concentration on Sports Medicine. He earned his personal training certification and increased his coaching to a wider range of sports including rugby, football, baseball, soccer, and swimming. After 3 years as a personal trainer working with a wide range of clients including many post-rehab, he happened upon a job posting for BAPWC in January 2010. Once he started here, he knew it was a perfect fit. Matt is married with 2 boys. His wife is a pediatric nurse who thoroughly enjoys helping kids recover from illness and injury. Both of his boys are student-athletes, one now attending Kent State University and the other a senior in high school. In his time here, he has increased his knowledge earning specialty certifications and his M.S. in Sports and Health Sciences. He thrives on seeing the patients here progress and move on to a more active life with the ability to do more of what they love to do. He continues to coach high school football and maintains a high level of fitness.
Megan was raised in Santa Cruz, CA and Tucson, AZ and received her Masters in Counseling Psychology with a Correctional Emphasis from Santa Clara University in 2016. Megan has since been working as a licensed marriage and family therapist with experience in the following areas: Attachment & Trauma, Food & Mood Connections, Mindfulness & Meditation Practices, Anxiety & Stress Management, Depression & Self-Worth Concerns, Alcohol & Other Substance Misuse, Social & Generalized Anxiety, Developmental life transitions, Emotional Intelligence, and Eating & Nutritional Concerns. Megan is also a certified yoga instructor and has thrived with chronic pain since 2010. Megan believes we all can benefit from education about how to best take care of ourselves and is passionate about providing individuals with the tools to do so.
Michael Sullivan is the Director of Physical Therapy at the IPM Los Gatos and Capitola offices. He obtained his Masters of Physical Therapy degree from Duke University and pursued his interest in rehabilitation of orthopedic disorders, with a focus on helping people injured on the job return to an active lifestyle. After eight years of working in a private practice setting he recognized that physical therapy, provided within the framework of a traditional medical model, was not sufficient to meet the health care needs of many people. He began working in a multidisciplinary chronic pain program in 1997 and embraced a biopsychosocial approach to the treatment of chronic pain, recognizing the need for integrated care provided by a spectrum of people in the healing arts. He believes that the team at IPM has furthered the evolution of chronic pain management and created an atmosphere “where healing becomes possible”. When he is not working, you can find Michael bicycling the hills around Los Gatos . In his previous life, his passion for cycling, cuisine and travel carried him around the globe leading bicycling vacations for an active travel company.
Natalie Horning graduated as a family nurse practitioner through The Valley Foundation School of Nursing at San Jose State University in May of 2020. She is proudly Board Certified through both the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She has thoroughly enjoyed all of her clinical experiences in family medicine, various outreach programs, a walk-in clinic, and a home based spinal cord injury program for veterans. She values taking the time to listen to patients, thrives on providing compassionate and comprehensive care, and aims to identify unique needs of individual patients in order to collaborate for positive change.
Her passion to become a nurse began after working as a medical assistant in a family practice department - while assisting doctors and helping patients navigate the healthcare system during their time of illness, it spurred dedication for more. In 2008, she became a Registered Nurse which led to an unexpected but rewarding role teaching, and then work providing patient care in a college health center. Striving to expand, she completed her Baccalaureate Degree through the RN-to-BSN Bridge program at San Jose State University in 2018. Her undergraduate experience allowed for exposure to multiple nursing venues out in the community, cherished time spent in an Oncology infusion center, and eligibility to obtain licensure as a Public Health Nurse. Shortly after, in pursuit to become an advance practice nurse, she began the family nurse practitioner program and successfully completed her Master of Science in Nursing.
Outside of work, Natalie enjoys cooking and spending time with her family. She loves running and being active outdoors, virtual cycling classes, painting, and has recently discovered joy in collecting and nurturing house plants.
Sang Won Yoon has been a Diplomat of Oriental Medicine since 2004 (NCCAOM) and California licensed acupuncturist since 2005. He graduated with a Master in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Science in Oakland, CA. After passing his California board exam, he went to Shanghai, China for a post-graduate internship at Shu Guang TCM Hospital. Afterward, he went to Kyung Hee University Hospital, in Seoul, South Korea, where studied in the Oriental medicine wing of the hospital at the internal medicine, neuropsychiatry, rehabilitation medicine, and gynecology departments. Sang Won has traveled all around the world treating and educating people about acupuncture. I have a passion for Chinese Medicine and trying to help improve the lives of my patients.
I received my bachelor’s degree in nursing at University of Maryland Baltimore and later completed my master’s degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Simmons University in 2018 as a member of Sigma Theta Tau, nursing’s National Honor Society. I am nationally certified through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. I have several years of experience as a bedside nurse working on a medical intensive care unit and cardiac telemetry unit. I love to empower patients and help them understand the reasoning behind my approach. Outside of work I enjoy dancing, traveling, and spending time with my fiancé. Having relocated from Maryland, I also enjoy exploring and discovering new activities and foods in our area!
Stephanie Soto, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and with a certification in Art Therapy. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, in the Health and Development Track and Studio Art at Stanford University. She completed her Master of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and Art Therapy at Notre Dame de Namur University. She has specialized in trauma and grief counseling for over 10 years and is passionate about guiding others to find their unique path towards healing. Stephanie joined the Bay Area Pain and Wellness Center in 2017. She provides psychoeducation in a group setting to those with chronic pain in the Functional Restoration Program. Trained in Focusing meditation, she also provides mindfulness and relaxation techniques to attend to the body-mind-spirit connection.
Toni Morley graduated from Stanford University with a BA in Sociology and from The College of Notre Dame with an MA in Counseling Psychology and Art Therapy. She worked at El Camino Hospital in the Department of Psychiatry and spent 20 years in private practice with children, individuals and couples. She worked for 8 years as a dementia specialist for the Alzheimer’s Association of CA and Northern Nevada and 2 years working at the Bay Area Pain and Wellness Center working with chronic pain patients. She is certified as an EMDR specialist and has a California license to practice hypnotherapy. She has written chapters in several art therapy books and won the Jefferson Award for her work with dementia patients.
Dr. Varshini Balasubramanian has earned her Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training and Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Boston University. Over the course of her education she has completed clinical rotations in acute care, outpatient orthopedic and sport specific rehabilitation settings in Boston, New York and Spain. At her final clinical rotation, she interned with the Spanish National Rugby Team, providing them with holistic physical therapy services and sideline medical care. She also worked as an Athletic Trainer for Boston University’s Fitness and Recreation Center for two years while she received her doctorate.
Throughout her clinical experiences and practice, Dr. Varshini has learned the importance of developing individualized care plans for every patient based on their goals. She believes that effective communication and education between the provider and patient are the keys to helping people maximize their health outcomes. Dr. Varshini also strives to establish positive, trusting relationships with her patients. She is a strong proponent of giving them the right tools to get better and empowering them to advocate for themselves in the future.
In her free time, Dr. Varshini likes to stay active by practicing yoga, lifting heavy weights (at least during pre-pandemic times) and running. She also enjoys watching soccer, playing board games and discovering new coffee shops.