Anna is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 15 years of experience in Behavioral Therapy & Parent Coaching, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Behavioral Management for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Depression. Anna is a clinical supervisor for San Diego Behavior Solutions.
Anna Williams is certified through the International OCD Foundation BTTI to specialize in pediatric and adult OCD. She has been trained in cutting-edge treatment modalities, including Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and Cognitive Therapy.
Anna works with families, parents, children, and teens to produce lasting changes in the most naturalistic setting possible. She believes the parent-child connection is the most important intervention. Anna is skilled and experienced in rebuilding this connection for healing.
Anna received a Bachelor’s Degree from Cal State Monterey Bay and a Master’s Degree at Alliant International University School of Professional Psychology. She is an AAMFT Board-certified supervisor. Anna previously worked at Rady Children’s Hospital, where she specialized in depression and anxiety treatments for children and adolescents, frequently employing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Anna also treats ADHD, ODD, and other childhood mood disorders. She has worked with very severe populations of children who also possessed Co-Morbid diagnoses. She serves as clinical faculty at University of Phoenix, teaching in the Health and Human Services, Psychology and Masters in Marriage Family Therapy programs.
Anna volunteers for the Fleet Family Support Center and VVSD, providing pro bono counseling for returning sailors and their families.
Anna has two sons, a dog named Buddy and a husband who retired from the Navy. When she is not working, Anna loves to hang out with her family, watch sports and explore the beauty of San Diego.
Dr. Pontillo is Co- Owner/ Co - Founder of San Diego Behavior Solutions and the Owner/Founder and Director of San Diego Kids First. She has over 25 years of education, training and experience in pediatric psychology and is regarded as an expert in the field of child and adolescent development, behavior, and learning.
DR. DEBORAH PONTILLO
Dr. Pontillo received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia. She went on to earn a Master’s and Doctorate in Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, rated one of the top Clinical Psychology training programs in the U.S. She completed an internship in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and then a specialized pediatric early childhood post-doctoral training program at the Developmental Evaluation Clinic at Rady's Children’s Hospital. Dr. Pontillo opened San Diego Kids First in 2005, with the passion of identifying children’s strengths as well as their challenges, enabling them to maximize their developmental potential.
In addition to her work at San Diego Kids First, Dr. Pontillo is a Voluntary Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine. There, she supervises Child/Adolescent Psychiatry Fellows in their final year of training. Additionally, Dr. Pontillo has developed several online training courses (entitled “Bright Stars”) for parents and teachers of children with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has participated in numerous speaking engagements, media interviews, and podcasts.
Dr. Pontillo’s specialties include: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD/attention issues, learning disabilities/differences, giftedness, anxiety, emotional regulation skills training, social skills training, stress management, oppositional-defiant disorder (ODD), behavioral challenges, and other child developmental delays or concerns. She is trained in CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy), short-term solution-focused therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. She is an expert in diagnostic assessment and conducts both abbreviated and comprehensive batteries, depending on the needs of the family. She provides consultations, treatment planning, and follow-up sessions, and is directly involved in all evaluations conducted at SDKF. Dr. Pontillo consults regularly with all staff clinicians at SDKF to ensure all SDKF families receive the highest quality of care.
Dr. Pontillo lives with her daughter, her son, an aspiring therapy dog Labradoodle named Maple, and with her cat, Pina Colada. She speaks Spanish and English, and loves sushi and Indian food. When not working, she can be found with her kids at baseball and softball practices and games, taking long walks with Maple, or visiting with her kids and friends.
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Charles Aguilar is our Behavior Specialist for San Diego Behavior Solutions. He has been practicing ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) for 7 years, primarily providing ABA therapy to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). He has extensive experience in providing 1:1 in-home ABA therapy and in providing behavioral modification/support for Carlsbad Unified School District. Charles is proficient in current evidence-based practices and scientifically validated methodologies in ABA. He specializes in behavioral modification and utilizes ABA principles to achieve lasting, meaningful, and positive change in his client’s lives.
Charles earned his Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Arizona State University and his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development from California State University, San Marcos. He is currently pursuing his Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential. Charles is trained in Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT), Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), and in Social Coaching. He strongly believes in implementing ABA naturally to ensure comprehensive and generalized learning. Natural use of ABA assists in effective learning, lasting behavioral modification, and fun and positive interactions. Charles is skilled in implementing ABA interventions within natural means and also training parents to do the same with their child. Parents of former clients often describe Charles' therapy style as fun and engaging, but also structural and disciplined at the same time.
In his free time, Charles enjoys playing basketball, tennis, and boxing. He also loves to play the drums and piano. He has fun reading, watching movies, hiking, and exploring San Diego with his wife and baby daughter.
Most clients begin with an initial in home 2 hour assessment with one of our specialists. This is your opportunity to share your concerns, ask questions, and provide any documents or other information you feel would help us get to know your situation. By the end of the session, your behavior specialist will have made a tentative plan about next steps.
Consultations are periodic 50 minute sessions with one of our behavior specialists to tweak your current behavior plan. Common issues addressed in a consultation include: social, emotional, academic, behavioral or developmental concerns. Consultations will act as a follow up meeting and provide advice for behavior implementation. Many individuals have all their questions and concerns sufficiently addressed within a single appointment, while others may choose to have subsequent consultative visits.
If you have a child that has difficulty regulating emotions, has frequent tantrums, trouble with authority, in school, at home, with siblings, and you need help learning new parenting strategies to change these behaviors, please call us for an assessment. These sessions are scheduled with one of our experts to develop specific tools and strategies designed for the individual child and family. These sessions can be scheduled as needed, and often in conjunction with other types of services, such as therapy/counseling or evaluations.
Does your child have any of the warning signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Symptoms of ASD may include:
- Social struggles (making/maintaining friendships, being understood, lack of reciprocity)
- Academic challenges, specifically with reading and math comprehension
- Black and white thinking
- A tendency to be rigid, argumentative, possibly aggressive
- Difficulty focusing and participating in undesired activities
- Special interest/ hyper focused
Click here to watch the first module of our Bright Stars Parenting Series about bright children on the mild end of the autism spectrum.
The FBA Interventions service allows parents to observe first-hand our providers implement individualized FBA interventions. Providers will directly work 1:1 with your child, modeling interventions for effective parent coaching and learning. Also, providers can develop client- individualized visual stimuli and visual aids to support parents in addressing behaviors consistently.
The Parent Coaching service is to help parents identify and understand the function of their child’s behavior. We will coach parents in appropriately addressing their child’s behavior in order to decrease the intensity and future occurrence of the behavior. Furthermore, we will support parents in replacing undesired behaviors exhibited by their child with more socially desired behaviors.
Elementary, middle, and high school children and their families may participate in individually tailored sessions with one of our experts to improve academic and organizational skills. Areas of focus include homework/task completion, study skills and strategies, problem solving, decision making, academic planning, goal setting, improving peer relations, improving frustration tolerance, and developing healthy self-confidence and self-esteem. Appointments for these services are available in-home to maximize your child/teen’s progress.
Clinical Session service will begin with a 45-60-minute assessment and interview with the parent(s). Next, an observation of the targeted behavior(s) will be conducted. The session will end with a review and discussion of the observed behavior and ensuing behavior intervention plan.