Dr. Stephen Dansiger, CEO


The CEO and Founder of StartAgain Associates, Dr. Steve has provided training, education, leadership, coaching and therapy for a diverse population for almost 30 years. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California, holding a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and a Masters in Counseling Psychology. A sought-after speaker and teacher, Dr. Steve has also authored several books: Clinical Dharma: A Path for Healers and Helpers; EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care with colleague Dr. Jamie Marich; and, most recently, Mindfulness for Anger Management: Transformative Skills for Overcoming Anger and Managing Powerful Emotions. Dr. Steve has attempted to cure Marc Maron on WTF and has been featured in countless popular mindfulness blogs, apps and articles. He is a master EMDR therapist and provider of EMDR Training as Senior Faculty with the Institute for Creative Mindfulness, as well as a pioneer in the Buddhist recovery field.

After creating and running programs at several top treatment facilities, Dr. Steve branched out to develop his own trauma focused treatment modality, the MET(T)A Protocol, a design for mental health agency treatment using Buddhist Mindfulness and EMDR Therapy. Centers across the country are currently being trained in the MET(T)A Protocol, and MET(T)A Protocol trainings have become one of StartAgain’s most sought after offerings.

Before becoming a mental health leader, Steve was a professional musician, playing CBGB and Max’s Kansas City in the 1970’s. His creative spirit is still evident in his trainings and national presentations. Click here for a calendar of his upcoming offerings.

Lauren Emmel, Executive Director


Lauren Emmel is currently the Executive Director of StartAgain Associates. She earned her Masters in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University Los Angeles specializing in trauma and spiritual depth psychology. In addition to her role as Executive Director, she is a trained EMDR therapist, an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, and a certified trauma-informed yoga and meditation teacher.

As Executive Director of StartAgain Associates, Lauren is dedicated in assisting Dr. Stephen Dansiger’s vision of providing education and training in Mindfulness Based Trauma-Focused care to outpatient and inpatient centers. She works to raise visibility of all StartAgain projects to include the MET(T)A Protocol, an integrative approach of Mindfulness and EMDR therapy. She was one of the first to be trained in the MET(T)A Protocol at a center where it was incubated for three years. Through her clinical and personal experience, she has witnessed the MET(T)A Protocol as one of the most powerful and matchless treatments to help transform traumatic material, build trauma resiliency and increase self-awareness and self-compassion, and enables clients to sustain long-term sustainable recovery. She aligns with StartAgain Associates mission of helping to decrease suffering on this planet by expanding access to mental health services and trauma resolution, in addition to promoting healthier staff.

Tara Brisco,
MET(T)A Protocol Agency Director

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Tara Brisco is the MET(T)A Protocol Agency Director at StartAgain Associates. She earned a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University in 2010. She is a certified EMDR therapist and consultant in training and specializes in trauma, addiction, eating disorders and dissociative disorders - and has worked as a primary therapist at various residential and outpatient treatment centers in Los Angeles. Currently, she enjoys a diverse private practice where she employs Mindfulness-Based EMDR as her primary modality and a complete approach to psychotherapy. Convinced that connections heal, her style is warm, relational, client-centered, strengths-based and strongly influenced by Buddhist Psychology.

Prior to becoming a therapist, Tara danced professionally, worked as a wilderness instructor for at-risk youth, an outreach counselor to homeless youth, a researcher on mental health interventions for foster youth at the University of San Francisco and as an addiction researcher at UCSF.

Through her clinical experiences in the treatment field, Tara recognized that specific pervasive systemic issues limit successful outcomes. Fueled by this awareness, she sought out training and mentorship from Dr. Dansiger whose work inspired her and resonated with her deeply. Tara feels that the MET(T)A Protocol, a truly trauma-focused, long-term and comprehensive approach to healing trauma and its symptoms is a revolutionary best-practice model that improves long-term outcomes for clients while optimizing the health and well-being of staff and businesses. Tara is honored to join Dr. Dansiger and his team in relieving as much suffering for as many people as possible with the MET(T)A Protocol.

Dr. Colleen Kelly,
Director of International Marketing & Technology Development

Colleen Kelly, PhD, MFT, is the Director of International Marketing and Technology Development for StartAgain Associates. Dr. Kelly is the primary contact regarding MET(T)A Protocol outreach for both the U.S. and abroad. She is also the leader of StartAgain Technologies, and is responsible for the integration of technology into the MET(T)A Protocol.

Dr. Kelly has a multidisciplinary background, with experience as a psychotherapist, international speaker, writer, and clinical outreach consultant. She is currently based in Paris, France specializing in addiction, family therapy, and couples work. She holds a BFA from New York University, a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University and a Doctorate in Philosophy with a concentration in Spiritual Psychology.

Dr. Kelly has worked in the substance abuse and mental health field in a variety of clinical settings, beginning 25 years ago with American Indian urban and reservation treatment centers. She was on the clinical staff of Promises Treatment Center in West Los Angeles as a therapist for four years and then she became the Director of the Family Program of Promises, Malibu in addition to designing family programs at several other treatment centers. She has been a regular group facilitator and clinical outreach consultant for over a decade at various treatment centers. She has had over 40 articles published on addiction and family therapy and is the author of over 20 published Continuing Education courses for MFTs and LCSWs. She has been speaking in Europe on Transgenerational Grief and Addiction at conferences throughout Europe.

Johnny Fisher,
Chief of Operations


Johnny has been working with various treatment centers and in the mental health field for 15-years. His specialities include systems and information technology.

Justine Kovacs,
Research Coordinator


Justine Kovacs, BS, initially entered the mental health field with a desire to become a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. After working for three years as a clinician and program director at co-occurring disorder treatment facilities, she uncovered her passion for research as a result of being discouraged with “treatment as usual.” After receiving her BS in psychology with a specialization in research and interning at the Yale Stress Center, Justine sought out Dr. Steve’s expertise on mindfulness for individuals with co-occurring psychotic and substance use disorders. Deeply inspired by his work for the treatment of trauma, Justine looks forward to continuing to coordinate evidence-based research on the effectiveness of Dr. Steve’s MET(T)A Protocol.