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Meet Our Biofeedback Team

Starr MackinnonStarr MacKinnon, PhD 

Biofeedback Therapist

My passion and career focus is the intersection between the body and mind. I have 10+ years of experience and training in behavioral medicine and the physiological mechanisms of stress. I am especially interested in integrative therapies that target pain and stress related medical conditions. Currently, I am the co-investigator of a 4-session HRV biofeedback study at San Diego State University (SDSU), and am collaborating on multiple yoga studies with the Veterans Medical Research Foundation (VMRF), as well as a mind-body substance use intervention with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Center for Integrative Medicine (CIM).

Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in conjunction with additional evidence-based therapies and techniques, I help people to cope with conditions such as chronic pain, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Working at Positive Choice Wellness Center is very rewarding and I enjoy assisting patients to gain the necessary tools to improve their lives.

Doctorate and Master’s Degrees in Health Psychology from California School of Professional Psychology, Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Seattle University.  Publications include: MacKinnon, S., Gevirtz, R., McCraty, R., & Brown, M. (2013) Utilizing heart beat evoked potentials to identify cardiac regulation of vagal afferents during emotion and resonant breathing. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 38(4), 241-255. ; Gevirtz, R. & Mackinnon, S.N. (2013). Citation Paper: Utilizing Heartbeat Evoked; Potentials to Identify Cardiac Regulation of Vagal Afferents During Emotion; and Resonant Breathing. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 38, 213-238.; Camacho, C., MacKinnon, S.N., Ampolos, L., Gevirtz, R.N., Boutelle, K (2011).  Food exposure, cravings, and physiological reactivity in normal-weight subjects. Appetite, 57.

Lucia Foster-Engen, MA, BCBlucia-foster

I have been helping individuals who are struggling with emotional and physical pain for many years. My background is in Health Psychology and I focuse on understanding the connection between mind and body, and how this interaction can affect health. My interest in the field of health psychology motivated me to obtain certifications as a Biofeedback Therapist, a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP), a Pre-Licensed LGBT Affirmative Psychotherapy Provider, an Addiction Counselor, a Trauma, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury Counselor, a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Counselor, and Jungian Psychotherapy provider. I am currently a doctorate candidate for a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with emphasis in health psychology, and I am working on my dissertation that aims to investigate the Physiological and Psychophysiological Markers of Emotional Eating.

I work at the Positive Choice Integrative wellness Center as a biofeedback therapist. I help people learn how to manage stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and chronic pain related to different medical and psychological disorders by using Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback (HRVB).  I am also a group facilitator for the weight management and pre-bariatric surgery programs. I have many years of experience with bariatric and obese patients and my passion is helping people learn to cope with life stresses without relying on food as a coping mechanism.

Understanding that every individual is unique and that individuals will respond differently to different interventions, I often use a combination of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Self-Compassion Therapy as means to help our patients increase awareness about their own patterns of behavior and understand the connections between their mind (psychological symptoms) and body (physical symptoms). My goal is to help patients increase their ability to manage symptoms and consequently improve the quality of their life while reaching optimal health.