Women Empowering Women
The mission of Emerge Recovery TX is to educate, support and nurture women as they develop and utilize skills to work through trauma and substance abuse disorders. Our vision is to provide a curative path to long-term recovery and a direct nexus between the decisive moment and crucial action that is needed to overcome suffering from addiction. We have developed innovative approaches to recovery that enable individuals to a lifetime of health and empowerment. Emerge Recovery TX is committed to providing the highest quality professional services to women seeking long-term sobriety.
Meet the Team
Our expert team is here to help
CEO / Director of Business Development
Director of Operations
Leah was raised in an Irish subset of South Chicago, Illinois. Leah and her sisters were raised in an environment where drug and alcohol abuse was the norm. The impact the environment had on Leah and her sisters was profound. Drinking and drug use were also prevalent in Leah’s neighborhood, and while she tried to steer her life in a better direction, Leah began drinking at the age of 12.
Leah began to watch her sister Becca, and “brother” Matt, fall into hard core drugs. Due to the severity of Becca and Matt’s addictions, Leah was able to fly under the radar with her party lifestyle. Becca and Matt were both shuffled through several state-funded treatment programs, and it was through this sequence of experiences, God sparked a desire in Leah to dedicate her life to helping support families battle and break free from all addiction.
In 2013, Matt lost his battle with addiction and was laid to rest. In 2015, Becca found her way to sobriety and moved to Austin, TX for aftercare. As Becca and Leah rebuilt their sisterhood Leah began to learn how individuals obtained sobriety. As her understanding of substance abuse increased, her passion to support and help families began to grow. In 2017, Leah founded Grace Recovery ATX and immersed herself in assisting women and their families in the process of reclaiming their lives from the disease of addiction.
After experiencing a series of adverse events as an adult and mother of four, Leah found herself in treatment for her own addiction. Going through the process of achieving sobriety enabled her to recognize the need for God, a Higher Power working in and through her, and that the God of her understanding will gift her with ways to make meaningful connections with others and share unconditional love.
Leah is the Founder of Grace Recovery ATX, Austin’s premier transitional living for women, and Co-founder of Emerge Recovery TX. She is a visionary for women’s treatment. She is able to strategically place individuals in programs based on their individual needs in order to maximize their treatment experience. Leah is an LCDC and brings clinical experience to the Business Development arena.
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Laurel joined Grace Recovery as a co-owner in 2020 in their mission to support women in achieving long-term sobriety. Laurel was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and attended the United States Air Force Academy and St. Edward’s University.
After injuries and surgeries that ended her college soccer career, Laurel spiraled into her addiction, which led to years of drinking and drug use. In 2012, she entered treatment in Austin, Texas. Laurel has 7+ years of working in the recovery industry and has dedicated her career to helping individuals to regain peace and find purpose in their lives.
Laurel is an experienced operations manager who specializes in project management, administration, and customer service initiatives aligned with performance objectives. She is known for her analytical approach in streamlining and optimizing efficiencies within an organization. She provides a resourceful approach while collaborating with cross-functional teams to develop client-centric solutions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and will complete her Master’s of Business Administration in 2021.
Sara Salem, LMSW
Supervised by Dr. Christine Norton, LCSW-S
Sara is a licensed social worker who graduated from Texas State University with her master’s degree in
social work. She enjoys working with adolescents and adults one on one, as well as working with family
members together to improve communication and increase understanding. She has worked in a wide
variety of care settings, including an acute care inpatient treatment facility, intensive outpatient
programs, and private practice. Sara’s background includes both individual therapy sessions and group
therapy sessions with clients living with depression, anxiety, and trauma.
Sara uses a combination of evidence-based practices dependent on the client’s needs, including but not
limited to EMDR, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and
solution-focused therapy. Her approach with clients is strengths-based as she works with people to build
resilience, promote self-determination, and learn effective coping skills.
Irek Banaczyk, LMSW, LCDC
I have come to learn that a person’s life is impacted by a complex mix of influences such as family history, environment, genes, context, social, and personal experiences. These factors are what uniquely shape our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, all of which either expand or constrict one’s ability to make life-affirming choices. Undoubtedly, much of this occurs outside of conscious awareness, yet even where there is some awareness, coping patterns can become habitual, problematic, and difficult to change.
Here’s the good news: Change IS possible. There’s an art of discovery that happens in the context of safe, attuned, contingent relationships with counselors trained in the process of reaffirming biological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral ways of being.
With the gentle facilitation of a therapist, you can gain increased awareness of body and mind and assistance in enhancing motivation, agency, and integration of skills. These self-improvements allow for a more self-directed life, one that can be lived more fully through consciously curated personal values and choices. I believe what we do in the therapeutic setting in conjunction with these lifestyle enhancements can, over time, bring about lasting change.
Informed by developmental neurobiology and emotionally focused in-depth psychotherapies, I aim to be that gentle collaborator in your process of integration and transformation towards the person you aspire to be, and all that brings you purpose, meaning, and fulfillment.
MFT Trainee/ LCDC-i
Alaska is an intern at Emerge as well as a student at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is working towards her Master’s in Counseling Psychology and currently practicing under the license of Dr. Michelle John while she walks the path to licensure.
She has a dual Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Conflict Transformation from Portland State University. She has worked in the field of substance use disorders for ten years and in harm reduction for seven.
Alaska works with a Jungian and transpersonal orientation, and her areas of focus are trauma, addiction, and the development of personal mythos. Her approach is non-pathologizing, collaborative, and empowering. It weaves the art of re-storying narratives, trauma-informed care, dreamwork, spiritual wisdom, and intuitive guidance.
Yoga Therapist/ Yoga Teacher
Kaytee Hernandez is a Latinx Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) and Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 500, CRYT). She was born and raised in Brownsville, Texas.
Yoga has helped Kaytee heal from childhood trauma, grief and loss. Her personal practice and faith infuse her life with meaning and joy.
Kaytee hopes to share the therapeutic benefits of Yoga with others. She believes everyone has an inner healer and empowers her students to look within themselves. She utilizes trauma informed practices, mantra, breath work, meditation, mudras, and yoga postures in her work.
Kaytee has a Bachelors degree in Graphic Media Design from the University of the Arts London. She is currently a Master’s student of Ayurveda and Integrative Health at Maharishi International University.