Our Team of Addiction Instructors
The Academy for Addiction Professionals has grown by leaps and bounds and we now boast 8 teachers and administrators. We encourage you to read their bios below and get to know them before you arrive at class.
Ben Brafman, LMHC, CAP – Director
Ben Brafman, LMHC, CAP is the CEO and Founder of Destination Hope, The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center, The Academy for Addiction Professionals, and the founder of Guardian Behavioral Health Foundation. Ben holds a BS degree from Syracuse University and a Dual Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling and Family Therapy from Barry University. With more than twenty years of hands-on experience, Ben is a leading authority in the field of Substance Use Disorders and treatment protocols. He is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Addiction Professional, and Supervisor for licensure in the state of Florida.
As an entrepreneur, Ben established programs offering individualized care with a one-to-one ratio between patients and staff. He created the first gender-specific, age-specific, and mental health program in the field. These diversified programs attribute to a successful model that he even teaches to other treatment center owners who have adopted his methods for treating addiction. Ben’s growing success of Destination Hope is a testament to his genuine passion to help others.
He is a published author in the area of dual diagnosis and chemical dependency and trains others to be certified professionals in the field of addiction through his Academy for Addiction Professionals. His new book is slated to launch this year and will serve as a guide to become a professional in behavioral heath. Ben speaks at conferences, universities and colleges across the nation, discussing trends and issues affecting the mental health and substance abuse community. Ben’s programs have been featured in national publications including Addiction Professional, NBC, ABC, and FOX national news. He currently resides in Parkland, Florida with his wife Suzanne and their three children Abby, Jacob, and Eli.
Kelly Hancock, Instructor
My name is Kelly Hancock and I am a Certified Addictions and Mental Health Professional as well as a Substance Abuse Professional. I have been working in the field of addictions for well over 12 years and have 19 years of personal recovery. I have worked with both the individual who struggles with substance abuse issues, addictions and mental health issues, as well as the families that are impacted.
I have working relationships with a wide variety of treatment facilities and programs within Broward and Palm Beach counties, which allows me the resources to be able to recommend the best course of treatment for my clients, if they are in need of a higher level of care.
Having personal experience with the addictions, it is my heart to be able to help others that struggle, find freedom. I am married 13+ years to my wonderful husband Scott Atwood, (also in recovery), and have two beautiful step children, Tiffany and Taylor. I also have two beautiful grandchildren. I am a native Floridian and graduate of the University of Florida (GO GATORS!).
Keli Karbowski, CAP, LCSW, Instructor
Keli Karbowski is employed as the Compliance Officer at Destination Hope verifying that policies and procedures are maintained and comply with licensing and accrediting entities. Keli also heads the Internship program at Destination Hope where she continues to build relationships with various Universities and provides the student interns with clinical supervision. Keli enjoys teaching at The Academy for Addiction Professionals and with the student interns, as it is rewarding to watch the students grow and appreciates any knowledge the students offer as well. Keli brings over 18 years of experience in the behavioral health field working with adolescents and adults. Prior to joining Destination Hope and the Academy for Addiction Professionals, Keli fulfilled various leadership roles in the behavioral health hospital arena. Keli has experience with the Marchman Act process and the court system.
Keli holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from FSU and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from FIU. Keli is Licensed in Florida as a Clinical Social Worker and is a Certified Addiction Professional.
Molly McCarthy, Instructor
Tommy McGee, LMHC, CAP, Instructor
Tommy C. McGee, LMHC, CAP, has more than 16 years of experience in the mental health and addictions field working in supportive, clinical and administrative roles.
Tommy has spent 11 years of direct service to clients in a variety of human service related programs. This experience includes work in transitional living programs (1/2 way house) as a resident manager, substance abuse treatment as a support counselor, case-manager and clinical therapist and 6 years in a family services (community mental health) agency as a program developer/administrator of prevention and aftercare programming.
He also has worked as an educator with the Palm Beach State College teaching both in class and online, general psychology, and crisis Intervention. Tommy has also facilitated courses for professionals seeking certification with the state of Florida in addictions as an instructor for The Academy for Addiction Professional. He has taught treatment planning, psycho-pharmacology, and clinical evaluation.
Tommy holds a Bachelor of Science (Ministry) and Masters of Science degree in Counseling Psychology (with a specialization in mental health and marriage of family) from Palm Beach Atlantic University. He is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Addictions Professional.
Andrew Merker, CAC, Instructor
Andrew is yet another successful Academy alumnus who has come back as an instructor, training our next group of future addiction counselors. His time at The Academy for Addiction Professionals yielded a Certified Addiction Counselor designation from the Florida Certification Board.
Andrew has worked in the recovery field since 2007, during which time he has worked with those suffering from substance abuse and addiction issues in both adolescent and adult facilities.
Since 2010, Andrew has followed a path in admissions and today he is the Director of Admissions for Destination Hope treatment center in South Florida. The admissions process is particularly gratifying as he helps families navigate the process of entering treatment and makes sure each client meets criteria to help maximize their potential for recovery.
Andrew is a proponent of experiential training and his diverse background in the addiction field offers his students a wealth of practical and useful information to take with them to their own work every day.
Jon Waller, LMHC, Instructor
Jon Waller started his work in behavioral health in 2002, providing care in a wide variety of settings including crisis stabilization, community mental health, and addictions.
Jon is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida, the state where he was born and raised. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Florida Atlantic University.
Through his experience in counseling, he developed specialties in trauma, men’s issues, and dual diagnosis, bringing knowledge and empathy for those suffering and in need of help to make the desired changes in their life.
C-Kwon is the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) Counselor at Destination Hope, a South Florida treatment center and is also a graduate of The Academy for Addiction Professionals, having attained his Certified Addiction Counselor designation with us.
C-Kwon started at The Academy as a substitute instructor for our Certified Behavioral Health Technician (CBHT) course in February 2017. Feedback from our students was so positive that he returned for subsequent classes. C-Kwon has a deep knowledge and understanding of addiction treatment and counseling and has vast experience at the behavioral tech level as well, where he first started all the way up to the counselor level where he is now. This unique perspective not all only gives him the breadth of knowledge necessary to train a competent behavioral health tech, but students can easily relate to his career as a potential trajectory for their own.
We hope that you will have the pleasure of meeting C-Kwon at an upcoming Certified Behavioral Health Technician weekend session in our classroom.