Leading breakthrough

We believe everyone has barriers preventing them from living truly fulfilled lives

Our counseling focuses on individuals and families in need of change. As a team of therapists with diverse specialties, we are uniquely equipped to come alongside the whole family. We believe the greatest impact is made when the family is viewed as a unit.

Our coaching focuses on the professional development of leaders. We equip individuals to understand their own weaknesses and opportunities as leaders to help them best serve and manage those around them.

Our marriage intensives are intended for marriages in crisis or on the brink of failure. Intensives offer the greatest chance of healing for couples in distress. Our marriage retreats are intentionally designed to strengthen a couple's bond, allowing them to experience deeper levels of connection and satisfaction.

A Different Experience

High Quality Counseling

Our therapists are hand-picked not only for their expertise, but also their passion. They genuinely care about their clients and always strive for clinical excellence. To insure the highest quality counseling possible, LifeGate is not regulated by insurance networks. Our primary goal is to meet the needs of our clients, not navigate the red tape of insurance.

Intensive Programs

Our intensive program is one of a kind and truly transforms marriages, leaders, and families. By leveraging the blessing of a sequestered retreat environment, we can make a bigger impact and produce greater healing.

Real Counselors

We’re real people who have stories and struggles of our own. We have families, friends and hobbies and are actively engaged within our communities. We do not pretend to be experts on other people's lives. Instead, we come alongside those who are hurting, stuck or longing for change and empower them to reach their goals

Christian Worldview

Our Christian faith is our foundation. It informs how we view the world and our work. However, we never force spiritual exploration or faith-based topics. Instead, we allow our clients to choose if and how they integrate their faith into their therapy.

Todd Sandel, CEO & Managing Director

Todd Sandel, CEO & Managing Director

Executive Coach, Marriage Specialist, Speaker

As Managing Director, Todd serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The LifeGate Group (since 2006) where he also sees corporate clients as a Certified Executive Coach in addition to his practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.


Clinical Therapy:

  • Equipping engaged couples to succeed
  • Creating change for struggling marriages
  • Empowering men to live, love and lead well

Executive Coaching:

As an Executive Coach, Todd has helps guide CEO's, corporate executives, senior managers, business owners, and ministry leaders to a higher level of leadership effectiveness.

  • Strategic Vision
  • Leadership Development
  • Organizational Performance


Todd presents seminars, workshops, and retreats for churches, schools, companies and organizations in the following areas:

  • Marriage and family health
  • Leadership excellence
  • Personal development
  • Team and organizational health


  • Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist


  • Certified Executive Coach
  • Certified Birkman Consultant
  • Certified DISC Personality Consultant
  • Certified Prepare-Enrich Seminar Director
  • Gottman Educator
  • Certified Family Wellness Instructor


  • Emory University Goizueta School of Business- Leadership Certificate
  • Fuller School of Psychology- MS in Marriage & Family Therapy
  • Fuller Theological Seminary- MA in Christian Leadership

Professional Memberships

  • American Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Georgia Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Center for Executive Coaching
  • Seminar Director for Prepare-Enrich




February 3: Clairmont Presbyterian Church (ATLANTA)

February 7: Peachtree MOPS Event (ATLANTA)

March 3-5th: Winshape Marriage Retreat (ROME, GA.)

April 10th: CFA Operators Leadership Workshop (ATLANTA)

April 28-29th: Peachtree Marriage Retreat (ATLANTA)

May 3-5th: FCA Coaches Retreat, (NEW YORK)

June 9th: CFA Business Consultants Leadership Forum

July 7-9th: Winshape Marriage Retreat (ROME, GA.)

August 11th: Prepare-Enrich Certification (ATLANTA)

August 25th: CFA Business Consultants Leadership Forum

September 12-21st: Epic Marriage Adventure, (MACHU PICCHU, PERU)

September 24th: CFA Business Consultants Leadership Forum

September 29-30th: Winshape Marriage Retreat (ROME, GA.)

October 6-8th: Marriage Retreat Speaking

October 27th: CFA Business Consultants Leadership Forum

December 1st: CFA Business Consultants Leadership Forum

  • Trail running
  • Snow skiing
  • Paddleboarding
  • Outdoor adventures with my family
Read my Posts
Ryan Jackson, Executive Director

Ryan Jackson, Executive Director

Executive Director and Director of Marriage Intensives

Marriage Therapist, Consultant, Speaker

Ryan came to The LifeGate Group from California in 2011 to join the team as a Marriage and Family Therapist where he works with couples who are married, engaged, and dating. Additionally he sees individual adult clients seeking to get unstuck and live more whole-heartedly.


Specific Focus

Clinical Therapy:

    • Creating safe space for couples to experience genuine connection with each other
    • Challenging men and women to live authentically and courageously
    • Facilitating honest conversations integrating Christian Faith with life in the here and now.


Ryan speaks for churches, schools, and organizations on the topics of marriage health and/or enrichment, team and community culture, self-care, and the integration of Christian faith with emotional maturity.



  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist


  • Pending certification as an Emotionally Focused Therapist
  • Certified Prepare-Enrich Counselor
  • Education
  • Point Loma Nazarene University-BA in Psychology
  • San Diego State University—MS in Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy

Professional Memberships

  • American Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Georgia Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
  • International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT)
Online Resources
Book Recommendations
  1. With- Skye Jethani
  2. Soul Keeping- John Ortberg
  3. The Meaning of Marriage- Tim Keller
  4. Hold Me Tight- Sue Johnson
  5. Safe Haven Marriage- Sharon Hart-Morris
  6. Reaching Out- Henri Nouwen
  7. Return of the Prodigal Son- Henri Nouwen
  8. Daring Greatly- Brene Brown
  • Snow Skiing
  • Golf
  • Volleyball
  • Watching the SF 49ers and Giants, the Warriors, Sharks, and Stanford Football
  • Time with my wife and 3 daughters
Lisa Watts

Lisa Watts

Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Doctoral Student of Psychology

Relationship and Intimacy Specialist

About Lisa

Living in Atlanta for 25 years has allowed Lisa to create a rich community of resources and support for her practice, and her clients.  As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Lisa has worked in the public and private sectors of mental health care, including four years of service as the Executive Director of a non-profit community mental health organization in Midtown, Atlanta.

Aside from her career at Lifegate, Lisa is pursuing her PhD in Psychology, and is a graduate teaching assistant at University of West Georgia.

Practice Focus


  • Infidelity
  • Divorce Recovery
  • Communication in relationships

Lisa works with clients on the following issues:

  • New Motherhood Transition
  • Parenting
  • Personal and Professional Harmony
  • Life Mapping

PhD Psychology (in progress): Univ. of West Georgia

Masters of Social Work: Georgia State University

BFA Arts & Management: Brenau Women's College

Professional Training

Bringing Baby Home Instructor: Gottman Institute

Human Sexuality & Culture

Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy

Children's and Family Grief

Prepare-Enrich Certified Facilitator

Dori Whitworth

Dori Whitworth

Licensed Professional Counselor

ADHD Coaching, Trauma specialist, and Adaptive Aging

Becky Nguyen

Becky Nguyen

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

Special Therapy Focus

Young adults: life decisions, relationships, and/or family of origin issues;

Adult children of alcoholics/addicts;

Parents: help navigating a problem they are having with their child(ren);

Adults: relationship concerns, life-transition issues, self-worth concerns, and family matters.

Couples: dating, engaged, and married



Licensed Mental Health Professional in State of Washington (2000-2007)

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in State of Georgia (since 2007)


Certified Prepare-Enrich Facilitator


BS Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, 1997

MS Marriage and Family Therapy, Auburn University, 2000


American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy

Online Resources

Book recommendations:


Becky has spoken for many groups on a variety of topics including, but not limited to: parenting, marriage, interpersonal boundaries, self-worth, managing conflict in the workplace, managing anxiety.

Becky also conducts Love & Logic® and Preparing for Marriage Workshops.


Practicing since 2000, and at LifeGate since 2007, Becky's counseling focus has evolved over the years from a focus on children, adolescents, and families to a focus primarily on individual adults and their relationships.

Having a rich background in child/adolescent therapy enables her to be particularly helpful to adults who are working through issues that may have some of their roots in their childhood, as well as to be helpful as a consultant to parents who are wanting a better relationship with their young or adult children, or wanting to problem-solve a specific parenting issue.

Having a strong background in family systems offers Becky important insights about people within the context of their relationships—with themselves, others, and God.

Becky is also passionate about preparing engaged couples for a successful marriage and strengthening or reconciling the relationships of married couples.

Additionally she enjoys helping dating couples work through specific issues which often helps the couple to better discern the direction of their relationship.

Becky has been married for 10 years and has 2 young children.

Melissa Sparks

Melissa Sparks

Eating Disorders Specialist

Style of Therapy

Melissa takes a bio•psycho•social•spiritual approach to counseling and practices with openness and respect for individual and cultural differences.

She believes that a full recovery can be attained with appropriate emotional, physical, and spiritual intervention. She utilizes evidence-based treatments and often collaborates with a multidisciplinary team, including registered dietitians, physicians, psychiatrists, physical therapists, etc.

Treatment modalities include cognitive-behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, dialectical-behavior therapy, solution-focused therapy, and exposure with response prevention.



Clinical Therapy

Individual, Couples, Family, Group, and Meal Coaching for Adolescents and Adults

  • Eating Disorders (Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder), body image concerns, compulsive exercise, etc.
  • Anxiety Disorders (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Phobia)
  • General relationship concerns, career and life transitions, identity formation, self-esteem, depression, grief and loss, and pre-marital counseling

Melissa presents in schools, churches, seminars, and professional conferences on topics primarily related to eating disorder prevention and awareness. Recent presentations include the following list:

  • Eating Disorders 101 (for various middle schools and high schools)
  • How to Raise Intuitive Eaters (MOPS-Mom’s of Preschoolers)
  • Mom in the Mirror (MOPS-Mom’s of Preschoolers; co-presented with Kate Ferguson, LPC)
  • Escaping the Comparison Trap (Peachtree Presbyterian Church Women’s Ministry; co-presented with Miriam Ryan)
  • Depression and Cutting (for parents of a church youth group; co-presented with Susanne Stribling, PsyD)
  • Eating Disorder Panel (with a Registered Dietitian, Physician, Physical Therapist, and a person in recovery from an eating disorder)
  • Managing Relationship, Nutrition, and Sport Issues (The Renfrew Conference, Eating Disorder in Sport Conference; co-presented with Page Love, R.D.)
  • The Multidisciplinary Approach to treating Anorexia Nervosa and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (The National Eating Disorder Association Conference; co-presented with Carrie Poline, M.D., Ryan Schwerzmann, LMFT, and Eileen Shaw, R.D.)


M.A. – Marriage and Family Therapy, Richmont Graduate University

B.A. – Psychology with Religion Minor, Lee University


  • National Certified Counselor
  • Certified PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor

Professional Memberships

  • International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, Atlanta Chapter
  • American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole R.D & Elyse Resch R.D.

8 Keys to Recovery from and Eating Disorder by Carolyn Costin MFT, M.ED

Eating Mindfully by Susan Albers, PsyD

Women Food and God by Geneen Roth

Life Without ED by Jenni Schaefer

Goodbye ED, Hello Me by Jenni Schaefer

Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnston PhD

Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia by Harriet Brown

The Parents Guide to Eating Disorders by Marcia Herrin RD

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown PhD, LMSW

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown PhD, LMSW

The New Codependency by Melody Beattie

Perfectionism: What’s Bad About Being Too Good by Miriam Adderholdt PhD

Brainlock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Jeffrey Schwartz MD

Brianna Bacorn

Brianna Bacorn

Staff Therapist


Play Therapy Specialist

Child & Adolescent Specialist

Adult Therapist



Child Centered Play Therapy

I enjoy working with children and seeing their resilience to get through challenging situations. When children are placed in safe environments and given the chance to use their natural language of play, they are able to process and work through challenges in their daily lives. Children who are given the opportunity to work through their challenges when they are young are also less likely to experience mental health issues into their adulthood, equipping them to lead healthy and functional lives. It is wonderful to see kids process the world around them and learn to see the world in more helpful ways. I get to be a guide along the way.

Adolescent and Adult Clinical Therapy

  • Help people experience freedom from anxiety
  • Work through people’s life transitions from college to career
  • Guide people to live the lives they envision


  • Anxiety Disorders
  • General Anxiety
  • Social Anxiety
  • Test Anxiety
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Physiological Manifestations of Anxiety
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anger Management for Children and Adolescents
  • Divorce Transitions for Children
  • Pre-Marital Counseling


Licensed Master’s Social Work


  • Florida State University- Master of Social Work
  • Florida State University- Bachelor of Social Work

Professional Memberships

  • National Association of Social Workers
  • Association for Play Therapy
Burke Buster

Burke Buster

Clinical Fellow

I feel honored to walk alongside people in their journey toward change.

Therapy Focus
  • Life transitions
  • Couples: dating, engaged, married
  • Addiction
  • Depression


  • Application in process for Associate License in Professional Counseling in GA


  • Certified Prepare-Enrich Facilitator


  • Richmont Graduate University, MS in Professional Counseling
  • Auburn University, BA in Business Marketing
Therapy Experience

Therapist 2014-2015, Atlanta Mission: Shepherds Inn

Therapist 2014-2015, Hope Counseling Center


Burke is a music enthusiast who has played with his band the Rusty Busters throughout the Southeast for the past four years. In addition to performing, he enjoys watching anything that has to do with Auburn athletics and fishing with his wife.

Staci Bolton

Staci Bolton

Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Bolton is a licensed psychologist who provides psychological testing for children, adolescents, and adults at LifeGate.




Licensed Psychologist


  • Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Child and Family Clinical Practice from the Georgia School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University
  • Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from the Georgia School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University
  • Master of Science in Christian Psychological Studies from the Psychological Studies Institute

Professional Memberships

  • Georgia Psychological Association
  • American Association of Christian Counselors
Specific Focus

Psychological/Educational Testing is provided to assist LifeGate Clients with the following:

  • Determine a psychological diagnosis related to an emotional, behavioral, or learning problem
  • Facilitate treatment planning and offer strategies for clients who may be “stuck” in their therapy progress
  • Make recommendations for educational or vocational planning
  • Assess eligibility for special needs resources (including admissions to gifted programs)
  • Admissions testing for some private schools and undergraduate/graduate academic support programs
  • Develop understanding of individual strengths and weaknesses (e.g., learning style or personality style)
  • Cheering on my kids
  • Reading
  • Tennis
Mary Beth Pierce

Mary Beth Pierce

Client Services Specialist

Susan Palacios

Susan Palacios

Client Services Manager