CEO And Founder
Juan E. Lesende established Adaptive Center and its parent company Dylus, Inc. He is the driving force behind both.
Born in Cuba, Lesende first realized he wanted to study psychology while sitting in detention in his high school library. A book on careers pointed him in this direction. Though he felt lost up to that point in his life, he had the very deep feeling that he, one day, wanted to practice psychology. Following the advice of influential male figures in his life, he attempted to study business. After a failed attempt to do so, he dropped out. Juan later went back to school to follow his correct path.
In a beginning psychology class, he was introduced to Gestalt Therapy. He asked the professor if anyone locally practiced it. He was directed to John Heider, a student of the founder of Gestalt, Fritz Perls. “He was the first man I met that I really, really wanted to be like,” Juan says. “He was like nobody else that I’d met before. He was liberal, open-minded, and centered.” Heider introduced him to the Human Potential Movement and the Esalen Institute. Located in Big Sur, California, and established by Michael Murphy and Dick Price, the Esalen Institute informs much of the Adaptive Center’s approach to healing and life. Price and Murphy invited Zen maters, yogis, other spiritual leaders, scientific experts, and academics to teach alternative practices and philosophies to the curious.
The philosophy of Esalen is simplistic. Like the Adaptive Center’s approach, they focused on the intersection of psychology and cutting-edge spiritual practices. The main message is: “Everyone is welcome, but no one takes the flag.” Not one teaching holds the ultimate truth. Juan has a master’s degree in psychology. When registering for the last course of his doctoral program, he was told that he had reached the limit of his financial aid, and could not complete the program. Adaptive Center is a living manifestation of the doctoral dissertation that he never had a chance to present. Juan has been in the field over 25 years, and worked in many treatment centers in South Florida.
Program DirectorEva Ugarte was born and raised in Spain. She moved to Germany in 2007, and then to Miami in 2012, a city she loves. Eva has been working in the mental health field since 2000. Her background is in trauma work and domestic violence. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida, a Certified Addictions Professional, a Certified Traumatologist, and Certified Sex Therapist. She formerly worked as a therapist until she transferred over to handle administrative duties in 2009. She held several positions in executive management at different organizations, both nonprofit and for profit.
Case Manager and Program CoordinatorRaquel Valls is a South Florida native. She has earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and a Masters in Social Work from Florida International University. Raquel’s passion lies in helping others in the community setting. She came to Adaptive with many years of case management and aftercare planning experience. Raquel has worked with victims of domestic violence, patients with HIV/AIDS, and participants with severe and persistent mental illness.
Admissions CoordinatorJustin is a psychology student making his way into the field. He studied at Florida State University before transferring to Florida International University in order to work at Adaptive Center and learn from the clinical staff.
Admissions CoordinatorTravis was born in Maryland. He has been working in the field of recovery since 2015. Travis is working towards becoming a certified addiction professional.