Meet Our Staff

Aubrey Dunning

Administrator

Aubrey Dunning is the Administrator and Owner of Changing Tides.  She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Minor in Family Relations in 2007 from East Carolina University.  Aubrey has only worked in the field of addiction and feels very blessed to be a change agent in each client’s journey to recovery.  Aubrey worked at a facility for approximately 7 years before opening Changing Tides. Prior to opening Changing Tides Aubrey began her Master’s Program in Professional Counseling at Grand Canyon University.  Through her experience she feels that Changing Tides has something special to offer to client’s in need of treatment services, and that is the real-life environment. As a professional, Aubrey enjoys working with clients using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Solution Focused Therapy.  She feels that most people are touched by addiction in some way, whether it is themselves or a loved one or friend. Therefore it is important to incorporate the family members into client’s treatment process as much as possible.

Sandra Briggman

Financial Director

Sandra who goes by Sandy Briggman is the Financial Director at Changing Tides Treatment Center on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Sandy is a graduate from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania with a degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Management.  The experience that Sandy brings to Changing Tides is her years of working as a Contracts Manager, Pricing Manager, Human Resources Manager, and a company Financial Manager.  Sandy feels that working at Changing Tides Treatment Center is a perfect job for her because not only does she get to work as their Financial Manager but she also believes in the company’s philosophy that “Change IS Possible!”  In the field of treatment and recovery, Sandy has seen clients come through Changing Tides’ doors and change their lives with the help of the supportive staff.  Changing Tides programs and dedication to each person individually has been part of the key to client’s success.  Sandy has chosen to work in this field because she feels that treatment and recovery is near and dear to her heart due to her own family’s affliction with alcoholism and drug addiction.   It is a family disease and there is hope.  Hope and health for the individual and for the family can be achieved through therapy and counseling.  

In Sandy’s free time she enjoys spending time with her children and her grandchildren.  She is also very talented in Stained Glass and Pottery making and has sold many pieces as well as teaches courses for both arts.  Sandy also enjoys living on the Outer Banks and takes advantage of the island as much as she can with water skiing, boating and swimming.

David Briggman

Operations Director

Dave Briggman is the Operations Director at Changing Tides Treatment Center on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Dave has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Physics from Villanova University. Dave started his career as a scientist and was quickly promoted to a Research and Development Supervisor and finally to an R & D Manager at Harry Diamond Laboratories.  He also worked at Fairchild Weston (Schlumberger / Loral) as a Product Manager, reporting to the General Manager and was responsible for product development and manufacturing, personnel performance, contractor and government relations, and finances.  He also worked at Pocal Industries as the General Manager and Vice President and was responsible for all operations of the company. Dave ended up in the Outer Banks because he decided that he needed a change of climates and had vacationed every year to the Outer Banks since he was only a couple of months old.  He and his wife bought a motel that was originally called the Buccaneer Motel. He owned and operated that motel for approximately 20 years before deciding to be a part of the change needed in the world in the addiction crisis and has been a major part of changing the motel over from the Buccaneer to Changing Tides Addiction Treatment Center.  Dave oversees any function of Changing Tides Company that can affect the quality of performance and client care. Dave also meets occasionally with clients to establish rapport and ensure that they are receiving all they need from the program. Dave feels that the field of addiction recovery is a priority and is very close to home as he has a son in recovery and has witnessed the destruction of families from addiction as he is also a North Carolina Guardian ad Litem volunteer, advocating for abused and neglected children.  Dave believes that Changing Tides’ multi-faceted recovery approach is the most effective philosophy in the field. Dave is certified as all staff members are in Medication Management, Client/Patient Rights, Confidentiality of Substance Use Treatment Information, HIPPA, Substance Use Disorders Part 1 and 2, Structured Group Therapy Approaches, Brief Models of Family Therapy, Best Practices in Substance Use Treatment Engagement, Biopsychosocial Model of Addiction, Blood borne Pathogens, CPR/FA Including the Heimlich Maneuver and Seizure Management, Least Restrictive Alternatives and ACA Codes of Ethics.  Dave has also won awards for the following:

1976: Department of the Army Research and Development Achievement Award

2006 North Carolina (Governor’s) Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service

2013 College of the Albemarle Coach Conner Award for Excellence in Professional Arts

In his free time Dave enjoys spending time with family which is constantly growing.  He also is a lover of sports, especially soccer and football. He enjoys getting together with his peers and playing pickle ball at least 3 times per week and loves taking his boat out on the sound for sunset cruises in the spring, summer and fall months.  

Adriana Gomez-Nichols

Therapist

Adriana was born in Colombia, South America where her father is originally from providing her with a strong multicultural lens of counseling and social interaction. However, Adriana is an Outer Banks local, growing up in Southern Shores. She studied Sociology and Hispanic Studies at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. She promptly proceeded further education to obtain her Masters in Counseling and Art Therapy at Southwestern College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Adriana has always desired to work with people in a healing way. Growing up on the Outer Banks, Adriana witnessed family members and friends face the battle of addiction, and became aware of the lack of resources that the OBX has for those fighting for their lives. Adriana believes that those who face addiction are survivors; surviving another day the only way they know how. For this reason, Adriana feels it is pertinent that those going through life this way, need help, deserve the best care, and can truly benefit from a peer-based environment where they can relate with others who are facing the same battle.Adriana spends her free time exploring outside with her two dogs; Karma and Kili, painting or creating art in general, spending time with friends and family, and relaxing while reading or watching tv with her two dogs and cat, Junie. Adriana believes that humans are all similar in the fact that we are born to connect with one another. For this reason, Adriana practices from a person-centered, humanistic, and relational model of therapy. Adriana is firm in that therapy cannot happen unless there is a foundation of trust and safety in the alliance between client and therapist. Adriana incorporates experiential therapy activities, talk therapy, and art therapy to help facilitate the journey to self-discovery and healing that she guides each client through.

Donna Watson, MA

Therapist

Donna is a Mental Health Counselor and has over 23 years of experience in the industry.  She combines her individual, private, group and clinical counseling expertise with her knowledge to offer clients a very unique perspective of problem solving, mental health and substance abuse counseling.

Donna has a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education from Old Dominion University and a Master’s degree in counseling from Parkwood University.

Donna strives to bring an effective blend of experience, expertise, clarity, concern, and action to the counseling process in order to maximize outcomes and provide genuine healing and wholeness to individuals and families.

Donna has over 23 years’ experience of counseling with a wide range of clients in a variety of treatment settings.  These have included providing counseling in Psychiatric Hospitals, Probation, Addiction Treatment Facilities both inpatient and outpatient and Home Health.  Areas of emphasis include Addiction, PTSD, Mood Disorders, and Autism.

Renina Varfaj

Therapist
Renina Varfaj is one of the therapists at Changing Tides on the Outer Banks who is currently working closely with the staff to serve clients who struggle with chemical dependence, process addictions and other related mental health disorders. Renina graduated as a Clinical Psychologist in 2008 and obtained her degree from the University of Tirana in Albania. In 2012, she received the degree of Masters in Research in Education, also from the University of Tirana in Albania. Renina Varfaj attended the psychodrama training organized by the Institute of Psychodrama in Belgrade, Serbia which is an accredited institute by the European Association of Psychotherapy. Renina Varfaj received the title Psychotheapist by the European Association of couples, families, children and adolescents in various settings. Renina has worked individually and in group settings with a clinically diverse population of clients. Her focus includes working with clients who are dealing with issues centered around addiction, eating disorders, mental illness, dual diagnosis, self-esteem, parent-child conflict, anger management, communication skills, couple conflicts, domestic violence, trauma, female and male survivors of sexual abuse and family violence.

The other experiences and interests are related to social research, coordination of youth projects, advocacy for children’s rights, staff training and trainings for parents. Renina Varfaj has participated in national and international conferences as a speaker and as a guest.