What We Do
We are a boutique practice specializing in comprehensive evaluations of children, adolescents, and emerging adults. The thorough, integrated evaluations we perform represent the intersection of developmental, neurobiological, educational, and psychological disciplines.
We also provide consultation and educational coaching services for families that have had testing within the last few years or for students who do not need a full battery of tests. This can be a faster, more cost-effective way to understand the information that we already know about a student and to make a targeted, effective action plan.
What Makes Us Different
Our approach to assessment is uniquely holistic, more in-depth, and more well-rounded than traditional neuropsychological or psychoeducational assessments. LACIA psychologists have extensive training in both neuropsychological testing and in the assessment of personality and psychosocial development. By integrating information about an individual’s brain with a nuanced conceptualization of their inner world, we paint a clear and accurate picture of them.
What You Can Expect from Our Process
The ultimate goal is to construct a detailed, individualized road map that prioritizes an action plan in a methodical, practical way. Our philosophy is to remediate areas of weakness that respond to intervention while simultaneously developing strategies to allow a student to work smarter, not harder. Families will have the information they need to make well-informed decisions for next steps to maximize treatment gains while fostering healthy emotional growth. Emerging adults will have a realistic, concrete understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and personality style to serve as the springboard from which they launch into successful, fulfilling academic and/or vocational endeavors.
How Do We Get Started
Contact to get general information about the evaluation process and to schedule a phone call to talk about your child’s specific needs. We are excited to work with you and your family!
History and Mission
LACIA evolved organically as a different way to approach the work of evaluating people, no matter what their age. This progression mirrors the development of our assessment style in many ways. What started as a solo practitioner model with very compartmentalized thinking about a patient has blossomed into a dynamic, collaborative group methodology whose whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.
Dr. Allison Kawa founded the practice in 2010 as a solo practitioner, providing several different, narrowly-focused types of evaluation (e.g., ADHD evaluations, autism evaluations, etc.). She quickly realized that partial batteries of testing tended to raise more questions than they answered. Since they proved unhelpful, they were systematically dropped from the “menu of services” in favor of more comprehensive assessments. As the depth and complexity of evaluations increased, so did the time required to conduct them. This had the unfortunate result of causing excessive wait times for appointments. On a personal note, Dr. Kawa found solo practice to be lonely, and she missed the camaraderie and intellectual stimulation of working in the group setting at UCLA.
In 2013, Dr. Kawa founded Allison Kawa, Psy.D. & Associates. The practice was structured much like other group practices in that each of the psychologists conducted their own evaluations, with Dr. Kawa providing feedback and consultation “behind the scenes.” Dr. Kawa and her team continued to refine their comprehensive evaluation approach, which is constantly changing in response to new research and assessment methods.
While the traditional group practice model worked well enough, it still felt too compartmentalized. Additionally, wait times increased again and the logistics of scheduling became more challenging. In an effort to think outside the box, the Los Angeles Center for Integrated Assessment was established in 2018. The practice is a hybrid of a solo practitioner model and a collaborative model. All of the psychologists in the practice perform a limited number of evaluations independently. We also conduct collaborative evaluations, where two psychologists work together, each meeting with the family and the patient.
Dr. Kawa has expanded her role as the Clinical Director so that she is personally able to meet all the patients being evaluated in the clinic, sit in on testing appointments, and interface with parents. The entire team has regular case conference meetings in addition to informal consultations that occur “on the fly”. The benefit of this collaborative model is that there are multiple highly-skilled psychologists working together to develop a thoughtful, integrated conceptualization of the whole person for each patient coming to the clinic. The collaborative nature of the practice also allows the team to learn from each other as well as from all the families we see.
Just as the field of psychology and our understanding of the mind is constantly developing and growing, so must our methods for understanding it. LACIA is truly a unique entity driven by big picture thinking, curiosity, empathy, and flexibility. We remain abreast of and responsive to burgeoning research while never losing touch with our psychologically-minded roots. It is this integration of the head and the heart that sets us apart from standard neuropsychological or psychoeducational testing practices.