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Allison Kawa, Psy.D.
Clinical Director
PSY 23700


"If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be."
                ~Maya Angelou

Hello! I’m Dr. Kawa, but your child will call me Allison (because when I introduce myself as Dr. Kawa, about 50% of the time I get asked whether I’m giving a shot, and that’s just no way to start off a session). I am a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the evaluation of children, adolescents, and emerging adults. My approach to assessment is informed by decades of work with individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, formal training in object-relations theory, and cutting-edge research in the field of interpersonal neurobiology. I’m also lucky to be the mother of two of the most incredible people on the planet. Becoming a mother has profoundly changed my work as a psychologist in numerous and sometimes unexpected ways. My children are sources of infinite joy as well as constant reminders that parenthood is an epic challenge, even for psychologists.
My journey as a psychologist began in high school following a fender-bender with my dad’s car. I took on an after-school babysitting job to pay for the repairs, and one of the kids I was watching had autism. I quickly transitioned from babysitter to behavioral therapist for that little guy, and I spent the next ten years working with children with developmental delays. As part of that work, I participated on numerous multidisciplinary teams, which gave me exposure to diagnostic and intervention principles in areas like speech and language, audiology, and occupational therapy. My pre-doctoral training was conducted at the UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic (AEC) where I acquired extensive training in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and a variety of other developmental disorders. Following my training, I worked as a Staff Psychologist at the UCLA AEC while concurrently completing my post-doctoral fellowship.

I fell in love with testing at UCLA, and I was eager to learn more. To that end, my next step was to complete the Psychoeducational Diagnostic Services Program (PEDS) Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Pediatric Assessment at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar. In this setting, I conducted comprehensive evaluations for children and adolescents with a diverse range of issues including Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, learning disabilities, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders. I also completed the Child Therapy in a School Setting program offered by Phillips Graduate Institute, gaining training and experience in play therapy, social skills groups, and adolescent psychotherapy. 
Moving into private practice, I was able to synthesize all my experience while continuing to learn and grow in my own discipline as well as in others. I honed my diagnostic skills while simultaneously developing areas of clinical interest/expertise that have included Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia and other language-based learning disorders, pre-verbal and developmental trauma, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and issues specific to adoption. Testing will always be my first love, but over the years I have also found immense fulfillment in consultation. I have been able to parlay my skills as a technical writer (because after all, that’s an important asset for an effective assessment psychologist) and my knack for practical treatment planning to help many families make sense and USE of testing obtained elsewhere so they can understand their child’s specific needs with better precision.
In addition to working in private practice, I have taught child development and autism evaluation to pre- and post-doctoral fellows at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar, where I also worked as a supervisor and consultant. Additionally, I have taught graduate-level courses in assessment at the Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology as adjunct faculty. While I stopped formal teaching around the time that my oldest child was born, I have continued to mentor psychologists in my practice as well as conducting talks and webinars to help educate other professionals and parents. In truth, those talks are really just an excuse for me to “geek out” on whatever topic piques my interest.
Outside of work, you can often find me in a spin class early in the morning, curled up with a good book on a lazy Sunday, or swimming with my kids in the afternoon. I have a Pinterest addiction and am an amateur baker with a special interest in novelty cakes and anything chocolate. I’m infamous for bringing leftover cake and confections to the office, so feel free to take a treat if you notice a plate in the waiting room!



Bachelors of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology, University of California at Los Angeles
Masters of Arts (M.A.) in Psychology from Pepperdine University
Doctorate of Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) at the California Graduate Institute

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