Part I The Early Years – Learning Specialist

I have been working in the field of psychology since I received my B.A. from San Francisco State University in 1976. The next year I finished my Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential. In 1978, I received my Specialist Credential for teaching Learning and Emotionally Handicapped students, and in 1980, I completed my Master’s Degree in Special Education, with an emphasis on students who have learning and emotional handicaps.

From 1979 to 1989, I worked with Learning and Emotionally Handicapped students in several different K-12 programs. I started out at the Markoff School in San Mateo and had the opportunity to work with low-achieving middle school students and Annabelle Markoff, a local early pioneer in the field of Learning Disabilities. In 1980-1981, I worked in a private high school for Learning Disabled and Emotionally Disturbed students in San Francisco.

From 1981 through 1987, I was a Special Day Class teacher at a middle school in San Mateo. For a year during that time, I was the Chair of the Special Education Department on our campus, and I conducted the GATE ( Gifted And Talented Education) program there. Those experiences gave me an opportunity to grow and learn about two new arenas. They added incredible depth to my educational background. My work as Department Chair, prompted me to go back to school to work on my second Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. I completed the degree and the requirements for the Educational Administration Credential in 1989, and I moved to the East Bay at that time. My move to Contra Costa County began a new era for me.


Part II Now – Learning Specialist and Therapist

From 1987 to 1989, I worked as a Special Day Class teacher in a middle school in East Contra Costa County, but in 1989 I began working with adults, as a Learning Specialist at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg. In 1992, I became a Learning Specialist at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, and I still teach courses there that are designed to improve basic reading, writing, spelling and study skills for an ethnically diverse population of students with learning, psychological and sensory disabilities. I enjoy this work because it gives me an additional opportunity to see people make concrete improvements in their lives.

As a Learning Specialist, I also conduct assessments. I regularly administer and interpret tests, such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – III (WAIS-III), Woodcock-Johnson – III (W J-III), Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT), Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices, Trails A and B, Wide Range Achievement Test 3 (WRAT 3), and Nelson-Denny Reading Comprehension Test. I meet with students to evaluate and discuss the results of testing and develop Individual Education Plans (IEPs)/ Student Educational Contracts (SECs) and academic accommodations based on their learning styles, strengths, weaknesses, and educational /career goals.

During my work with special needs students, both children and adults, I was impressed by the interconnections I saw between learning and other areas of life experience. In 1996, I decided to pursue my doctorate and license in clinical psychology by enrolling in the newly developed PsyD program at John F. Kennedy (JFK) University. This journey has been a profound experience and has brought me full circle. I feel the wide range of experience I have allows me a more complete understanding of the variety of challenges many people face.

My training through JFK was excellent. I worked in several outstanding settings. Initially, I worked with the Battered Women’s Alternative program (now STAND) and learned to help people facing domestic violence, abuse and anger management issues. This site provided exceptional training opportunities. Working on the crisis line and helping coordinate placement for families in danger was a very satisfying experience. I also learned a lot and had my first opportunity to do a psychotherapy group.

My second placement was the JFK Community Counseling Center in Pleasant Hill. There I had the opportunity to do therapy with adults, couples, and children. I again was fortunate to work with outstanding supervisors and receive additional excellent training.

My third placement was Discovery Counseling Center in Danville. I felt very fortunate to work with this program too. They had exceptional substance abuse programs and offered both individual therapy and group treatment for adolescents and adults. They were also very involved in providing on-site counseling services to students attending the schools in their service area. Additionally, in collaboration with the Danville Police Department, the Contra Costa Health Service Department and other community organizations, they offered a program called Creating Lasting Family Connections. This program was designed to strengthen families by teaching communication and decision making skills. Although preventing drug related problems was a major focus of the program, it also enhanced a wide variety of interpersonal skills, encouraged family bonding, and improved coping skills for parents and children alike. The Discovery Counseling Center gave me wonderful opportunities to work with families and with children in play therapy, in addition my work with individual clients.

My final training site was the Hume Center, and while I was there, I completed my pre doctoral internship and my post doctoral training. They had locations in Concord, Fremont and Pittsburg, and I worked at all of the sites during the several years I was at this extraordinary community mental health agency. In addition to the standard opportunities for individual, couples and family therapy, I did numerous psychological assessments, I conducted trainings for trainees and interns, and I had the opportunity to work with a variety of community resource agencies. In the course of my training, the Hume Center was unique because of its Partial Hospitalization Program. I was very fortunate to be a staff member in this intensive out-patient day-treatment group therapy program. I learned a tremendous amount from the clients there, and I truly appreciated that opportunity.


My Practice of Therapy and Assessment

Once my training was complete, I was able to take the licensing exams, and now I have my private practice in Lafayette. I feel my background has provided incredible opportunities to learn about people and their concerns. I have worked with many wonderful clients, and I look forward to new opportunities to work with people though my private practice. I am excited to work with individuals, couples and families that may be trying to improve their lives in a variety of ways or trying to cope with many different concerns.

I am familiar with the wide range of educational issues students and their families face. Since I have worked with students from preschool age through adulthood, I have in-depth knowledge of the scope and sequence of our educational system, so I am familiar with a variety of strategies that can help remediate specific skill deficits. I am able to assess students of any age to determine their strengths and weaknesses, and I can use this information to help them obtain academic accommodations that can help them be more successful in their educational activities. I can also address many other factors that may be impacting a student’s ability to be successful.

My knowledge of assessment is helpful not only in the cognitive domain, but in a variety of other contexts as well. I believe my combination of experience and skill allows me to analyze problems and identify solutions. Above all, I am compassionate. I care deeply about the lives of my clients, and I work with them to define and achieve their goals and improve their overall quality of life in any way I can.


Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my background with you, and I look forward to talking with you about your concerns.

Alissa Scanlin, Psy.D.
Lic: PSY20873
Tel: (925) 283-3902

3468 Mount Diablo Blvd. Suite B203
Lafayette, CA 94549