CHOC wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Alyssa Saiz, a postdoctoral fellow in pediatric psychology and neuropsychology.
Q: What is your education and training?
A: I attended Pepperdine University to complete my doctorate in clinical psychology. My clinical internship was at the University of Health Science Center San Antonio. I am currently near the completion of my two-year postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric psychology and neuropsychology.
Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: My clinical interests are working with children and teens with depression and self-harming behaviors, as well as somatic symptom and related disorders. I also am developing my specialty in pediatric neuropsychology. I love being able to help people during the most confused and vulnerable time in their life, and hope to give them a future they can thrive in.
Q: How long have you been on staff at CHOC?
A: Three years.
Q: What are some new programs or developments within your specialty?
A: CHOC is in the process of building both an intensive outpatient program and Mental Health Inpatient Center for children and teenagers through the Mental Health Initiative. This is very exciting because the services provided by both of these programs are greatly needed in our community and will help us provide even better comprehensive and intensive mental health care.
Q: What are your most common diagnoses?
A: Somatic symptom disorders, depression, and anxiety.
Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about you or your division at CHOC?
A: As a department, we are growing and evolving with the community, working on research developments and supporting CHOC’s mental health initiative – all for the happiness of the population here. We are here to serve them, and working hard with them in mind each day. For me personally, I would love for people know how much of a passion this is for me – I’m here doing this work because I truly love it, and admire the courage of my patients and coworkers.
Q: What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: The aspiration to always give more and provide better services to the children and families we work with, as well as the commitment to training the future generations of medical and mental health professionals.
Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: I am insatiably curious and always wondering how to improve a situation. I also love to connect emotionally with people and understand their journey. So naturally, I was always drawn to psychology as an area of study and found myself looking for opportunities to work with children and teenagers who were experiencing hardship or mental health concerns.
Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A: I would be a florist or have a ranch for rescued animals. Both very different paths, but in the end they’re creating beauty to enhance someone else’s life and provide joy.
Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: I love to cook (usually anything pasta or cheese-filled) and be outside (hiking, walking my family’s dog, and being in the sun). I am also currently learning Spanish, which I am very excited about!
Q: What is the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?
A: When I told a young patient I was going to get her mom from the waiting room, she replied, “Well, she’s probably getting coffee. She can’t live without coffee!” I can relate. Kids hear and take in everything!
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- The CHOC Children’s Mental Health Inpatient Center will provide Orange County’s first psychiatric inpatient beds for children younger than 12.
- Meet Dr. Micaela Thordarson, lead psychologist, ASPIRE® (After School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education) Intensive Outpatient Program at CHOC Children’s.