Allyssa Lanza, PsyD ’14
"I would encourage anyone, at any crossroads in their lives, to think about their values and personal goals."
Alumna Credits Antioch’s Support Group for Racial and Ethnic Diversity (SERD) for “Inspiring” Her Professional Work
Allyssa Lanza, PsyD, class of 2014, currently works as a full time clinical psychologist at the Fredericksburg Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), a satellite location of the Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC, where her detail primarily focuses on outpatient individual and group therapy for Veterans in the Fredericksburg, VA area. Lanza is happy to be where she is but is always looking towards the future, “This is particularly exciting for me as it is one of the fastest growing Veteran areas in the country, and there are current plans for expanding to accommodate the Veteran need.” But her ambitions don’t stop there, “While I love direct patient care, I would also like to grow into an administrative role. Ultimately, I would love to help create policy that would streamline Veteran access to evidence-based mental health care, while promoting a system that supports and encourages treatment tailored to a Veteran’s unique personal and cultural needs.”
She gives full credit to her time at Antioch for her success today, as much for the connections she made then, as for Antioch’s rigorous academic preparation, “Antioch University’s Clinical Psychology program is a practitioner-scholar model, meaning that it focuses on research-informed client care. As a result, I have not only felt confident in my current knowledge of best practice, but also in my ability to learn and adjust as new research becomes available.”
But it’s her work with AUNE professor Dr. Gargi Roysircar that really gets her excited, “Academically I have been working on a manuscript with Dr. Gargi Roysircar and Sarajane Rodgers focused on providing mental health services to First Responders. It was only after 9/11 that the general public started to acknowledge the roles of First Responders. While I believe the public is well intentioned, it often supports First Responders with parades and “hero-worship,” rather than the consistent supportive programming they really need. This manuscript advocates for research-based programming before, during, and after a First Responder is exposed to potentially traumatizing experiences. “ So what’s the endgame with the project? Lanza continues, “Our goal is that the research will help increase First Responder access to services that support their well being and mental health. I presented this information at the Antioch Trauma Conference this past April.”
Roysircar was her advisor while at Antioch, and from there she found SERD. “Antioch’s Support Group for Racial and Ethnic Diversity (SERD) was one of the most positive influences on my professional – and personal – life. The student-led group was supervised by Dr. Gargi Roysircar and focused on community outreach, Antioch community development, and promotion of culturally informed practice. I was also a member of Disaster Shakti, a subgroup of SERD focused on disaster relief and promotion of resiliency.” But the praise doesn’t stop there for the group, “Much of my postgraduate academic work has been SERD-inspired, and I hope to continue in the spirit of SERD as I move forward in my academic and professional career.”
For someone whose dissertation focused on “replicating research that suggested the UK version of the WISC was falsely inflating IQ scores for children in the borderline range of intelligence,” Lanza’s tastes and interests, both professional and personal, are varied and far-reaching, “Currently I am enjoying exploring Washington, D.C. I enjoy reading, movies, and connecting with friends. I believe that most interests and hobbies help psychologists in their professional life since self-care is so important.”
And how’s the health of her field according to Lanza?
“I find it an interesting time to be a psychologist. The political zeitgeist has encouraged the lay public to think more about science, research, and public health. While admittedly biased, I see all of these issues relating to psychology, and I see the field of mental health as needing to step up to answer the public’s questions.”
And she has more advice for those following in her footsteps, “I would encourage anyone, at any crossroads in their lives, to think about their values and personal goals. I am blessed to be working in this field, and helping others is a gift that sustains me. At the same time, it can be intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually taxing. I encourage those considering the field of psychology to think about how the job may or may not allow them to reach their other goals.”
Good words to live by.