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Children & Teens

How Do I Know If My Child Needs A Psychologist?

While all children experience difficulties as they grow up, those whose troubles do not go away or seem to be more intense than other children’s problems, may be in need of assistance. Many problems are transient and require only short term treatment. Early treatment can prevent the development of more serious problems down the road.

Ashley Children’s Psychology Center offers parents and children supportive and effective help for:

ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder
ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
O.D.D. – Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Asperger’s
Tantrumming Children
Children Who Won’t Listen or Obey
Impulsivity
Depression
Anxious, Shy and Fearful Children
Nightmares
School/Homework Problems
Toilet Training
Identity Issues
Divorce/Separation Issues
Children with Low Self-Esteem
Daytime Wetting / Soiling
Social Skills / Friendship Problems
Physical Abuse
Bedwetting
Moodiness
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Phobias / Fears
Sexual Abuse
Bereavement

Children & Teen Services

How We Evaluate and Treat Children and Adolescents

Before we begin treatment we first perform an Initial Comprehensive Evaluation to determine the parents’ and child or adolescent’s concerns. Parents complete a series of psychological assessment tools to provide our psychologist with information about their child’s neonatal life, birth, infancy, toddler and early childhood years, medical history, behavioral history, family history, academic history and psychological history. Our psychologists like to know as much about the child/teen as possible and are pleased when parents bring in copies of report cards, standardized test scores, previous test results, notes from teachers, IEPs and other relevant information about their child. Unless otherwise indicated or requested, our psychologist will meet alone with the parents in order to have privacy to openly discuss and express their concerns. Once the psychologist has gathered the necessary information from the parents they then meet alone with the child or teen. This helps the psychologist become acquainted with the child/teen and gives the child/teen an opportunity to privately express how they feel and what concerns they may have.

After meeting with the parents and the child/teen our psychologist will then work alone to examine the records provided by the parents, the results of the psychological assessment tools, and the notes from their meeting with the parents and the child/teen. A diagnosis is formulated and a treatment plan is designed to meet the specific needs of the child/teen and family. Rest assured that our psychologists will be honest with you in their findings. If no treatment is necessary or we determine that we are not the appropriate therapist for you, we will tell so. We will also tell you what we can and cannot do for you. In cases where we can provide only a portion of what your child/teen needs, we will provide you with referrals to other professionals who can assist your child/teen with their other needs. We will only take you and your child/teen in our practice if we believe we can help you. We want to feel successful in helping families just as much as families want to find success.

Types of Treatment We Provide

Depending on your family and your child/teen’s unique needs we may recommend one or a combination of the following therapies:

Individual Therapy
Your child meets privately with one of our therapists to address his or her issues. Since younger children typically have difficulty identifying and verbalizing their thoughts and feelings, play therapy using games, toys, and art techniques are used to provide a fun and comfortable way for them to express themselves. Older children and teens are often more skilled and comfortable with talk therapy and can more directly discuss with the therapist how they feel and what they think.

Family Therapy
Often times one child’s problems in the family can have damaging effects on the family as a whole, the siblings, the parents, and the marital relationship. For families where the child or adolescent’s problems affect other family members your therapist will meet with some or all members of the immediate family, depending on your special needs.

Social Skills Group
For children and young teens that have trouble with friendships, Social Skills Group is the most effective treatment. Children and young teens meet with others their age who have similar issues. Social Skills Group provides great feelings of acceptance, understanding and belonging. Social Skills Group is recommended for children and young teens who have difficulties with friendships, controlling emotions, anger management, impulse control, self-esteem, decision making, teasing and cooperating.

Testing
Psychological, educational and intellectual testing is available for children and adolescents. We perform IQ tests, academic achievement tests, and tests of emotional and psychological functioning. The majority of children and teens who participate in psychotherapy do not require testing and we always do an Initial Comprehensive Evaluation prior to performing testing. Your therapist will discuss with you if testing is needed, why it is needed and what the test results can tell you. Testing may be needed on the few occasions when it cannot be determined exactly what the child or adolescent’s problems are, when a clear diagnosis cannot be made, and when additional information is needed beyond a diagnosis in order to determine what is best going to meet your child or adolescent’s needs. Psychological and personality testing can be very helpful in providing a comprehensive picture of a child and adolescent’s psychological functioning. Educational and IQ testing can be helpful in understanding a child’s struggles in school, determining if a learning disability exists, specifying the child’s intellectual strengths and weaknesses, and in making recommendations. These types of tests are also very useful for gifted children in the decision making process of appropriate grade and school setting placement.

 


Social Skills Group

Social Skills Group Offers Nurturing and Effective Guidance for Children with Problems of:

ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder
ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
O.D.D. – Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Asperger’s Disorder
Behavior Problems
Conduct Disorder
Teasing by Peers
Poor Cooperation
Impulsivity
Learning Disabilities
Social Rejection by Peers
Anger Outbursts
Social Anxiety
Tantrums
Excessive Shyness
Aggresiveness
Bossiness to Peers
Intrusiveness with Peers
Loneliness
Goals of Social Skills Group

Many children have difficulties making and keeping friendships because of inappropriate social skills. Social Skills Group provides children an opportunity to improve friendship skills in a nurturing and therapeutic environment.

Group therapy is the preferred method for treating children with social skills problems. Group therapy allows our therapists to see what the child cannot tell us and what we cannot observe in individual therapy…exactly how the child behaves socially with his/her peers.

Through a highly structured set of lessons, children are taught specific skills in a step by step approach. Role-playing allows opportunity for practice of the skills during group. Each child receives frequent praise and helpful feedback from the therapist and other group members about his/her skills and behavior. Brief homework assignments may be given to keep parents aware of what their child is learning and lets the whole family practice the new skills. Positive reinforcement with prizes is utilized to praise appropriate social behavior, increase confidence, and raise self-esteem. Group discussions allow the children to become aware of how their peers perceive them in order to motivate them for improved social skills.

Focus of Social Skills Group:

Some of the skills on which we focus include but are not limited to:

Friendship Skills:
Teaches specific skills in getting along with peers. Children learn skills such as how to meet other children, converse on topic, play with peers, share, handle insults and teasing, and resolve conflict.

Anger Management:
Teaches the ABC’s of handling anger. Children learn to identify the cause of their anger, become aware of their behavior when angry, and anticipate the consequences of their anger outbursts. A variety of skills in appropriately expressing and resolving anger is taught with a fun gameboard approach.

Decision Making:
Teaches a step by step method for making choices. Children learn to recognize decision making situations, evaluate their options, anticipate the consequence of those options, and select the best choice.

Feelings:
Teaches children how to identify and label their feelings. Feelings diaries are used to help children learn what emotions they experience, how emotions affect their behavior and what consequences happen as a result.

Teasing:
Teaches a variety of skills for children to use when teased by their peers.

Enrollment in Social Skills Group

Enrollment in Social Skills Group is arranged after an Initial Comprehensive Evaluation with one of our therapists. A thorough evaluation is completed in order to determine if Social Skills Group will be of help to your child. We are dedicated to providing only the treatment that we believe will be of help to your child. If group is recommended for your child, he or she is carefully placed in a group that best suits his/her needs according to diagnosis, level of behavioral and social difficulties, age, and gender.

 


ADD/ADHD Services

We are not just center for children, we evaluate and treat adults too.

The psychological and medical community used to believe that the majority of children who had ADD/ADHD would outgrow it by the time they reached young adulthood. Decades of research have now revealed that this belief was wrong and that in fact, the majority of children with ADD/ADHD continue to have symptoms into their adult years.

What is Attention Deficit and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

ADD is Attention Deficit Disorder. It is a psychological condition affecting children’s ability to concentrate, pay attention, and organize their tasks.

ADHD is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Along with the symptoms of ADD, this disorder also carries symptoms of impulsivity and excessive physical activity.

What are the Symptoms of ADD?

If your child has ADD his/her teacher may be the first to notice. Symptoms usually surface during class work and homework. Children with ADD will have trouble paying attention to their work. They will fidget, daydream, and lose their concentration. Extended focusing is difficult for them and they will complain of boredom and not wanting to do their work. They take excessively long to complete school work and tasks at home. They are disorganized and often lose their belongings. They confuse their parents into believing they do not have ADD because of their remarkable ability to play video games, use the computer and watch favorite movies for hours at a time.

What are the Symptoms of ADHD?

Chances are if your child has ADHD you already suspect it. Symptoms surface everywhere the child goes. Children with ADHD are physically overly active, seeming to always be “on the go.” They talk loudly and excessively. Behavior is impulsive, as these children fail to consider the consequence of their actions. Socially they interrupt and intrude into other’s games and conversations. They are impatient and have trouble waiting their turn. Most children with ADHD also have the additional symptoms of ADD.

Should my child be tested for ADD/ADHD?

If you think your child might have ADD or ADHD it is important to have him or her evaluated sooner rather than later. However, it is important to know that there is no one test or battery of tests that can definitively determine if ADD or ADHD is present. While formal testing can be helpful, it is only one piece of the puzzle.

Rather than testing every child that comes to us for an ADD or ADHD evaluation, we first conduct an Initial Intake Evaluation, where we conduct a behavioral analysis, take a history from you, interview you about your child, and meet your child. Many children’s diagnosis can be determined in this evaluation without the need for formal testing.

We will evaluate how your child behaves:
In the classroom
On the playground
Completing homework
Completing long term school projects
Cooperating with teachers
Following directions
Completing chores
Getting along with peers
Cooperating with parents
Keeping track of belongings
Remembering rules
Cooperating with daily routine at home
Sticking to difficult tasks
Tolerating boredom
Managing anger
Controlling impulses
Handling frustration

If we recommend testing it is typically because it is not clear whether ADD or ADHD is present or because we suspect there may be learning problems or another disorder besides, or in addition to ADD or ADHD. We may also suggest testing even if the diagnosis is clear so that we can help you make decisions such as school placement, skipping or repeating a grade, determining if special education is needed, or assessing if psychological issues are contributing to the presenting symptoms, etc.

Once testing is completed you will meet with the psychologist for two hours where you will be provided with a thorough report that details the results of each test, the diagnosis and recommendations.

Tests will be selected for your child’s unique needs. A typical battery for ADD or ADHD generally includes:

IQ testing to determine intelligence and strengths and weaknesses
Academic Achievement testing to determine what grade level your child has reached in academic areas
Verbal Learning and Memory to determine skills in learning and remembering verbal material
Integrated Visual & Auditory Continuous Performance Test to assess attention, focus and impulsivity
Projective Tests to assess social-emotional functioning
Personality Tests to assess personality style

Is Treatment Necessary for My Child?

Decades of research clearly show that children with ADD and ADHD who have treatment fare much better as adults than those who go without help. The outlook is bleak for the untreated child, with a host of problems surfacing in adolescence and adulthood.

The decision to seek treatment can be eased when parents consider what daily life is like for their child. Those with ADD and ADHD struggle daily in school, at home, and socially. Negative feedback is a constant part of their life from teachers, parents, and peers. Treatment can help modify behavior so that daily life is more manageable and enjoyable.

Is there a Cure for ADD and ADHD?

Unfortunately there is no cure for these disorders. Symptoms last at least until early teen years. The majority of those affected continue to have symptoms through the teen years, with one third having them for life. The lack of a cure and lack of evidence that children “outgrow” these disorders makes early detection and treatment essential.

What Treatment is Available if My Child Has ADD or ADHD?

We take a comprehensive approach to treating ADD/ADHD. Since these conditions interfere with a child’s daily life we offer a complete treatment program that addresses all areas of life. Because each family is unique we design a treatment program that meets the unique needs of your family. One or more of the following services may be recommended for your family:

Parent Coaching:

Because the usual parenting skills often don’t work with children who have ADD/ADHD we use Parent Coaching to teach parents advanced behavioral and psychological techniques to manage their child’s difficult behaviors.

Social Skills Group:
Focuses on building the child’s skills in making and keeping friends, anger management, impulse control, coping with teasing, and emotion management.

Individual Sessions:
For children who need private time to work on issues that go beyond those covered in Social Skills Group.

Sibling Sessions:
Periodic sessions to help siblings learn to deal with the frustration that comes from living with a brother or sister who has ADD/ADHD.

Family Sessions:
Children with ADD/ADHD cause many disruptions and upsets for the family. Family Sessions work with the family as a whole to improve life at home for everyone.

Couple’s Sessions:
Most couples raising an ADD/ADHD child report a higher than usual level of stress at home and in the marriage. Couples Sessions help both partners learn advanced skills in communication and special techniques to aid them in their work together in raising a difficult child. Couple’s Sessions can rebuild emotional intimacy while restoring your relationship as a couple, apart from your roles as parents.

Individual Sessions for Parents: Helps parents privately address issues they face not only as a parent, but as an adult, a spouse, a partner, a career person, a son or daughter, and the various other roles we have as a high functioning adults in our demanding society.

What Other Types of Treatment Can Help My ADD or ADHD Child?

Psychological services may not always be the complete answer to the problems faced by the ADD or ADHD child. Many children also benefit from tutoring, Special Education, Educational Therapy, medication, or specialized classroom placement.

At Ashley Children’s Psychology Center we specialize in treating the emotional and behavioral problems of ADD and ADHD children. Educational and medicinal concerns require additional specialists. We can provide the best treatment if we work closely with the other professionals helping your child. We are eager to collaborate with your child’s teacher, tutors, physicians and any other specialist helping your child. We can also refer you to specialists if needed.

What About Medication?

Medication is often used to improve concentration and attention. However, it is not a cure for ADD or ADHD and assists in controlling only certain symptoms of these disorders. The decision to use medication is not an easy one, but it is not the only decision parents need to make. Whether or not medication is used, the child and family still need to learn skills to manage these disorders. We teach parents and children the necessary skills. We can provide referrals for medication if needed.

 


Adult Services

Individual:
Our psychologists treat a wide variety of issues that adults face, from those who simply want to succeed more in life to those struggling with depression or anxiety. While we help to uncover childhood and family experiences that are contributing to the current issues, our focus is more on helping the adults learn to live happily today rather than dwelling on the past. In addition to providing adults with a confidential and supportive environment to express themselves, we teach adults psychological tools and skills to use to make rapid and effective changes in their lives.

Couples:
We provide counseling for couples who want to improve their communication and conflict resolution skills, as well as couples who are having more serious troubles and may be contemplating separation but want to save and restore their relationship. We work with the couple, taking a no blame approach where we do not side with either person, but instead help the couple identify the things they would like changed and work to find solutions that both parties can agree upon.

Co-parenting:

For parents that are sharing custody. Raising a child with a former spouse or partner can be perhaps the most difficult relationship any adult will have. Research shows that children from broken families do best when the parents get along and cooperatively co-parent. Easier said than done! We can make this difficult process easier by helping both parents learn the skills necessary to share custody and keep the child psychologically healthy and not a victim of the adult breakup. Typically this is initially done by meeting with each parent alone on alternating weeks, with the psychologist serving as mediator and educator to help both parents learn to communicate and resolve conflicts for the best interest of the child. When the co-parents are ready, sessions may be scheduled with both parents together so they can learn how to work together eventually without the need of the psychologist. Co-parenting therapy is the best gift parents can give to their child.

Parent Coaching:

For parents that are raising difficult children where the usual parenting tools do not work, as well as for the parent who desires to learn all they can about raising their child with the best skills possible. Coaching sessions can be scheduled weekly for parents with difficult children, to monthly or even less for parents who simply desire periodic professional guidance at various stages of their child’s life.

Testing:

We perform IQ, personality and learning disabilities testing for adults. IQ testing will provide information regarding an adult’s intelligence level, as well as areas of strengths and weakness. Learning Disorders testing can uncover areas of disability or weakness. Personality testing provides a comprehensive in-depth look at an adult’s personality functioning. Adults may refer themselves for testing, or can be referred through their own psychotherapist, psychiatrist, attorney, or school.

Adult AD/HD

We are not just center for children, we evaluate and treat adults too.

The psychological and medical community used to believe that the majority of children who had ADD/ADHD would outgrow it by the time they reached young adulthood. Decades of research have now revealed that this belief was wrong and that in fact, the majority of children with ADD/ADHD continue to have symptoms into their adult years.

What are the symptoms of Adult AD/HD?

Symptoms of AD/HD look different in adults when compared to children, perhaps the reason for the mistaken belief that everyone outgrows the disorder. While children have more noticeable symptoms that are easy to observe, such as running and jumping around, intruding on their peers’ games, and tantrumming at homework time, adults with AD/ADH are not so obvious in their symptoms.

Symptoms likely to be seen in adults include:

Easily bored
Trouble staying focused at work
Frequently misplacing items such as keys, cell phone, wallet
Trouble sitting in seat, frequently having to get up and walk
Messy desk, car, home
Difficulty in relationships
Procrastinating
Jumping from task to task to task
Loud, fast talking
Poor time management
Excessive Talking and Interrupting
Rarely finishing projects even though you were excited to start
Mind wanders excessively
Dislike for detailed work
Unstable Moods
Short Temper
Irritability
Excessive seeking of excitement
Poor planning skills
Tendency to act Now and think Later
Forgetful
Difficulty controlling emotions

In more severe cases of ADHD adults may struggle with:

Difficulty maintaining a job
Substance abuse
Traffic violations
Repeated failed intimate relationships
Arrests
Car accidents
Trouble keeping friends
Financial troubles
Jail or prison

Research has consistently shown that approximately 80% of inmates in prison have a diagnosis of ADHD. This does not mean that 80% of people with ADHD will go to prison, but it indicates that untreated ADHD can have very serious consequences.

How do you know if you have ADD/ADHD?

Many adults already know that they have ADD/ADHD from a diagnosis made in childhood. In these cases the question is not “do I have ADD/ADHD?” but rather, “what symptoms of ADD/ADHD do I still have and how do they impact my life?”

Adults never diagnosed before who suspect they might have ADD/ADHD should seek an evaluation from an experienced psychologist. Because ADD/ADHD starts in early childhood it is important that your doctor have information about your childhood and adolescent history. Call your high school and obtain your cumulative record. Ask your parents if they have your report cards. Obtain records from any mental health professionals you have seen at any point in your life. Gather all the records together and send them ahead of time to your doctor so he/she has ample time to review them. Interview your parents about how you behaved as a child and teen, asking what it was like to get your homework done, get up in the morning, cooperate with chores, follow rules, get along with others, etc. Take notes and bring them with you to your evaluation.

What if I can’t obtain any of my records?

Do the best you can. At a minimum your high school will have your grades and academic achievement test scores.

Will I have to be tested?

Testing is not always necessary. If you can provide your doctor with a good history and an accurate description of your symptoms and how they impact your life, testing probably is not necessary. However, there are many situations that may make testing a requirement for a diagnosis:

No records are available
No prior diagnosis of ADD/ADHD has ever been made
Self-reporting of symptoms can be misleading and/or inaccurate
Presentation of symptoms is unclear
Learning Disabilities need to be ruled out
Psychological Disorders need to be ruled out
Can I have treatment without Testing?

Many times the actual “label” of ADD/ADHD is not really necessary for treatment to be successful. If all other disorders can be ruled out, simply working therapeutically on each of the symptoms you have, regardless of what you label it can be very successful. The actual label may only be necessary for very important decisions such as whether or not to use medication.

What Should I know about Testing?

While testing can be helpful in determining the presence of ADD/ADHD it is important to know that there is no specific test or battery of tests that can conclusively determine whether or not you have ADD/ADHD. The test results are useful information as part of the entire evaluation. Your doctor can help you decide if testing is worth the time and expense. If you do decide to undergo testing you can expect to have several tests and spend several hours completing them. Typically a test battery for ADD/ADHD will include an IQ Test, Academic Achievement Testing, tests of concentration, distractibility, memory, organization and planning.

You should also discuss with your doctor the benefits of undergoing personality testing. This type of testing provides you and your doctor with information about your personality functioning. It also helps as part of the evaluation process in examining a wide variety of psychological disorders that may exist. Personality testing is very helpful not only in obtaining a complete diagnostic picture, but also in providing a deep understanding of psychological functioning. Several hours of testing provides your doctor with in-depth information about you that would otherwise takes months of treatment to be uncovered.

At Ashley Psychology Center we do not jump right into testing. We first complete an evaluation as described above. Whether or not to test will be discussed with you, helping you to make an informed choice of the time and cost involved.

What types of treatment are available for adults with ADD/ADHD?

Our approach at Ashley Psychology Center is to help adults identify their symptoms and clearly define what impact they have on daily functioning.

We look at adults’ successes and struggles in social, occupational, recreational, and family functioning. Our treatment goals are focused on providing tools to improve the ability to manage daily life in a more predictable, calm and successful manner. If appropriate and desired, we also work with the family and/or significant others to educate and increase their understanding of the difficulties that ADD/ADHD causes and guide both the adult and family members towards helpful methods to improve functioning for the adult and the family relationship.

What about medication?

There are pros and cons of using medication. Our approach is to educate adults about the pros and cons of medication and help them gain a realistic understanding of what medication can and cannot do. Treatment with medication is a highly individual decision and we respect each adult’s right to decide whether or not they will use medication. If medication is appropriate we can offer referrals to medical doctors who are able to presecribe and educate regarding the benefits and potential side effects. Whether or not medication is used, we advocate that adults participate in psychological treatment to help improve their overall daily life and learn ways to reach their goals.

Adults interested in an initial evaluation or psychotherapy in our office are welcome to email us [email protected] or call our office at 818 886 3531

 


Personal Injury Services

For adults, teens and children who have suffered an injury that has caused psychological symptoms we offer highly effective treatment that will return the person back to their pre-injury functioning. Individuals who have been in car accidents, been bitten by a dog, are a victim of a crime, or have been injured in some way often have emotional distress. Immediate emotional upset is expected in these situations, however for those who do not recover quickly and have lingering upset we offer psychotherapy to recover from the trauma. Common symptoms for those suffering from a personal injury trauma include crying, bad dreams, fears, worry, preoccupation with the trauma and behavioral changes, among others.

We provide psychotherapy on a lien basis for injured victims. Treatment is typically short-term and focused on the symptoms caused by the injury. Our therapists use evidenced based practices; techniques with solid research to support their effective use in quickly restoring victims to pre-incident functioning. Each of our therapists has years of experience with accident victims, with a solid success rate in helping children, teens and adults overcome PTSD and related disorders that result from personal injury. We serve a highly diverse population and have therapists who speak Spanish and Farsi. Dr. Ashley personally oversees every case and has supervised over 2,000 personal injury cases. We provide a written report upon completion of treatment. When necessary, we are available for depositions and trial testimony.

 


Forensic Psychology

Dr. Ashley is one of the few forensic psychologist with formal forensic training. Dr. Ashley’s forensic training began as a pre-doctoral intern at Camarillo State Hospital, evaluating and treating mentally ill and developmentally delayed criminal offenders. Her post-doctoral fellowship at Los Angeles County Mental Health Conditional Release Program provided training in evaluating mentally ill criminal offenders. Returning to Camarillo State Hospital as a staff psychologist, Dr. Ashley provided treatment and evaluations for mentally ill criminal offenders.

Dr. Ashley’s forensic training has continued with extensive continuing education in topics of insanity, malingering, sex offender evaluation, dangerousness and violence, psychopathy, psychological testing, competency, custody, and death penalty mitigation, amongst others.

She has been on the expert witness panel of Ventura County Superior Courts since 1996, providing psychological evaluations for competency, insanity, sentencing, and dangerousness. Since 1999 she has been a consultant to Ventura County District Attorney’s Office providing psychological evaluations for the Major Crimes Divisions. She also provides consultation and evaluation to Ventura County Public Defender’s Office and to private defense attorneys. She has testified on sex offender and homicide cases.

Dr. Ashley’s forensic work also includes personal injury. She has supervised the evaluation and treatment of more than 2,000 Personal Injury cases. She has provided expert witness testimony for a variety of victims of catastrophic injuries, including severe scarring, death of a parent in an accident, physical and sexual abuse by a teacher, medical malpractice, and wrongful death, amongst others.

Dr. Ashley can provide consultation, record review, evaluation, psychological and intellectual testing, interpretation of test data, assistance with cross-examination of experts, and expert witness testimony. Cases appropriate to consider Dr. Ashley include criminal, competency to stand trial, insanity, mitigating circumstances, sex offender 288.1, ability to benefit from treatment, ability to cope with incarceration, personality profiling in criminal and custody cases, and impact of a trauma in personal injury cases. Dr. Ashley is skilled in evaluating juvenile and adult offenders, and personal injury victims of all ages.

Email Dr. Ashley at [email protected] or call 818 886 3531 to determine if Dr. Ashley is the right forensic psychologist for your case.