My grandfather was a machinist and tinkerer, and his garage was filled with things that needed fixing -
toasters, car engine parts, radios. I was fascinated by his skill in turning sheets of metal in to things that were
useful and beautiful. He made things run smoother, and he saved things that others thought were beyond repair.
I approach psychological services in much the same way, with the idea that school, work, home life, and relationships can be more fulfilling and coaxed in to running more smoothly through hard work, dedication, skill, support, and creativity. Nobody, and no situation, is "beyond repair." Neurodivergent people do not need "fixing," and services are provided from a neurodiversity-affirming perspective.
If you are ready to get on the right path, then let's get to work.
Support and Strategies,
It takes a lot of courage to make the call to a psychologist. I consider it a privilege to become part of your or your loved one's treatment. My style is interactive, directive when it needs to be, and non-judgmental. Only you can truly understand what it is like to walk in your shoes. When counseling or assessing children and teens, parents and caregivers are crucial to treatment. While respecting confidentiality laws and a child's or teen's privacy, I make parents an integral part of the process whenever possible.
photo description: red and green vintage radios.
You Are The Driver
My grandmother drove an old white station wagon with fins and bright red "pleather" seats. She absolutely loved to drive, and I remember the feeling when I took the wheel of my first car, one that my grandfather fixed up - a junkyard Ford Pinto that he spray painted bright yellow to cover the Bondo filling the dents. Pure bliss.
You are the driver in your therapy or assessment. You and I work together as a team - on your goals, not mine - and I am up front about
what I believe is needed for you to meet your goals. I coordinate with your physician, school,
and others as needed. If I think that another professional is needed, then I get you connected with that provider.
photo description: steering wheel from vintage Crysler car.
A Whole Person,
Not "Just A Diagnosis"
I still have the Polaroid camera I bought as a teenager - one of those cameras that spits out a picture and it develops in front of your eyes. Magic. A moment caught in time.
Likewise, a diagnosis does not capture all of you. You or your loved one is more than a "label" in a medical chart. What a diagnosis may do is open doors to school supports, agency services, or insurance coverage. A diagnosis can be affirming and validating as you seek to understand your own way of processing information and social relationships.
When we conduct assessments or work in therapy, we are looking at a moment in time. A snapshot. I am a firm believer in the idea that the past does not have to dictate our future.
photo description: Polaroid LM 630 camera.
Assessment, Diagnosis, Therapy, Advocacy
Assessment & Diagnosis
Help your loved one reach their potential.
Dr. Ferguson specializes in assessment and diagnosis of autism, ADHD/ADD, anxiety, OCD, depression, mood concerns, behavioral issues, chronic pain, and related concerns for children, teens, and adults. Some kids are bright but still have trouble in school. Adults can have trouble in relationships, work, or sometimes in living independently. Maybe you have always thought that something is different for you or your family member, or maybe this is a new concern. Let's figure it out and get on the right track. Dr. Ferguson is a privately-contracted assessor for Tri-Counties Regional Center, school districts, attorneys, and families. Evaluations can be completed for Social Security services, supports in school or college, or for your other providers who need more information to better serve you. Click on the Assessment tab above to learn more.
photo description: boy in a hat looking up at airplane contrail against a blue sky with Morro Bay, CA in the background
Therapy for children, teens & adults
What are your goals?
Research-based interventions are the foundation of Dr. Ferguson's work, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Play therapy and art therapy are also important ways that children learn to talk about emotions, coping, and getting better. For teens, they are often more able to talk about what is happening, although art continues to be an excellent avenue for exploring identity, relationships, goals, and stress resilience. Anxiety, OCD, mood difficulties, and living well with ADHD/ADD are common reasons that individuals of all ages come to see Dr. Ferguson. Adults may also come in to learn about autism in themselves or a loved one. Life can throw us curve balls at any age, so let's get you living the life you envision. Photo credit: Xavier Bailey Photography. Photo is of a wooden sailboat on the ocean with the sun shining behind the sail.
Ever feel like you are going around and around, getting nowhere?
"Systems" can be confusing - schools, courts, regional center, social security, insurance, agencies - What do they do? How do you qualify? Where do I start? Many families are not aware of the possible services they may be eligible for. Often, parents believe that the school will identify any learning issue early on, and offer support. Every organization is limited by the things that limit us all -- time, staff, and money. Families need to become their own advocate, and Dr. Ferguson can support you, providing guidance, realistic advice, and assessment or therapy services as needed.
Photo description: Tilt-a-whirl ride at the California Midstate Fair, shot from below with people swinging out against a blue sky.
About Dr. Ferguson
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Photo description: Dr. Ferguson seated in a grey chair with bookshelf
and yellow lamp behind her.
Thank you for visiting my website to learn more about the services that can help you and your family.
My approach is honest, respectful, solution-focused, and based on understanding your strengths. I use techniques grounded in research and based on best-practice guidelines. All Diagnostic Assessments are completed entirely by myself using assessment tools widely recognized and accepted by the mental health and neurodiversity-affirming communities. Together we can help you achieve your goals.
I have been working in the mental health field helping children, teens, families, and adults since 1996. In 2002 I obtained my doctorate in Clinical Psychology from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Training included an APA-accredited internship at The Children's Hospital in Denver, and a fellowship at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver (now called National Jewish Health). Training also included clinical positions at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the UCSF Child and Family Center, and other out-patient and in-patient settings. Before attending graduate school, I was a mental health worker for the psychiatric units at the San Francisco County Jail and St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco. Additional training included the SLO ACCEPTance Project, and I am proud to provide mental health services to the the LGBTQIA+ community.
I truly believe that lived experience is crucial in your clinician or consultant. This can help reduce the impact of neurotypically-centered societal norms that can impede a client's progress. I live in a multiply neurodivergent family that includes Autism, ADHD, learning and sensory processing differences, and other experiences. I am neurodivergent, and I am the primary care provider to an Autistic family member.
I was a Board Member for 9 years with the Central Coast Autism Spectrum Center. I am a PTA member with my children's schools. I am also a member of the Central Coast Psychological Association, where I was previously the Ethics Chair.
My office is located on Chumash and Salinan native land, and a portion of my income goes toward supporting the Proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary to preserve the beautiful coastline for generations to come, as well as Round Valley Indian Tribes community projects where I am an enrolled tribal member. To see the native lands where your home or business is located, see this interactive map.
In my spare time, I love to garden, read, travel, sail, and enjoy the beautiful Central Coast with my family. Art, history, and photography are particular interests. Fixing up our 1970's ranch house has been a labor of love, and I've become pretty adept at drywall, painting, and finding the right fuse before I attempt minor electrical projects.