Up the road from Cal Poly Pomona in Diamond Bar, Saadia McLeod is a licensed clinical psychologist with her own private practice. McLeod is a triple threat not only as a practicing psychologist, but as a part-time adjunct professor in CPP’s Psychology Department and a clinical supervisor overseeing Marriage Family Therapy Associates.
McLeod’s knowledge and passion regarding psychology is something she wants to share with her students and patients. McLeod earned her master’s degree from California State University, Northridge in clinical community psychology in 1994 before earning her doctorate from the California School of Professional Psychology in 1999 and establishing her own practice.
“I opened up my practice 20 years ago because it allowed me more flexibility,” McLeod said. “I knew I was always going to teach. A lot of my training was teaching the academic and clinical setting, doing more supervision of post-doctoral students. I did a lot of development of training and supervising post-docs before I started teaching undergraduate students.”
McLeod specializes in a broad range of issues from grief and trauma to infidelity and domestic abuse. She sees children ages 6 to 10, adolescents and teenagers ages 14 to 19 and adults, and uses a variety of treatment approaches.
Much of McLeod’s expertise is in graduate teaching and training in the clinical setting, but she was always hungry to work with younger students who are formulating ideas of what they want to do, and help educate them on the many intricate layers of psychology.
“I wanted to help them discover what the mind can do,” McLeod said. “Helping students understand the ways in which the mind can actually help enhance one’s life is just an exciting part to play, to be sort of a catalyst in young people’s self-discovery.”
Teaching two to three courses a semester, McLeod specializes in upper division classes and works mainly with third and fourth-year students. She also works with the Marriage Family Therapy Associates in the graduate program at CPP whenever she has the opportunity.
“It’s a two-year master’s degree and it’s a very intensive program,” McLeod said. “Once the MFT’s graduate, then they go on to get clinical training, and that’s the work I do in my private practice. I have MFT’s under me who see clients and I supervise their cases.”
McLeod finds many parallels between her role as a psychologist in her private practice, and her role as a professor to her students at CPP. She recognizes there is no true way to heal people, but as a professor she wants to create an environment for people to find themselves, to explore and expand one’s horizons.
“That is a lot of what therapy is like,” McLeod said. “Self-exploration and opening doors that you never opened before. Learning to understand experiences differently. I see myself as a teacher and a therapist, and they are very much the same. I love the balance of both because in therapy, the work I do is applying the skills and applying the knowledge to see amazing things happen. On the flip side, working with my students is about igniting a passion.”
McLeod finds joy in helping students find their path. It excites her when students who were on the fence about psychology before taking her class, come back and tell her they are inspired and want to immerse themselves in the field.
“I think it’s a wonderful balance of taking what I do and bringing it to students and opening their eyes to a whole new way of seeing,” McLeod said. “It’s exciting.”
As a psychologist and professor, McLeod is used to face-to-face interaction. With the COVID-19 pandemic halting all things in-person, McLeod finds the transition extremely difficult and misses seeing her students and patients.
“It’s been harder in the teaching realm than actually in therapy,” McLeod said. “I love student engagement. Unfortunately, a lot of students shared with me that they feel self-conscious on Zoom, and they turn their cameras off. So, I’m lecturing, and it really feels like I am lecturing into the void. I don’t like just lecturing; that doesn’t feel like teaching to me. I love the interaction.”
When it comes to psychology, McLeod encourages all people to experience psychology one way or another because of what it can do for the mind. She believes it helps people find their purpose in life.
“When you find something that resonates with you, it has this amazing ability of being able to enhance your perspective and broaden your view of the world,” McLeod said. “Well, psychology can do that for many people if they choose to allow that to happen for them. Most people want to understand themselves. The students I am working with are usually in their early 20s. They are going through a period of time where it’s all about defining who they are and what direction they want to go.”
To learn more about Saadia McLeod visit: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/saa-dia-mcleod-diamond-bar-ca/61101
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