Adolescent and Young Adult Special Interest Group

Over 30 percent of children ages 10-17 have a pediatric chronic health condition, and over 90 percent of these children will make the transition to adulthood. Many medical organization consensus statements have highlighted the needs of adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with chronic health conditions and have called for multidisciplinary action. Thus, there is an increasing need for pediatric psychologists to collaborate with other disciplines and/or take a leadership role in caring for, advocating for, and researching AYAs with chronic health conditions.

The mission of the Adolescent and Young Adult SIG is to provide a structure for Society of Pediatric Psychology members to play an active role in the advancement of research, practice, and policy related to AYAs with chronic health conditions and their health care transitions. We aim to do this via the following goals:

Promote Awareness: Promote awareness among SPP members of: 1) psychosocial and health issues specific to AYAs with chronic health conditions, 2) psychosocial and systemic issues impacting the transition to adult health care, and 3) national and federal policy and initiatives related to transition to adult health care.

Promote Research: Identify research priorities for AYAs with chronic health conditions and the transition to adult health care. This includes identifying relevant, and promoting the development of, new theoretical models, measurement tools, methodological approaches, and interventions specific to AYA and transition to adult care.

Promote Networking and Collaboration: Promote research and professional collaborations among pediatric psychologists, adult-based health care societies, and professionals of other disciplines interested in AYAs with chronic health conditions and the transition to adult care.

Promote Best Practices: Identify relevant care guidelines for AYAs with chronic health conditions and the transition to adult care and promote the development of best practice guidelines for incorporating psychological care into transition care of AYAs.


Spring 2020 Newsletter (download here)

Summer 2019 Newsletter (download here)

Fall 2018 Newsletter (download here)

Summer 2018 Newsletter (download here)


Intervention Committee Project: The Intervention Committee has been completing literature reviews on interventions for AYAs, including transition-related programs, for a variety of medical conditions to synthesize pertinent information into brief summaries. The goal is that these summaries and references will be accessible on the AYA SIG website, so those interested can quickly and easily identify articles relating to AYA and transition-related interventions. If interested in helping, please email Jennifer Allen and Amanda Feinstein. We would love to have you as part of this endeavor!

Measurement Committee Project: The Measurement Committee recently compiled a list of measures that colleagues have found useful when working specifically with AYA populations in pediatric settings assessing constructs such as transition readiness, healthcare responsibility, and adherence. They are currently working to organize a webinar or presentation on topics specifically related to measurement with AYA populations and hope to get feedback from SIG members regarding specific interests and topics.

Policy Committee Project: The Policy Committee encompasses projects and missions related to advocating for AYA in pediatric and mental health care. They have been working on compiling treatment goal considerations for AYA transitioning to adult care and independent self-management for publication.


AYA SIG Board Members:

Chair: Amelia Howard, PsyD, MS

Amelia Howard has graduated with her doctorate degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in family psychology at Azusa Pacific University. She holds a M.S. in counseling and a M.A. and PsyD in clinical psychology. She is currently a second-year med-psych fellow where she is providing consultation and liaison services to children with medical complexities. Amelia has advanced training in trauma-informed care using brief interventions as well as specialty training in pediatric neuropsychological and neurodevelopmental assessments. Amelia has been honored and invited to graduate honor societies, Alpha Chi and Psi Chi and she has been recognized for her efforts in serving minority populations. Her scientist-practitioner background allows her to combine research and clinical knowledge to advance the field of psychology seen in the completion of her dissertation, participation in cognitive labs, poster presentations, and manuscripts. Amelia is also an adjunct professor teaching classes that include pediatric interventions, brain and behavior, and multicultural psychology in undergraduate and master courses. To give back she enjoys actively mentoring current graduate and doctoral students with advancing their careers and navigating academia. She is currently a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) Pediatric divisions and the American Academy of Pediatric Psychology. This year, she has become the chair for APA's Div 54, AYA SIG for the transitional age youth population. Amelia plans on becoming a pediatric psychologist attending this upcoming year and will continue providing neurodevelopmental assessments, with the hopes to intervene early on and create a positive shift in the lives of children and adolescents.

Other Board members

Past Chair: Shweta Ghosh, PhD

Sweta Ghosh is a pediatric psychologist in Hematology/Oncology at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital-Oakland focused in sickle cell disease, childhood cancer, and LTFU/Survivorship. Her clinical and research work focuses
on Sickle Cell Disease, QoL projects, and Oncology Survivorship/AYA as well as improving health disparities in vulnerable populations. She has specialized training in pediatric primary care, LTFU/AYA, autism assessment and intervention, gender diverse youth, hematology and oncology, crisis intervention, and selective mutism. She is also a training lead for the Integrated Health Service Line and training director for her department.  Sweta is also involved in training and mentoring graduate students and postdoctoral fellows through her position, Division 53 and Division 54 mentorship program, and clinical
supervision of trainees. She is actively involved and has held leadership and service positions at the national, institutional, and department levels. Her research interests include improving health care disparities for youth, cultural adaptation of evidence-based interventions, and dissemination of clinical research to improve care. She is excited to be a continued part of
the AYA SIG leadership board to advance the needs of AYAs, connect with members of the SIG to develop programming, and engage trainees who are interested in the field

Measurement Chairs - Alex Nyquist, PhD

Alex Nyquist is a child/adolescent psychologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where she is part of the Integrated Behavioral Health service line in Adolescent Medicine, Primary Care. She completed her doctoral degree at Miami University in Ohio, internship at the University of Minnesota, and behavioral medicine fellowship at University of Virginia. Now in Cincinnati, Dr. Nyquist works with adolescents and young adults providing behavioral health prevention, brief mental health assessment, intervention, and crisis stabilization. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, crochet, and hiking with her high-energy dog, Iris.




Intervention Chair - Morgan Spellman, PsyD

Morgan Spellman, PsyD is currently the AYA SIG Intervention Chair. Morgan is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and an Integrated Pediatric Psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Morgan has the privilege of working with patients and families in a number of multidisciplinary clinics and primary care settings across the hospital system, including solid organ transplant, neurology, orthopedics, and urology. She received her PsyD from Pacific University and completed both her pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral fellowship at MetroHealth Medical Center. Morgan is passionate about working with underserved populations, increasing access to care, and supporting AYAs with chronic illnesses. Research interests include understanding factors that promote patient and family resilience and identifying challenges of adolescents and emerging adults with chronic health conditions, particularly pertaining to adherence and transition from pediatric to adult care. In her free time, Morgan enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, and staying active outdoors.

Communications Chair - Anna Maria Ros, PhD

Dr. Anna Maria Ros is a clinical psychologist at Lurie Children’s Hospital’s Potocsnak Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. Anna received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Psychology from Loyola University Chicago in 2020. Prior to graduating, Anna completed her internship at Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University and the Children's Health Council Consortium. Anna is broadly interested in reducing barriers to accessing mental healthcare for teens and young adults, expanding access to Spanish language therapy services, and working with medical teams to implement screening, assessment, and brief interventions for suicide risk. In her time away from work, you can find Anna on her Peloton doing 90’s Latin Pop rides.




Student Research Chair - Carina M. Womack

My name is Carina Womack and I am a clinical psychology doctoral student at Azusa Pacific University. I completed my undergraduate degree at California Baptist University earning a bachelor’s in psychology and health science. While in undergrad I completed a research thesis on the “Role of Interpersonal Relationships as a Mitigator to Suicide Risk in College Students.” Research has always been a passion of mine and I have enjoyed the dissertation process in my current program. For my dissertation I am examining “The Role of Religion in Mitigating the Impact of Achievement Barriers on Hispanic and African American Women.” Along with my research interests, I also enjoy teaching and currently serve as a teaching assistant for several undergraduate courses. Clinically, I finished an internship last year as a rehabilitation specialist for children with psychological and behavioral challenges within a school setting. This year I was accepted into Vanguard’s counseling center as a student therapist for the 24/25 school year and I am looking forward to that experience. On my free time I enjoy trying out new coffee shops with friends and spending time with my dog.

Policy Chairs - Lara Jones, PsyD and Amber Holdren, PhD

Lara Jones, PsyD is a licensed supervising psychologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. Specialty areas of practice include chronic pain management in pediatric patients with bone and connective tissue disorders, functional neurologic symptom disorder, and consultation-liaison services. Lara is also a core supervisor for pediatric psychology pre-doctoral interns and post-doctoral fellows in the Pediatric Psychology Consultation Program at Kennedy Krieger.

Student Representatives: Anusha Kakolu, PhD and Eunice Mendez, MS

Anusha Kakolu, PhD (she/her/hers) is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center in Pediatric Psychology. She completed her predoctoral pediatric psychology residency at the Cleveland Clinic and is a recent Palo Alto University alumnus. She also received a master’s degree in mental health counseling and behavioral medicine from Boston University School of Medicine. Her research and clinical work have a special focus on pediatric health psychology and anxiety. She is interested in working with diverse youth with medical diagnoses and has trained extensively in transplant psychology, endocrinology and hematology and oncology. Her current role involves inpatient consultation liaison work and a short-term outpatient caseload in medical specialty clinics. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the doctoral and master’s program at Palo Alto University and enjoys teaching, mentorship and supervision of students and trainees. In her free time, she enjoys reading, yoga, hiking, traveling, baking and spending time with her friends and family.


Eunice E. Mendez (she/her) is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Palo Alto University in the Bay Area. Eunice works under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Friedberg in the Center for the Study and Treatment of Anxious Youth at Palo Alto University. Eunice is currently a practicum extern at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA with the Braddock Emotional Support Team (BEST), providing support to pediatric Hematology/Oncology patients. Eunice’s research focuses on understanding health disparities in underserved communities and identifying cultural/systemic-level factors influencing collaborative decision-making processes and outcomes. Other interests include culturally informed practice in work within family-systems and with undocumented families. Eunice is preparing to complete internship at I Ola Lahui Rural Behavioral Health in Honolulu, where she will continue to learn about providing behavioral health services in integrated health settings to under resourced communities of Hawaii.



For more information check out our AYA SIG website! To join the AYA SIG, log in to the Member Portal and go to "Join a SIG/RIG/Affinity Group" on the dropbox.