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Chicago | Assistant Professor, Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Alana Atchison, Psy.D.,



My teaching philosophy is based on the premise that learning is a dynamic interaction that requires excitement, eagerness, and a thrill for learning between both the student and the teacher. As such, my philosophy of teaching rests on four foundations: 1.) learning should be fun and engaging; 2.) learning must be comprehendible; 3.) there is potential to learn in every setting/situation and; 4.) learning is a lifelong journey.

Fun and Engaging Learning
We tend to better remember things when we are engaged and stimulated, which is why I strive to make my classroom an exciting and fun place to learn. I approach my classroom with enthusiasm, and I use a variety of media and anecdotal examples to enhance my lectures. I also assign work that students view as engaging and “hands-on”; such as observing parent/child interactions in a public space to understand an aspect of development, and/or critically analyzing a piece of media (movies, TV shows, music, magazines, etc.) and explain how women are depicted. I have found that students are more likely to participate in class discussions and retain information at a higher rate when the classroom and their assignments are enjoyable.

Comprehendible Learning
Research on memory indicates that we are only able to hold small chunks of information in our memory at a time. Additionally, it is important to not overwhelm our memory systems, as it may compromise our ability to consolidate, or learn, new information. Therefore, I focus my lectures on a couple of concepts at time, careful to not overwhelm my students with information, but also mindful of each student’s knowledge and development. I gauge student’s comprehension by eliciting classroom participation and discussion, which includes encouraging students to share their practicum and work experiences as it relates to the various classroom concepts learned.

Learning Potential in Every Situation/Setting
I believe that most learning occurs outside of the classroom, and that the classroom is a space in which learning may flourish. As such, I encourage students to view situations in their everyday lives as opportunities to learn and is why I infuse real-world examples in my lectures. For instance, learning the difficult concepts of classical and operant conditioning are easier to understand when explained in terms of one’s eyes watering when they cut onions and/or the tactics one uses to discipline children/pets. By using relatable examples to explain such topics, students are more likely to see their next social gathering, event, or experience as an opportunity to learn, and have shared such learning experiences in the classroom!

Learning is a Lifelong Journey
As we know, one never outgrows learning. We also know that learning takes time and may not be fully accomplished in a 16-week semester. I value transparency with my students and happily admit when I am uncertain of something. I also share my personal and professional experiences of times in which I learned something new (oftentimes related to a course that I teach) and applied it to my life. I use myself as an example to help illustrate the fact that we are all continuing to learn, and learning does not always take on a linear fashion. I encourage my students to take their time when learning, and to try their hardest to focus on acquiring knowledge rather than a grade. I also inspire students to approach life with an open mind, as there is richness in knowing that there is always an opportunity to learn.



  • Doctorate of Psychology, Adler University, 2016
  • Masters in General Psychology, Capella University, 2011
  • Bachelors of Psychology, Chicago State University, 2008
Areas of Expertise and Academic Research Interests

Areas of Expertise and Academic Research Interests

Juvenile justice, parenting, trauma/complex trauma, attachment, African American experiences, multiculturalism, feminism, supervision, relationship issues, children/adolescents, neuropsychology (I hesitate here because I’m far from a neuropsychologist, but it is certainly an interest), psychotherapy, social media and its impact on psyche, identity issues

Professional Memberships

Professional Memberships

  • American Psychological Association, Member
  • American Board of Professional Psychology, Member/Committee member

Chicago Campus

Located in the heart of the city, the Chicago Campus was designed to provide and inspire the learning and living experience. To that end, we have created an environment that caters to your mental, emotional, and intellectual growth. Our classrooms are bright and spacious with windows to the outside world and the latest technology. In our Library, you will find every resource you need to research, form, and shape your journey. At Adler University, we have more than enough room to share your thoughts and flex your intellect.

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