Psychologist Diana Dahlgren
Featured Professional Series: The second Monday of every month, we feature one of our favorite educational consultants, psychologists, or professionals in a related field. We ask everybody the same five questions, designed to show you why we like them and to help you decide whether they’re a good fit for your needs.S ome people who are really good at what they do got into it by accident. Dr. Diana Dahlgren is not one of those people. Not only is she really smart and a clear communicator, she’s been thinking about child development pretty much her whole life.
How did you get into this field?
I decided to major in Psychology as an undergraduate student at Stanford because I have always been fascinated by child development and knew I wanted to pursue a career that involved working with children and adolescents. I had a lot of experience mentoring younger siblings and other children while growing up and have a great desire to help others reach their potential in school and their chosen fields. I was very fortunate to get excellent training and work experience at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. and the National Institutes of Mental Health (Child Psychiatry Branch) in Bethesda, Maryland.
While earning my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Maryland, I discovered that I really enjoyed conducting psychoeducational testing. I find that testing is very similar to detective work as there are certain hypotheses I am working to prove or disprove through the results of the different tests which are administered.
What do you love about the work?
I enjoy working with children and adolescents to discover their strengths and weaknesses, identify their challenges, and help find solutions so they can learn to compensate or obtain services or treatment for any issues which may be holding them back from reaching their goals.
Why do people hire you?
Parents reach out to me when they need answers about their child’s functioning, such as to help with school placement, including kindergarten readiness and gifted programs, to rule out a learning disability or ADHD, to obtain services in school under a 504 Plan or IEP, or to obtain accommodations on standardized tests. Parents often tell me they like my positive, direct, and energetic personality, ability to engage easily with people of all ages, and obvious love for my work. They also feel I discuss the results of evaluations and write reports in a clear and straightforward manner which they can understand.
How do you feel about study skills?
Study skills are the foundation upon which academic success is built. Without them, a student will not know how to master material efficiently.
What’s your favorite piece of advice to give students?
When students tell me that they have a bad teacher, I remind them that the grade on their report card does not come with a caveat. We have all had bad teachers and bad bosses at one time or another, but it is up to us to take charge and figure out how to make the best of the situation. Everyone has options, whether it is to work with a teacher after school, hire a study skills coach or a tutor, set up sessions with a friend, peer tutor, or study group, or change classes.