Joanna Savarese, PhD

Executive Director/ Owner

Neuropsychologist & Licensed Clinical Psychologist ~ PSY24973

Joanna Savarese, Ph.D. is the Founder and Clinical Director of San Diego BrainWorks. Dr. Savarese is a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist who has specific focus in neuropsychological, psychoeducational, and psychological assessment. Her expertise is in the evaluation of Learning Disorders, ADHD, and differential diagnosis using psychological testing. She has worked extensively with children and adults providing both neuropsychological assessments and psychotherapeutic treatment. She has worked with various clinical populations including ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Reading/Writing Disorders, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Dementia. Dr. Savarese is passionate about individuals receiving the proper diagnosis of learning disorders, such as dyslexia, and appropriate and effective treatment recommendations.

Dr. Savarese has more than 15 years of graduate and post-graduate experience in the field of psychology, neuropsychology, and assessment. Dr. Savarese has also been teaching at the college level for more than a decade and lectures in the community on topics such as: Understanding Neuropsychological Evaluations, Learning and the Brain, and Building a Positive Relationship with your Child. She has appeared on ESPN radio, NBC News San Diego, and has written articles for Parenting Magazine. She also wrote several features for the textbook The Neuroscience of Learning: Principles and Applications for Educators (2014). 

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Jessica Lenihan, PsyD

Pediatric Neuropsychologist 

Training Director


Dr. Lenihan is a licensed pediatric neuropsychologist whose expertise is the assessment of a wide variety of disorders, including traumatic and nonaccidental brain injury, concussion, seizure disorders, autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning differences, pediatric stroke, spina bifida and genetic disorders. She utilizes neuropsychological assessment in diverse contest in order to diagnose, plan intervention, conduct screenings and monitor progress with pediatric populations.


Dr. Lenihan provides a comprehensive assessment approach and tailored recommendations to assist with academic support, tutoring, psychotherapeutic treatment, and parental resources. She specializes in neuropsychological evaluations, Independent Educational Evaluations, psychoeducational evaluations, pre and post-surgical evaluations, and concussion management.


Dr. Lenihan received her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from an APA-accredited Clinical Psychology program at Loma Linda University with an emphasis in Child Clinical Psychology in Loma Linda, California.  She completed her one-year internship in Pediatric Neuropsychology and Pediatric Psychology at Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. She completed her two-year APPCN approved pediatric neuropsychology fellowship at Advanced Neurobehavioral Health of Southern California in San Diego, CA.


Elizabeth Dutcher, M.A., AMFT

Registered Associate of Marital and Family Therapy


Elizabeth specializes in the treatment of ADHD, depression, anxiety, and relational conflict in children, adolescents, and adults. Treatment strategies include helping clients in ADHD symptom management, gaining insight, developing mindfulness techniques, emotion regulation skills, communication skills, and parenting skills. Elizabeth works with each individual client or family to develop a tailored treatment program rooted in evidenced-based theory to truly meet their specific needs and help them achieve positive results in their lives.


Elizabeth earned her Bachelor of Science in psychology from the California School for Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, and her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of San Diego. Elizabeth’s clinical training includes Vista Hill’s ParentCare, UCSD Outpatient Psychiatric Services, and UCSD’s Co-Occurring Disorder Clinic. Elizabeth has also guest lectured on family therapy theories in USD’s graduate psychiatric nursing program.


Elizabeth takes a biopsychosocial approach to assessment and treatment of individuals, couples, and families. This is a holistic approach, facilitating collaboration among psychologists, psychiatrists, and other relevant care providers. Elizabeth believes this integrative approach is key to providing the best treatment outcomes for her clients.


Clinical supervisor: Dr. Joanna Savarese

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Ricky Metcalfe, PsyD

Psychological Assistant


Dr. Metcalfe has worked in a number of clinical settings, including outpatient, residential treatment, integrated medicine, and behavioral medicine/inpatient psychiatric hospitals. His primary focus has been with youth and their families, providing both psychotherapy and comprehensive psychological evaluations. He has specific training and experience working with children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD, Autism, Learning Disorders, psychological disorders (depression, anxiety, OCD), and personality disorders. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from San Diego State University, followed by his Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego. While completing his doctorate, Dr. Metcalfe enjoyed concurrent roles as an assessment specialist, group therapist, and individual therapist with children and adults at Loma Linda University’s Behavioral Medicine Center and through the Riverside University Healthcare System. As an adjunct to his graduate school work, Dr. Metcalfe also conducted psychological assessments with adults under the tutelage of some esteemed psychologists in San Diego.  


His broad clinical training allows for a multi-faceted approach that emphasizes holism (i.e., mind-body-spirit). Through his work with clients from diverse backgrounds and varying demographics, Dr. Metcalfe has acquired valuable knowledge for understanding how others’ unique life experiences shape their values, worldview, and decision-making. He approaches his work with respect and care, and strives to offer excellence in exchange for the trust those he serves afford him. He has been working at San Diego BrainWorks for over two years and is supervised by Dr. Joanna Savarese.


Brenda Franz, PsyD

Psychological Assistant


Dr. Franz has a dual master’s degree in forensic psychology and clinical psychology. She earned her doctorate degree at Alliant International University: California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego. She also holds a dual bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and psychology from California State University, San Marcos.


Dr. Franz worked in the mental health field for several years prior to obtaining her doctorate degree. She has experience with the older adult population, adults, adolescents, children, and military in an acute psychiatric inpatient and outpatient hospital setting that specialized in substance abuse, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. During her training years, Dr. Franz worked closely with high school students in residential treatment, as well as high school students in a specialized trade program. She assisted in IEP’s, 504 plans and conducted individual therapy utilizing CBT and psychodynamic therapy with students on the autism spectrum, as well as students with various learning disorders, depression and anxiety. Dr. Franz’s training also includes working at a long-term women’s substance abuse facility conducting group and individual therapy with clients, as well as with their children as the parent and child therapist. Here, she utilized CBT, DBT, psychodynamic therapy, trauma therapy, and seeking safety. She also created parent/child curriculum to assist the clients in positive parenting, as well as lead Incredible Years classes. She completed her internship conducting Neuropsychological assessments at the Orange Health Care Agency performing a multitude of assessments focusing on traumatic brain injury, dementia, ADHD, personality, and acute mental health disorders. Dr. Franz is committed to providing thorough and comprehensive evaluations for each client. She is supervised by Dr. Joanna Savarese.