Member Spotlight

Meet the New MPA President: Dr. Elissa H. Patterson!
Dr. Elissa (Lissa) Patterson earned a Ph.D. in biopsychology from the University of Chicago and a Certificate of Clinical Re-specialization from William James College (formerly the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology). She currently works as a Clinical Assistant Professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, where she specializes in health psychology (; Prior to her life as a psychologist, she studied English literature at Colgate University, teaching at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe, and biology at the Harvard University Extension School. She is passionate about improving the well-being of individuals and society through education, clinical practice, and systemic growth. She enjoys teaching medical students, psychology graduate students, and psychiatry residents about the applications of psychological principles in medicine--particularly the benefits of re-integrating the mind and the body.

Dr. Patterson works on the Consultation Liaison Service at University Hospital in Ann Arbor, where she sees medical/surgical patients who experience psychological factors impeding their medical progress. In partnership with the department of neurology, she helped develop a multi-disciplinary clinic for patients with conversion disorder (psychogenic non-epileptic seizures) using a published treatment that draws on elements from multiple schools of thought including mindfulness, stress management, CBT, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and principles of influence.

This summer, Dr. Patterson took on a new role as Professional Development Coach with the Michigan Medicine Office of Clinical Affairs. In this position, she helps faculty members evaluate and develop their communication skills, given the positive relationship between communication and patient safety. She is a member of the Michigan Medicine Pain Committee, and she is passionate about the importance of spreading understanding about biopsychosocial approaches to pain perception and management as a tool to fight the opioid epidemic. As president of MPA, she hopes to increase public awareness of the many ways that psychologists contribute to generating healthy communities in all senses of the word “healthy.”

Regarding the importance of MPA membership in her life, Dr. Patterson states “MPA membership grounds me in the collective wisdom of a long-standing organization that monitors and influences the practice of psychology in Michigan. I love having access to tailor-made continuing education and networking with other psychologists through MPA-facilitated peer consultation groups. In addition to professional enrichment on a personal level, for me, MPA is an outlet through which I can connect with like-minded colleagues as we all contribute to pro-social initiatives that improve lives by increasing access to psychological tools.”

Dr. Patterson lives with her partner Gabriel Corfas, PhD, who is a neuroscientist at Michigan Medicine and the director of the Kresge Hearing Research Institute. She is a dog-lover and also enjoys gardening, jogging, sailing, home renovation, skiing, reading, socializing, and exploring new places and cultures. She speaks French, Spanish, Armenian, some Russian and some Portuguese. What’s on Dr. Patterson’s nightstand? Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen and In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope by Rana Awdish.