Karen Jill Saywitz, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Work Phone Number: 310 776 6376


Karen J. Saywitz, Ph.D., is a Professor at the UCLA, School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and a developmental and clinical psychologist. She obtained a Masters of Science at the University of Wisconsin, a Doctorate from the University of Illinois, and attended a Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCLA. For over 20 years, she has directed programs providing mental health services to children and families in the public sector and taught normative child development to students in medicine, law, psychology, social work, and nursing. Her research focuses on the capabilities, limitations, needs, and recovery of children involved in the legal system due to adverse early experiences, such as maltreatment. Dr. Saywitz has co-authored articles applying child development research to legal decision-making cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous U.S. appellate courts. Dr. Saywitz has won national awards for her pioneering research, distinguished teaching, advocacy and clinical service from organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. She has authored handbooks for judges and forensic interviewers, served on the faculty of the National Judicial College, chaired working groups for the CDC on public health strategies to prevent child maltreatment in primary care settings, and founded the APA Inter-divisional Task Force on Child and Adolescent Mental Health.


A selected list of publications:

Saywitz, K.J. and Camparo, L.B.   Evidence-based Child Forensic Interviewing: The Developmental Narrative Elaboration Interview, Oxford University Press, 2014; .
Saywitz, K., Lyon, T. and Goodman, G.   Interviewing Children, In J. Myers (Ed.), Handbook of Child Maltreatment , 2011; 337-360.
Saywitz, K. & Romanoff, A.   Talking to Children about Family Secrets, In G. Koocher & A. La Grecca (Eds.) Emotional First Aid for Parents, 2011; 126-134.
Saywitz, K.J., Camparo, L.B., Romanoff, A.S.   Interviewing children in custody cases: Implications of research and policy for practice Behavioral sciences & the law, 2010; 28(4): 542-62.
Pezdek Kathy, Morrow Anne, Blandon-Gitlin Iris, Goodman Gail S, Quas Jodi A, Saywitz Karen J, Bidrose Sue, Pipe Margaret-Ellen, Rogers Martha, Brodie Laura   Detecting deception in children: event familiarity affects criterion-based content analysis ratings The Journal of applied psychology, 2004; 89(1): 119-26.