Pediatric Therapy & Diagnostics

As a multidisciplinary clinic, Holding Hands, inc. serves infants, children, adolescents and young adults with developmental, neurological and biological diagnoses. Our clinical team focuses on the child’s strengths and individual difference while developing an intervention plan that addresses his or her unique profile. Our clinical team fosters a relationship not only with the client, but educate, empowers and supports the entire family unit.

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Dr. Ziba Nassab is the Clinical Director and Founder of Holding Hands Pediatric Therapy and Diagnostics. She believes in embracing each person’s strengths and abilities not only focusing on their disabilities or challenges, and she is an advocate for neurodiversity. Dr. Nassab has been treating toddlers, school age children and teenagers with neurodevelopmental, behavioral and emotional challenges, including Autism Spectrum Disorders ADHD, Down Syndrome, Mental Retardation, Epilepsy, Fragile X Syndrome, Conduct Disorder, Selective Mutism, Attachment Disorder, Rett’s Syndrome, Prairie Williams Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Anxiety, Depression and Sensory Processing Disorder for the past 18 years. She has had the opportunity to work with childern, teens and their families in a variety of settings, which include clinics, schools, early intervention programs, psychiatric hospitals, community centers, and home settings.

Dr. Nassab is affiliated with UCLA, as a Crisis Counselor and Registered Marriage and Family Intern for The Rape Treatment Center (RTC) at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. Dr. Nassab provides crisis counseling for sexual assault victims (children, men and women) and works collaboratively with medical professionals and law enforcement in order to provide acute forensic exams. In addition, she holds a position as an Adjunct Professor at California Lutheran University (CLU), where she teaches graduate students in the Clinical Psychology Department. Dr. Nassab has a passion for teaching and she brings her clinical expertise in the classroom. Dr. Nassab is certified and has and taught advanced DIR® courses to clinicians and educators through The Interdisciplinary Council on Learning and Developmental Disorders (ICDL.)

In addition to her pediatric experience, Dr. Nassab has had clinical training and experience working with adults and geriatric clients with chronic mental illness (Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, and Dementia) in an inpatient psychiatric hospital in South Central, Los Angeles. Dr. Nassab has provided individual counseling, group counseling and psycho-education for this population. She looks beyond the label and tries to empower her clients to do the same. According to Dr. Nassab, “The label helps me better understand the diagnosis, but not the person behind the diagnosis. No one chooses to have a mental illness; each client and family needs to be treated with dignity and respect.”

In regards to Dr.Nassab’s educational background, she received her Associates Degree in Child Development, Bachelors in Psychology, Masters Degree in Marriage, Family Therapy (MFT) and her Doctorates in Counseling Psychology. Dr.Nassab is DIR (Developmental, Individual Differences, and Relationship) Certified through Interdisciplinary Council on Learning and Developmental Disorders (ICDL) and is certified in PEERS (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relationship Skills) through UCLA.


Nicole Messuri, MA, LMFT, BCBA is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She came to the field of clinical psychology after a career in the healing arts and education. As a Certified Traditional Naturopath, Nicole studied holistic nutrition and worked in various settings with clients where she provided nutritional and wellness counseling, specifically on yeast/gluten/casein free diets. Over the past few years, she has guided many parents of children with autism, celiac disease, ADHD, food sensitivities, and general behavior-related diet issues.

In 2001, Nicole became an elementary school teacher. She taught 1st and 4th grade for three years for LAUSD and worked as an Educational Therapist for Kayne-ERAS Center, where she provided instruction to children with learning and developmental needs. In 2005, she received her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles. She worked in various outpatient clinical settings where she had the opportunity to work with diverse populations with a wide range of clinical conditions. After becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Nicole worked as a teacher/tutor, for Gerry Grossman Seminars teaching preparation classes and providing tutoring services to MFT and MSW interns who were preparing for their California State Board Licensing Exams. For the past six years, Nicole has worked as a Supervisor for Focus Psychological and Educational Services’ school and home-based programs where she provided supervision for behavior intervention therapists in the school and home settings. During this time, Nicole has developed creative interventions and teaching tools to support the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of special needs and typical children, some of which has been used in trainings at Focus and utilized as interventions with the children and families that she worked with.

Nicole has devoted herself to solving problems with children and parents, holistically, by improving family dynamics, increasing appropriate behavior through one-to-one intervention, building skills where there are deficits, working with behavior-related diet issues, and guiding parents on their path towards better management of behavior and interaction with their children


Carrie Hammond is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). She started her career in the field of Psychology at the age of sixteen. Her first job consisted of working with children that were emotionally disturbed at a sleep away camp. She worked at this camp for a few years before she started her undergraduate work in Psychology at California State University at Northridge. After she received her BA in Psychology Carrie went on to receive her MA with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy at Phillips Graduate Institute. During her time at Phillips Carrie trained and interned with many diverse populations such as, children, teens, families of divorce, individuals and couples. While Carrie was obtaining her hours towards her license she worked at four different agencies that specialized in working with children on the autism spectrum. Carrie has worked with children on the autism spectrum for over twelve years. She has been working for Holding Hands as a Clinical Supervisor for three years and recently became the Clinical Director of behavior intervention services.

Carrie reports that when she first started working with children on the autism spectrum she looked at her job as just a job, but through the years she realized that her job has become much more than a job. It is an important part of her life and who she is.


Josef is the coordinator for the Behavior Intervention and Social Skills Program at Holding Hands, as well as a supervisor and clinical mentor. He has 14 years of experience working with children with special needs. Josef has provided services for the San Diego Unified School District, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and began working for Holding Hands in 2006. He became certified as a Behavior Analyst in 2008 and specializes in training parents in Applied Behavior Analysis.

Josef seeks to provide families with a warm, supportive environment in which parents and children can learn new skills. Josef enjoys supervising and facilitating Social Skills groups, where children learn to initiate and sustain interactions with peers, turn-take during fun, interactive activities, negotiate and compromise on ideas, and engage in elaborate symbolic play sequences. What Josef enjoys most about Holding Hands is that it allows him to guide parents in improving the quality of their child’s life so he or she can grow to love and enjoy the family that surrounds them. Josef’s personal philosophy is that a child is limited only by the limitations that are placed upon them by others.

“The real benefits of this job are when you witness a mother or father learn to engage, interact with, and relate to their child in new ways that help their child create and sustain relationships and adapt to the world in which they live”.


Dr. Grace Liu, Psy. D, LMFT #77513 is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Developmental Therapist/Supervisor. She received her Bachelor of Arts in International Development Studies at UCLA (summa cum laude), Master of Arts in Psychology in California Graduate Institute, and Doctor of Psychology (Marriage and Family Therapy) in California Graduate Institute of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Her dissertation entitled An Evaluation of the School-based Integrative Treatment Manual for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders was developed and successfully defended to fulfill the graduation requirement for her doctorate in 2010.

Dr. Liu came to the field of clinical psychology upon graduation from UCLA. She began her professional career as a school-based behavior intervention therapist and provided one-on-one direct support to children with learning disabilities in the classroom setting. In November 2013 Dr. Liu received a license to practice as an LMFT in the State of California from the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. In the process of fulfilling the requirement of supervised hours towards MFT licensure, Dr. Liu worked as an MFT Trainee/counselor at the Chinatown Service Center from 2009-2010. At Chinatown Service Center, she performed case intake, assessment, and psychotherapy for at-risk individuals of all ages, including children, adolescents, and their families within the Chinese speaking community. In 2011, Dr. Liu joined Holding Hands and has provided behavior intervention therapy, home-based or clinic-based DIR®/Floortime therapy and psychotherapy for children, teens, adults and families. These clients have been diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorders including: Autism Spectrum Disorders; Down Syndrome; Mental Retardation; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); and, or Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder, Depression and Anxiety related disorders.

Dr. Liu has developed her capacity of working with clients and families in diverse and multi-ethnic settings. In addition to English, she reads and speaks two Chinese languages - Cantonese and Mandarin. Dr. Liu possesses an in-depth knowledge and understanding of Asian culture. She demonstrates cultural sensitivity when helping clients and families presenting adjustment and acculturation issues, including difficulties in parenting, culture of origin issues, and cross-cultural relational difficulties.


Lisa Henry is a Board Certified Music Therapist and DIR Therapist. She received her Bachelor’s of Music in Music Therapy from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. After receiving her degree she moved to California to complete her music therapy internship. She has over 12 years experience working with children both typically developing and those diagnosed with developmental delays. Lisa currently works as the Assistant to the Director of Clinical Services at Holding Hands. She also provides Music therapy and DIR®/Floortime™ Therapy. She has been a part of Holding Hands for over 5 years. After joining Holding Hands she gained experience and extensive training in the DIR®/Floortime™ modality. She was inspired by the relationship based model and now combines her knowledge in Music Therapy to support children and families through the DIR®/Floortime™ Therapy Services at Holding Hands. Currently she is working toward her certification as a DIR®/Floortime™ Provider.


Lusine Akelyan is the Social Skills Training Program Coordinator and a Clinical Supervisor at Holding Hands, Burbank. She has 12 years of experience working with children and teens, 8 of which is with children with special needs. Prior to becoming part of the Holding Hands family in 2008, Lusine worked with young children in a private school setting, as well as with school aged children within the Los Angeles Unified School District. Lusine is bilingual (Armenian) and embraces cross cultural diversity. Lusine holds a BA in Child Development and MA in Arts of Teaching with a specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis. Lusine is preparing to take the board exam for the BCBA Certification.

Lusine finds the ability to support children and families through the different types of therapies Holding Hands has to offer very gratifying. She has the opportunity to “change hats” and provide different types of services that best benefits the children/teens and the families she serves. Her first goal is to always make a connection with the child/teen first, which paves the way to build a better relationship with the family and provide them with the support they need. Having parents and caregivers point out the progress they witness is the best reward. Lusine feels that learning in this field is always ongoing, and working with other therapist with different backgrounds gives her the opportunity to gain more knowledge. In addition to supervising cases, parent training and coordinating the social skills program, she highly enjoys working one-on-one with the children.


Clay Johnson has been a valuable member of the Holding Hands team since 2007. Clay co-leads the weekly DIR® trainings for the staff at Holding Hands Los Angeles . He also provides direct services and parent training in Floortime™, Behavioral Intervention, PEERS, Social Skills, and Psychotherapy services. Clay has worked with children for over 15 years now. He started out as general education elementary school teacher for 7 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District then transitioned to Holding Hands in 2007. Clay has his B.A. in Education and M.A. in Counseling Psychology. He is working his way towards his Marriage and Family Therapy licensure (M.F.T.). Lastly, he has begun his DIR® certification and is motivated to continue his thorough knowledge of the DIR®/Floortime™ model.

Clay has a certain knack for making families and children feel comfortable. He believes that the rapport that you establish with clients sets the foundation for successful therapy. “When the rapport is strong, that’s when real change in therapy can happen,” Clay states. Besides Clay’s relaxed and gentle nature, he is playful yet assertive and affective yet professional. He prides himself in his ability to meet the client where they are then assisting them towards their goals. Holding Hands is a perfect platform for Clay to implement his inherent therapeutic traits and his extensive learned skills.


2101 N. Glenoaks Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91504
818.848.8825 tel
818.848.8815 fax

2115 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90057
323.938.3434 tel
323.938.3484 fax
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