Meet Lisa Elliott, PhD., Manager of Cook Children’s Behavioral Health Clinic in Denton
Celebrating Women's History Month at Cook Children's
By Ashley Antle
March is Women’s History Month. While the country commemorates the role of women in American History, at Cook Children’s Health Care System, we celebrate the role of women in building one of the largest free-standing pediatric health centers in the country.
After all, it was the vision and generosity of two women that started it all.
One, a former postmistress with few financial resources, Mrs. Ida L. Turner, dreamed of a place where fragile babies would be cared for regardless of their family’s ability to pay. Her vision and hard work led to the opening of the Fort Worth Free Baby Hospital in 1918.
The other was a wealthy heiress who wanted to honor her late husband by helping sick children. In 1929, Mrs. Missouri Matilda Nail Cook dedicated the oil royalties from the Cook Ranch to build the W.I. Cook Memorial Hospital.
Eventually, the two children’s hospitals became one and grew to be one of the finest pediatric medical institutions in the country with more than 1.5 million patient encounters every year.
Throughout our 105-year history, the women of Cook Children’s have championed children; nurtured the sick and hurting; led innovation in science, medicine and technology; and steered the business of health care with imagination, safety, generosity, kindness, respect and collaboration.
While these women number in the thousands throughout Cook Children’s history, this year, we’re highlighting a few who have made their mark in medicine. Each comes from different backgrounds, different specialties and different decades, but they all share two things — a passion for their work and the Promise to improve the well-being of every child in our care and our communities.
Lisa Elliott, Ph.D., Psychologist
Manager of Cook Children’s Behavioral Health Clinic in Denton
Years at Cook Children’s: 29
Psychology is a second career for Lisa Elliott. Initially a human resources director with a degree in business, Dr. Elliott began taking psychology classes to better understand how to help the employees she represented.
“I would have to call in employees for failure to show up to work, wage garnishments or disciplinary actions, and there were always reasons for that, like family, emotional or mental struggles,” she said. “So I decided to enroll in a couple of psychology courses where we were living at the time to get an understanding of how I could better help our employees.”
Dr. Elliott found the courses fascinating and impressed her professors, who encouraged her to continue her path in the field. She eventually applied to and was accepted into the doctoral program at the University of North Texas, where she specialized in neuropsychology.
Dr. Elliott calls herself a non-traditional neuropsychologist because she uses both the therapy side of psychology and the testing and research side of neuropsychology.
“I always thought I wanted to do therapy, but that's when I felt like you could nurture anyone into health,” Dr. Elliott said. “Then I discovered that nature and what a child is exposed to in utero is a huge piece of this, too. That's when I changed and recognized the value of testing and started a huge focus also in neuropsych.”
In 1994, she developed and opened Cook Children’s first outpatient behavioral health therapy clinic in a 500-square-foot office in Denton. Within months, demand for the service forced the clinic into a bigger space.
Dr. Elliott mentors and trains the next generation of neuropsychologists, too. For 22 years she has led a neuropsychology fellowship program that provides training for those completing graduate degrees and those completing requirements for full licensure.
While impactful, neither of these accomplishments make her proudest moments list. For that, she thinks only of her patients.
“This isn’t about me,” she said of her work. “What gets me in my little happy zone is actually when I see my patients’ success and see them excel, thrive and take pride in the coping skills they've learned and their increased self-confidence and self-esteem, that brings me to tears.”
When adversity comes, Dr. Elliott turns to prayer and leans on her source of hope — her faith in God. Then, she looks for ways to serve others.
“I've always made the decision that, not only do I want to look for the helpers when there is trouble, but I want to be the helper,” she said. “I want to model that hope, kindness and compassion. When we are doing for others, that also helps us through our own personal adversity.”