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The Child Clinical Psychology Elective is designed to provide strong generalist training with opportunities for interns to begin to develop specialization within a variety of programs through Mass General for Children.
Across all clinical experiences, there is an emphasis on training interns to provide evidence-based services to diverse populations of children and families in an academic medical center. Child interns follow the scientist-practitioner model of the MGH internship with opportunities to collaborate on, or continue their own, clinical research. Interns may also choose to spend more time on research as their area of specialization. They participate in didactics with interns from other tracks as well as attend seminars specific to pediatric and family work.
Interns in the Child Clinical Psychology Elective spend approximately half of their direct clinic services time in the Child Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic. This patient population is economically and culturally diverse and includes children and families with multiple psychological, social, and medical problems. Typical referral problems include anxiety disorders, depression/mood disorders, ADHD and parenting difficulties. Interns obtain closely supervised experiences in individual child therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, parent guidance interventions and family therapy. There is frequent collaboration with child psychiatry fellows for treatment and case management. Interns see approximately eight to ten patients (individuals or families) per week depending on their area of focus.
Additionally, interns have the option of gaining experience with special populations by choosing to complete up to two elective rotations over the course of the year including:
- Pediatric behavioral medicine: seeing children that are referred by various pediatric medical services, including gastroenterology and endocrinology through the outpatient clinic with supervision by a pediatric psychologist.
- Dialectical behavior therapy: co-leading a weekly DBT group for patients ages 12 to 18 years, attending weekly consultation group, 30-minutes weekly supervision with group leader and the option to see one group member in individual therapy.
- ARMS Program: providing individual therapy and/ or co-leading parent groups for families of patients ages 14 to 22 with substance abuse related problems, attending clinic rounds, 1 hour of group supervision weekly.
- Transgender Health Program: providing individual and/or family therapy to pediatric patients seen through the MGH Transgender Health Program with 1 hour of group supervision weekly.
- Early Intervention with Young Anxious Children: evaluating and treating children ages 2-6 years who have shy or fearful temperament or anxiety disorders using family-based CBT, with 1 hour of supervision weekly.
Pediatric Neuropsychological Assessment
Interns provide pediatric neuropsychological evaluations through the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP). LEAP specializes in the assessment of pediatric patients who present with neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders (e.g., ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, learning disorders, anxiety, mood disorders). All interns will develop independence in assessment of school-aged children and adolescents by performing 2-3 evaluations per month. Interns who are interested in specializing in pediatric neuropsychology will have opportunities to develop greater breadth and depth in assessment methods by carrying fewer outpatient therapy cases.
Interns wishing to prepare for application to postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric neuropsychology have the option of devoting more of their clinical time to assessment at LEAP and carrying fewer outpatient therapy cases.
Pediatric Acute Psychiatry Service Child interns also do a six-month, four-hour per week rotation providing short-term individual and family-based intervention for children and adolescents who have been evaluated in the emergency room’s Pediatric Acute Psychiatry Service (APS) and who are awaiting placement at a higher level of care. Interns are supervised by a child psychologist on the service during their weekly shift. While on the APS rotation, interns also attend a once weekly seminar with interns from other tracks that is specific to acute and inpatient assessment and treatment across the lifespan. Should interns prefer to do this six-month rotation on the inpatient service for adults (MGH Blake 11), that is an option. The emphasis for child interns on Blake 11 is on seeing emerging adults (ages 18 to 22) admitted to the unit and on a developmental approach to assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning.
Child interns integrate research literature into their ongoing clinical and assessment practices. In addition, there is a strong history of child interns participating in ongoing research projects within the department of psychiatry and within specialty areas of medicine (e.g., neurology, endocrinology, behavioral medicine). Within LEAP, there are opportunities for research using a large longitudinal pediatric neuropsychological database. Child interns have a minimum of 4 hours per week dedicated research time throughout the year to focus on activities such as completing or publishing their dissertation, collaborating on mentor led research projects, and/ or preparing grant applications for postdoctoral fellowship. Those wishing to focus more on research, for example in preparation for writing a Research Career Development (K) award, can carve out up to 8 hours per week research time. Interns have 1-hour weekly research supervision with an experienced clinical researcher.
Example faculty research interests include:
- Risk and resilience for adolescent suicide and depression
- Interventions for parents of very young children with anxiety
- Single session intervention for child anxiety
- Development and evaluation of interventions for pediatric patients with chronic medical illness
- Executive function development and relationship to learning, emotional, and social functioning
- Defining and identifying learning disorders
- Impact of assessment on parent knowledge and ability to advocate for their children
- Genetic risk for neurodevelopmental disorders
In addition to the internship core didactics, the following seminars are required for child interns:
- Family therapy seminar: 1 hour per week
- Child cognitive behavioral seminar: 1 hour per week
- Child psychology seminar: 1 hour per week
- LEAP Clinical Rounds: 1 hour per week
- Individual psychotherapy supervision: 2 hours per week (1 hour of cognitive behavioral therapy supervision, 1 hour of integrative psychotherapy supervision)
- Family therapy supervision: 1 hour per week
- Assessment and testing supervision: 1-2 hours per week
- Research supervision: 1 hour per week
In addition to the many opportunities for informal mentorship at MGH,
- Child interns are paired with a non-evaluative mentor for informal support throughout the year. Non-evaluative mentors are post-doctoral fellows or early career psychologists, often who have previously completed the child internship elective at MGH themselves.
- Child interns also meet 1 hour weekly, 3 of 4 weeks per month, with one or both child internship track co-directors for formal mentorship of the internship experience and planning for post-doctoral fellowship.
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