Program Model of Training and Education

The psychology training program of the Yale Child Study Center takes a scientist-practitioner approach to clinical training and is based upon a developmental model of education. Just as we view the competencies and needs of our patients and clients from ecological and developmental perspectives, so too do we organize our fellowship curriculum around a developmental sequence of applied, didactic, and mentoring experiences aimed at preparing Fellows for eventual independent practice in a range of settings. The psychology training internship seeks to provide a program that prepares professionals to successfully address the complexities associated with children and families who are psychologically vulnerable. Psychology Fellows trained at the Center are prepared to work within traditional and nontraditional settings and to embrace diverse roles and responsibilities. An over-riding goal of the training program is to demonstrate to Fellows, through a combination of applied and didactic experiences, that provision of mental health services to children requires intervention at multiple and interacting levels of influence.

The science of psychology provides a foundation on which the Child Study Center psychology Fellowship is built. Opportunities are presented in didactic and clinical experiences to learn about and explore the relationship between the practice and science of psychology. This approach is infused into all aspects of the training program. Examples include seminars in autism and neuropsychology that highlight the interface between science and practice. Ongoing research conducted by the Center provides a unique opportunity for interns to see the importance of the relationship between science and clinical practice.

The faculty responsible for the psychology internship program of the Child Study Center are committed to providing sequential, cumulative experiences that increase in complexity as the year progresses. During the first 6 weeks of the internship year, an intensive summer training course provides a theoretical and practical foundation for the work to be carried out during the internship year. The summer curriculum is designed to address gaps in training and is tailored to meet the needs of both the individual intern and the group as a whole. Special emphasis is given to psychological assessment and particularly to the assessment of social-emotional and adaptive development. Grounding in several theoretical disciplines is also a part of the training program.

The implementation of the summer training program coincides with the beginning of the placement in the areas of specialization (Pediatrics, Autism, Early Childhood, and Children and Trauma). Each area of specialization provides a comprehensive orientation to the role of the intern. Typically, interns begin by learning through observation and through modeling of appropriate practices by a faculty mentor. Gradually, interns assume more responsibility as their knowledge base and clinical skills increase. Similar sequential, cumulative, and increasingly complex experiences are provided in both outpatient psychological assessment and outpatient psychotherapy. This approach is consistent across didactic seminars and clinical supervision. Regular meetings of core faculty and triennial review meetings (conducted October, February, and May) by all supervisors provide a forum to discuss and monitor this progress, and when necessary, to suggest modifications in the training trajectory of an individual intern.