Child and Adolescent Proficiency at GIPP
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Child and Adolescent Proficiency at GIPP

Now, more that ever, psychologists need specialized training in order to work effectively with this challenging population.  Believing that this training should begin at the doctoral training level, the Graduate Institute of Professional Psychology at the University of Hartford is pleased to offer its Child and Adolescent Proficiency Track (CAPT) in clinical psychology.

The CAPT was designed utilizing several seminal resources to inform its guiding principles including the Clinical Child Psychology CRSPPP that served as the basis for the American Psychological Association’s recognition of Clinical Child Psychology as a formal specialty in professional psychology.  The Report of the Surgeon General’s Conference on Children’s Mental Health (U.S. Public Health Service [USPHS], 2000), and informal and formal surveys of child practicum sites that train GIPP students were also used.

Students who elect to complete the CAPT will complete the requirements of the generalist program. GIPP believes that all students must have a solid foundation in the principal areas of general psychology before they can begin to fully appreciate and incorporate proficiency training.  Students in the CAPT will also gain supplemental learning experiences focused specifically on children and their families.  Students will be introduced to both normal and psychopathological aspects of children and families through an integrated curriculum, supervised pre-practica, practica, professional practice and case conference seminars, and research and dissertation opportunities.  If there is a question about whether a training experience or course meets the criteria for the CAPT it should be directed to one of the CAPT co-directors.   

Even though GIPP offers the CAPT, due to the generalist nature of the GIPP program, we do not mean to suggest that our students will become child “experts.”  Rather, our goal is to provide students with well-rounded foundational experiences that will adequately prepare them for more intensive and dedicated training during their internship and post-doctoral years.


Students in the CAPT will engage in coursework, research, and clinical experiences that will help them:

  • Gain a clear understanding of normal child developmental processes and family functioning, as well as abnormal behavior and development, and child and adolescent psychopathology.

  • Develop the assessment, intervention, and consultation skills needed to work with children, adolescents, and their families.  This will include competence in the assessment of intelligence, personality, achievement, and developmental and behavioral functioning of the child, as well as the ability to intervene in various treatment modalities.

  • Appreciate the social and cultural contexts that influence children and adolescents.  In addition, value principles of diversity and individual differences.

  • Understand the numerous systems that may impact a child or family’s life such as schools, courts, communities, and church.

  • Be aware of special ethical and legal issues that impact both the treatment of and research with children.

Pre-Practicum Placements

Students who enter the program with limited clinical experience are required to participate in pre-practicum clinical placements. This allows students to gain basic clinic skills in preparation for practicum placement.

Practicum Placements

In support of the development of clinical skills, two years of half-time practicum are required, beginning with the student’s second year.  Practica training experiences are integrated with academic learning in Professional Practice Seminar (second year) and Case Conference Seminar (third year).

Students in the CAPT will be required to participate in practicum placements such that at least 50% of their training experience is devoted to children and/or adolescents and their families.  Therefore, at least one academic year practicum must be in a setting where the training and the student's activities are fully devoted to children and/or adolescents under the age of 18 and their families.  With the approval of the track coordinators, a student may instead complete two full-year practica, each of which is devoted at least 50% to children, and/or adolescents, and their families, and still fulfill the track requirements.  All attempts will be made to place students in a clinical seminar in which there are other students focusing on child and adolescent populations.

The Doctoral Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation is the capstone of the scholar component of the program.  While some students may continue to maintain their Dissertation Seminar Leader as the Chair of their committee, other may choose to have another faculty member fulfill this role.  While the dissertation may take a variety of forms, including an empirical study (quantitative or qualitative), a theoretical contribution/critique, a program development project, or a careful case analysis of a clinical problem, students in the CAPT must complete their dissertation on a topic that has relevance to children, adolescents, families, or systems that impact these individuals.  If there is any question about whether the dissertation topic meets this criterion, the student is required to consult with the co-directors of the track to ensure the acceptability of the topic.

Internship Placements

Practicum Training and academic course work prepare advanced graduate students for their clinical internship, which is typically completed in the fourth or fifth year.  Students in the CAPT will be expected to apply for internships where at least 50% of their clinical time will be spent with children and/or adolescents and their families.  GIPP students have traditionally been successful in national competition for internships accredited by the American Psychological Association.