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Child and Adolescent Proficiency Track

The burden of suffering experienced by children with mental health needs and their families has created a health crisis in this country.  Growing numbers of children are suffering needlessly because their emotional, behavioral and developmental needs are not being met by those very institutions which were explicitly created to take care of them.  It is time that we as a Nation took seriously the task of preventing mental health problems and treating mental illness in youth.

-Report of the Surgeon General’s

Conference on Children’s Mental

Health, January 3, 2001


In the United States, approximately one out of every 10 children and adolescents suffers from a mental illness serious enough to interfere with their healthy development and functioning (U.S. Public Health Service [USPHS], 2000).  Unfortunately, only one in five of these children will receive mental health treatment for these difficulties.  The World Health Organization projects that by the year 2020 childhood neuropsychiatric disorders will rise by over 50% internationally, making it one of the five leading causes of morbidity, mortality, and disability among children.

The increased focus on, and concern about, children’s mental health issues by policy makers and organizations worldwide has created new opportunities for professional psychology. Psychologists are in a unique position t effect enormous positive change in children’s mental health.  Psychology’s dual emphasis on empirical research and clinical practice prepares psychologists to serve this special population in a multitude of ways.  As the diverse needs of this population steadily increase, acquiring the attitudes, knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with children and adolescents becomes more critical.

<>Today’s child psychologist must be prepared to execute a variety of roles.  Along with traditional skills, child psychologists must be able to develop, implement, and evaluate new interventions, programs, and systems of care for children and families.  Child psychologists are called to be advocates and supervisors, and must know how to negotiate, collaborate, and consult within numerous systems from community pediatric groups to schools, youth bureaus, and juvenile justice centers.  Child psychologists are committed to utilizing the most reliable and swift means to identify, assess, and prevent mental illness and, when necessary, intervene in the most efficacious manner possible for the child and the family.  Child psychologists also value the fact that the children and families they serve live in a diverse society, and may come from cultures and perspectives far different from their own.  Therefore, cultural differences should be acknowledge, respected, supported and appreciated. 


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.  The 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 the 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 within 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.


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.


<>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 Child and Adolescent Proficiency Track will be required to participate in practicum placements where at least 50% of their training experience is devoted to children and/or adolescents and their families.  Therefore, at least one practicum must be in a setting where at least 50% of the training is devoted to children and/or adolescents under the age of 18 and their families.  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.


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.


Students in the Child and Adolescent Proficiency Track must complete all of the general program requirements.  Some of the courses will have a child and adolescent focused-section. In addition, students in the CAPT will be required to take three electives, of which two must be CAPT focused.


CPS 613 Psychological Assessment I

This course focuses on the proper administration, scoring, interpretation, and reporting of commonly used intelligence measures such as the WISC-IV, WAIS-IV, WPPSI, K-ABC, and the Stanford-Binet.

CPS 614 Psychological Assessment II

This course introduces students to a broad range of personality methods.  The process of unconscious motivation will be explored from both psychoanalytic and cognitive perspectives.  Students will be exposed to projective personality measures such as the Rorschach, Thematic Apperception Test, Children’s Apperception Test, and House-Tree-Person.  In addition, objective personality and adaptive measures such as BASC, Vineland, and Conner’s, will be taught.

CPS 615 Psychological Assessment III

This course focuses on the integration of assessment data, and the process of writing clear psychological reports for numerous referral sources.  Students in the CAPT will enroll in a child-oriented section, which will include attention to the assessment of preschool children, children with developmental disabilities, and knowledge of educational laws.

Basic Treatment Methods

CPS 611 Individual Psychotherapy In this introductory course in the art and science of psychotherapy, various models of intervention are discussed.  Emphasis is on the psychodynamic, existential, and contemporary approaches.  Empirically validated treatments are covered.

CPS 616-617 Professional Practice Seminar I-II

This seminar is taken in conjunction with CPS 651-652.  Its focus is the evaluation and development of student clinical competencies in mental health service delivery.  The format is small group with faculty leadership.  The goal of the seminar is the integration of theoretical understanding with clinical practice.

CPS 800 Advanced Seminar: Systems Theory and Family Therapy

This course introduces students to systems theory and to various theoretical approaches and techniques of family therapy.

CPS 810 Group Theory and Practice

This course provides a comparison of the theories and formal models of group therapy and an understanding of the essential aspects of effective group interaction.  Experiential and observation methods are employed to study change processes, leadership behavior, alliance formation, conflict resolution, and problem solving of a variety of clinical symptoms.


Individual Differences

PSY 553 Clinical Child Development

This course introduces students to foundational developmental theory.  It provides students with an understanding of normal human development, which will allow them to differentiate between abnormal social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties in children and families.

CPS 666 Advanced Psychopathology

The majority of this course will focus on the etiology and descriptive criteria of adult psychopathology.  However, the section for students in the CAPT will also focus more on childhood pathology including the assessment, classification, and differential diagnoses of various childhood disorders than students in the general track.

CPS 849 Professional Seminar: Diversity

The purpose of this course is to enhance the student’s professional competency in consideration of issues of diversity and difference.  All sections will focus on issues relevant to children, adolescents, and adults.

CPS 850 Professional Seminar: Ethics

Students in this course will be introduced to issues of ethics, which are important for all psychologists.  The section for the students in the CAPT will focus on issues related to adults, children, and families, and include attention to mandated reporting not only for children but also for elders and other impaired/vulnerable populations.


PSY 510 Experimental Design

Provides an understanding of the concepts underlying research design and develops skills in designing studies amenable to multivariate statistical analysis.

CPS 665 Advanced Research Design in Clinical Psychology

Research designs are examined in detail through written critiques of published research studies.  Types of research and methods of observation and data collection are reviewed in detail. Consideration is also given to sex and gender issues and legal and ethical issues in clinical research.

CPS 852 Doctoral Dissertation Seminar

This seminar, taken in the first semester of the second year, is designed to help the student initiate the dissertation process.  Students in the CAPT will be assigned to a group with peers who are also interested in children to facilitate ideas and interest.  The faculty member assigned to lead this seminar will also have a primary interest in child and adolescent research and/or clinical work.


Additional Courses

Students in the CAPT are required to take PSY 669 and CPS 715, and must choose one additional doctoral level course as an elective.

PSY 669 Child Psychotherapy

<>This course provides a multidimensional study of treatment methods used with emotionally disturbed and learning-disabled children. The course covers the theoretical basis for treatment of children and prepares advanced graduate students for practicum experiences. Therapy process as well as different theoretical schools will be studied.

CPS 715 Clinical Interventions with Adolescents

The intent of this course is to provide students with a strong background in both theory and practice in clinical work with the adolescent population.  Topics will include the biological contexts of adolescence; adolescent values and identity; adolescent relationships with friends and family; current topics of concern to adolescents; and the unique treatment issues for this population.


The University of Hartford is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.  The University’s doctoral (Psy.D) program in clinical psychology in the Graduate Institute of Professional Psychology is accredited by Connecticut Board of Governors for Higher Education and by the American Psychological Association (APA).  The APA keeps abreast of the development and activities of accredited programs. Any questions regarding our program’s accreditation may be directed to:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation

American Psychological Association

750 First Street, N.E.

Washington, DC 20002-4242



Dr. Lourdes Dale, CAPT co-director

Dr. Anne Pidano, CAPT co-director

Dr. Donna DiCello

Dr. Inés Schroeder


For further information about the Child and Adolescent Proficiency Track, please Contact Dr. Anne Pidano at 768-5214 or Dr. Lourdes Dale 768-5187