Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology

The field of Clinical Child Psychology is devoted to understanding basic processes of change, in particular, how biological and experiential factors cause children’s social, emotional, and cognitive functioning to change as they grow older. 

About The Clinical Child/Adolescent Psychology Specialty 

The field grew out of an interest in understanding how childhood experiences can shape subsequent development. The area of child and adolescent psychology is rapidly growing. The demand for child clinical, developmental, and pediatric (child-health) psychologists to fill clinical, teaching, and research positions is growing. This is an opportune time to gain expertise in this field.

Faculty in or affiliated with the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology specialty work together to train students.  Graduate students can obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology with a specialty in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology; however, students in the clinical training program can work with either a Clinical Child or Psychological Sciences faculty member. Students in the latter group (i.e., Psychological Sciences faculty member), must choose a Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology faculty member to serve as their liaison within the clinical program. Our specialty research focus is interdisciplinary and students are expected to gain a thorough understanding in both normative and atypical development.

Faculty research in the child and adolescent psychology area at Kent State has three central foci:

  • The Development of and Evidence-Based Treatments for Child/Adolescent Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
  • Ecological and Cultural Influences on Normative and Psychopathological Development
  • Pediatric (Child-Health) Psychology

Ph.D. Training


Coursework in the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Specialty is designed to provide students with foundational knowledge in the field of clinical psychology as well as in the areas of child development and clinical child/pediatric psychology. Consequently, students complete the course requirements for the clinical training program including a year-long sequence in Intellectual and Achievement testing taken through the University’s School Psychology Program. These latter two courses replace the year-long sequence in Adult Assessment taken by students within other specialty areas in our clinical program. Students within the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Specialty will also take elective courses that focus specifically on clinical child psychology (child psychotherapy, pediatric psychology).

  • During the first two years, students take graduate courses that cover developmental (developmental psychology, cognitive development) and clinical child research (child psychotherapy, pediatric psychology). In addition, the student gains expertise in ethnic minority and cultural issues in development pathology and adaptation as well as in both statistics and research methods.
  • Students seeking to further develop their quantitative skills have the opportunity to participate in our department's strong quantitative psychology minor
Research Training

Research training is designed to develop students into highly skilled clinical child/adolescent scientists. Graduate students are actively involved in research throughout their training. Across faculty members there is a strong track-record of extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

  • Several ongoing research collaborations exist among faculty in the Clinical Child and Psychological Sciences programs. Many faculty and students also have active research collaborations with other faculty and staff at local community agencies and hospitals (e.g. Akron Children’s Hospital Allergy and Immunology Department, Department of Adolescent Medicine, Neurodevelopmental Science Center, Healthy Active Living Program [a transdisciplinary weight management clinic], Akron Public Schools, Community Youth Organizations, Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence, and Upward Bound) as well as universities around the country  (e.g. Brown Medical School, Georgia Tech University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, UCLA, Wayne State University). These collaborations provide opportunities for students to get involved in research and develop a network of professional relationships. Faculty are involved in research with diverse populations, including BIPOC individuals and families and youth from a low-income background.
  • Graduate students are actively involved in research and are expected to submit peer-reviewed manuscripts for publication and present at regional, national and international research conferences where they can develop a network of professional relationships that is likely to help when applying for internships, post-doctoral training and academic/clinical positions.  Examples of conferences where faculty and students present are:  American Psychological Association, American Psychological Society, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, National Multicultural Conference and Summit, Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Society for Pediatric Psychology, Society for Research in Child Development, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Society for Research on Adolescence, National Latinx Psychological Association).
Clinical Training

Through Years 2 to 5 in the program, students gain experience in evidence-based treatment (e.g. Coping CAT/CAT Project, Habit Reversal Training, Exposure with Response Prevention, Behavioral Parent Training) and participate in a number of clinical practica, both within the department and in the community. A brief overview of these experiences is provided below:

  • 2nd year: General (child/adult) practicum in the Psychological Clinic. Most students seek practicum training with only children and families during their second-year; however, in consultation with their mentor and clinical supervisor, students may be permitted to work with adult clients if this provides the student with the best opportunity to achieve their short- and long-term career goals. Most students will also work with children and families within Dr. Flessner’s child anxiety and related disorder specialty clinic, providing students with an opportunity to work with children presenting with anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, tic disorders, and/or body-focused repetitive behaviors (i.e., hair pulling, skin picking). Students will also conduct a total of 2-4 comprehensive assessments (e.g., ADHD, Learning Disorders, giftedness) through the Psychological Clinic during the academic year.
  • 3rd year: Child/family practicum within the Psychological Clinic. This practicum includes assessment and intervention with children, adolescents, and their families. Students also participate in an 8 to 10-hour assessment placement at assessment-focused externships throughout the surrounding area. These externships will vary from year-to-year; however, please use this link to see a list of the assessment-focused experiences our students have utilized in the past.
  • 4th year: Clinical placement (externship), approximately 15-20 hours/week, in a setting specialized in the assessment and treatment of children and families (e.g. mental health center, medical/pediatric setting). These clinical placements generally vary from year-to-year based depending upon the number and interests of the graduate students our specialty admits each year; however, please use this link to see a list of the clinical placements our students typically utilize.
  • 5th year: Students prepare for and apply to clinical internship. Clinically, students may engage in a second year of clinical placement (externship), teaching, awarded fellowships, or some combination of these experiences. Some students also teach, are awarded fellowships, or engage in some combination of these clinical and academic experiences. 

Students are encouraged to become involved in undergraduate teaching. During the beginning of the 3rd year, students are enrolled in a teaching seminar and, with the supervision of a faculty member, teach one or several undergraduate courses (e.g. child psychology, social and personality development, cognitive development, adolescent psychology)

Core Faculty

Clinical Child Faculty

Dr. Sarah Black - Developmental psychopathology, with particular interest in risk for mood disorders during childhood and adolescence. Currently, investigating how parenting behaviors and parental psychopathology may influence the development of emotional regulation abilities during middle childhood and adolescence.  Research also considers how the normative hormonal, social, and environmental events of childhood and adolescence can be disrupted and lead to increased risk for emotional dysregulation.

Dr. Christopher A. Flessner - Risk factors implicated in the onset, course, and treatment of child obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (e.g., OCD, body-focused repetitive behaviors [BFRBs]) and tic disorders. Pediatric food allergies and behavioral intervention designed to increase adherence to safety practices.

Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett - Culturally-relevant anxiety interventions, the acting white accusation and ethnic racial identity, mobile applications for BIPOS adolescents and pregnant mothers in community settings.

Dr. Amy Sato - Pediatric (child-health) psychology, with an emphasis on pediatric obesity and the development of novel weight management interventions. Focus on the influences of family and stress as well as adolescents from lower-income backgrounds.

Psychological Sciences Faculty

Dr. Clarissa Thompson - Investigates ways children learn, develop strategies to solve problems, generalize knowledge to novel contexts, and remember information.

Faculty With Related Interests

Dr. Yossi Ben-Porath (Assessment): MMPI-2 and MMPI-A applications in a variety of settings (clinical, correctional, forensic, and pre-employment screening) and computerized adaptive testing with the MMPI instruments.

Dr. Jeffrey Ciesla (Adult psychopathology) - The processes and course of depressive disorders.

Dr. Maria Zaragoza (Cognitive): Factors that affect young children's eyewitness memory.

Recent Clinical Child Graduates
  • Elle Brennan, Ph.D. – Akron Children’s Hospital
  • Katy Darling, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow, Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • Nicole Dempster, Ph.D. – Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • Robert Dempster, Ph.D. – Program Director, Comprehensive Pediatric Feeding Program, Nationwide Children's Hospital; Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Ohio State University College of Medicine
  • Petra Duran, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics – Psychology Section, Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital
  • Delilah Ellzey, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Amy Fahrenkamp, Ph.D. – Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic
  • Shanna Guilfoyle, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Cincinnati Children's Medical Center
  • Aimee Hammer, Ph.D. – Post-doctoral Fellow, Pediatric Neuropsychology, Indiana University Medical School
  • Bryan Karazsia, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, College of Wooster
  • Tracy Love Masterson, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, John Carroll University
  • Andrea Mata, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Findlay University
  • Marsheena Murray, Ph.D. – Psychologist, MetroHealth Medical Center
  • Elizabeth Ruzicka, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow, Colorado Children's Hospital
  • Erin Smith, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Susquehanna University
  • Lauren Wood, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado
  • Stephanie Silberman, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Clinical Child Psychologist at Albany Medical Center