ABOUT THE CLINICAL Child PROGRAM

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. 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 area work together to train students.  Graduate students can obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Child 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 faculty member to serve as their liaison within the clinical program. Our specialization’s 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:

  • Developmental Psychopathology
  • Ecological and Cultural Influences on Child Development
  • Pediatric (Child-Health) Psychology

Ph.D. TRAINING

Coursework in the Clinical Child Specialization. Coursework 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 courses that focus specifically on clinical child psychology (developmental psychopathology, intellectual and achievement testing, child psychotherapy, pediatric psychology).

  • During the first two years, students take graduate courses that cover developmental (cognitive development) and/or clinical child research (developmental psychopathology, child psychotherapy, pediatric psychology). In addition, the student gains expertise in ethnic minority and cultural issues in development 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 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], Sickle Cell Program and Primary Care practices),  Akron Public Schools, Upward Bound, Community Youth Organizations, Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence, MetroHealth Medical Center) as well as universities around the country  (e.g. University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Georgia Tech University, Brown Medical School, and UCLA) . 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 Black and Latino individuals and families and youth from a low-income background.
  • Graduate students are actively involved in research with faculty including the opportunity to publish peer-reviewed manuscripts and present at regional, national, and international conferences. Students are actively encouraged to develop their own research program and attend 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 have the opportunity to 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).  
  • 3rd year: Child/family practicum within the Psychological Clinic. This practicum includes assessment and intervention with children, adolescents, and their families. Some students also have the opportunity to participate in a partial assessment placement at the Lawrence School or similar assessment-focused externships.
  • 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). 
  • 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. 
     

Teaching. 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. 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. Josefina Grau - Parent-child relationships and children's social and emotional development, with an emphasis on cultural and contextual factors. Focus on Latina families and the influences of cultural orientation.

Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett - Culturally-relevant anxiety interventions, the acting white accusation and ethnic racial identity,  mobile applications for minorities 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. William Merriman - Language acquisition and metacognition in young children.

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. Douglas Delahanty (Health): Psychobiological predictors and correlates of PTSD in child trauma victims.

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

RESOURCES

  • Faculty and students have access to recently renovated lab space in the department.
  • The research labs at KSU include state of the art equipment (e.g., observational, Podcasting), software (e.g., Direct RT, Mplus), and technology for delivering interventions.
  • Faculty and graduate students actively collaborate with professionals at Akron Children's Hospital and other local hospitals.  Physicians from local hospitals also can serve on thesis and doctoral committees.
  • Several faculty work with large-scale existing data sets including the NICHD Child Care Study.
Recent Clinical Child Ph.D.’s
  • Meghan Barlow, Ph.D.  Psychologist, Rocky River, OH
  • Elle Brennan, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow, Mayo Clinic
  • Patricia Castellanos, Ph.D. – Senior Clinical Psychologist, Director of Psychology Training, Primary Care Behavioral Health, Hennepin County Medical Center
  • Katy Darling, Ph.D. –  Postdoctoral Fellow, Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • Nicole Dempster, Ph.D. – Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • Robert Dempster, Ph.D. – Nationwide Children's Hospital
  • Petra Duran, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics – Psychology Section, Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital
  • 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
  • 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, Susquehana 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