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Clinical Experience

Postdoctoral Psychology Fellowship

The Postdoctoral Psychology Fellowship Program at Children's Mercy Kansas City provides intensive training to advanced-level postdoctoral psychology students in psychological assessment, treatment, and interdisciplinary consultation and collaboration in the context of a dedicated pediatric academic health care environment. By providing the highest-quality supervision and training, the program aims to facilitate advanced clinical and professional skills to prepare postdoctoral fellows for successful careers as psychologists in his or her chosen setting. The program is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), and abides by APPIC policies, including the policy that no person at this training facility will solicit, accept or use any ranking-related information from any fellowship applicant.


The Fellowship Training Experience 

Postdoctoral fellows have the opportunity to individualize their training experience and will create individualized training plans with the Training Director and Postdoctoral Fellowship Associate Training Director. These plans will define a cohesive training experience to enable the fellow to refine existing skills and develop greater expertise to prepare for a career in his or her area of specialty. Fellows are expected to enter their fellowship year with broad-based, foundational knowledge and gain expert-level skills and knowledge by the end of the training year. Three to four days will be spent in clinical training experiences, while additional time during the week will be spent in didactics, research, or other agreed upon training experiences. The generalized child clinical/pediatric psychology positions offer substantial flexibility in how the four clinical days are dedicated. For example, the fellow could choose three four month rotations, two year-long rotations, or a combination of one year-long and three four month rotations. These details are finalized with each fellow prior to the beginning of the training year and should be chosen based on the fellow’s future career goals and geared towards gaining expertise, not in an attempt to gain exposure to novel populations. Specialized postdoctoral fellowship positions, such as those specifically dedicated to Special Needs/Autism or Gastroenterology Clinic) will include more specific and clearly identified clinical goals and expectations. 

Although the primary theoretical orientation of our fellowship program is a behavioral or cognitive/behavioral approach, our staff employ techniques from a variety of other orientations. Educational experiences, such as our Didactic Seminars, also provide a vehicle whereby staff psychologists and psychiatrists, and personnel outside our Division can acquaint the fellows with a broad variety of theoretical orientations, assessment techniques, and interventions. 


Opportunities to Supervise Practicum Students 

In addition to clinical opportunities, postdoctoral fellows are given the opportunity to supervise practicum students under the supervision of licensed faculty. Typically, practicum experiences consist of the student working with a fellow one day a week, either providing co-therapy with the fellow or seeing patients independently and discussing cases with the fellow and faculty member. Readings will be assigned to support the development of supervision skills and fellows are expected to attend Supervision Seminar regardless of whether they are actively supervising a practicum student. 


Opportunities for Individualized Research Experience 

Fellows have the opportunity to work with a mentor to integrate research into their chosen career path in an appropriate way. There are two basic research competencies the fellow is expected to meet: 

  • To be familiar with the ethical conduct of research and basic principles of human subjects protection. (there are a variety of options for meeting this requirement)

  • To be able to critically examine the research literature and apply findings to their work (clinical, teaching, or research), as appropriate. These readings are identified in conjunction with a mentor.

All fellows will meet with the Director of Research for the division to elicit fellows’ perspective on the role of research in their long-term career goals. They are then expected to discuss the individual research experience with their professional faculty mentor within the first month of the fellowship year to discuss their long-term career plans and to determine if an additional research faculty mentor is warranted. A fellow may choose to have their professional mentor oversee that they meet the basic research competencies described above. If appropriate, a fellow can also choose an additional, separate research mentor in order to gain more research experience throughout their fellowship year. A list of possible mentors is available to facilitate the selection of a faculty research mentor. 

If a fellow would like to gain more research experience during their fellowship year (beyond the two basic competencies described above), they may be allowed to allocate up to a half-day per week dedicated to research time to collaborate with a faculty mentor on an existing project. A list of ongoing projects is available from the Director of Research. If a fellow chooses this option (allocating a half-day per week to research), there is an expectation of a mutually beneficial outcome for both the fellow and the research mentor by the end of the fellowship year (such as a conference presentation, or a publication submitted for publication). 

This half-day of protected research time will come from designated office time, and should be discussed with the professional mentor and the Training Director. 

Fellowship Training Aims, Sequence, and Expected Outcomes



Program Aims and Goals 

The postdoctoral fellowship program aims to provide an integrated, individually tailored, balanced and coordinated series of learning experiences that will serve the aspiring professional psychologist with opportunities to: a) practice and expand on previously held knowledge and learned skills; b) develop advanced skills and knowledge; c) experience personal and professional growth and development, thus contributing to the emergence of a competent professional child psychologist; and d) gain a working knowledge of the pediatric medical community.  The fellowship program is focused on delivering services to children, adolescents and their families, as well as to others who regularly interact with children (e.g., teachers, social service workers, health professionals).  The training program goals are in line with the hospital mission as trainees directly contribute to providing comprehensive family-centered care with trainees promoting clinical and psychosocial care and contributing to the research, academic and service excellence.


Goal #1: Fellows will engage in practices and behaviors facilitating effective professional relationships at the requisite level for entry level into the field of psychology.

Goal #2:  Fellows will know how to assess and conceptualize psychological functioning in a diverse range of children and presenting problems.

Goal #3: The fellow will gain clinical experience in the provision of effective psychological intervention.

Goal #4:  The fellow will gain clinical experience in the practice of consultation.


Training Sequence 

The postdoctoral training sequence is developed on an individual basis with the training directors.  The sequence builds on prior training skills and competencies while allowing the fellow to engaged in more independent practice. 


Expected Outcomes 

At the end of fellowship, we expect that our fellows will 1) engage in practices and behaviors facilitating effective professional relationships at the requisite level for entry level into the field of psychology; 2) know how to assess and conceptualize psychological functioning in a diverse range of children and presenting problems; 3) gain clinical experience in the provision of effective psychological intervention; and 4) gain clinical experience in the practice of consultation.

We expect that our fellows will go on to demonstrate the minimal level of profession-wide competencies in the areas of Research; Ethical and Legal standards; Individual and Cultural Diversity; Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors; Communication and Interpersonal Skills; Assessment; Intervention; Supervision and Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary skills. 

We expect that upon meeting these aims and competencies that our fellows will go on to be successful in obtaining state licensure and/or careers within the broad field of psychology.