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Academic Curriculum

Program Goals 

In order to support our program philosophy, the following represent the student’s training goals:

  • Learn how to assess and conceptualize psychological functioning in a diverse range of children and presenting problems.
  • Gain experience in the provision of effective psychological intervention.
  • Gain clinical experience in the practice of consultation.


Program Opportunities 

The psychology training 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:

  • Practice and expand on previously-held knowledge and learned skills
  • Develop new skills and knowledge
  • Experience personal and professional growth, contributing to the emergence of a competent, scientist/practitioner professional psychologist
  • Gain a working knowledge of the pediatric medical community

Educational Experiences for Psychology Interns and Fellows




Psychology interns and fellows become oriented to the hospital and training program during a week-long orientation. The orientation meetings that occur at the beginning of the training year acquaint the trainees with the components of the training experience as well as each of their supervisors, seminar leaders, and instructors. Trainees are given tours of the major hospital locations and clinics that they will have an opportunity to train. Much of the orientation to the hospital’s policies and procedures pertaining to infection control, safety, immunizations and employee health, cultural diversity and ethnicity are completed on-line prior to arrival. Training on use of the electronic medical record occurs the first week. Each month during the training meetings, topics discussed during the initial orientation will be revisited and reviewed.



The didactic presentations are scheduled to occur on a weekly basis, with presentations by medical and psychological staff from our department and from invited speakers outside of the department. The Didactic Seminars for trainees are a vehicle whereby staff psychologists, psychiatrists and other professionals from within and outside our division (our hospital, other institutions, or from the private sector) acquaint the trainees with a broad variety of theoretical orientations, assessment techniques, and interventions. 

Examples of the topics covered include: empirically validated treatments, issues in assessment, conversion disorder, psychopharmacology, functional behavioral analysis, management of obesity, phenotypic expressions of genetic disorders, management of chronic pain, adolescent substance abuse, genetic counseling, setting limits with teens, gay/lesbian/bisexuality issues, toilet training, diabetes management, traumatic brain injury, and biofeedback.


Professional Issues 

This seminar is scheduled on a monthly basis to help prepare the trainees for starting their careers, with approximately two-thirds of the discussion led by staff from within our division and one-third by professionals from outside of Children's Mercy. Topics include the following: preparing and revising your CV, preparing for post-doc and job interviews, preparing to take the EPPP, taking care of yourself, discussions with previous trainees (who are practicing in the Kansas City area), discussions with pediatricians from the area (for their perspective of their need for psychological services for their patients), insurance/billing, and preparing (way ahead of time) for promotion within a hospital setting.


Clinical Supervision 

The trainees receive supervision in the refinement of existing professional psychological competencies and in the mastery of new skills, methods, and procedures. This includes assessment, diagnosis, psychotherapy, consultation, research, and evaluation. Regularly scheduled supervisory sessions are held for all training activities. In addition to direct supervision on clinical cases, Supervision Seminar is also scheduled on a monthly basis. This seminar discusses supervision from both the supervisor and supervisee perspective, and is an excellent forum to discuss burgeoning skills as a supervisor.



While the primary focus of our program remains training in clinical practice, a significant number of faculty conduct rigorous research, allowing us to expand our research mission and to involve interns in research in meaningful ways. Our goal is to produce psychologists who use scientific methodology in their practice-decisions and work with clients using scientifically valid methods, tools, and techniques.

An optional year- long research experience with an ongoing or new project at Children's Mercy with a focus on integrating research and clinical practice can be incorporated into a trainee’s schedule (one half day per week). This will replace a half day of administrative time. Mark Connelly, PhD, is the Director of Research for the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Health and oversees all research experiences for trainees, but the trainee's direct research supervisor will depend on the research experience chosen.


Cultural and Individual Differences 

Consideration for cultural and individual differences and diversity are incorporated across all training experiences. Our program is committed to training diverse trainees and works with each trainee to develop skills and show profession-wide competencies through a range of experiences. Throughout our educational and clinical experiences we integrate and consider cultural and individual differences and diversity, which includes (but is not limited to) language spoken, national origin, ethnicity and culture, race, family constellation, disability (e.g. physical limitations), sexual orientation, religion, and socioeconomic status. 

In addition to the experiences gained with individual patients and didactics, trainees are encouraged to participate in diversity activities through Children’s Mercy and/or the community. The following are examples of experiences at Children's Mercy that occur throughout the year are available to trainees for observation and participation: Equity & Diversity Forum; Operation Breakthrough Bus Tour- tour of neighborhoods in the urban core of Kansas City with speakers who share experiences about personal challenges and ways that they have overcome these challenges; Cultural Competency Workshop; Spanish Bilingual Assistant Course; Qualified Bilingual Staff; Lisa Barth Chapel Offers area for prayer and meditation 24 hours per day; Gender Pathway Services Clinic (GPS).

Psychology Training Model and Philosophy



Training Philosophy 

The Children’s Mercy Training Program follows a "Scientist Practitioner" training model. In accordance with the Scientist Practitioner model, our program strives to integrate science and practice so that activities and advances in one domain inform the other. Trainees are to learn about practice and research, and carry both out under the supervision of faculty with expertise in these areas. While the primary focus of our program remains training in clinical practice, the addition of a significant number of faculty who conduct rigorous research has allowed us to expand our research mission and to involve interns in that research in meaningful ways. Consistent with this model, our goal is to produce psychologists who use scientific methodology in their practice-decisions to work with clients using scientifically valid methods, tools, and techniques; to inform their clients of scientifically-based findings and approaches to their presenting problems; and to conduct practice-based research.


Training Model 

To further help delineate our training model and practice, our program closely mirrors the model set out by Roberts, et al. in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 1998 entitled "A Model for Training Psychologists to Provide Services for Children and Adolescents."

We believe that while this model seems to have at its basis that of scientist-practitioner, it adds some specificity that further informs the training of those intending to focus their professional work in the care of children and their families. This model posits a clear set of tasks and learning experiences that are essential to the development of the aspiring pediatric psychologist.

Training components comprising the model include the following: developmental psychology; developmental psychopathology; child, adolescent and family assessment methods; intervention strategies; research methods and systems evaluation; professional, ethical and legal issues pertaining to children, adolescents and families; issues of diversity; the role of multiple disciplines and service delivery systems; prevention, family support and health promotion; and social issues affecting children, adolescents and families.

While the model suggests that a significant proportion of the didactic exposure in these areas will occur during the graduate coursework, it also assumes that the intensive clinical experiences provided during internship are essential to the mastery of these areas.