Overview of the Child Psychology Internship

Three full-time Child internship slots are offered by the Psychology Department. The training year has, as its core, six training experiences: (1) long-term child outpatient psychotherapy; (2) adolescent inpatient treatment; (3) child (ages 5-14) inpatient treatment; (4) psychodiagnostic evaluation and assessment; (5) pediatric psychology via a four-month rotation at Connecticut Children’s, and (6) seminars.

The training year will consist of three primary four-month rotations: one on the child and adolescent inpatient service, one at Connecticut Children’s pediatric service, and one focusing on psychological assessment.

The training objectives for the child/adolescent internship program are centered on the premise that a sound grounding in both behavioral and psychodynamically informed developmental models of psychopathology and treatment will best prepare interns for successful careers working with the widest spectrum of patients. The continuum of care offered by the interns is designed to expose the intern to treatment settings in which competencies in individual, group, and family therapies can develop. In addition, consultation to a variety of medical-pediatric departments and psychological testing will allow the intern to expand beyond the traditional psychiatric system and begin learning skills that will allow them to pursue careers interfacing with the medical establishment. Perhaps most importantly, the internship program, through its use of an apprenticeship/mentoring structure, provides each intern the contact with senior psychologists necessary for the development of a professional identity as a psychologist.

Core Training Rotations

Child and Adolescent Inpatient

The Child and Adolescent Inpatient Service consists of a 15-bed adolescent unit and a 17-bed child unit, and is staffed by psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, psychologists, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists, and psychiatric technicians. The units provide a range of services, including short-term managed care treatment approaches to longer-term services for patients with severe and persistent mental illness in need of hospitalization, many of whom have gone through unsuccessful outpatient and short-term inpatient treatments. The patient population is comprised of a broad spectrum of acute and chronic conditions, including but not limited to psychosis, developmental disabilities, personality disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, conduct disorders and problematic behaviors, and affective disorders.

This rotation provides an immersion into the role of an inpatient psychologist. Interns gain experience not only in inpatient treatment and case management, but also in functioning as a psychologist in a multidisciplinary team. Each intern functions as primary therapist for two patients in the service, split between the child and adolescent units, during rotations on each unit. The amount of direct service will vary considerably based upon individual patient needs but on average, each patient will require a minimum of 30 minutes daily of direct contact individually and often involve multiple family meetings during the week. Each intern will complete a four-month rotation on this service.

Training objectives include a thorough learning of DSM-5 diagnoses and Interns will develop competency in a variety of interventions, including development of advanced focal and intensive psychotherapeutic interventions, group therapy, psychopharmacology, family therapy, milieu therapy, and behavioral/ cognitive-behavioral/DBT techniques. Interns will also receive specific training in process-oriented group psychotherapy and suicide prevention-focused group psychotherapy with adolescents, and social-skills group therapy with children.

Pediatric Psychology

Each intern will spend four months providing psychological care at Connecticut Children's Medical Center (CCMC), a multi-specialty academic medical center.  Interns can expect to participate in multidisciplinary evaluations to observe and then demonstrate the role of a psychologist alongside other pediatric specialists, providing a unified and coordinated approach to care. In addition, interns will carry a small caseload of outpatients over the course of their rotation with emphasis commonly placed on cognitive-behavioral approach to care.  Patients can be referred through any of the several sub-specialty pediatric clinics throughout CCMC. Lastly, interns have the opportunity to complete focused psychological consultations to patients admitted to CCMC and provide feedback to other medical providers.  Supervision will be provided for evaluations and treatment encounters along with guidance surrounding multiple roles that can comprise a pediatric psychologist's career and development.  

Learn more about the services provided by Connecticut Children's psychology department.

Psychological Assessment Rotation

Each intern will spend four months providing psychological assessments for child and adolescent inpatients and outpatients. In addition, the intern will test students attending our on-site therapeutic school (Grace Webb School) for purposes of diagnostic and educational planning. Interns may also pursue as a minor elective exposure to neuropsychological assessment. Testing responsibilities typically consist of 2-3 batteries per week while on this rotation, one per month while on the inpatient service and 1-2 per month while on the Pediatric Psychology rotation. Interns gain experience in test administration, scoring, interpretation, report writing and in communicating test findings to relevant stakeholders (e.g., patient, family, treatment team). In addition, during this intensive assessment rotation each intern will have up to 4 hours per week to pursue elective interests.

Consistent with our training mission, interns will be required to integrate relevant psychodynamic models of interpretation with objective and cognitive data, and further develop their ability to communicate test findings in written and oral form. The testing service plays a vital role in the mission of the IOL to identify risks for self-harm and interpersonal violence, as well as early indicators for psychosis and other forms of severe mental illness, and we expect interns to develop comfort and expertise in this consultant role. Child interns test predominantly child and adolescent inpatients, but may on occasion be asked to test adult patients. Interns will typically be expected to complete between 25-40 assessments during the training year. Close supervision is provided by psychologists with expertise in psychological and neuropsychological testing.

Other Core Experiences

Child Outpatient Psychotherapy

Each trainee will carry at least 1-2 long term psychotherapy patients during their training year, typically referred from IOL programs. Interns may also use elective time during the training year to see patients in a variety of other clinical settings, including the Anxiety Disorders Center, Grace Webb School (our on-site therapeutic school), and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. The interns participate in a wide variety of clinical programs and receive training in intake evaluation and diagnosis, treatment formulation, psychotherapy, and liaison with school systems. These case assignments often involve active collaboration with other providers and community agencies. Interns will receive individual supervision from the child psychology staff for their long-term psychotherapy cases.

Elective Rotations

In addition to the core rotations, interns may participate in elective training experiences during the year, with the majority of time occurring during the four-month psychological assessment rotation. However, interns may involve themselves in elective training experiences throughout the training year. Opportunities include:

  • Adult Outpatient Psychotherapy
  • School-based group psychotherapy
  • Anxiety Disorders Center: Providing group or individual outpatient psychotherapy using cognitive behavioral therapy with an emphasis on exposure and response prevention
  • Neuropsychological Assessment: Depending on prior level of preparation, involvement with the Clinical Neuropsychology Service providing neuropsychological assessment
  • Group Psychotherapies in one of our Partial Hospital/Intensive Outpatient Programs

Seminar Program

The Core Seminar Series is an important aspect of the intern training experience. This is a protected three-hour time block where interns come together and engage in didactic learning which is led by some of the department’s most valued content experts. The primary focus of the core seminars is centered in the development of advanced knowledge in the core competencies for Health Service Psychologists. Intervention-related seminars are heavily focus on modern reading in personality and psychodynamic psychotherapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, group therapy, DBT, and other empirically supported approaches to treatment.  While the Core Seminar Series is the primary didactic modality for the program, additional seminars that support the development of core competencies may also be included – typically this includes a specific Child Track weekly seminar series.

Core Competencies Addressed in Intern Seminars:

  1. Research
  2. Ethical and Legal Standards
  3. Individual & Cultural Diversity
  4. Professional Values, Attitudes & Behaviors
  5. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  6. Assessment
  7. Intervention
  8. Supervision
  9. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills

In addition to the required seminars, all interns will attend the department's monthly staff meeting where both administrative and educational issues are addressed. In accordance with APA guidelines, each intern will be expected to present case material involving either a psychotherapy case or psychodiagnostic evaluation to the faculty at least once during the training year.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Psychology Training Program, Institute of Living (IOL), and Hartford Healthcare (HHC) are committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion among our staff, trainees and the people we serve. Equity is one of our five core values as a system.

We are committed to the fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all. We value the uniqueness of each person and embrace diverse backgrounds, opinions and experiences. We foster intellectual, racial, social and cultural diversity and treat everyone with dignity and respect.

This commitment is reflected on all levels of our healthcare system and trainees have many avenues to pursue continued growth in their own cultural competence in addition to incorporation of diversity and cultural aspects within clinical supervision. Some examples include the core diversity-related seminars for IOL psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows, our IOL Diversity and Equity Committee (open to all trainees), and the IOL “Let’s Talk” forums (the Behavioral Health Network’s monthly open forum to discuss aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion).

We welcome applications from trainees from diverse backgrounds. We encourage you to inform us of any relevant life experiences in your cover letter or essays.