Psy.D. Degree

Child Emphasis Area

photo of a student with a child

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The child emphasis provides specialized training which brings together the basic tenets of clinical psychology with a thorough background in development, child and adolescent psychology, family, and behavioral psychology. The emphasis prepares you to understand, prevent, diagnose, and treat the psychological needs of children and adolescents; to conduct research, and to learn how the family and other social contexts influence social-emotional adjustment, cognitive development, behavioral adaptation, and health status of children, adolescents, and their families. This emphasis will provide the foundational skills to pursue a specialized internship and/or postdoctoral experiences in the field of child and adolescent psychology.

NOTE: Students who pursue this area of emphasis will fulfill the usual requirements for the Psy.D. in clinical psychology as well as take courses within the child emphasis. Students are first admitted and later may choose to participate in the child emphasis.


Coursework is designed to address child and adolescent theoretical concepts, assessment, and intervention, which incorporates the contextual factors of the child psychology, diversity, variables, and promotes social responsibility. Child coursework is interwoven into the curriculum and uses the first and second year of the program to develop the core knowledge in the area of child psychology with specialized training in the third and fourth year.

Required Courses:

  • Child Psychotherapy
  • Child Assessment
  • Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics I and II
  • Family Therapy

Additional child electives are offered

  • Child Psychotherapy: This course reviews psychological interventions and treatment approaches for children from conception through late adolescence. Conceptual foundations of the major models of psychotherapy, as well as empirically supported interventions, are emphasized.
  • Child Assessment: Child assessment provides an overview of child assessment theory, techniques, and strategies to prepare students for clinical work with children and adolescents. Students will learn to administer, score, and interpret specific child assessment measures and continue honing basic skills in integrative report writing.
  • Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics I: This is part I of a two-sequence course addressing a wide range of developmental and behavioral difficulties. Part I places emphasis on assessment, management, and treatment of developmental and behavioral factors involved in the cause or maintenance of pediatric concerns such as various medical diagnoses with behavioral components such as diabetes and asthma, childhood obesity, and regulatory disorders (toileting, discipline difficulties, sleep, feeding/eating). Additional focus will be placed on adherence to medical regimen, quality of life, pain assessment and management, and evidence-based approaches.
  • Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics II: This is part II of a two-sequence course addressing infant through adolescent development, therapeutic interventions, and assessments and interventions for disorders such as autism, aspergers, and nonverbal learning disorders. Specific health conditions in early childhood through adolescences such as immunological disorders, renal disorders, traumatic brain injury, etc., which were not covered in developmental behavioral pediatrics I, will be addressed in developmental behavioral pediatrics II. Students will also learn about consultation (i.e. daycare and home-based), advocacy, and health care policy.
  • Family Therapy: Family therapy is an introductory course in family systems theory and family therapy that explores key aspects of the psychological literature relevant to the role functioning of a family psychologist practitioner. While it is not possible to provide an in-depth learning experience with all aspects of systems thinking and family work, students will be introduced to perspectives for how to do systems work at the level of interactions with individuals, dyads, and larger organizational configurations that constitute the domain of concern for the family psychologist.

Dissertations and Advising

The child emphasis offers you the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise within the field of clinical child psychology in a forum focused on facilitating the students' professional growth as future psychologists.

You are expected to complete a professional dissertation focused on issues relevant to children and families, which allows the student to further expand their research experience and practice within the field of clinical child psychology. You are recommended to choose one of the emphasis faculty as dissertation chair. However, if you do not prefer to choose one of the emphasis faculty as your dissertation chair, you will be required to have a child emphasis faculty member on your dissertation committees. If you choose a dissertation chair who is not an emphasis faculty member, the student will be matched with a child emphasis faculty member to serve as their academic advisor (to ensure they are completing the necessary requirements of the child emphasis).

Practicum Overview

In addition to coursework, you will gain clinical experience in the treatment of children and families that will allow for the application of knowledge, skills, and attitudes learned. A practicum primarily working with children, adolescents, and their families is a requirement for at least one practicum.

The Ellis Institute serves as an internal practicum placement and provides the following experiences:

  • Therapy, assessment, and consultation
  • Clinical training with children, adolescents, and their families
  • Exposure to a variety of socioeconomic and culturally mixed backgrounds
  • Training in an outpatient community mental health center

Students assigned to this practicum will typically carry a caseload break down that is 75 percent children and 25 percent adults

Sample Clinical Training sties such as:

  • Children's hospital and medical centers
  • Juvenile justice centers
  • Vocational training programs
  • Community mental health centers

Emphasis Team Meetings, Brown Bag Series, and Additional Training Experiences

To enhance the development of skills consistent with the practitioner-scholar model and broaden the applicability of material-covered within the curriculum, you are required to attend two of the following activities designated for the emphasis:

  • Monthly Emphasis Meetings—You can attend and participate in monthly meetings with the emphasis faculty and students.
  • Brown Bag Discussion Series—You can attend brown bag discussions where a specific topic will be selected for discussion. This could be based on an article, recent event in the media, book assigned for reading, etc.
  • Annual Events—These events include student mixer, holiday party, and end of the year cook-out
  • Workshops/Training Series—You can attend workshops/training seminars offered specifically for the SOPP community on topics related to clinical practice with youth and families. These may focus on, for example, a specific clinical modality, innovative intervention, or specific assessment measure.

Scholarship Expectations

You must engage in some form of child/adolescent continuing education and/or scholarship (e.g., attending a conference, presenting at a conference, participating in research, producing some scholarly work, etc.) per year of enrollment in the program. Note: Students' scholarship work should be separate from the dissertation requirement.

Emphasis Faculty

The faculty within the child emphasis are core faculty members of the School of Professional Psychology whose areas of specialization include pediatric psychology, pediatric neuropsychology, play therapy, developmental disabilities, child and adolescent violence, trauma, adolescent psychology,infant mental health, family and group therapy, school-based consultation and interventions, multicultural counseling, and assessments, and interventions for children, adolescents, and their families.

Janeece Warfield, Psy.D., RPT-S

Professional Psychology
Professor, Director, Doctoral Internship Program SOPP
Ellis Human Devel Inst E217B, 9 N Edwin C Moses Blvd, Dayton, OH 45402-8470

Michelle S. Schultz, Psy.D.

Professional Psychology
Associate Dean
Health Sciences Bldg 117, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy, Dayton, OH 45435-0001

Gokce Ergun, Ph.D.

Professional Psychology
Associate Professor
Ellis Human Devel Inst, 9 N Edwin C Moses Blvd, Dayton, OH 45402-8470

Beth Hurt, Ph.D.

School of Professional Psychology
Assistant Professor
Ellis Human Devel Inst, 9 N Edwin C Moses Blvd, Dayton, OH 45402-8470