Child clinical/pediatric psychology track
Geisinger offers a comprehensive training program in child clinical/pediatric psychology, which results in trainees who are highly competitive for a range of career opportunities. Program graduates are exceptionally prepared to serve as leaders, clinicians and clinical supervisors in children's hospitals, on pediatric specialty teams and within academic medical centers.
We adhere to the scientist-practitioner model of psychological practice. Clinical training experiences follow the apprentice model. Trainees are supervised by faculty members with active clinical practices and function with considerable autonomy, assuming junior level staff responsibilities.
Participants in the program are expected to:
- Develop clinical skills to support independent practice
- Collaborate in the medical setting by learning about the medical culture, serving as interdisciplinary team members and consulting with physicians
- Work with culturally diverse groups and respect individual differences
- Apply research skills in a clinical setting
- Uphold high standards of patient care and professional ethics
- Use scientific evidence to guide practice
- Advocate for the profession of psychology
Interns expand their skills in the areas of assessment, treatment, consultation and research. Clinical experiences are of primary importance with particular emphasis placed on learning behavior change methods. Faculty members provide supervision in empirically supported therapies including cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and motivational interviewing.
During the internship year, interns work in an outpatient behavioral health clinic located inside Geisinger Medical Center (GMC), in the Janet Weis Children's Hospital (directly connected to GMC), in the emergency department at GMC, and on multi-disciplinary teams.
Pediatric Psychology Outpatient Clinic
Interns develop skills in assessing and treating behavioral and emotional problems in young children through adolescence. Children as young as infants are referred to our practice, but the main age range seen is preschool through 18 years old. Clinical work includes assessment and individual, family and group psychotherapy. Examples of presenting problems are: ADHD, anxiety, depression, disruptive/oppositional behavior, sleep problems, eating problems, elimination problems, social skills, parent-child relationship, family problems, divorce, adjustment issues, identity issues, suicidality, self-harm, school refusal, somatization, development, trauma, adjustment to acute and chronic illness, and medical adherence.
Consultation in the Janet Weis Children's Hospital
Geisinger has its own children's hospital and pediatricians representing all of the common pediatric subspecialties. Pediatric oncologists, neurologists, intensive care specialists, endocrinologists, pulmonologists, gastroenterologists and nephrologists are frequent collaborators in patient care. Interns conduct inpatient consultations in the Janet Weis Children's Hospital.
Psychiatric emergency services
Interns learn emergency psychiatric assessment and intervention skills. Acquired skills include assessment and triage of suicidal or aggressive patients, management of family crises, understanding contributions of medical conditions and substances on acute symptoms, and coordination of follow up care including psychiatric admission. These experiences occur during the day and are provided yearlong in the outpatient setting and emergency department.
ADHD & Disruptive Behavior Disorders Clinic
Interns assess and treat children with disruptive behavior disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. This experience involves providing assessment, practical recommendations and evidence-based treatment (see “groups” below).
Preschool Development and Behavior Clinic
Interns conduct psychological assessments of preschool-age children, most of whom present with behavioral problems, and some of whom have developmental delays. Geisinger has a separate institute focused on evaluating very young children with developmental delays and concerns of autism, whereas our Pediatric Psychology Preschool Development and Behavior Clinic serves mostly typically developing 3-5 year old children with primary behavioral problems. Like the school-age Disruptive Behavior Clinic, the preschool clinic involves providing assessment, practical recommendations and evidence-based treatment (see “groups” below).
Anxiety Disorders Clinic
Interns participate in an anxiety disorders clinic using comprehensive evidence-based assessment and treatment strategies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (e.g., Dr. Philip Kendall’s Coping Cat) and exposure & response prevention.
Multidisciplinary Specialty Clinics
Collaboration with medical teams occurs in a variety of settings. Interns may participate in team-based care in one or more of the following specialty clinics: cleft palate/craniofacial, neurology, hematology/oncology, gastroenterology or cystic fibrosis.
Group treatment programs
The training program offers experience in delivering evidence-based treatment in a group format. Group treatment programs during the internship year include:
- Behavioral parent training and children's problem-solving skills training for school-age children with ADHD/disruptive behavior disorders
- Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)/behavior parent training and children’s social competence & emotional/behavioral regulation for preschool-age children (Dr. Carolyn Webster-Stratton's Incredible Years programs)
- High school age adolescent group with conjoint family therapy, for a variety of issues (depression, anxiety, family stress, peer relationship problems, etc.)
- Middle school age adolescent group focused on social skills (not primary disruptive behavior)
- Weight management for adolescents, with concurrent parents’ group using behavioral principles and addressing family issues
Interns participate in psychological testing of children and adolescents presenting with a variety of neurological, psychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions. Interns learn assessment skills involving standardized tests for diagnostic and treatment planning purposes. Testing is supervised by a pediatric neuropsychologist.
Camp counselor (optional)
Interns are allowed to volunteer for one week as a counselor in a camp setting for children with chronic medical problems, such as pediatric cancer or children and adolescents with weight management issues. More information about camps can be found at campvictory.org.
Three weekly educational conferences complement the clinical component of the internship. There is also a bi-weekly group supervision experience focused on treating children with cancer and cystic fibrosis.
A weekly didactic seminar is designed specifically for the interns. A sample of topics presented by faculty include:
- Child abuse
- Emergency evaluations including suicide risk assessment
- Practical issues for psychologists in medical settings
- Anxiety disorders
- Conducting clinical research in a medical setting
- Getting your first job
- Cultural diversity in clinical practice
- Helping people change health risk behavior
- Behavioral interventions with pediatric patients
- Evidence-based treatments
- Motivational Interviewing
- Chronic illness
The faculty and interns meet weekly for a case conference in which interns and staff present and discuss challenging and interesting clinical cases. The atmosphere is supportive and collegial and provides a regular forum for interaction amongst faculty and interns, to supplement individual supervision.
Psychiatry grand rounds
Interns attend weekly psychiatry grand rounds, which include presentations by Geisinger faculty as well as outside speakers. Each intern makes a presentation at psychiatry grand rounds near the end of the internship year. Interns are also encouraged to attend conferences sponsored by other medical center departments.
In addition to using evidence based practice in their clinical work, interns are encouraged to participate in a research project with the training faculty. Up to four hours of protected time per week is available for research activities.
Sample rotation schedule
Selection procedures and benefits
Four child clinical/pediatric interns are accepted each academic year to join a total intern class of 18 interns. Preference is given to applicants who meet four admission criteria:
- Enrolled in an APA- or CPA-approved doctoral training program;
- At least three years of full-time graduate level training (four years preferred);
- Passed the comprehensive or qualifying exam by the application deadline; and
- Approved dissertation proposal by application deadline.
All qualified applicants regardless of race, color, sex, marital status, age, religion or national origin are encouraged to apply.
Salary & benefits for interns
For the 2020-2021 academic year, each intern will receive a $27,000 yearly stipend, paid bi-weekly. Paid time off includes nine vacation days, six personal holidays and five sick days. Interns also receive five days that may be used for relocation or interview purposes, five days for external CMEs and three internal CME days to be used for conferences and activities within Geisinger. Attendance and presentations at appropriate psychology conferences is encouraged, and $600 is provided to support conference expenses. An additional $500 is available to purchase educational materials and pay dues for professional organizations. Further benefits include comprehensive health insurance for interns and dependents, professional liability insurance, life insurance and assistance with moving expenses.
"By the end of internship, trainees will be able to function independently in a variety of pediatric medical settings, using evidence-based care and working collaboratively with interdisciplinary teams to provide the best care possible for their patients."