School & Clinical Child Psychology (SCCP)
Program Chair: Katreena Scott
Director of Clinical Training: Mary Caravias
The specific mission of the SCCP program is to provide students with theoretical, research and professional training in preparation for leadership in psychological practice with children, adolescents and families in school, mental health, private practice and research settings. The program is designed to provide professional training in psychological assesment, therapy and other psychosocial and instructional interventions, professional consultation and prevention. Opportunities are available for research and professional work with infants, young children, adolescents, adults and families. The degrees are intended to meet the academic requirements of the College of Psychologists of Ontario for registration as Psychological Associate (MA) or Psychologist (PhD).
At the MA level, the curriculum provides a theoretical foundation in:
- cognitive and affective bases of behaviour
- learning problems
In addition, the program provides theoretical and professional training in:
- psychological and psychoeducational assessment
- diagnostic interviewing
- school consultation
The PhD curriculum builds on the MA foundation. It provides foundational knowledge common to all psychologists in:
- advanced research
- social bases of behaviour
- biological bases of behaviour
In addition, the program provides theoretical and professional training in:
- advanced psychological assessment
- consultation and the remediation of learning problems
- advanced diagnosis
Students engage in research and clinical work with young children, school-age children, adolescents, and families in the OISE Psychology Clinic and in school, hospital, and children’s mental health settings.
The Training Model
Our training model, described below, includes fundamental principles with regard to content and processes of instruction.
1. School and Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis on Children, Youth and Families
A central feature of the SCCP program is that we are training candidates to become competent in school psychology and clinical psychology with an emphasis on children, youth, and families. We are convinced that integrated training in school and clinical psychology facilitates the development of highly competent psychologists who work very effectively in both school and mental health settings. Professional psychologists who work in schools need much of the knowledge and skills traditionally viewed as the domain of clinical psychologists, who in turn need much of the knowledge and skills traditionally viewed as the domain of school psychologists. Both school psychology and clinical psychology have models that share similar features that underpin our own training model. We assume multiple, non-linear explanations of behaviour and development. Individuals do not simply react to environmental influences; they create and change their environment and in a reciprocal manner are also affected by those environments. We believe that psychologists should assess both adaptive and maladaptive behaviours, and the risk and protective factors that foster them. We assume a proactive, preventive focus for professional psychologists, whether they work in schools, hospitals or mental health settings.
Although we recognize that there are some knowledge and skills that are more likely to be needed by school psychologists (e.g., understanding the social ecology of schools, instructional interventions) and clinical psychologists (e.g., individual and group psychotherapy), we are able to train students in both fields because the basic knowledge and skills of both fields overlap extensively.
The following are some of the core knowledge and skills that professional psychologists practicing in both fields need:
• a solid foundation in developmental psychology and developmental psychopathology;
• understanding of ethical issues and their application to professional practice;
• knowledge of jurisprudence pertaining to psychological practice;
• psychological assessment;
• formulation of and communication of a diagnosis;
• core skills for interviewing and therapeutic communication
• familiarity with a broad range of psychosocial interventions;
• communication and counselling skills;
• skills in consultation and working in multidisciplinary teams;
• sensitivity to cultural and individual diversity;
• program evaluation, research design, and statistics.
At the outset of our program, students are informed that they are all being trained to work in school and clinical settings, there are no specific tracks, and courses address issues that arise in both settings. Students are required to complete two practica, one in a school setting and one in a clinical setting, prior to embarking on their internship.
2. Scientist-Practitioner Model
Our training model reflects the belief that empirically based knowledge in psychology should inform professional training and, at the same time, applied research should be informed by professional experience. The training model adopted by the program is the scientist‑practitioner model. The goal is to develop professionals who are able to conduct theoretical and applied research relevant to the practice of psychology, who are clinically competent and intellectually curious, and who are able to conduct basic and applied research to the practice of psychology, use research to critically inform practice, and provide services that enhance the well being of children, youth and families. These components are complementary, and training occurs in each of the components in an interwoven fashion throughout a student's program. We interpret the components of the scientist-practitioner model as follows:
Scientist: Research is a crucial element of the SCCP program. Students are expected to gain broad and general knowledge in the areas encompassed by school and clinical psychology, and to develop a firm foundation in scientific methodology. They are expected to become competent researchers as well as educated consumers of research. Students are taught to critically evaluate and apply research through their substantive courses. The skills needed to conduct research are developed in research methods courses, colloquia, graduate assistantships, research groups, and masters' and doctoral theses. Students are encouraged and supported in terms of presenting their original research at conferences, and in professional and scholarly journals.
Practitioner: Students develop competence in the practice of school and clinical psychology through practicum and other courses, practicum field experiences, and internships. They are expected to apply their scholarly and scientific knowledge to practice by engaging in critical reflection about their own practice, and by using empirically supported assessment and intervention techniques.
3. Development, Diversity, and Ecology
The notions of development, diversity, and ecology permeate all of the courses in SCCP. We believe that students must have a solid understanding of normal development, appreciate the diverse individual learning, social, and emotional needs and behaviours of children and adolescents, and understand that these needs and behaviours must be understood within the larger context of the family, the school, and the social and cultural environment in which they live. This framework specifies a systemic approach to assessment and intervention, in which the educational and emotional needs of children and youth are seen as intertwined. Furthermore, this component of our training model is one that is common to all of the programs in the Department of Applied Psychology & Human Development (AP&HD). A corollary of this fundamental component of our training model is that we are training students to become leaders in facilitating system change in academic, policy, school, clinical, and research settings.
Process of Delivering the Program
4. Developmental-Hierarchical Curriculum
All students are required to have the equivalent of a University of Toronto four year honours degree in psychology. This involves taking at least 6 full-year (or 12 one-semester) courses in psychology, at least three of which are at the senior undergraduate level. Our curriculum is designed to establish a strong foundation of core knowledge and skills early in the program, with students free to specialize later on. They take graduate courses designed to enhance scientific breadth and research knowledge, and they develop professional knowledge and skills through required graduate courses and practica. They also have the opportunity to choose courses and practicum experiences that allow them to begin to establish their own professional direction and become deeply involved in scholarship and research.
5. The MA and PhD are One Coherent Program
The curriculum in the MA and PhD was designed to be one coherent program. Most of our beginning level core professional and research courses as well as a school-based practicum in assessment are given during the two year full-time MA program. This allows some students to terminate their program with a master's degree. (Within the
A mentorship model, which emphasizes the development of knowledge and skills through professional relationships, is utilized in the SCCP program. Faculty members sponsor students who share their area of research and scholarly interest into the program and agree to function as their program advisor. This advisory relationship assumes importance as students decide upon their areas of professional specialization and develop thesis topics. Students become involved in their advisor's research through participation in research groups, and through graduate research assistantships. This involvement typically leads to the development of dissertation research. Faculty members also often continue to be mentors for our students following completion of the program. They work together on collaborative research, and faculty members provide support regarding career development and dealing with professional issues
The competencies that we expect from our graduating students are reflected in the following nine goals:
- Students will acquire broad and general knowledge in core content areas of psychology including the history of psychology, cognitive-affective bases of behaviour, biological bases of behaviour, social bases of behaviour, individual differences, and human development.
- Students will conduct original research to study both theoretical and applied questions in psychology
- Students will apply appropriate standards of ethical, legal and professional conduct in their provision of psychological services and in their research.
- Students will conduct psychological assessments of individuals who have cognitive, academic, psychosocial, and behavioural difficulties, and become skilled in formulating and communicating a diagnosis.
- Students will develop interpersonal skills and competencies necessary to provide consulting services to schools, mental health agencies, and families.
- Students will develop interpersonal skills and competencies necessary to develop, provide, monitor and evaluate psychotherapeutic prevention programs and interventions aimed at ameliorating social and emotional (psychosocial) problems
- Students will develop interpersonal skills and competencies necessary to develop, provide, monitor and evaluate psychotherapeutic prevention programs and interventions aimed at ameliorating social and emotional (psychosocial) problems.
- Students will provide informed psychological services to a culturally and individually diverse population.
- Students will acquire the knowledge and skills to become leaders in the field of school and clinical child psychology. To this end they will develop skills to supervise psychological research and school and clinical practice and to advocate for policy and systems changes that improve the quality of life of children, youth and families.
The remaining competencies we strive to develop in our students are more generic and constitute the broad category of critical, analytical and creative thinking skills. We try to teach students to be advocates for the clients they serve and to be reflective practitioners who are constantly questioning whether they are providing the highest possible level of service. We model and teach students how to critically analyze theory, research and practice. We teach them to extrapolate from theory and basic research data directions for developing innovative and effective assessment and intervention techniques. Finally, we view it as important that our graduates attain a high level of competence in communicating orally and in writing.
These competencies are consistent with the requirement for registration as a psychologist by the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO). The director of Clinical Training is a member of the CPO Academic Program Directors Committee and the SCCP program requirements have been approved by the CPO.
In keeping with the requirements of the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO), the SCCP program evaluates students on five core competencies:
1. Interpersonal Relations The work of school and clinical child psychologists occurs in the context of interpersonal relations (parent-child, spouses, teacher-student). Psychologists must be able to establish and maintain a constructive working alliance with their clients, and be sensitive to the needs of individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds.
2. Assessment and Evaluation A competent professional psychologist draws on diverse methods of evaluation, determining which methods are best suited to the task at hand.
3. Intervention and Consultation The competent professional psychologist engages in activities that promote, restore and/or enhance positive functioning and a sense of well being in clients through preventative, developmental and/or remedial services.
4. Ethics and Standards Professional psychologists accept their obligations, are sensitive to others and conduct themselves in an ethical manner.
5. Research The competent psychologist has the skills necessary to conduct and evaluate scientific research.
The first four competencies are evaluated most closely in the assessment and intervention courses taught within the program, and during the practica and internship. In addition the fourth competency is evaluated through course 1205 (Ethical Issues in Applied Psychology). The fifth competency is evaluated through statistics courses and thesis research.
The SCCP Program is accredited by the Canadian Psychological Association in the School and Clinical Child Psychology program.
i) The Master of Arts (M.A.)
Admission to the M.A. requires a preparation equivalent to a University of Toronto four-year bachelor's degree in Psychology, or its equivalent, defined as six full courses in psychology, including one full course in research methods/statistics and at least three full psychology courses at the third and fourth year level. The usual admission standard is standing equivalent to a University of Toronto A- or better. Applicants should provide documented evidence of relevant professional experience. Applicants are required to submit two academic and one professional letters of recommendation.
For application information and forms please visit the OISE/UT Registrar’s Office website at:
ii) The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is intended to prepare the student for psychological work with children in schools, clinics, and research settings. Graduates of the Ph.D. would assume positions of greater professional and administrative responsibility than would graduates of the M.A.. They would be engaged in activities that put a premium on the knowledge of psychological principles and the ability to use them in a systematic way. The Ph.D. is intended to meet the academic requirements for registration as a Psychologist.
Admission to the Ph.D. requires a University of Toronto four-year bachelor's degree in Psychology or its equivalent, and an OISE/UT M.A. in School and Clinical Child Psychology or its equivalent. The usual admission standard is standing equivalent to a University of Toronto A- or better (in the master's degree). A limited number of outstanding applicants holding equivalent bachelor's and master's degrees in Psychology from elsewhere may be considered. However, if the M.A. was not equivalent to the OISE/UT M.A. in School and Clinical Child Psychology, the student will be required to take additional courses to receive equivalent training.
NOTE: Continuation from the M.A. to the Ph.D. is not automatic; graduates from the M.A. are considered in a pool with all other applicants to the SCCP Ph.D. program.
For application information and forms please visit the OISE/UT Registrar’s Office website at: http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/ro/Graduate_Studies_In_Education/index.html