School & Clinical Child Psychology (SCCP)
Program Chair: Katreena Scott
Director of Clinical Training: Mary Caravias
Program Assistant & Liaison: Diana Robinson
The specific mission of the SCCP program is to provide students with theoretical and professional training in preparation for psychological work with children, adolescents and families in school, mental health, private practice, and research settings. The program is designed to provide training in assessment, 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 MA in SCCP is designed to meet the academic requirements of the College of Psychologists of Ontario for registration as a Psychological Associate. The PhD in SCCP is designed to meet the academic requirements for registration as a Psychologist.
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
Students engage in research and clinical work with young children, school-age children, adolescents, and families in our in-house Counselling and Psychoeducational 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-Scholar-Practitioner Model
The training model adopted by the program is the Boulder scientist‑practitioner model, which emphasizes the interaction of theory and practice. The goal of our program is to develop professionals who are able to conduct theoretical and applied research relevant to the practice of psychology, who are able to use research to critically inform practice, and who provide services that enhance the well being of children, youth and families. These abilities are inter-related, and training occurs in each in an interwoven fashion throughout a student's program. We interpret the components of the scientist- practitioner model as follows:
Scientist: Research is a core component of the SCCP program. Through the training in the program, students become, not only educated consumers of research, they become competent researchers themselves. Students are taught to critically evaluate and apply research through their substantive courses. They develop the skills needed to conduct research in research methods courses, colloquia, graduate assistantships, research groups, attendance at conferences, and masters' and doctoral theses. In developing these research skills, students learn to critically evaluate research findings. These skills not only assist them in the work of scientific discovery, they also assist them in the development of the capacity to critically evaluate the research findings of others. As students enter into the realm of professional practice, these skills assist them in the practical tasks of making informed decisions about the effectiveness of evidence-based interventions, designing methods to evaluate the effectiveness of their own intervention efforts and critically reflecting on their own practice.
Practitioner: As well as becoming competent researchers, SCCP students develop expertise in the practice of psychology in the specialty areas of both school and clinical, with an emphasis on practice with children, adolescents and families. While the science of psychology emphasizes the development of specific expertise within a defined area of research, the practice of psychology encourages the development of a broad and general knowledge. Psychological problems found in children and adolescents are imbedded within a matrix of factors that includes consideration of developmental level, individual differences, and family and cultural context (See section 3 Development, Diversity and Ecology below). In the SCCP program, students acquire this broad and general knowledge through classroom coursework and through studying for their comprehensive exam. They learn how to integrate this knowledge with professional, applied skills as they work with clients under supervision in the SCCP in-house practica, in field practica, and in internships.
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 Human Development and Applied Psychology (HDAP).
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 province of Ontario, the MA degree represents an entry point to professional practice with graduates being eligible, following a five-year supervisory period and the passing of relevant examinations, to become registered Psychological Associates.) Advanced courses designed to provide scientific and scholarly breadth, advanced professional courses, as well as a practicum in assessment and intervention and a 1600-hour internship are given during the PhD program. Currently, more than 80% of our MA graduates proceed immediately to the PhD program. If space permits, we accept into the PhD program students who completed their MA at another institution or in a non-clinical psychology program at University of Toronto. These students are required to complete the MA courses for which they do not have equivalence as part of their previous master’s program to ensure that they have learned the skills and content that are part of our program.
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 eight 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 develop and implement 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 skills necessary to provide consulting services to schools, mental health agencies, and families.
- Students will develop, monitor and evaluate psychoeducational prevention and intervention programs aimed at ameliorating learning difficulties.
- Students will 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 develop attitudes essential for life-long learning, scholarly inquiry, and professional problem solving.
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.
In keeping with the requirements of the College of Psychologists of Ontario, 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 1219 (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.
This program provides theoretical, research and professional training in preparation for psychological work with children in schools, clinics, private practice, and research settings. The program is designed to provide training in assessment, therapy and other psychosocial and instructional interventions, professional consultation and prevention. Opportunities are available for research and clinical work with infants, young children, adolescents, and families.
i) The Master of Arts (M.A.) is designed to meet the academic requirements of the College of Psychologists of Ontario for registration as a Psychological Associate. The focus of the program is applied. In the first year, students learn to do a psychoeducational assessment in the counselling and psychoeducational clinic. In the second year, students have a practicum experience of approximately 250 hours.
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
Degrees and Course Requirements