Infusing Diversity in Pediatric Psychology Training

By Lindsey Cohen, PhD, Naomi E. Joffe, MA, and Josie S. Welkom, MA

The project, “Enhancing Training of Graduate Students to Work with Disadvantaged Populations: A Pediatric Psychology Specialization,” funds four graduate students annually to complete coursework, lectures, symposia, and other didactic training in concert with supervised clinical and research for predominately African-American children and adolescents with sickle cell disease (SCD). The goals of the training program are to: a) further develop evidence-based practice in pediatric psychology with disadvantaged children, b) train culturally competent psychologists, c) teach skills for working in an interdisciplinary team, and d) train clinical child and pediatric psychology assessment and therapy skills.
The program’s research track is supervised by Drs. Cohen and Masuda of GSU and Drs. Johnson, Griffin, and Schmidt of CHOA and provides an opportunity for trainees to practice Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with adolescents diagnosed with SCD and their parents. Cohen’s knowledge in pediatric coping, pain, and chronic illness and Masuda’s expertise in ACT help the graduate students develop and hone both their clinical and research skills via applied clinical trails.
The students funded on this program have protected time to work with children diagnosed with SCD and their parents in outpatient clinics, inpatient admissions, neuropsychology assessments, and applied research. In addition, the trainees work with multidisciplinary teams across the three CHOA campuses and receive weekly supervision from onsite pediatric psychologists as well as with Cohen and Masuda at GSU.
This opportunity provides the students with a diversity-focused training experience that will fine tune their skills for future work with other disadvantaged populations. Further, the training grant allows the students to provide closely supervised, culturally competent services to a population that might not otherwise receive this level of care.
Lindsey Cohen of Georgia State University (GSU) recently received a Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Graduate Program Education training grant to provide culturally competent, evidence-based, psychological research and clinical services within an interdisciplinary team at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) with disadvantaged pediatric populations.