The clinical-child/adolescent concentration faculty are highly involved in research and currently have seven external grants from agencies including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD),U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), totaling more than $9 million in total costs. Most graduate students in the child/adolescent concentration are funded by research assistantships on one of these projects. Regardless of funding source, all students in the child/adolescent concentration have opportunities to be intensively involved in research from the start of their graduate training. The child/adolescent concentration faculty members’ research interests focus on evaluating, disseminating and improving upon evidence-based interventions in community-settings such as schools and community-based pediatric and mental health clinics. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to improve access to evidence-based prevention and intervention programs for children and adolescents, including those representing underserved populations (e.g., racial/ethnic minority, low income youth).
Ongoing projects are focused on violence prevention including peer victimization and dating violence, family-based programs to prevent youth substance use and sexual risk behavior, improving the academic and behavioral performance of students with disruptive behavior disorders, partnering with medical professionals to address disparities in the assessment and treatment of children with behavior problems, and improving measurement of fidelity and integrity to ensure delivery of high quality community- and school-based interventions. These projects have generated many rich datasets that provide numerous opportunities for publication. Child/adolescent concentration students and fellows were first author on more than 20 publications in 2016 and 2017. Many of the child/adolescent concentration faculty have national and international research reputations, regularly review grants for NIH and IES, and serve as associate editors for some of the top journals (e.g., Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Behavior Therapy, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology).
The clinical-child/adolescent training at VCU is systematic, providing students first with general exposure to child and family therapy, followed by rotations in ADHD and anxiety specialty clinics and integrated care clinics located in pediatric and family medicine practices, and culminating with specialist clinical training through community-based externships. Core clinical faculty supervise the specialty clinics, and as such, students quickly learn how research is used to inform clinical practice with state-of-the-art interventions and assessment techniques being taught and refined through the clinics. Students are provided with a diverse range of assessment and treatment experiences, including but not limited to, cognitive-behavioral treatment for anxiety disorders, comprehensive assessment of ADHD and comorbid conditions such as learning disabilities, anxiety and depression, behavioral parent training, and behavioral interventions to improve school functioning. Students bilingual in Spanish also have the opportunity to obtain training in the VCU Latino Mental Health Clinic and be supervised by a bilingual, licensed clinical psychologist. Students, then, have numerous options to gain additional specialized training in the community, such as conducting neuropsychological assessment, treating more severe clinical-child/adolescent issues such as conduct disorder and working on pediatric, hospital-based rotations focused on treating and improving quality of life for children with chronic health conditions.