Child/Adolescent Advanced Psychotherapy and Pediatric Psychology Externship

Supervisors: Tina Drossos, Ph.D. & Khalid Afzal, M.D.

4-5 positions


This externship provides opportunities for several different rotations.  It is not expected that any one extern will participate in all of the rotations.  Rather, applicants should consider which rotations fit each individual’s needs and interests.  It is expected that externs participate in anywhere from 1 to 3 rotations.


Possible rotations include:


Child and Adolescent Outpatient Psychotherapy:  Externs will receive training in conducting intake/diagnostic interviews, and formulating a developmentally appropriate case conceptualization including diagnoses and recommendations for treatment. Externs will also be expected to provide ongoing outpatient psychotherapy services to children and adolescents, and their parents. Externs will carry a caseload of about 6 patients. Presenting problems typically include mood and anxiety disorders, externalizing behavior problems, and adjustment disorders. Given our affiliation with the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, externs will also have the opportunity to see patients with somatoform disorders and patients who are experiencing difficulty adjusting to a chronic illness. Treatment will predominantly be provided utilizing a cognitive-behavioral orientation; however, externs will also gain experience using alternate theoretical perspectives (i.e., family systems, interpersonal). If an extern chooses this rotation, they are expected to see patients for the entire academic year.


Child and Adolescent Consultation-Liaison:  Externs also have the opportunity to participate and observe a licensed clinical psychologist or a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist on the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Consultation/Liaison Service. The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Consultation/Liaison Service exists to provide timely, expert biopsychosocial assessments and treatment recommendations to Comer Children’s Hospital physicians and children/adolescent patients under their care.  Presenting problems may include adjustment reactions to a newly diagnosed medical illness, assessing depression or anxiety, conversion disorders, pain disorders, trauma reactions, disposition planning for patients following a suicide attempt.  There is also an opportunity to participate in follow-up, bed-side care/treatment with patients who have extended inpatient stays. Comer Children’s Hospital is a stand-alone 161 bed facility within the University of Chicago Medical Center that provides comprehensive inpatient pediatric services.  The extern will spend approximately ½ - 1 full day on the consult service. 


Pre-Surgical Psychological Evaluations:  Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome (MALS) is a condition that is thought to arise from an increased proximity of the diaphragmatic crura to the celiac vessels.  Individuals with MALS often demonstrate post-prandial abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea.  These symptoms can become chronic and may lead to significant weight loss.  Treatment of MALS involves the surgical release of the median arcuate ligament.  To our knowledge, our medical center is the only hospital in the country that employs a multidisciplinary approach for this population that includes pre and post-surgical psychological evaluations. 

The extern working with the MALS team will be responsible for weekly assessments of adolescent and adult candidates for Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome surgery (assessment length: 90 minutes). This assessment will consistent of a psychosocial interview, including questions related to quality of life and coping strategies as well as an assessment of DSM-IV diagnoses (e.g. depression, anxiety, eating disorders), and questionnaires.  Externs will also complete weekly follow-up assessments (Assessment length: 30 minutes).  This assessment is also part of an IRB approved protocol and thus, there are research opportunities available to interested externs. Externs will be required to write up reports summarizing these assessments and present cases at bi-weekly multi-disciplinary rounds with the surgical team (surgeons, nurse practitioners, pain service and psychology).

            In order to be eligible to participate in this rotation, externs must be available on Tuesday mornings.


Childhood Cancer Survivor Long-Term Care Clinic:  Survivors of childhood cancer are at risk for complex and long-term health care issues, many of which occur as a consequence of past treatment.  The University of Chicago Cancer Survivors Center is an interdisciplinary program for pediatric and adult survivors of childhood cancer, (diagnosed before age 21).  The purpose of the program is to engage in assessment, treatment and prevention of long-term issues associated with childhood cancer.  The clinic is also focused on providing patients and families with education regarding these potential health issues.  The trainee’s role as a member of the LTCC team is to screen for the presence of behavioral, emotional, or neurocognitive issues within the context of a yearly outpatient visit.  Specific training opportunities include: provide verbal and written feedback to the LTCC team regarding the presence of such issues and recommendations for treatment; provide families with psychoeducation regarding diagnosis and treatment options; administer instruments including behavior rating scales and brief neurocognitive screeners in the context of clinical interviews to gain information and diagnostic clarity; facilitate the provision of treatment services to families; integrate information from previous assessments or treatments within the Department of Psychiatry (i.e., inpatient treatment, prior neuropsychological evaluation, etc.) into the current case conceptualization.  Externs will need to be available on Tuesday mornings from 9-12 if interested in this rotation. 


Health and Wellness Screening in the Kovler Diabetes Center:  Externs in this rotation will have the opportunity to work in a multi-disciplinary (endocrinologists, diabetes educators, residents, medical students, nurses) clinic setting.  Externs in this rotation are embedded within the endocrinology clinic.  They will work collaboratively with endocrinologists and receive referrals to see patients (children through adults with Type I and Type II diabetes) during their endocrinology clinic visit. Externs then conduct a brief psychological screening for the purpose of identification of any mental health problems that may need further psychological assessment, and helping patients identify potential problems and assisting them with appropriate referrals and recommendations.  Externs are expected to provide the endocrinologists with verbal feedback after screening a patient as well as complete a brief written report.  There is also an opportunity to provide very brief psychological treatment for patients.  This treatment is limited to 3-4 sessions in clinic and for very specific problems (i.e., behavior activation for depression, relaxation or exposure for anxiety, psychoeducation, etc.).  Patients may still need to be referred after these brief sessions.  Externs in this rotation will also be required to attend and present at 2-3 multidisciplinary case presentations throughout the year.  Externs can choose to participate in this rotation anywhere from 1-2 full days.  


Training Requirements:

  • Extern applicants for the Child/Adolescent Psychotherapy and Pediatric Psychology Externship must meet the following criteria, in order to be considered as a candidate and accepted for training:
  • Be a current graduate student in good standing at an APA-approved doctoral program in Clinical or Counseling Psychology.
  • Have completed (or be currently enrolled at the time of application) graduate program coursework in Advanced Psychopathology, Diagnostic Interviewing, Psychological Assessment, and Child/Adolescent Psychopathology.  Coursework (if offered in the program) in Health Psychology is also recommended. 
  • Have completed two years of clinical practicum, preferably in Intervention and Assessment.  Students with one year of Intervention practicum may be considered depending on past clinical/work/volunteer experiences.  It is acceptable to be currently completing your second year practicum during the application period.
  • Have either obtained their Master’s degree or present verification that they have completed all educational activities equivalent to a Master’s degree (should their program not award the MA or MS).
  • Expect to be available 16-20 hours per week with a start date of July 1, 2014. 


Training Didactics:  Externs can attend a variety of didactics offered through the Department.  Externs are not expected to attend all didactics but will be required to attend specific didactics offered on days when they are on campus, also dependent on their chosen rotations. 

Child and Adolescent Outpatient Psychotherapy Rotation

  • Multidisciplinary case conference: Externs are expected to present cases 1-2 times per year (1 hour weekly from September to June)
  • Child and Adolescent Cognitive-Behavior Therapy course: This course is designed to teach cognitive-behavioral principles to be utilized with children and adolescents (1 hour/week for 12 weeks)
  • Journal club (1 hour monthly from September to June)
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Colloquium Series: Montly presentations focusing on current research and clinical practice topics relevant to child clinicians and trainees. 

Child/Adolescent C/L Service Rotation (externs will not be expected to attend all of these didactics even if they are rotating with the C/L service):

  • Two weekly multidisciplinary rounds (Tuesdays and Fridays)
  • Weekly multidisciplinary case conference with the adult C/L service.  Externs are expected to present at this conference once during the year and arrangements can be made early on in the training year to accommodate students’ schedules. 

Additional (optional) didactics:

  • Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience Grand Rounds
  • Family Therapy Seminar
  • Theories of Development
  • Psychoparmacology
  • Psychological Practice in a Medical Setting

*This is not an exhaustive list of potential didactics and if externs are interested in other classes/seminars offered in the Department, they are welcome to attend. 


Supervision:  Externs will be supervised by a licensed clinical psychologist (Dr. Tina Drossos) on all rotations.  The only exception is on the Child/Adolescent Consult/Liaison Service, where depdeing on the way of the week when externsrotate on this service, they may be supervised by Dr. Khalid Afzal (Director of the Child/Adolescent C/L Service; Board Certified Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist).


Application Materials:

Students interested in applying for the Child/Adolescent Advanced Psychotherapy and Pediatric Psychology Externship should send the following to Dr. Drossos, preferably by electronic mail, by January 10, 2014:

  1. Letter of interest
  2. Current curriculum vita (CV)
  3. Copy of current academic transcript
  4. Two letters of recommendation (one must be from a current faculty member supervising your training).  Letters may be sent via snail mail, if necessary, to the following address:
    Tina Drossos, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor,
    Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience
    The University of Chicago
    5841 S. Maryland Avenue, MC3077
    Chicago, IL 60637


Submit all application materials prior to January 10, 2014 to Dr. Tina Drossos at:  Questions about the externship should be directed to Dr. Drossos.