Psychology Division debuts new clinical child psychology fellowship
November 18, 2020
While growing up outside Detroit, Bre-Ann Slay, Psy.D., flirted with the idea of becoming lawyer before her lifelong interest in people and a strong desire to work with kids led her to the field of child psychology.
"My philosophy has always been if we can get to kids when they're young, maybe we can change the world," she said. "When you're working with kids, you're also working with their parents, so I believe I have a unique opportunity to help both kids and their families work through traumas and harmful mental health patterns and, ultimately, break some of those unhealthy intergenerational cycles."
Slay plans to devote her career to working with people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals and other underserved populations. She fully expects the experience she's gaining through the new clinical child psychology fellowship at the University of Kansas Medical Center to move her closer to her dream.
Launched Sept. 1, the one-year, full-time postdoctoral fellowship position in the Division of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences joins only a handful of training opportunities specific to clinical child psychology available in the Kansas City area. Currently, there are fewer than 10 clinical child psychology fellowships at hospitals or medical centers in the nation accredited by the American Psychological Association.
Slay's passion for helping people understand themselves in different ways makes her a terrific fit as the training program's first fellow. She prizes the fellowship's collaborative opportunities, the open communication with the faculty and the chance to customize the training experience to her professional interests.
"This fellowship is really a good opportunity to build my professional identity and get my name out in the community," she said. "If you like flexibility, working on multidisciplinary teams and having something new to do every day, then this is the right place."
Creating a unique training experience
The division is actively pursuing American Psychological Association accreditation for the new fellowship. But the training program already stands out among its peers by offering a unique blend of inpatient and outpatient clinical experiences and the flexibility to tailor the program to the fellow's specific professional interests. In addition to gaining diverse clinical experiences, the fellow also supervises other trainees, participates in advanced didactic training and presents during the department's Grand Rounds.
"We're not taking a cookie-cutter approach. There are some clinical expectations that have to be met within the training program, but there's a lot of freedom and flexibility for our fellow to create a unique experience, whether that's developing programs, engaging in research or exploring whatever the professional interests might be," said Tyler Droege, Psy.D., who directs the fellowship program with Danielle Johnson, Ph.D.
Filling a critical need
Along with other mental and behavioral health specialists, the demand is high for child psychologists, particularly in the Kansas City area. The need is especially pressing for psychological testing for depression and anxiety, behavioral issues, learning disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder and other conditions. For children, the waitlist in Kansas and Missouri for these testing services ranges from nine months to two years.
"There is such a need generally and within our community for child psychologists, so we wanted to provide this training opportunity to help fill that need," Droege said. "Longer term, we see the positive impact and the ripple effect this fellowship and KU Medical Center can have on children and families across the city and state through each fellow who enters and graduates from our program."
Expanded psychology training offerings
With the addition of the clinical child psychology fellowship, the Division of Psychology offers four postdoctoral training programs. The other three programs include adult advanced clinical psychology, neurorehabilitation psychology and the APA-accredited clinical health psychology with an emphasis on oncology-psychology.
"The clinical child fellowship stands out among such programs because of its broadly based emphasis, which includes exposure in both inpatient and outpatient child and adolescent clinical settings along with supervisory and teaching experiences," said Edward Hunter, Ph.D., ABPP, professor, director of training in the Division of Psychology and associate director for education. "We're confident the successful postdoctoral residents who graduate from our program will be able to provide services in many child clinical settings while growing and developing into leading experts and researchers in the field. I commend Dr. Tyler Droege and Dr. Danielle Johnson for developing and providing such a rich experience to our trainees."
For more information about clinical child psychology fellowship or other training opportunities in psychology, visit the department's website.