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Graduate Studies

Child/Family/Developmental Focus Area


The Child/Family/Developmental Psychology focus area is a domain of specialization building on strengths long existing within the Department of Psychology at the University of Rhode Island. The focus area interfaces child clinical, school, family, and developmental psychology, supporting research with individuals ranging in age from infancy to adulthood. Recognizing the importance both of social context - family, peers, school, culture - and neurocognitive factors, it places emphasis on prevention and intervention.


The primary objective of this focus area is to develop competent scientists and practitioners interested in the investigation of child/family/developmental issues and the application of research to practice.

Specific objectives are to:

  • Provide students with a broad theoretical background in the study of children, families, and lifespan development.
  • Foster scholarly expertise in one or more areas of research specialization within this field.
  • Build core competencies in practical applications of science including critical components of service delivery, as well as creation and implementation of research-based policies.


  • Specifying the parameters of the focus area will provide graduate students with guidelines for attaining this area of expertise.
  • For Clinical and School Psychology students selecting the Child/Family/Developmental specialization, the focus area will strengthen their applications for internships.
  • Encourage greater interest and expertise in research methodology among students and faculty.
  • Even more importantly, the focus area will aid graduate students from all of the departmental programs who wish to launch future careers with a developmental concentration.

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Child/Family/Developmental Psychology Interest Areas

Academic outcomesAdjustment
Anxiety disordersAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder
BullyingChild/Adolescent suicide
Child careChild maltreatment
Child therapyChildhood behavior problems (including severe behavior disorders)
Childhood traumaCognitive development
DepressionDevelopmental exceptionalities
Developmental neuropsychologyDevelopmental psychopathology
Developmental theoryDivorce
Eating disordersEmotion regulation
Family policyFamily systems
Family therapyFamily violence
Friendship formationHealth outcomes
HungerIdentity formation
InfancyJuvenile justice
Language acquisitionLearning disabilities
Lifespan developmentMarriage/partnerships
Mental health consultationMoral reasoning
Parent-child relationshipsParenting
Peer relationshipsPersonality development
Race/EthnicityReading acquisition
Reading disabilitiesSchool consultation
School readinessSchool-based mental health
Social-emotional developmentSocioeconomic environments
Substance abuseViolence prevention

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Possible Child/Family/Developmental Career Tracks

Graduates from this focus area would be qualified to serve in numerous capacities, including:

AcademicsResearch (e.g., Research Centers)
Clinician (e.g., Schools, Hospital, Mental Health Facility, etc.)Policy-maker
And many more...

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Student Preparation

The typical student who focuses in Child/Family/Developmental would take three courses in the area of children, families and/or development. With program committee permission, up to two directed readings/special topics courses may be included in the total of three CFD psychology courses.

When students prepare for their comprehensive exams, they should ensure that at least one question pertains to child, family, or developmental psychology. Alternatively, a published book chapter, journal article, or grant submission in the area of child, family, or developmental psychology may fulfill this requirement.

Finally, students are expected to have several research and applied experiences (15 weeks in duration) with a focus on children, families, and development. These could include: Research with faculty, externships, practica, and internships.

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Child/Family/Developmental Psychology Course Content


PSY 647 (Spring)Child Therapy
PSY 672 (Fall and Spring)Child Health Practicum
PSY 663 (Fall)Child/Adolescent Personality Assessment
PSY 668 (Spring)School Psychological Consultation
PSY 683 (Spring)Psychology of the Exceptional Child


PSY 672 (Fall and Spring)Family Therapy Practicum
PSY 644 (Not currently offered)Family Therapy Course
HDF 530 (Not currently offered)Advanced Family Studies
HDF 533 (Fall)Family Policy and Program Evaluation
HDF 535 (Fall)Families Under Stress: Coping & Adaptation
HDF 563/564 (Fall)Marital and Family Therapy
HDF 569 (Spring)Assessment in Family Therapy
HDF 570 (Spring)Research in Hum. Dev. and Family Studies

Human Development:

PSY 603 (Fall)Development
PSY 665 (Spring)Developmental Psychopathology
PSY 688 (Not currently offered)Developmental Neuropsychology
HDF 500 (Fall)Human Development Seminar
HDF 501/511 (Fall)Infant & Early Child Development
HDF 503/512 (Not currently offered)Middle Child & Adolescent Development
HDF 505 (Spring)Human Sexuality & Counseling
HDF 513 (Not currently offered)Seminar in Adult Development
HDF 514/520 (Fall)Seminar in Older Adulthood
HDF 568 (Spring)College Student Development and Learning
NUR 525 (Not currently offered)Spirituality of Loss & Death for Help. Profess.


CMD 564 (Spring)Lang. Disorders in School-Aged Children
CMD 584 (Fall)Lang. Disorders in Devel. Young Children
CMD 585 (Fall)Language Disorders in Adults
CMD 593 (Not currently offered)Multicultural Issues in Commun. Disorders
PSY 540 (Not currently offered)Learning Disabilities: Assess. & Intervention
PSY 544 (Fall)Reading Acquisition and Reading Disability: Research and Implications for Practice
PSY 602 (Not currently offered)Learning & Motivation
HDF 507 (Not currently offered)Seminar in Early Childhood Education

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Child/Family/Developmental Faculty in Psychology

Other Child/Family/Developmental Faculty

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Examples of Research/Practical Training Opportunities

  • Working with youth involved in the juvenile justice system
  • Coalitions involved in the development and promotion of policies affecting low-income individuals and families
  • Evaluation of policies and programs that target low-income families including child care, health care, housing, and food assistance
  • Practicum in Reading and Response to Instruction
  • Treatment outcome studies of cognitive-behavioral therapy for childhood anxiety disorders
  • Parenting variables and their relationship to the onset and maintenance of childhood anxiety disorders

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Clinical Externship/Field Experience Opportunities

Clinical externship experiences are available in working with youth involved in the juvenile justice system, psychological testing with children, consultation in schools, classroom interventions, as well as individual and group psychotherapy with children in a variety of settings (e.g., inpatient, partial hospitalization, outpatient). Below is a non-exhaustive list of possible externship and practicum placements:
  • Hasbro Children’s Hospital
  • The Bradley School
  • Bradley Hospital
  • Psychological Centers
  • Butler Hospital
  • Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island
  • The Groden Center
  • Sargent Rehabilitation Center
  • Providence Community Health Centers – Allen Berry
  • Rhode Island Training School
  • Rhode Island Elementary, Middle, and High Schools - public and private (e.g., Central Falls, Providence School Districts; Monsignor Clark Catholic Elementary)

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Proposed Governance Structure

Ellen Flannery-Schroeder, Ph.D., Chair
Research and clinical faculty and staff in psychology and in other closely-related departments may affiliate with the Child/Family/Developmental focus area upon request. Graduate students will be included as representatives. Focus area meetings will be scheduled at least once per semester.

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