Graduate Program in Clinical Psychology

Child Clinical—Developmental Psychopathology Focus

The clinical area of the psychology department at Northern Illinois University offers a focus in Child Clinical—Developmental Psychopathology for students with strong research and/or clinical interests in child development and developmental psychopathology. The focus area is based on the premise that the understanding of normal developmental processes and outcomes is essential for understanding and treating abnormal behavior in children and adolescents. That is, psychologists establish a deeper understanding of both normal and abnormal development when each is viewed in the context of the other. Students receive broad training in theory and research in both clinical and developmental psychology. Applied work with children, in both clinical and school settings, is also available. Students in the Child Clinical—Developmental Psychopathology focus can prepare themselves for academic careers in clinical and developmental psychology as well as careers in clinical work with child and adolescent populations.

The Child Clinical—Developmental Psychopathology focus offers students a broad range of courses, research opportunities, and practicum experiences. Specialized child clinical courses include developmental psychopathology, child assessment, and child and family therapy. Students also take clinical courses in intellectual assessment, personality assessment, ethics and professional issues, cognitive-behavior therapy, and adult psychopathology. For students who are interested, a course on school-based consultation is available through the school psychology program in the department, and family therapy courses are available both within and outside the department. Students are expected to take two developmental courses including a survey class in developmental psychology and a class in social/personality development.  Occasionally, additional graduate-level courses are made available in the department (e.g., cognitive development, language development, and perceptual development.

Students completing the Child Clinical—Developmental Psychopathology focus have opportunities to conduct research under the supervision of clinical, developmental, or school psychology faculty. Students are encouraged to work with faculty in the different areas to achieve a greater integration of clinical and developmental perspectives in their research. Faculty research interests include parent-child relationships in both normal and clinical populations, risk and resilience factors, emotion regulation and temperament, social support systems and peer relationships in the home and school environments, the development of social cognition and meta-cognition, and language development.

Practicum experiences are available through the Psychological Services Center (PSC), which is located within the psychology department, as well as through established externships and practica in outpatient clinics and local school districts.  Students pursuing a child clinical focus are expected to seek out having child clients within the PSC, while balancing gaining a broad training with clients of all ages.  In addition, they are expected to have at least one child-oriented externship.

Students interested in this focus should apply to the Clinical area and indicate their interest in the Child Clinical—Developmental Psychopathology focus on the application materials.  If you have any questions about the program, please contact Dr. Laura Pittman at for additional information.

Other Child Clinical—Developmental Psychopathology faculty include:

Faculty/Affiliate Phone Email Focus
David Bridgett (815) 753-0774 Clinical
Michelle Demaray  (815) 753-7077 School
Christine Malecki (815) 753-1836 School
Nina Mounts (815) 753-6968 Developmental
Julia Ogg (815) 753-3508 School
Brad Pillow (815) 753-7079 Developmental
Laura Pittman (815) 753-2485 Clinical
Elizabeth Shelleby (915) 753-0778 Clinical
Karen White (815) 753-8090 Clinical

To have completed the child clinical coursework, students much complete the same requirements as outlined for all clinical students with the following differences:

  1. Student should take PSYC 665 (Behavioral Development) to fulfill the foundation requirement in Developmental
  2. Student should substitute PSYC 676 (Social-Personality Development) for the Social Foundation, although if extra time is available taking PSYC 620 (Experimental Social Psychology) is also advised. 
  3. Students should take PSYC 647 (Psychological Intervention with Children and Their Families) in addition to the other required clinical coursework.

All students must also satisfy other course requirements and research requirements of the psychology department and the formal area of study (Clinical) into which they have been admitted.