By Nicole Litvitskiy
The Child Mind Institute
I have spent my summer as a Clinical Summer Intern at the Child Mind Institute in New York City. The Child Mind Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides psychological assessment and treatment for children, adolescents, and young adults. As an intern, I had the opportunity to be involved in various aspects of the organization. As a group of seven interns, we are exposed to several treatments for a variety of psychological disorders, including receiving training on specific treatment techniques. Throughout our 11 weeks here, we all have the opportunity to observe neuropsychological testing, in which children are assessed on their IQ and several additional measures in a holistic process.
Additionally, Child Mind uses Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) to treat children who present disruptive and oppositional behavior. I had the opportunity to set up these sessions, provide childcare according to PCIT guidelines, and observe these sessions. One of the biggest portions of the clinical summer internship at Child Mind is our involvement in the treatment of Selective Mutism, both in the office and off-site for a program called Brave Buddies. Selective Mutism is an anxiety disorder in which children are typically talkative at home, but experience a significant amount of anxiety outside the home that leads to an inability to speak. This makes it difficult for children with Selective Mutism to succeed in school and other social situations. The Child Mind Institute uses a behavioral approach based on PCIT to treat Selective Mutism. As part of my internship I received training on how this treatment is provided. Throughout the summer, we conducted weekly group sessions for children with Selective Mutism, in which we employed the skills from our training. The group sessions encourage ‘brave talking’ and peer-to-peer interactions. In addition to weekly group sessions, we also organize and work as counselors at a week-long treatment program called Brave Buddies. In a classroom setting, we build children’s skills for speaking in groups, with their peers, and initiating interactions.
Through my experiences at Brave Buddies and observing neuropsychological testing and PCIT sessions, I gained invaluable insight into the work of clinical psychologists. I also had the opportunity to sit in on weekly case conferences, during which I heard about the treatment of individuals with a wide range of psychological disorders. The internship provided a great deal of exposure to the practice of clinical psychology, which is a unique experience for undergraduates. I found that the internship offered information about what a career path in clinical psychology might look like. In addition to the opportunities to observe treatment sessions and engage in treatments with children, clinicians offered lectures on specific topics in clinical psychology. My interest in clinical psychology was greatly deepened and expanded by my work during the internship. The Child Mind Institute is a very welcoming place to work and many clinicians there served as a mentor to me. I had the chance to have countless discussions with various clinical psychologists at Child Mind about their career paths and what my path could look like. Although I previously planned to go into clinical psychology, my internship confirmed and increased my interest. The work psychologists at the Child Mind Institute are currently doing is the work I hope to do in the future. My position as a Clinical Summer Intern allowed me the amazing opportunity to see that work first-hand and be a part of it in a meaningful way.