Practicum students with the FOCUS – Early Childhood for Military Families research practicum at the Nathanson Family Resilience Center (NFRC), which is part of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Division at the UCLA Medical School & Semel Institute, will complete at least one family assessment each week.
The FOCUS – Early Childhood for Military Families project is a 5-year NICHD-funded study examining the efficacy of a brief CBT-based intervention with Veteran, National Guard, and Reserve families with young children (ages 3-6 years) who are seeking to develop more effective parenting skills, improve family communication and relationships, and enhance problem-solving and stress management. Participants may present with various clinical diagnoses, including PTSD, TBI, and mood and anxiety disorders, as well as significant individual- and family-level stressors. Referrals come from providers in community agencies who serve veterans and their families, the Veterans Health Administration, or the community at large.
Each practicum student is trained in assessment administration, including self-report measures, interviews, and family observational and interaction tasks. The majority of the questionnaires administered have been used in both research and clinical settings. The study does not require testing reports to be written, but students will learn each questionnaire thoroughly, including constructs, subscales, scoring/cutoffs, norms, etc. Students will use and develop basic interviewing skills in direct interactions with both parents and children. In addition, there may be some opportunities to assist with coding dyadic and triadic observational tasks.
Current position openings: We currently have 2-4 positions available each year, with the option to start either in July or September, for a 12 month placement. Practicum trainees typically devote 1-2 full days to participation in assessment activities.
Resource Allocation: Practicum students will have work space at the Semel Institute (room #A8-237) on the UCLA campus. Appropriate office equipment, including desk, phone, computer, and office supplies, is provided.
The supervision team includes Dr. Lester (PI), Dr. Mogil (Co-PI), and Dr. Kiff (Project Director). Dr. Mogil is the primary faculty supervisor and both Drs. Mogil and Kiff will provide group and individual supervision. All students are required to attend weekly group supervision for 1.5 hours. In addition, 1 hour of individual supervision will be provided on a weekly basis. Group supervision will be scheduled based on the students’ schedules. Dr. Mogil will also meet with each student once a quarter to mentor professional development. The student will also have contact with Drs. Lester and Mogil through team meetings, group supervision, and STAR Clinic didactics which students will have the option of attending on Wednesday mornings. Both Drs. Lester and Mogil will be available for general consultation, as well as for supervision in urgent situations, if the project director (Dr. Kiff) is unavailable.
The NFRC has a strong training program that supports the development of strong assessment, rapport-building, client-engagement, and observational skills. Initial assessments will be co-facilitated until the trainee has achieved proficiency with the assessment protocol. Our more senior field assessors will also provide observation, guidance, and feedback to further assist with the student’s development and success.
Practicum student evaluations will be completed by the direct supervisor. Orientation is conducted by supervisors and program staff. All essential materials, including assessment materials, are available and provided to students.
Supervisors: Patricia Lester, MD, Catherine Mogil, PsyD, Cara Kiff, PhD