Nathanson Family Resilience Center FOCUS – Early Childhood Practicum


Externs at the Nathanson Family Resilience Center (NRFC) FOCUS – Early Childhood for Military Families research practicum, 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 study is a 5-year NICHD-funded study examining the efficacy of a brief CBT-based intervention with Veteran, National Guard, or 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. These families may present with various clinical presentations, including PTSD, TBI, and mood and anxiety disorders, as well as cumulative individual or contextual stressors. Referrals are from providers in community agencies who serve veterans and their families, the VA, or from the community at large.


Each extern is trained in assessment administration, including various family observational and interaction tasks. The majority of the questionnaires administered have been used in both research and clinical settings (e.g., SDQ, ECBI, BSI). The study does not require testing reports to be written, but externs will learn each questionnaire thoroughly, including constructs, subscales, scoring/cutoffs, norms, etc. Externs 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: The externs will have work space at the Semel Institute 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. Lee (Project Director). Dr. Mogil is the primary faculty supervisor and both Drs. Mogil and Lee will provide group and individual supervision. All externs 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 externs’ schedules. Dr. Mogil will also meet with each extern once a quarter to mentor professional development. The externs will also have contact with Drs. Lester and Mogil through team meetings, group supervision, and through the STAR didactics which externs will have the option of attending on Wednesday mornings. Both Drs. Lester and Mogil will be available for general consultation as well as available for supervision in urgent situations if the project director (Dr. Lee) is unavailable.

The NFRC has a strong training program that will allow for trainees to leave this practical placement with strong assessment, rapport-building, client-engagement, and observational skills. Initial assessments will be co-facilitated until the trainee has achieved proficiency with the measures. Our more senior field assessors will also provide observation, guidance and feedback to help the trainee be successful. 


Extern 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 the externs.

Supervisors: Patricia Lester, M.D., Catherine Mogil, Psy.D., Adabel Lee, Ph.D.


Prior didactic training and experience in child development, parenting, and/or families is strongly preferred. Knowledge of and/or experience with the military is also preferred.  Candidates are required to submit a letter of interest, a CV, two letters of references, a letter from the Training Director of the School attesting to the student’s qualifications, and evidence of professional liability coverage provided by the candidate’s doctoral training program.

Application process: 

Please submit all application materials via email to Adabel Lee at  Deadline for application is February 15th.

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