New clinic deals with at risk children and youth
One high school class determined Colin King’s future and it eventually led him to the Child and Youth Development Clinic at Western University. “I knew I wanted to be a psychologist,” said King, after he took a psychology class at Saunders Secondary School in London, Ontario.
The course introduced him to what he likes about psychology: dealing with people, continuously learning from – and working with – children, youth and families.
Fast forward to 2017 and King is the Director of the Child and Youth Development Clinic at Western University and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education. King arrived at Western after serving as a school psychologist and coordinator of psychological services at the Thames Valley District School Board. Becoming clinic director was a natural step for King because throughout his career, he worked with children and youth who faced various learning, social-emotional and behavioral challenges.
The Child and Youth Development Clinic is one of the first interdisciplinary training clinics in Ontario. Graduate students in School and Applied Child Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Speech and Language Pathology programs at Western provide treatment services for children and youth from three to 18 years of age who are experiencing psychological, academic, or speech and language difficulties. All treatment and services provided are conducted under the supervision of experts in their respective field.
The Child and Youth Development Clinic, located in the BMO Bank of Montreal Building on Richmond Street, took only 12 months to complete from concept to completion of renovations.
“It has been an incredible opportunity to work with our team and it’s nice to create a clinic from the ground up,” said King.
King stressed that the interdisciplinary nature of the clinic means the clinic will take a comprehensive, child-centred perspective in their work and has moved away from a traditional “expert model.” This means collaboration between staff, student clinicians and families are key to the treatment process.
The clinic provides three main services: comprehensive assessment services, intervention and treatment, and brief consultation. The particular needs of the child or youth will determine, which service or services are recommended.
King believes children and youth attending the clinic will achieve success when they know themselves – not only the challenges they face but also their strengths and gifts. “It’s about developing a road map so the family knows what’s needed to move forward.”
The clinic recently opened its doors and they have received a lot of interest from the community. Referrals have come from a variety of agencies and sources. However, parents, guardians and service providers, such as school officials, mental health providers and doctors may refer children and youth to the clinic.
The clinic offers a sliding scale fee to families based on financial need and personal financial circumstances. The goal is to work collaboratively with families to determine a fee schedule that meets everyone’s needs. “There’s a need for (the clinic) and we’re trying to make it affordable to all people,” said Office Manager Leesa Couper.
The clinic has four rooms where sessions are held. Each room has audio and video equipment, which allows students to receive feedback from their supervisors. The students also have their own workspace where they can create reports and make notes.
Currently, there are eight speech and eight psychology students who work in pairs. Each pair works on one case. The speech and language students were selected from a large pool of students while clinical psychology students applied to the clinic in order to complete their practicum. Applied psychology students are participating as part of their program’s third-year placement.
Couper calls the clinic a “win-win” situation for everyone involved. Families are helped at an affordable price while students get the training they need to complete their studies.
There’s excitement in the air as the clinic officially opens its doors and in the spirit of collaboration, King wants people to give their opinions.
“I’m excited to hear feedback from the community about how we can work together,” said King.