Psychology graduate student training in developmental disability: A Canadian survey
Weiss, Jonathan A.
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Psychology graduate student training in developmental disability has received very little attention in North America, and no study has examined the state of training for clinical and counselling psychologists in Canada, despite their involvement in the controlled act of diagnosis and their use of standardised instruments used regularly with this population. This study sought to examine psychology graduate student training in the area of developmental disability across Canada. We invited students from every Canadian Psychological Association accredited Clinical Psychology, Clinical Neuropsychology, and Counselling Psychology program to participate in an online survey, distributed through university email lists. Three hundred and three students reported on the developmental disability content within their training and coursework, their perception of the adequacy of that content, and their ideas for program improvement. Results indicated that the majority of students believed it important to have training in developmental disability, yet struggled to obtain adequate didactic and experiential opportunities. The lack of sufficient training was most pronounced for students whose training was adult-focussed, but was also high for students with a lifespan or child focus. We discuss different possibilities for increasing developmental disability training opportunities, including integrating its content within courses on assessment and diagnosis, psychotherapy, and ethics, and providing students with supervision from psychologists who work with this population.