History of Training in the Child Study Center

The Child Study Center was created in 1911 by Dr. Arnold Gesell, one of America's earliest and most influential leaders in child development. He envisioned an academic department which would pursue the scientific study of development, from infancy throughout adolescence, and would use the knowledge from scientific research to help parents, educators, physicians and social policy planners improve the lives of children. Over the past eight decades, the Center has evolved into one of the leading institutions in the world in which all of the major disciplines concerned with children and families join together to pursue clinical care of children and adolescents, engage in scientific research, train the next generation of professionals, and help shape policy concerning children.

The Child Study Center is a dynamic and growing institution. We have added the Harris Building wing, we are collaborating locally, nationally, and internationally in research and creative treatment and service delivery systems, and we are continually updating and adding to our training resources and options to optimize the critical training of the future care providers and leaders in our field. It is also a time of transition. Dr. Donald Cohen, who was Director and Chair of the Department since 1983, passed away following a yearlong illness on October 2, 2001. 

John E. Schowalter, M.D., a child psychiatrist, became Interim Director of the Center following Donald Cohen’s death. Dr. Schowalter was a national and international leader in child psychiatry and served as Director of Child Psychiatry Training here for almost three decades. He was followed, in 2002, by Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with a strong interest in treatment evaluation and work in the area of conduct disorder. He was succeeded in 2006 by Fred Volkmar, M.D. 

Organization

The Child Study Center is an independent academic department of the Yale University School of Medicine; the Center also is the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Yale-New Haven Hospital. The faculty of the Center consists of child and adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatricians, psychoanalysts and therapists, neuroscientists, geneticists, social workers, nurses, educators, social policy planners, epidemiologists and others concerned with children. The Center is committed to the highest quality of training to the next generation of child and adolescent psychiatrists, as well as several other major disciplines. The Child Study Center is active in collaborations for teaching, clinical care and research initiatives within the Yale-New Haven Medical Center (the combination of the Yale School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital).

Clinical Services

The Center provides clinical consultation and treatment for children and adolescents whose lives are burdened by mental, emotional and developmental problems. The Center offers the full continuum of treatment services required for children and families with mental health needs: inpatient, partial hospital programs, school-based clinics, in-home psychiatric services, community-based services (within schools, day care and preschool programs, within other pediatric practices, in urban housing projects, and collaborating with the New Haven police to help decrease the risks of post-traumatic sequellae for children and youth exposed to violence, to name some of the services provided), outpatient psychiatric treatment (psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, group and family treatments), consultations to schools, courts, pediatric wards and pediatric specialty clinics and other agencies. The Center provides services to children and families of all socioeconomic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Although the patients are primarily from Connecticut and the greater New Haven region, the specialty clinics (particularly the Autism/Developmental Disorders and Tourette's/Obsessive Compulsive Disorders Clinics) serve children from throughout the United States and abroad. In Yale-New Haven Hospital, the faculty of the Center provides psychiatric and psychological consultation and clinical care for children and adolescents (and their families) who are suffering from medical illness or undergoing complicated medical treatment.

Trainees at the Child Study Center have an opportunity to gain exposure to multiple modalities of treatment and treatment settings, via required and elective experiences. Each child and adolescent psychiatric resident will gain training in comprehensive assessments, a variety of treatment modalities (insight-oriented psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, group therapy), and will gain an appreciation for the dynamics of systems and methods to effectively collaborate and consult to a variety of systems in the best interest of children and families.

The Center has a major commitment to serving children who live in economic disadvantage, especially inner-city, minority children, through programs for improving the quality of education and the environment of schools. There are also services aimed at the support of families and the care of children who are suffering from multiple stresses, including HIV and substance abuse problems.

Research

Investigators within the Center use state-of-the-art methods - ranging from studies of genetics and the functioning of the brain through studies of behavioral development and social influences - to help clarify the multiple determinants of children's difficulties. Research programs utilize the major, current methods for clinical investigation of development and its disorders, including approaches from neurochemistry, genetics, neuroimaging, behavioral sciences and psychoanalysis, epidemiology, and neuropharmacology. Research activities are closely associated with clinical care and treatment of children. Ongoing research programs focus on the serious disorders of children and adolescents, including autism, pervasive developmental disorders, Tourette's syndrome of chronic multiple tics, obsessive compulsive disorder, fragile X syndrome, learning and attentional disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, and newborn addiction syndromes. There are special programs concerned with understanding and helping families under stress, including work with abused and neglected children, family breakdown, and complex issues of custody and placement. The Center has been named the National Center for the study of Trauma in children, with combined clinical and research initiatives. Community-based services include outcomes research regarding the efficacy of the initiatives. Infancy and preschool development clinical, community-outreach and research programs are another major focus of the Center.

The faculty within the Center collaborates with investigators from throughout the School of Medicine, Yale University, and state and national collaborators in the research. The Child Study Center is a major research site for several multi-site national research initiatives in developmental disorders and research units in pediatric psychopharmacology (RUPP).

Funding

The Center is a nonprofit, academic department within Yale University and the School of Medicine. The Center is supported by research and clinical funds from various sources, including Federal agencies and scientific foundations. The State of Connecticut provides funding for child and adolescent psychiatry stipends for residents in the Child Study Center/Riverview Combined track for training.