• Poster
  • April 1, 2013

Training Guidelines for Psychology Students in Youth Obesity Programs

Presented at the American Psychological Association Division 54 Meeting, April 2013

Jennifer L. Curran, PhD, A. I. DuPont Hospital for Children

Amy Baughcum, PhD, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Adelle Cadieux, PsyD, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Meredith L. Dreyer, PhD, Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics
Elizabeth Getzoff, PhD, Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, Inc.
Jane Gray, PhD, Dell Children’s Medical Center/University of Texas at Austin, Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity
Melissa Santos, PhD, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center/Hartford Hospital & The Institute of Living/University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Laura A. Shaffer, PhD, University of Louisville School of Medicine
Wendy L. Ward, PhD, Arkansas Children’s Hospital/University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics


A multidisciplinary committee was formed by the Children's Hospital Association, formerly the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI), to develop policy and practice guidelines for pediatric obesity. A psychologist subcommittee was formed to obtain expert consensus on discipline-specific issues. The absence of national training guidelines for psychologists working with obese youth (though available for physicians and dieticians) led to the development of training guidelines to build knowledge and skills in the areas of assessment and treatment.

The Children’s Hospital Association Psychology subcommittee (15 members) reviewed the content areas of knowledge and skill that are important for the assessment/ treatment of obese youth. Upon expert consensus, detailed training guidelines were created.

Training guidelines that would be expected of a psychological trainee in working with obese youth were developed within the following competency content areas: developmental issues, comorbid medical conditions, comprehensive assessment, clinical interventions, interprofessional coordinated care, ethical/legal issues, and cultural diversity issues. Content areas focus on unique information that is integral to a comprehensive understanding of pediatric obesity. For example, skills in treating binge eating and emotional eating are important when working with obese youth.


Training guidelines for psychology students are lacking in the educational literature. We developed training guidelines identifying competency content areas specific for pediatric obesity. This expert-consensus guideline should assist psychologists who are involved in training at the pre-doctoral and post-doctoral levels.