Skip navigation

Clinic for Child & Family Psychology banner

Center for Child & Family Psychology



 The Center for Child and Family Psychology is one of the oldest child psychology clinics in the Rocky Mountain west. The center was founded by R.B. and Helen Ammons in 1946 and known as Psychological Services for Children. The original mission of the center was to provide learning and educational assessments of children.

From the beginning there was a focus on reading development and the importance of reading in educational achievement. Within a year center services expanded to include “therapy through tutoring” and “remedial reading”. The University began to contribute to the operation of the center, and graduate students began to enroll in courses such as “Clinical Practice” and “Psycho-educational Therapy”. By 1950, graduate students were able to specialize in the assessment and treatment of children and a program of coursework was designed to support their clinical efforts. Early graduates of the program left the University to start clinical services in various parts of the country. From the start, there was interest in linking clinical services with research. Among the earliest projects were efforts to use children’s doll play as an assessment method, the construction of projective tests, and comparisons of therapy methods. As the doctoral program embraced a “scientist-practitioner model” of clinical training research-based approaches to clinical practice have been increasingly emphasized. Today, the center emphasizes evidence-based practices, namely approaches to assessment and treatment that are based on the best research evidence.

During the 1950’s the center was renamed the Child Study Center, a name adopted by numerous university-based centers for child development and services. Over time services expanded to include school consultation, learning disability evaluations, behavior therapy, as well as marital and couples therapy. Multiple models of treatment were offered including interventions that focused on multiple members of the family. With the expansion of services, and a growing recognition that child and adolescent functioning is linked to the functioning of other family members, the name was changed to reflect our broadened scope of services. The Center for Child and Family Psychology now provides research-based clinical services for all members of the family, including children, adolescents, adults, couples, and the family as a whole. The common feature of our approach to all clients is an emphasis on research-based assessment and intervention, and a strong commitment to evaluating the usefulness of our sciences.

Today, the Center is the training hub for our doctoral program in clinical child psychology. The Ph.D. program is accredited by the American Psychological Association, and is a member of the Academy of Clinical Science. Faculty has attained national and international recognition for their contributions to clinical and developmental psychology, and our select group of graduate students are chosen from a very large pool of applicants from around the country. Many of our graduates have gone on to distinguished academic and clinical careers in such settings as Brown School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, the University of Miami, Penn State University, University of Colorado, and many others. By melding tradition and innovation, we aim to offer the best of clinical psychology to all members of the community.