Psychological Services for Children and Youth: A Survey of Canadian Practitioners

By Hunsley, John; Lee, Catherine M. et al. | Canadian Psychology, May 2014 | Go to article overview

Psychological Services for Children and Youth: A Survey of Canadian Practitioners


Hunsley, John, Lee, Catherine M., Ronson, Ashley, Cohen, Karen R., Canadian Psychology


We surveyed Canadian psychological practitioners (N = 137) who offer services to children and youth, using real-time sampling to obtain a profile of services offered to a specific child or adolescent client. Our sample included practitioners with a master's degree and those with a doctorate. Practitioners provided services in both publicly funded agencies and in independent practice, working with an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse clientele with multiple psychosocial risk factors and a range of presenting problems and comorbidities. Clients were referred by parents, schools, and other health professionals for services including assessment, intervention, and consultation. In the majority of cases, psychological services involved not only the target client, but also parents or school personnel. Almost one third of clients had been prescribed psychotropic medication, and one quarter of practitioners indicated that their clients were receiving services from another health care practitioner for the same problem. The results paint a portrait of the complexity of the context in which psychological services are provided to young people. Implications for training and professional practice are discussed.

Keywords: children, youth, psychological services, psychologist survey, professional activities

Résumé

Nous avons réalisé une enquête après de psychologues praticiens du Canada (N = 137) qui offrent des services aux enfants et aux jeunes, en ayant recours à un échantillonnage en temps réel pour dégager le profil des services offerts à un client enfant ou adoles- cent en particulier. Notre échantillon comportait des praticiens ayant une maîtrise ou un doctorat. Les praticiens fournissaient des services tant au sein d'agences de services publics qu'au sein de pratiques privées, et ils travaillaient avec une clientèle diversi- fiée sur le plan ethnique et socioéconomique, laquelle présentait de multiples facteurs de risques psychosociaux et une variété de problèmes et de comorbidités. Ces clients leur avaient été envoyés par des parents, des écoles et d'autres professionnels de la santé, à des fins d'évaluation, d'intervention et de consultation. Dans la majorité des cas, les services psychologiques impliquaient non seulement le client cible, mais aussi des parents ou du personnel de son école. Près d'un tiers des clients disposaient d'une ordonnance de psychotropes, et un quart des praticiens ont indiqué que leurs clients étaient suivis par un autre professionnel des soins de santé pour le même problème. Les résultats révèlent la complexité du contexte dans lequel sont fournis les services psychologiques aux jeunes personnes. Sont présentées les éventuelles répercussions sur la formation et la pratique professionnelle.

Mots-clés : enfants, adolescents, jeunes, services psychologiques, enquête auprès de psychologues, activités professionnelles.

Recent years have witnessed dramatic change in the understanding of both internalizing (e.g., Burstein et al., 2012) and externalizing (e.g., Dirks, De Los Reyes, Briggs-Gowan, Cella, & Wakschlag, 2012) problems in children and youth. Mental health problems in childhood are far from inconsequential, as they have significant effects on the young person's academic and social development (Rapee, Bögels, van der Sluis, Craske, & Ollendick, 2012). They interfere with the attainment of developmental milestones and can exact a heavy toll on all those with whom the child interacts, including peers, siblings, parents, teachers, daycare staff, and extended family. Untreated, a child's emotional and behavioural problems are associated with limited opportunities for a young person to realise his or her potential, and increased involvement in risky behaviours that render the young person vulnerable to a host of undesirable outcomes, including school dropout, delinquency, unsafe sexual practices, and irresponsible consumption of alcohol (Rapee et al., 2012).

Large scale epidemiological studies have demonstrated that many of the mental disorders that trouble adults have their origins in childhood (Merikangas et al. …

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