Week 1 at The Quad Manhattan

About The Quad

This summer, I am working as a Psychosocial Intern at The Quad Manhattan, a summer camp based in New York City (now online). The Quad was founded as a learning space for twice exceptional (2e) children, a term that Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman defines in his book Twice Exceptional

Twice exceptional individuals demonstrate exceptional levels of capacity, competence, commitment, or creativity in one or more domains coupled with one or more learning difficulties. This combination of exceptionalities results in a unique set of circumstances. Their exceptional potentialities may dominate, hiding their disability; their disability may dominate, hiding their exceptional potentialities; each may mask the other so that neither is recognized or addressed. (7)

The Quad’s mission is to provide a space where gifted children with learning disabilities can gain the skills they need while still being challenged in a range of creative activities. Many of the learning deficits found in our campers are related to language and academic development, as well as social skills. Therefore, we tailor our support and approach to each child’s unique set of strengths difficulties.

My Responsibilities

An image of my core age group via The Quad Manhattan.

As an intern, my job is to support campers during times of confusion and encourage them when they are inspired. This summer, I will be working with a team of educators, fellow interns, and psychologists to create learning plans for a core group of campers. My group is Core 1, which is for children aged 6-8.

I am currently in a two-week training period to grasp strategies for learning and behavioral interventions and techniques derived from CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Although I will not be providing therapy, I will look for signs that indicate children need help during camp activities to make sure their needs are met and to avoid distress.

I have been assigned two campers within my core group with whom I will work more closely to develop a rapport and solutions to problems that arise. Throughout the summer, I will keep records of these campers’ progress in a case study, which I will complete with the help of my supervisors.

The Quad in a virtual setting

Due to the COVID-19, things will look a bit different this summer with our new online format and the added stresses of a pandemic. In training, we have been discussing the potential impact and foresee that while our campers may face fewer social challenges, they may also face a new set of complications arising from technology (i.e. glitching, leaving the Zoom call, playing video games off-screen). There may also be children whose family members have been infected with COVID-19 or impacted by the systemic racism that remains pervasive in our country, whether it be at the hands of the police, the healthcare system, or both.

While we cannot singlehandedly solve these larger societal problems, we will provide support and outlets for our campers so that they can process and decompress in a safe environment. The Quad’s long-term goal is to give the children the tools they need to thrive in a general education setting and in life beyond schooling.

Summer goals & excitement

My personal goals for the summer are to learn and implement new skills of my own, such as the various intervention techniques I am studying; learning how to map a child’s progress and structure a case study; making connections with other students and professionals in my field; getting a taste for the worlds of social work and school psychology; and finally, learning how to properly support kids who are struggling and finding solutions to support their unique needs.

After days of reading about my campers, I can’t wait to meet them when camp begins and to get to know them throughout the summer!

Week 1 at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health

It has been a great first week at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health! The lab is located at William James Hall, which is named after the famous psychologist.

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William James Hall, Harvard University

 

The lab’s main mission is to improve child and adolescent mental health through the dissemination of evidence-based mental health practices. The projects span across many clinics and schools to test the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. The lab’s work is of further importance as many of the projects deal with providing quality mental health services to youth in lower income communities. One of the research projects I am helping out with tests the effectiveness of the “MATCH therapy”, which is an evidence-based treatment of childhood anxiety, depression, trauma, and conduct problems. Given that many of the studies are conducted over multiple years and have 100+ participants, maintaining the database is an integral part of the work being done in the lab. I help out with a lot of the “behind the scenes” work such as entering data from psychological measures in the database, verifying that information is correct, and updating participants’ files. For further information about the research projects you can follow this link.

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The office where I work. (the desk behind me was once owned by the well-known developmental psychologist Erik Erikson!)

 

For me, it is really interesting to see what the actual assessments look like and how data is put together to examine the psychological needs of a child. The work I am doing in the lab will hopefully help me figure out what my specific interests are within the field of child clinical psychology.

Another interesting aspect to my internship is getting the opportunity to sit in on lab meetings and presentations. I attended a presentation by one of the post-doctoral students regarding her work at Boston Children’s Hospital. The presentation topic was about the emerging field of pediatric psychology and how psychologists can positively impact a patient’s hospital stay and overall outcome. Several case studies were presented in which children who had traumatic injuries and severe illnesses had their psychological needs met in addition to their medical ones. The hospital can be a scary place for a child and having adequate psychological services can help kids cope with their illnesses. Pediatric psychologists can help with explaining the illness/injury in a developmentally appropriate way, addressing emotional concerns, and working through issues regarding self-identity. We also learned that it is also important to conduct a comprehensive screening as some children with chronic medical conditions have had their psychological needs previously overlooked as a result of their serious illness. The importance of early intervention and streamlining psychological screening was also discussed.

I also attended an MRI safety session at the Harvard Center for Brain Science. I went for training to obtain a “yellow badge” so that I can observe MRI scans and be a “scan buddy” for child participants. The training emphasized the importance of being vigilant about safety and how powerful the MRI machine is. We discussed what conditions/implants would be contraindicated for an MRI scan and what the safety procedures are. At the end of the training we went into the room with the machine and threw around a tennis ball filled with magnetic paper clips!

One of the videos that we watched during training can be viewed here:

Overall, I had a very exciting (and busy!) week at the lab and I can’t wait to see what is in store for the upcoming weeks.

Melissa Viezel, ’16