I am the I in IWK -Psychology Residents-Joanne Park, Aamena Kapasi and Chelsea da Estrela

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Over the course of a year psychology residents receive extensive training and supervised experience at the IWK in the areas of pediatric health and child/adolescent clinical psychology.

Joanne Park is in the last year of her PhD in clinical psychology and currently spends most of her time at the Adolescent Intensive Services (AIS) providing individual and group therapy to adolescents in the AIS program.

“I really enjoy being able to work directly with children and families to provide tangible and evidence-based support. To be able to build a collaborative partnership with families and to see the difference that effective therapy can make is very exciting,” says Park. “I’m also very passionate about research and making sure that we are providing therapy that is evidence based and effective. Right now I am working on a research project examining the effect of parents’ self-efficacy and emotion regulation skills on child outcomes following parenting interventions offered throughout the IWK.”

Park believes that one of the most valuable tools she has as a psychologist is the ability to use extensive research training to evaluate what she does.

“I love the IWK’s focus on quality improvement, evaluation, and research. It really shows the organizations’ commitment to patients and families in ensuring that what we do is actually helpful and is working.”

For Aamena Kapasi, a child and adolescent clinical psychology resident, the IWK offered a wide variety of choices for rotations.  It also allowed her to design a training program that provided her with both breadth and depth in training.

“Currently, I am completing rotations in neuropsychology and preschool autism,” says Kapasi. “As part of my neuropsychology rotation, I conduct comprehensive assessments with children and youth whose psychological functioning has been impacted by various disorders. On my preschool autism rotation, I help conduct diagnostic assessments for preschool-aged children who are suspected of having autism spectrum disorder.”

Kapasi is hopeful that the field of psychology will continue to evolve and adapt to new research and technology that can be effective in helping children, youth, and families succeed.

“Recently, I have seen a shift in psychological assessments to become more strengths-based, collaborative, and responsive. These types of assessments help to empower clients, and I hope to see assessment practice continue to be more client-focused in the future.”

Chelsea da Estrela specializes in pediatric health psychology assisting children and adolescents with any aspect of coming to the hospital, following their medical treatment plan, or coping with a chronic health condition that may be challenging for them. She is currently working on the Pediatric Health Psychology service where they receive inpatient and outpatient referrals from various departments at the IWK, as well as on the Hematology/Oncology/Nephrology Service and Complex Pain team.

“The IWK has a strong commitment to family-centered care and, as it is a tertiary care setting, provides me with an opportunity to work with families with a broad range of health conditions,” says da Estrela. “I have had the opportunity to interact with many different health professionals, and I am continuously impressed by the level of cooperation and respect team members display. And even though I am still a learner, my input is heard and valued.”

da Estrela shares a similar sense of hope for the future with her fellow residents.

“I think we are moving towards a better understanding that our physical and psychology health are intimately connected, and that ensuring that a youth and their family’s psychological needs are supported is an important step in providing high-quality and evidence-based care.”