WHEELING, W.Va., Oct. 26, 2015 -- Wheeling Jesuit University (WJU) students are receiving training to allow them to assess the strengths and needs of children and adolescents - all to improve their quality of life.
As part of WJU's child psychopathology course, Wheeling Jesuit students from a variety of majors are becoming certified in CANS - Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths assessment. This evaluation tool provides WJU students, once certified, an assessment tool to measure the progress of children with mental health challenges.
Care providers in West Virginia and other states use CANS in order to provide an efficient and standard means of assessment. By having the training and certification prior to graduation, WJU students are an important step closer to entering human services areas.
“By providing our students with CANS training, we give them one more tool that helps them make an impact in their communities. Once certified, our students can use CANS to identify strengths and needs that a young person has and then develop a care plan on which to build,” said Dr. Debra Hull, professor of psychology at WJU.
She noted that in the first year of the program, 28 students have become certified in CANS. By training students from a variety of majors, such as nursing, education, psychology and criminal justice, there becomes one language for professionals to use when providing services to children.
“CANS can be used by psychologists, medical providers, religious organizations, educational institutions and the legal professions -- all of whom have interactions with young people and all of whom can offer help,” Hull explained.
“This links practice and academics. We see the end result of the preparation and training when we go into the field and help children,” said Lakin Roth, a psychology major from Martins Ferry.
CANS training helps professionals from a variety of disciplines communicate using one language, Hull added. The test is based on case studies that students learn to evaluate. The focus is on the strengths that children and their advocates can use to help them solve problems and deal with challenges children may have, such as spiritual or cultural strengths, that might otherwise not be recognized.
Rebecca Brown a senior psychology major from Carlisle, Pa., said, this training has made her more aware of the warning signs of children on the autism spectrum and then alert that child's teacher.
“By measuring a child's strengths, care providers can then help to enhance the emotional needs and work through problems they may be experiencing. CANS training give us the tool to do this,” Brown explained.
Kayla Gross, a senior psychology major from Hurricane, W.Va., said, “Having gone through the CANS training and becoming certified has provided me a huge advantage as I begin to search for a job. Many employers are surprised that this was offered to WJU students.”
Hull said CANS training will remain an ongoing part of the psychology curriculum - because WJU students and local children in the community are benefitting from the program.
PHOTO CAPTION: Wheeling Jesuit University students are receiving training to allow them to assess the strengths and needs of children and adolescents - all to improve their quality of life. CANS Training is now a part of the course work at WJU. Dr. Debra Hull, professor of psychology (at screen) reviews the information with students Lakin Roth, Kayla Gross and Rebecca Brown.