Child psychologists/therapists diagnose and treat children 17 years old or younger who have mental, social, behavioral, or emotional problems. They are counseling professionals and highly-trained specialists who use a multidisciplinary approach which takes into consideration the child's home, school, and social environment. Their work environment may range from a school setting to a large clinic or private practice, and their common goal is to make helpful decisions for the betterment of their patients' welfare.
Child psychologists must have a passion for helping children cope with everyday problems and traumatic events in life. They must be very diplomatic in their choice of words and advice, so strong communication skills are essential to succeed. They often help children and young teens face emotional problems specific to their age group; these can range from learning difficulties and depression to sexuality issues, anxiety, aggression, phobias, or eating disorders. Common duties include interviewing patients and their families, counseling, and providing family psychotherapy, and they may provide short-term or long-term intervention for individual patients. Supervision of child psychology-trainees or other therapists may be a part of the job and, because child psychology is a rapidly-progressing field, staying up-to-date with all developments in theory and research and ongoing professional development are also essential for success.
State regulations require child psychologists to have doctorate degrees; this is an advanced medical degree in psychiatry, psychology, developmental psychology, or a related field. One to two years of professional experience, passing a state-licensed exam, and at least two years of supervised training beyond the degree are often required, as well. Most child psychologists also have an undergraduate degree in psychology, developmental psychology, or a related field.
A child psychologist's working environment may vary greatly depending on the focus and employer, and they often work in school settings, large clinics, or private practice. Child psychologists often work with other child psychologists, as well as social workers, school counselors, school principals, teachers, doctors, clinical staff, and the parents of their patients. Working hours are normal business hours or shifts which correspond to school hours.
Child Psychologist Tasks
Work with parents in the development of each student.
Utilize stress reduction techniques via play therapy to facilitate coping with illness or disability.
Identify psychological, emotional or behavioral issues and diagnose disorders.
Help children understand medical care, diagnosis and procedures.
Educate family and staff on techniques.