What Is a Child Psychologist?

 What Is a Child Psychologist?

A child psychologist is a type of psychologist who studies the mental, social and emotional development of children. Typically, child psychologists look at development from the prenatal period through adolescence. Some of the major topics of interest in this field of psychology include genetics, language development, personality, gender roles, cognitive development, sexual development and social growth.

Child psychologists help children with mental and behavioral disorders, as well as those who have experienced traumatic events. These professionals observe a child's interactions and behavior patterns in order to interpret and assess why a child acts the way he or she does. Most individuals in this field hold doctoral degrees. During their studies they engage in research, study child development, and complete an internship. Psychologists generally must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Licensure typically requires a doctorate in psychology, clinical experience, and a passing grade on a licensing examination.

What Does a Child Psychologist Do?

Child psychologists work exclusively with children and adolescents to diagnose and help

Child Psychologist
resolve issues causing emotional or behavioral problems. Their education is the same as general psychologists, with additional emphasis on child development and behaviors. Child psychologists may choose to work in a variety of settings, and sometimes may combine work in several environments.

1. Private Psychologists

Most child psychologists work with individual children to diagnose conditions and provide counseling and therapy. They may evaluate children for a variety of disorders, including learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, anxiety and depression. They also evaluate children for developmental delays, signs of autism spectrum disorder and other problems that affect development. Additionally, psychologists may help children overcome abuse, trauma such as the death of a loved one, and other personal experiences that affect their mental and emotional health. They typically see children in a private office setting. Depending on their diagnoses, they may refer children to other specialists, to a psychiatrist for medication, or propose a treatment of therapy through regularly scheduled visits.

2. School Psychologists

Schools and school systems hire psychologists to help children who have emotional or social difficulties that affect their behavior or performance in school. Through one-on-one counseling in the school setting, they help uncover the reason for the child's problems -- whether family problems, adjustment issues, past experiences, or self-esteem, for example -- and work to resolve them. Psychologists may use talk therapy, play, art or music therapy to communicate with a child and enable him to express his feelings.

3. Court Psychologists

Psychologists may be hired by court systems to help children adjust in court proceedings such as divorce or child custody. Sometimes they work with social workers in charge of cases involving children, to shed light on the causes of behavior, or to help them deal with absent parents or trauma.

4. Clinical Psychologists

Hospitals and other clinical settings employ psychologists to examine and evaluate patients. They may be called to consult in an emergency situation with a patient, hold group therapy sessions and work with patients individually. Though they are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication, they often help patients adjust to the medications prescribed by psychiatrists.

5. Research Psychologists

Some psychologists choose to work in research rather than directly with patients. They typically choose an area of primary interest and research child development, learning disabilities, or the actions of children to determine why they behave in certain ways at certain times. It is also possible for psychologist to combine a research career with counseling.

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