A clinical psychologist is a professional who has completed doctoral work in psychology and becomes certified and licensed to treat certain mental health issues. While any licensed psychologist can treat children, an adolescent psychologist specializes in treating young people and is trained in the best treatment methodologies for mental health disorders experienced by children and young adults. Adolescent psychology specialists have commonly focused both their doctoral research and their training on treating adolescents. They may have completed their dissertation or done some type of research study on the mental health of teenagers and adolescents.

Adolescent Mental Health

Adolescence is often considered a challenging time in the life of a child. This coming of age is often fraught with emotional stress and pain, resulting in various problems and mental health issues. The mental health treatment approach used for a 16-year-old will typically differ from that used to treat a 25-year-old. Generally, developmental considerations are required when working with a younger adolescent than with an adult. Teens may differ greatly in how they respond to certain treatments and are often studied by adolescent psychology researchers to learn how teens respond to various types of treatment. They are also often the subject of research studying the different ways teens may manifest signs of mental illness or distress. Some mental disorders, such as eating disorders are particularly associated with the adolescent years.

Choosing An Adolescent Psychologist

If one of your adolescent family members needs therapy to deal with emotional or mental health issues, it is imperative that you choose an experienced and qualified adolescent psychologist. It is important that you know and understand about adolescent psychology specialists so that you can select the therapist best suited to help your child.

One of the first steps may be to interview the psychologist. Ask questions and ensure the psychologist is trained in the most current therapy treatments and approaches. Depending upon your child and their particular situation, there may be other options for therapists such as social workers, school psychologists, licensed professional counselors, psychiatrists, and marital or family counselors. Each of these specialties may also be qualified to treat your child’s mental health or distress issues. Always ask about the type of therapy the mental health provider will be using while treating your child.

What To Look For When Choosing A Therapist

Are they registered? Alway, always check that the therapist is licensed to provide mental health therapy. While it is getting better, there are still some states which do not require that a child therapist is licensed and qualifications can vary widely. It is critical that your child is treated by a registered mental health provider who is trained in child psychology and treatment. Look for some type of official credential, such as a registered psychologist, social worker, or licensed psychiatrist.

Most registrations are regulated by your state health agency and individual seeking licensing are subjected to a rigorous review of their credentials. This review verifies that the provider has the appropriate training and education.  It also certifies that this provider follows their profession’s ethical code, as well as state and federal laws. Most states, although not all, also require continuing professional education in order to keep the license current.

What Type Of Therapist Are They

There are different types of mental health professionals and most are licensed. These include psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, marital or family therapists, and counsellors. There are different training requirements for each of these specialties.

Psychologists may attend doctoral training to achieve a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. in some area of psychology. Their training includes four or more years of graduate training, as well as one to two years of post-doctoral clinical experience or applied experience. They commonly receive extensive training in conducting psychotherapy, however, they typically do not prescribe medications. Psychologists usually receive more psychotherapy training than other mental health professionals and are often the best choice for treating an adolescent with mental health issues, especially if it psychotherapy you are seeking.

Social workers, marital or family health therapists, and counsellors will usually have a graduate degree which is obtained by completing a one to two-year training program. They also require additional supervised experience before they can become licensed. The focus of these graduate training programs can vary widely, so it is important to be sure the therapist is experienced in treating the types of issues your child is experiencing. Many masters-level therapists have extensive training in treating adolescent  mental health issues.

Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in treating mental health disorders. They must complete medical school, receiving either an MD or a DO degree. They then complete a residency in psychiatry which takes another four years after medical school. Adolescent or child psychiatrists must also complete another two-year fellowship where they will work with adolescents and/or children. Psychiatrists are primarily doctors and are focused on treating the biological aspects of mental health disease. They may prescribe medications and may also use treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy or phototherapy. They do receive some training in psychotherapy, but their training in pharmacotherapy is typically more extensive.

Board certification is another important qualification to check when considering adolescent psychology specialists. Some clinical adolescent psychologists will also be board certified, which means they are endorsed through the Australian Psychological Society. This means that therapist has met very strict criteria which establish they are an expert in their field.

When selecting a therapist to help your child, it is important that you know and understand all the facts about adolescent psychology specialists. This will help you make a good decision and choose a therapist who can truly help your child.