A child psychologist is qualified to address the psychology and treatment of children and adolescents. Children who go through the trauma of bereavement, divorce as well as family and school transitions. Child psychologists clients will be dealing with certain developmental issues including learning disabilities and even mild to severe mental illness or skills training like building social skills.

Some of the mental and psychological issues treated by a child psychologist include various degrees of attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, autism, phobias and adjustment disorder. A major part of the task is finding the most appropriate diagnosis when the symptoms being presented are varied and complex. Child psychologists must be experts in giving and interpreting the results of psychological evaluations.

Child psychology is one of the psychological specialties that emphasizes the importance of the formative years. Clinical psychology involves considerably more training in the preparation of long-term mental health therapy than school psychology, Where school psychology is primarily concerned with developmental psychology clinical psychology is focused on clinical analyses, by diagnosis and treatment. While child psychologists are included in the category of health service provider, their skills are also applicable in indirect fields, such as consultations and research.

Pediatric psychology is closely related to child psychology with a few differences. Pediatric psychologist operate in a medical capacity. Child psychologists may work in a number of institutions including hospitals, government agencies, private practices and outpatient centers.

What a Child Psychologist Does: Licensing and Certification

Child psychologists are licensed by the state. The license they receive can either indicate them as clinical child psychologists or simply licensed psychologists. Certain jurisdictions require licensed psychologists to indicate the areas in which they are competent in their licensing process. In some states this is included as part of an oral examination in the licensing process.

While certification is available from the National Certification board, this is not the same as licensing. The Australian Board of Allied Health Professionals, the AHPRA, holds certain requirements for the endorsement process. After having obtained this, AHPRA will issue the Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology credential.

Candidates will be eligible for this certificate after completing a year of postgraduate practice and a residency in child psychology.

What a Child Psychologist Does: Practice and Careers

Private Practices

Most often child psychologist will work closely with individuals over a period of time to form sound diagnosis for presented conditions and then continue to provide counseling and therapy as needed. Children can be evaluated for a great variety of disorders including hyperactivity, depression, anxiety or attention deficit disorders. Child psychologists can also evaluate a child for developmental issues, spectrum disorder, autism or any other conditions that adversely affect a child’s development.

Furthermore, child psychologists often assist their patients in facing and overcoming such traumas as are caused by abuse or the death of a loved one as well as many other experiences that can have long term effects on emotional and mental health. These consultations are often held in a one-on-one setting in an office.

Depending on the diagnosis, a child psychologist may refer their patient to another specialist, or a psychiatrist for therapeutic medication or they may suggest some other form of treatment or therapy provided by regular visitation. What a child psychologist does is based on the results of their psychological evaluations.

School Psychologists

Schools and the educational system as a whole employ child psychologists to address the needs of children presenting emotional or social difficulty, especially when this difficulty is adversely affecting their academic performance and daily behaviour. The child’s problem and the reason for the difficulty can be explored in a one-on-one counseling setting. Issues relating to family dysfunction, personal  adjustment, self-esteem or past experiences can be explored and resolved.

Depending on the diagnosis and extent of the conditions, the school psychologist can make a number of recommendations. Most often, they will use various forms of therapy such as art, play, talk or music therapy to help a child work towards expression and finally resolution.

Court Psychologists

The child psychologist may also be employed by the judicial system to help with the adjustment of a child in court proceedings, most often in the cases of divorce or child custody. Many times they will be working in close conjunction with social workers in cases that involve small kids. The expertise and experience of a child psychologist is crucial to understanding certain behaviour as well as helping a child cope through a difficult divorce or other trauma.

Clinical Psychologists

Hospitals and other clinical institutions will often have a child psychologist on call to help examine and evaluate their young patients. Often these child psychologists are on call to offer consultation to especially delicate situations with patients. Duties also include organization and execution of groups therapy sessions or individual work on a personal level. Child psychologists are not medical doctors and as such are not licensed to administer medications, nevertheless, they may help patients adjust to the medications prescribed by other doctors or psychiatrists.

Research Psychologists

Rather than working with patients directly, many child psychologists choose to work in a research facility.
After choosing an area of interest, a child psychologist can then research the various learning disabilities, child’s actions and early development that determines why certain kids act in certain ways. It is quite possible to combine a counseling career with a research career.