What Does a Child Psychologist Do?
A child psychologist is a professional therapist who has earned a doctorate degree in psychology and who chooses to work with children. In terms of licensing and degrees, there is no distinction between general and child psychologists. The term child psychologist is used to help a professional therapist express interest and experience in the field of child psychology.
Throughout their education, many child psychologists focus on child development courses and other studies that further their understanding of children as it relates to their desired career path. However, there is not a specific degree for a child psychologist.
In order to become a practicing psychologist, one must become licensed, a process that includes supervised training over the course of several years (licensing requirements and policies vary from state to state). A psychologist cannot prescribe medication and must work with a medical doctor (pediatrician or psychiatrist) in the area of medical prescriptions.
The Field of Child Psychology
Most child psychologists offer therapy for children. However, a child psychologist may work in a number of related careers:
- Work as a school counselor, advisor, or consultant
- Teach in the field of child psychology
- Work in special education facilities
- Become a social worker
- Provide parent training and therapy
Like any other health care professional, a child psychologist may also work in the research field and may publish books and articles related to the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children; such work may include case studies, reflections from personal experience, research, and educational material designed for children, parents and/or teachers.
How a Child Psychologist Helps Children
Although there are many career options for a child psychologist, most exclusively provide evaluations and diagnoses of childhood conditions as well as therapy. Some provide general therapy for children and may offer help with a wide range of issues that affect children whereas others may specialize in certain conditions.
Some of the most common conditions and mental health issues that affect children include learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, depression and anxiety, abuse and trauma.
In therapy, communication is based on children’s styles and levels of communication and includes play, talking, and art (including music). A child psychologist uses communication to understand a child’s internal experiences and to help children find the best possible ways of coping and living to their fullest potential.
Dr. Kenneth Roberson is a San Francisco based child psychologist with over 20 years of experience. To schedule a free initial consultation, please call 415-922-1122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.