Learn More About Child Psychologists
A child psychologist works just with children and adolescents in order to diagnose and to help them with resolving issues that are causing them behavior or emotional problems in their lives. The education a child psychologist receives is basically the same as a general psychologist with extra emphasis based on child behavior and development. Being a child psychologist one can choose to work in different settings and they sometimes can combine their work in different environments.
Most who specializes in child psychology will work with individual children in order to diagnose different conditions and to provide them with therapy and counselling. They will evaluate the children they work with for a variety of different disorders that can include:
- Learning disabilities
- Attention deficit disorder
- Developmental delays
- Look for signs of autism spectrum disorder
Quite often a child psychologist will work with children to help them overcome different types of abuse or trauma like the death of someone they love along with other personal experiences that may be affecting their emotional and mental health. Commonly they will see their patients in a private setting and depend upon the diagnoses they come up with, they might refer them to other types of specialists such as a psychiatrist for prescription medication, or they may come up with a treatment plan for therapy through regular visits.
Many schools will hire psychologists in order to help children attending school with social or emotional difficulties that may be affecting their performance and behavior while at school. By having one on one counselling sessions in the school setting, they try to uncover the reason or reasons for the problems the child might be having. It can be family issues, adjusting to school, past bad experiences, self-esteem issues and so on. Once they discover what the problem is they will then work to help resolve the problems through talk therapy, art, play, or music therapy in order to more easily communicate with the child and allow them to express their feelings easier.
Many psychologists are often hired by the courts in order to try and help children become adjusted in courtroom proceedings like a child custody battle or divorce. Often they will work together with a social worker who is in charge of any case that is involving children to help shed light on the reasons for difficult behavior or to help them deal with trauma or the absence of their parents.
Clinics and hospitals will hire child psychologists and other psychologists to help them evaluate patients. They will often be called on as a consultant in emergency situations, conduct group therapy and work with individuals. Even though a psychologist is not a medical doctor they will often work with patients to help them to adjust themselves to the medications they’ve been prescribed, especially children.
There are some psychologists who will decide to do research instead of working directly with any patients. They often pick an area of their top interest and often can be research such as child development, the actions of children in order to discover why they act in a certain way at certain times in life. They also may do research in different learning disabilities. Some may combine their research with a counseling career as well.
If you are considering becoming a child psychologist you need to be prepared to devote nearly 10 years of your life to education. Right from the beginning you will be required to get a BA degree in any field of your personal choice. Most often students will pick social work, psychology, or a related field as their major, you don’t need to be set on that. It’s up to you.
After finishing some sort of undergraduate program you will have to go further by moving to the doctoral level by receiving either a practice-based Psy.D or research-based Ph.D. During this stage is when you can concentrate on child psychology. You’ll need to participate in courses and lectures along with fieldwork and research that deals directly with a variety of children.
So that one can become certified and licensed as a child psychologist one needs to have hands-on training through an internship program. Quite often it’s required that the internship is a full-time one-year internship or a two-year part-time internship. Internships put the person out in the field and allows them to work with patients with supervision by a psychologist who is licensed. This internship is what gives one the opportunity to develop their counselling skills and to get experience actually working with children who have a variety of different needs.
Aptitudes, Traits, and Skills
Even with earning a degree and finishing an internship will get you a good start in the field of psychology, it still takes a very special person to be truly successful in the field of child psychology. It’s important that you have certain skills as well as personality traits that can help you excel in this field and to be able to provide patients with the kind of high-quality treatment that they deserve. You will need to have very strong communication skills and exceptional listening skills. You will also need to be able to speak in a manner that children can understand. Children who go to see a psychologist quite often have already experienced a huge amount of trauma in their young and short lives. This is why it is vital that you are motivated and empathetic when it comes to wanting to help others.
Having very good problem-solving skills is important as well. These skills can help you to deal with more difficult children and then develop more effective treatment plans for every child that is in your care. Having good analytical skills is also important because it will be easier to analyze and identify the patient’s needs and issues much easier.
When it comes to a personal level, you will need to be very trustworthy along with extremely kind. A lot of your patients could be afraid and even distrust you in the beginning because of past experiences they’ve had with other adults they’ve had in their lives. It is extremely important that you have the ability to conduct yourself in a manner that will make them feel safe and at ease with you.
What are the Pros and Cons of the Job?
Even though the thought of helping children to overcome issues dealing with the overall well-being and mental health may sound like the perfect occupation for someone who truly wants to make a difference in someone’s life, there can be snags that might not fit your own life. Yes, as a child psychologist you’ll be able to help children of all ages with all kinds of issues and this can have some great rewards, there can be some downsides to it as well. Here are a couple of key pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Being a Child Psychologist
Being able to treat children and/or adolescents with their emotional, social, behavior, and psychological issues could be one of the most vital and important aspects of working in this field of psychology. This type of psychologists will work with both the children and their families. They will provide help through talk, play, music, and art therapies in order to help them with developing better coping mechanisms and to help them to get through specific issues.
A career in this field of psychology can be extremely gratifying because most importantly you actually get to see the results of your hard work. Being able to see how a child’s life has improved after teaching them how to cope with problems and how to live a happier life can be one of the most rewarding things in this type of career.
Working with children in psychology can often offer the chance to work in a variety of different settings that include:
- Mental Health Clinics
- Community Centers
- Private Practice
It also gives you the chance to combine different activities like working with children during the days in school and then seeing private patients in the evening. Or you can do research and teach at a university or college. By having a good range of experiences that are available in this field can help keep the work becoming mundane and you get exposed to a huge variety of patients.
Cons of Being a Child Psychologist
Having to handle all the psychological and emotional difficulties that are often faced by families and their children isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. According to the “American Psychological Associations’ Practice Central”, this kind of stress, dealing with those in such dire need is one of the biggest occupational hazards for most psychologists. A child psychologist may work with children who have been often neglected or abused, or they’ve suffered from extremely serious losses in their lives. For some, all the education, skills, and training in the world simply can’t help overcome the emotional stress that this can cause and often there is an emotional burnout that often can’t be overcome.
Long and Irregular Hours
Many psychologists who deal with children do have regular hours, especially those who choose to work in schools or other settings that are similar. But, there are many who end up having to work long hours and/or irregular hours in order to meet the needs of their patients. Because most children go to school and parents work during the days and evenings, quite often a child psychologist who is one that is in private practice may be required to work evenings and weekends in order to work with the patients and their own schedules.