Home » Career-Option » Child Psychologist as a Career

Outline of career as an Child Psychologist

Child Psychologist

Childhood psychology is an important branch of psychology that mainly deals with study about children, mainly their development and behaviour.

Child psychologists are also known as child and adolescent clinical psychologists or paediatrics clinical psychologists. It is one of the most commonly studied types of psychology today. This domain of psychology usually covers every child, from birth to adolescence. Some areas covered under childhood psychology include milestones, behaviour problems, social skills, mental and emotional welfare and development.

The role of Child psychologists is to help children with mental and behavioural disorders, as well as those who have experienced shocking events. These specialists observe a child's interactions and behaviour patterns in order to understand and assess the abnormal activities of children.

Candidates who pursue this field for career hold doctoral degrees. During their studies, they involve in research, study child development and complete an internship. Psychologists generally must be licensed by the state where they practice, which usually calls for a doctorate in psychology, clinical experience and a licensing examination.

Job Description of a Child Psychologist

Generally, a childhood psychologist thoroughly study behaviour of children and their primary caregivers in order to research, assess, and probably treat developmental issues. Depending on his chosen area of study, a child psychologist will often work with all types of children.

Child psychologist's considerations of behaviour, emotions and feelings help children to tackle intricate life issues. These problems may be psychological, such as depression, or personal like those resulting from turbulent past experiences. Personal problems for children may also come from family issues like the absence of a parent or problems with development, including self-esteem and confidence issues. The task of a child psychologist is also to work with children who are considered to have slight mental, emotional, or social problems. This can include emotions like anxiety or shyness.

Child psychologists help and treat children who have severe mental, emotional, or social problems as well. Violent children, autistic children, and those who have been abused, for instance, will often benefit from the help of a child psychologist.

Another job of Child psychologists is to involve in research activities. They can work as researchers, studying the activities of children and seeking to find specific patterns or providing answers for development. Child psychologists also work in support or supervision of social workers in a clinical setting. These psychologists are exclusively prepared to deal with childhood-specific issues of emotional development and substance abuse. Child psychologists may help children understand consequences and avoid bad habits.

Furthermore, a child psychologist will often use array of treatment method, many of which are similar to the treatment methods used with adults. Therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy is often a popular form of treatment. This type of treatment often involves helping a child learn to solve his problems in a healthy and fruitful manner.

Educational qualification

Educational qualification of child psychologists is doctoral degree with clinical experience and post-doctoral training in child psychology essential for specialty certification.

To become a child psychologists, following psychology degree program are available :

I. Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

This 4-year baccalaureate program presents future child psychologists to the basics of psychology with a combination of classroom lectures and research experience. Statistics is heavily stressed in this program, and some of the subspecialties of psychology are introduced at the undergraduate level. Since most students in this program aim to do graduate work in the field of psychology, this program is geared towards preparing the student for graduate studies.

A student in an undergraduate program in psychology can choose courses in topics such as:

  • Consumerism and the psychological perspective

  • Statistical methodology

  • Research methodology

  • Introductory neuroscience

  • Cognitive psychology

II. Master of Arts in Psychology:

The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Psychology is a 2-year program intended to build on the bachelor's degree in psychology. A master's degree in psychology with a concentration in child clinical services will serve the future child psychologists well. This programme is intended to offer the graduate with assessment and diagnostic skills directly related to the emotional, academic and cognitive aspects of children's and teens' lives. Candidates are trained in intervention skills in clinical. A student in a program are recommended to choose following courses:

  • Introductory psychological testing

  • Personality psychology

  • Counselling micro-skills

  • Lifespan development

  • Child and adolescent psychopathology

  • Family and self in cultural context

III. Doctorate in Psychology

A doctoral degree program in psychology is organised around intense study and innovative research, and it results in either a dissertation (for a Doctor of Philosophy program) or supervised practical work (for a Doctor of Psychology program). Doctoral degree programs in psychology also require a year of supervised postdoctoral work. A doctoral degree program in clinical psychology with a subspecialty in clinical child psychology will make eligible to candidates to do practice as independent child psychologists.

Coursework for the doctoral student in a program include:

  • Statistical design in research

  • Intelligence testing

  • Assessment and intervention

  • Cultural diversity in psychology

The training to become a child psychologists includes the basics of psychology pertaining to child development, family systems and learning processes. Some coursework in child psychology programs may include the academic study of pharmacology. Most programs need students to perform research on an issue in the field such as economic or biological factors that affect child development.

After completing studies, students are generally required to complete a 1-year internship. During the internship, students may monitor, observe and assess children for behavioural or other disorders. Other duties may include administering personality tests and researching the effects of medical drug treatments.

Qualities of child psychologists

When candidates opt for career as child psychologist, they must possess some qualities to get success in this field:

I. Enthusiasm : The basic requirement for being a child psychologist is open enthusiasm and a sense of caring for the needs of children. Individuals with a positive and kind personality who are comfortable with the concept of "play" more easily relate to children. A passionate, caring expert can help a child enjoy therapy and get through to a child, which is essential for any progress in counselling.

II. Trustworthiness : Child psychologists must have an intrinsic ability to gain the confidence of both a child and parent, so that everyone feels relaxed working together. Families must share sensitive and personal information during visits with a therapist. A child psychologist must always maintain confidentiality and respect the family's privacy at all times, especially when synchronizing efforts with teachers.

III. Specialized Knowledge : A child psychologist must be capable enough to deal with specific issues that a child may face, and know how to deal with them in the most effective manner. For example, a child with a learning disability requires a school psychologist who specializes in methods to help the child cope in the classroom. Specialized training also means that the psychologist will know what to look for when observing the child, knowing the right questions to ask and how to analyse the information to find solutions.

IV. Communication : Child psychologists must have good communication skill and have large network of people to help support a child. In addition to relating to the child herself and speaking at her level of understanding, child psychologists must be able to communicate in such a way that helps the child's parents. Similarly, the psychologist may need to harmonise care between a child's teachers or doctors, and help the parents navigate all options to help the child. Clear and direct communication is important for the success of therapy.

Institutions in which Child Psychologists can work

In this problematic world, children face numerous problems and exposed to poor environment. Therefore, there is high demand of child psychologists and these professionals will easily get employment.

Many institutes that commonly deal with children typically recruit child psychologists. This can include schools, orphanages, and child welfare offices. Health oriented organizations might also employ child psychologists. This can include hospitals and mental health clinics.

Some child psychologists work in health organizations, educational institutes and other child psychologist build their career to open their own practice, which allows them more time to focus on each patient.

Specific job duties depend on where a child psychologist chooses to specialize, a few of the typical tasks may include :

  • Diagnosing and treating learning or developmental disabilities.

  • Working with clients to manage behavioural issues.

  • Administering psychological tests.

  • Conducting scientific research on childhood development.

  • Working with a health care team to create a unique treatment plan for a client.

Career prospects for a Child Psychologist

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), job prospects for clinical, counselling and school psychologists were expected to increase by 11% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). In present scenario, there is increasing demand of child psychologists from government, social service agencies and schools.

It can be accepted that Child psychologists are therapists who have attained a doctorate in clinical psychology and specialize in treating serious emotional problems in children and teens. A child psychologist must fulfil high academic and licensing standards and also must show compassion and understanding to disturbed young people. Child psychologists may work with many clients including infants, toddlers, children and teens, or they may specialize in working with a particular age group.