Many children in today’s world are struggling with a variety of issues: aggression, depression, autism and many more. Child psychologists are available to help children work through and manage these issues. The following is a look into the career of a child psychologist.
What is Child Psychology?
A child psychologist studies the mind and various behaviors of children in order to explain why children behave the way they do. A child psychologist will also look into a child’s social and emotional development, and overall development beginning from the prenatal period. Other areas studied are personality, language development, personality, social growth, cognitive development and even sexual development.
The goal of child psychology is to help understand, treat, and in some cases prevent issues within the developmental, cognitive, social and emotional realm. Some children struggle with aggression, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and conduct disorders. Many children that child psychologists see struggle with violence, lie, steal and destroy property: A child psychologist seeks to address these problems and help the child or adolescent manage them.
Some child psychologists will specialize in the development of a certain age group, while others work with a full range of children: Infants, toddlers, children and teens. There are also several specialties within the realm of child psychology. An educational psychologist, for example, studies how children learn, the differences in learning and learning disabilities.
Child Psychologist Education
To become a child psychologist, a person must first graduate with a doctoral or masters degree, with the doctorate being the more popular option. According the the American Psychological Association, Ph.D.’s are much more common than Psy.D., though those who wish to counsel children more than research are turning toward a Ph.D. instead. After receiving a degree, one must undergo an internship, which usually lasts around two years, though this varies by state. Next, in order to become a licensed psychologist, he or she is required to pass both state and national tests.
Child Psychologist Salary
Several factors play into the salary of a child psychologist, like geographic location, education and experience. A child psychologist with little or no experience could expect a salary of approximately $30,000 to $45,000. Those with five to ten years of experience might earn $50,000 to $80,000, while psychologists with ten or more years of experience could expect a salary of $80,000 to $100,00. In 2010, he median salary for a child psychologist, as recorded by the U.S. Department of Labor, is around $68,000 a year, or $33.00 an hour.
What do Child Psychologists Do?
What a child psychologist does during a typical day varies by where the psychologist works and what specific field he or she is an expert in. While many child psychologists spend their days counseling young clients, maybe in their own practices, others spend their time researching various aspects of the field, like giftedness or disabilities. Generally, a child psychologist will regularly diagnose and treat learning or developmental disabilities and help clients manage behavioral issues. Depending on the situation, the psychologist may also work closely with a child’s health care team in order to create a specialized treatment plan.
Where a child psychologist works depends on the field he or she specializes in. Some work in schools, others in hospitals, courts and even in mental health clinics. In school settings, the psychologist will focus on diagnosing learning disorders and helping students work through social issues. Those who work in court settings generally help children be prepared to testify, or counsel them when there are child custody disputes. In hospital and mental health facility settings, psychologists help diagnose disorders and cope with psychological illnesses.
The following links are helpful resources for many of the issues covered in the realm of child psychology.
Encyclopedia of Psychology: This page is dedicated to the many issues child psychologists regularly deal. It includes links to a variety of topics, including autism, dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, conduct disorders, sexual abuse treatment, aggression and more.
Stop Offending: Resources for sexual abuse treatment. This page includes articles and research on various topics within sexual abuse.
ADD Resource: Full of information about ADD, this page also discusses the basics of ADD and provides access to support groups for families.
Autism Speaks: Autism Speaks is dedicated to building awareness of autism.
National Institute of Mental Health: Features clinical trials, statistics, and various information on the development of children’s minds.
Child psychology exists to understand why children think the way they do and help them work through these issues, and it takes many years of study to become skilled in this field.