Clinical Child Psychology

What are the Primary Responsibilities of a Clinical Child Psychologist?

The practice of child psychology requires that a child psychologist be knowledgeable about the development of child and adolescent populations and in doing so be able to provide clinical intervention for the child and his or her family to enhance overall family functioning. The practice of child and adolescent psychology is not limited to the medical model, although child psychology is highly reliant upon the medical model. When discussing the role of the child psychologist, it is important that the practitioner has the ability to consider the child and his family in a manner that is holistic and integrates current mental health, medical, and dental models.

Clinical psychologists have a key role in the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents. They also maintain contact with their clients over a sustained period of time. The clinical psychologist can provide the diagnosis and treatment for many problems in children and adolescents as well as serve as a source of support among the family environment, which can increase resilience. The psychologist provides intervention when children display signs and symptoms of psychiatric conditions and often plays a role in treatment. In many cases, the child will be referred to the pediatrician for further evaluation.

For instance, a pediatrician may order a brain scan or electroencephalogram (EEG). In clinical child psychology, a diagnostic, or differential, diagnosis is often a critical component in the child and adolescent psychological treatment. With such a diagnosis, a determination can be made as to if the problem truly exists (e.g., is it a brain disorder?) and a plan for treatment can be formulated.

Child psychology, or clinical child psychology, usually refers to a practice of providing consultation, counseling, and intervention for children ages 7 to 17 years old. Clinical child psychology can include mental health assessment services. In order for the child psychologist to provide the assessment and intervention services, they are required to be competent in the following fields: diagnostic and differential diagnosis of developmental, cognitive

Training needed to become a Clinical Child Psychologist

Clinical child psychologists, also known as clinical child psychiatrists, clinical child psychologists, or clinical child psychoanalysts, are clinical psychologists (individuals with doctorates and fellowships in psychology) who identify developmental disorders in children and adolescents such as autism, ADHD, dysfunctions of the frontal cortex and disorders of attachment. They work as part of multi-disciplinary team of professionals such as neuropsychologists, nurses, speech therapists and specialists from different specializations with a team approach oriented towards early identification and intervention.

Clinical child psychology has become an independent professional discipline in the United States, where it is recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA). The first edition of the field’s own profession certification standard (the APA Guidelines for Professional Practice of Child and Adolescent Psychology) was released in 1989. Since then and in 2004, the practice of child psychotherapy gained recognition as an autonomous discipline.

The goal of a clinical child psychologist’s professional practice is to be able to detect and to alleviate the symptoms of developmental and behavioral disorders.

To earn the APA’s title of Clinical Child Psychology Specialist, a psychologist must:

  • Obtain a Ph.D. in clinical child psychology
  • Obtain an advanced degree (masters, specialist) in clinical child psychology
  • The first requirements of the APA’s professional practice standard states: “A practicing clinical child psychologist must demonstrate the ability to evaluate a child’s cognitive, affective, or behavioral disorder. She must also demonstrate the ability to establish and maintain long-term client relationships.”
  • The practice of child psychology is regulated by one of the national professional organizations in the US. The APA’s Board of professional psychologists in child and adolescent development is responsible for protecting and promoting the scientific and professional independence.

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