"Our whole life is but a greater and longer childhood"- Benjamin Franklin
Childhood is an important phase in a person's life with behavioral and formative influences, that affect a person's life as an adult. A child psychologist has to be trained to be able to focus on the emotional, mental and social development of children.
Child psychology is a branch of developmental psychology which focuses on the changes of human psychology at each phase of life. There are sub-specializations within this field; so while a child psychologist may choose to work with children suffering from behavioral problems, an adolescent psychologist is equipped to deal with problems faced by teenagers.
The growth of child psychology as a profession can be attributed to the demand for child psychologists in hospitals, schools, social services and government agencies.
How You Can be a Child Psychologist...
To become an independent or clinical child psychologist, a doctoral degree in psychology is required. Common doctoral degrees awarded are Ph. D. or a doctor of psychology. The training imparted during the course allows the person to train, teach, conduct research and take up counseling positions in universities, schools and government social service sectors.
Both Ph. D. and Psy.D. require five to seven years of graduate study, which is inclusive of research and dissertation. Furthermore, each state in USA requires the practitioners to obtain the license of the state.
In addition to the degree, certain interpersonal qualities are also required in a child psychologist. While a child psychologist and counselor involved in therapy and treatment needs to possess an emotional stability and excellent communication skills, a psychologist involved in research needs an objective and focused mind.
Different Careers in Child Psychology
There are various specializations a psychologist may opt for:
A psychological evaluation has to be done for the child; taking into account the age and willingness for treatment, the psychologist must develop appropriate methods. In certain cases the psychologist may have to work with the family members, teachers and medical experts to formulate appropriate solutions for the child
Adolescent Child Psychologist
Adolescent child psychologists work with children in the age group of 12 to 18 years and specialize in treating psychological problems such as depression, anxiety disorder and eating disorders. Problems of adolescent children differ from children and adults. Understanding them allows the psychologist to effectively deal with them.
Abnormal Child Psychologist
The role of an abnormal child psychologist is to work with children afflicted with personality disorders, psychopathology and sociopathy among other things. Being rare, these treatments require special care which may last for several years.
Developmental Child Psychologist
This is a research-based career in which the psychologists study the changes in human behavior such as aggression, use of language and emotional development.
Child psychologists may work as caseworkers, crisis counselors, group counselors, youth counselors and facilitators; the choices are endless. Along with passion and zeal for their work, it is crucial for the psychologists to be able to formulate clear, persuasive messages and listen and respond to the grievances of children.
With a rise in child crime, child abuse and mental illnesses among children due to unhealthy negative environment, the job of a child psychologist has gained significant importance in recent years.