Child Psychologist: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements
A child psychologist helps children with mental and developmental issues. Find out about the job responsibilities, get an overview of the job market and learn what education is required in order to pursue this profession. Schools offering Child Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Will My Job Duties Be as a Child Psychologist?
Your work can be grouped into the areas of assessment, consultation, intervention and prevention. Your clients may include premature, ill and drug-addicted newborns, children with schizophrenia, autism and delayed or uneven development or trauma survivors.
Assessments are conducted through techniques such as interviews with parents and children, cognitive testing and behavioral observation. Consultation entails conferring with pediatricians, teachers, social workers, child protection workers and fellow child psychologists about treatment or care options.
Intervention encompasses a range of treatment approaches including family therapy and counseling, individual therapy, cognitive therapy and behavior modification in the home or classroom. Prevention aims to steer children away from delinquency, substance abuse and teen pregnancy, shield them from prolonged exposure to abusive or neglectful environments and avoid delays in language and cognitive development.
What Are My Job Prospects?
Mental health clinics, hospitals, schools and government agencies are possible employers. You could also establish a private practice. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of May 2010 around 100,700 people worked as clinical, counseling and school psychologists, down from 152,000 in 2008 (www.bls.gov). Of these, approximately 6,790 worked in individual and family services and another 3,850 worked in psychiatric hospitals. Employment was forecasted to grow to about 168,800 by 2018.
What Education Do I Need?
You need a doctoral degree in child psychology and a state license to practice as a child psychologist. General requirements for licensure include passing the National Psychology Licensing Exam and at least two years of supervised counseling or clinical experience.
Doctoral programs examine children as individuals and as products of the social forces exerted by their families, peer groups, communities and culture. Normal mental and emotional development, the emergence of abnormal or pathological behavior and methods of treatment are explored from multiple theoretical and clinical perspectives through a combination of academic courses, seminars and field practicums. Field practicums will also help you develop your own approach to therapy. Courses and seminars are completed in the first 2-3 years of the degree program with the remainder of the program devoted to researching and writing a dissertation on an original topic in the field.
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