Child Developmental Psychologist


John Locke, in the 17th century, devised the theory of tabula rasa, according to which the child’s mind was a blank tablet. Childhood can be defined as that phase of a human beings life which is at once simple as well as complicated. Considered to be the formative phase of development, it is quite obvious that whatever influences a child at this stage is sure to have a considerable impact on the adult persona.

It wouldn’t be therefore, incorrect to conclude that the adult persona of a child is largely influenced by what he/ she learns or understands as a child. Hence, it is quite imperative to push the child in the positive direction and negate any negative influences that might be present. It is here that the role of a child developmental psychologist comes into play.

About Child Developmental Psychologist:

A conventional and most commonly studied branch of psychology is the child developmental psychology. This domain of psychology deals with the mental, emotional and social development of children, right from early childhood to adolescence. Behavioral issues, social skills, emotional and mental health and development of children are all categorized under this branch.

Role of a Child Developmental Psychologist:

A child psychologist typically deals with children facing developmental issues such as, ADHD, learning disabilities, Cerebral Palsy, autism, phobias and various other forms of mental illnesses. It is also inclusive of dealing with children who are stressed out because of issues such as, death of a loved one, divorce, peer pressure and the like. Child and developmental psychologists are typically required to work at places such as schools, mental health centers, hospitals, clinics, social service organizations, educational institutions such as, colleges and universities and the like.

A child psychologist is typically required interact, observe and analyze the behavior of children at various stages in order to understand their emotional, mental and social behavioral issues. They might also need to conduct developmental or performance tests in order to diagnose and provide various forms of psychotherapy such as, Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), anger-management therapies and the like.

Educational Qualifications:

A doctoral degree, either in the form a Ph.D. or PsyD and passing a licensing test are typically required to become an independent child psychologist. However, there are certain related child psychology careers which do not require a doctoral degree. Child psychologists working at elementary or middle level schools may also need to fulfill certain additional requirements subject to the regulations of the state.

1. Bachelors Degree:

A bachelors degree in psychology is the first stage that needs to be completed before one can proceed further. There are certain undergraduate programs which also offer the pursuer to specifically focus on Child or Developmental Psychology. It is also worthwhile to opt for the elective courses. The bachelors degree will allow you to get placed as research assistant of a psychiatric technician, child psychology professor, at hospitals, family and youth shelter homes, teacher assistant and the like and gain work experience in relevant fields.

2. Masters Degree:

People looking for a career as a child and developmental psychologist may opt for a masters degree in child psychology, by choosing Child Counseling, Clinical Psychology for children or adolescent, Developmental Psychology or/ and as the area of specialization. It must be noted in this context that not all of the institutions ask for a bachelors degree as a pre-requisite before accepting aspirants into the Masters program.

3. Doctoral Degree:

People who wish to build a career as an independent Child and Developmental Psychologist are required to opt for a Doctoral degree offered in the form of Ph.D. or PsyD. Gaining this degree is imperative if you wish to become a licensed practitioner.

4. Certification and licensing:

Though the approved norms for gaining a license to practice as an independent Child Psychologist varies from one state to the other, having a doctoral degree is a pre-requisite in all cases. Along with the doctoral degree, aspirants also need to work as a supervised intern for at least 2 years and pass a qualifying examination held at the national level.

Skill’s Needed to Become a Developmental Psychologists:

Though the skills required for becoming a competent child psychologist depends on the domain of specialization, there are certain skills which are applicable over a wide range of specializations. If you are planning to become one, it is a must that you make sure you have these skills in you.

  • A child psychologist should be capable of observing and analyzing the pattern of social, emotional, mental and cognitive growth of children.
  • They are also required to asses and diagnose issues related to the psychological, cognitive, social, emotional and behavioral development in children.
  • Child development psychologists should also be capable of providing appropriate therapies and counseling sessions.
  • Child psychologists also need to be able communicators in order to effectively interact with the family members of the child and the child itself.
  • They are also required to be empathetic and have laudable problem-solving and analytical capabilities.

Apart from these, a child psychologist should exude a vibe of trustworthiness and understanding so that children can easily open up about their problems.

Job Prospects for Child Developmental Psychologist

The major reward of working as a child psychology lies in the trust that is bestowed upon them by children going through a difficult time. The very fact that children can come up and speak about their problems definitely counts as a reward in itself. According to BLS, job opportunities as a Child Developmental Psychologists are on a rise with the growth rate being 11% between the periods 2012 to 2022.

In this context, Psychologists holding a doctoral degree with a commendable work experience are likely to gain preference and the salary is also likely to be commensurate with the experience and qualifications. According to the Department of Labor, the average annual income of Child Psychologists was around $67,880 as of May 2011. There can therefore, be no doubt about the fact that a career in Child Developmental Psychology is fulfilling in all respects.

Find Your State Licensing Requirements

Whether you need to complete an internship or a doctoral degree, licensing requirements may vary from state to state. Click name of state below to find licensing requirement for that particular state.

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