Child psychologists study the mental, behavioral, and expressive development of children, focusing on the period from birth to adolescence. These psychologists may treat relatively healthy children by evaluating language, cognitive functions, and motor skills throughout each stage of early childhood development. Child psychologists also diagnose and treat children with severe psychological disorders such as autism, mood disorders, and issues resulting from trauma or abuse.
Child psychologists may counsel patients in schools, social service agencies, government organizations, the juvenile justice system, or private practice, often using behavioral modification therapy, play therapy, journaling, and therapeutic intervention techniques.
Child psychology encompasses several primary subspecialties, including pediatric, adolescent, and abnormal child psychology. Professionals in a particular subspecialty may work with specific patient groups, such as infants or adolescents, or focus on advanced behavioral disorders affecting children, adolescents, or both.
Regardless of their specialty, all child psychologists must earn licensure in their state through the American Board of Professional Psychology. For licensure, individuals typically need a doctoral degree from an accredited institution, extensive work experience, and a passing score on a board examination.
On this page, learn more about the role of a child psychologist, their duties, and their work environments.