Child Psychologists: Who Are We & How Can We Help Your Family?

Broadly speaking, a Child Psychologist is a person who, in addition to a first degree in Psychology, has gone on to complete further postgraduate training to specialise in working with children. In the UK this usually means either a master or doctorate qualification in Educational or Clinical Psychology.

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Prior to being accepted onto a postgraduate qualification of this level, a potential candidate must also prove a high level of dedication to, and experience in the area in which they intend to focus. Often this will involve many years of work within health, education or voluntary sector organisations, experience which is honed throughout the three-year training by a combination of teaching, rigorous assessment, closely supervised practice within relevant settings and, finally research.

Reaching the point at which a Chartered Psychologist can practise independently takes many years, depending upon state or country requirements. It should be noted, however, that any psychologist can work with children, and that there is no clear distinction between a psychologist and a child psychologist. Indeed, when people claim to be a child psychologist, they merely are expressing an interest in working psychologically with children. In order to clarify this and help protect the public, in the UK, the Health Professions Council works to regulate some professional titles to help ensure that families are not misled. Whilst anyone can call themselves a Child Psychologist, the titles Clinical Psychologist, Educational Psychologist and Practitioner Psychologist are protected by law. Anyone using these titles must meet exacting standards of training and experience, or face prosecution; if the Child Psychologist with whom you are working legally uses one of these additional titles, you can be assured that they are credible, skilled and experienced professionals.
Child Psychologist can, and often does, work in any number of ways. Clinical work may focus on therapeutic input, where the bulk of work centres on supporting children and families through a wide range of emotional, behavioural, developmental or social issues. Alternatively, psychologists may work as an adviser to a school district, assessing children displaying educational difficulties and helping to formulate special education programs. Many Child Psychologists combine a number of different areas of work, mixing therapy and assessment  at home, with work with schools, correctional institutions or the justice system, as well as conducting research, and teaching on local training courses.

At The Family Psychologist, all our Child Psychologists are HPC registered Clinical and Educational Psychologists, many of whom possess the additional accreditation of having acheived Chartered status with the British Psychological Society – a Gold standard for professional and ethical practice. Remember, however, it is your right to know who is working with your child – if you have any doubts, ask to see your psychologist’s credentials, or search the Health Professions Council or British Psychological Society’s online databases of accredited psychologists. All qualified practitioners should be happy, and proud, to discuss this with you, and you will be able to rest assured that the support you receive is the best that is available.

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