Psychology Can Help

Sometimes you need someone to talk to...

Child and Adolescent Psychology

Who are child and adolescent psychologists and how can they help?

Child psychologists are not only licensed psychologists, but they also have specialized, science-based training in treating serious psychological issues and managing day-to-day family challenges in a more effective manner. Adults and children often say they feel more comfortable in a child psychologist's office than they expected. Parents feel relief to come to a comfortable place and have a knowledgeable, caring professional hear their concerns while children are relaxed with all the toys, games, and puzzles in the office. 

In the first couple of visits, the psychologist gathers information from all family members about their thoughts related to the problem. This could include any information parents provide from other sources such as reports, material from baby books, school grades, or drawings. Often the parent and child are asked to complete standardized checklists to help clarify problems and strengths the child has. What happens next depends on how the child or family can best be helped. Sometimes a more formal, expert evaluation is recommended. Other times a course of therapy or other outside professional resources are suggested.

What is therapy like?
If treatment is the next step after the first visits, the psychologist will explain who will be involved and what method will work best. Parents and kids should feel comfortable asking any question they'd like about anything the psychologist proposed to do. Well-trained child and adolescent psychologists use interventions that are based on good science. Some well-proven methods for children include Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and Behavior Therapy.

Child and adolescent psychologists are skilled and personable in relating to children and teens, which helps parents to have confidence in the work they will be doing. Often for younger children, parents remain in the room and are an important part of the treatment. Parents can be taught many effective techniques to help a child with depression, anxiety, and impulsive or defiant behaviors.

When working with teenagers, the psychologist spends more time with the teen apart from the family, respecting a growing independence and need for privacy. Many of the research-based techniques that are effective with adults can be applied to teens, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy. Sometimes both teens and parents use the session to improve their communication with each other so that they resolve their issues together in a calmer, more loving manner.