There are, however, some important differences in their subsequent training, which allows them to offer assessments and interventions targeted specifically towards children’s social, emotional, and behavioural concerns.
A child psychologist places great emphasis on the five following factors.
Age – Whilst a psychologist can work directly with children of all ages, the younger a child is, the more it is the case that successful intervention will require the support of the child’s family. They will seek to include caregivers where possible to provide a history of their child and input between appointments.
Inclusion – The nature of family inclusion can vary greatly. A child psychologist will often encourage caregivers to participate in the therapy process, as they too can develop skills to help their children at home. It may be appropriate to have caregivers remain in the room during an appointment, for instance, if their child suffers from separation anxiety.
In other instances, some children require a space that they feel can belong to just them.
Environment – Children exist within the context of a family unit, whose needs must also be taken into consideration. This may mean that appointments are organised around a sibling’s sporting commitments or that new interventions are planned with Mum or Dad’s new job in mind. Therapy that considers only the child is unlikely to lead to lasting change.
Creativity – Likewise, therapy is only effective if it connects with a child. Often, what would work for an adult client will be too overwhelming for a child or teenager. It is essential that the psychologist understand the child’s world and connect with their interests and abilities. Drawing, role-play, and gaming are all avenues to do this. The more creative, the better!
Future – Children are at such a stage of rapid development that their future goals can influence the choices made during therapy. If an assessment is required, a psychologist may consider which areas of development will require the most significant support or the minimum period that can pass before a child may be retested. Similarly, if a child may face difficulty in future, such as transitioning from primary to high school, a psychologist may develop their skills in advance so that they are ready when the time comes.
Working with children requires flexibility and patience, but it can help both child and family grow together in a happy and healthy manner when done correctly.
Please reach out to one of our team if you have any questions about how we may be able to help you.
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