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How do I get Started in a Child Psychology Career?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 June 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Child psychologists provide counseling services to young people with emotional, behavioral, and family issues. They are compassionate, knowledgeable professionals who employ a variety of behavior modification and teaching techniques to help children find solutions to their problems. An individual who wants to get started in a child psychology career can develop important interpersonal and communication skills, pursue an advanced degree in the specialty, and gain practical experience from established professionals in the field. Licensing and certification requirements vary, but a new worker is usually required to complete a written exam and a certain number of supervised hours to begin a child psychology career.

Before pursuing a child psychology career, an individual can begin to cultivate personal traits and skills that will help him or her connect with young people. Child psychologists are usually very insightful, benevolent professionals who are capable of feeling empathy and helping people identify their problems. Counseling children and adolescents can be very different than working with adults; developing individuals experience the world and react to situations differently than older patients. A successful child psychologist is able to relate with younger people and communicate effectively on their level.

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In order to begin a child psychology career, a person must typically obtain a master's or doctoral degree in the field from an accredited university. Most students first pursue four-year bachelor's degree programs in general psychology to learn about the fundamentals of clinical practice. Students often take several history, technique, and statistics courses to gain a broad understanding of psychology. Some undergraduates obtain entry-level jobs at drug rehabilitation facilities, mental health centers, or halfway houses to gain experience working with populations of troubled youth.

Master's programs in child psychology usually take about two years to complete, and doctoral programs can last an additional two to three years. In advanced degree programs, students receive detailed classroom instruction on the principles of clinical child psychology. Many schools help students obtain internships at local mental health clinics or rehabilitation centers so they can gain practical experience. Upon the completion of degree programs, graduates are usually able to obtain paid positions at a variety of institutions and private practices.

In most locations, new psychologists are required to work for about one to two years while being supervised by experienced clinical or counseling professionals. They are often allowed to take on and manage their own cases, though their work is closely monitored and evaluated. A psychologist who shows competence for the job and completes the supervisory period can take an exam in order to be licensed by his or her state or country. Once a license has been acquired, a person can enjoy an independent child psychology career.

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