A child psychotherapist is a counselor or therapist who specializes in treating emotional issues, conditions, and disorders in children. In order to become a child psychotherapist in most places, you must obtain a formal degree in the discipline. In most locations, you must also pass a licensing examination and may have to register with a governmental agency.
When planning a mental health career, you should be prepared to complete extensive schooling. In most areas, therapists are required to have an advanced degree. A doctoral degree may be required in order to list yourself as a psychotherapist. At the least, such a degree may be recommended.
If you intend to become a child psychotherapist, you may be able to specialize while still completing your course of study. While certain classes are universal to anyone earning a psychology degree, some universities offer degree tracks in areas such as criminal psychology, child psychology, and forensic psychology. Even if your chosen university does not offer such degree specializations, you may want to take as many courses related to child psychology as possible if your goal is to become a child psychotherapist.
Governmental agencies or regulatory bodies often require you to pass a certification examination in order to obtain a license to practice as a child psychotherapist. In these locations, operating without a license is a criminal offense; additionally, you may be stripped of your license to practice if you are convicted of certain acts or crimes. Other governments offer licensing as an option for those who wish to be listed as licensed therapists, but still allow unlicensed therapists to practice. Some regulatory bodies require you to renew your license periodically, which may involve further testing or evidence of continuing education.
To become a child psychotherapist, you should make sure you understand the rules in your area and comply with them at all times. Even if not required by law to do so, you may wish to obtain a license and continue your education throughout your career by attending seminars and conferences. This assures your clients that you are committed to your profession and keeps you abreast of changes in the field.
Completing school and obtaining a license are important steps if you want to become a child psychotherapist, but the process doesn't end when you receive your license. You must still decide where you will practice and complete business transactions such as obtaining malpractice insurance, deciding whether to accept common carrier insurance, and completing the paperwork to do so. You must also advertise and gain clients in order to create a viable practice.