In general, most people are not clear about exactly what psychologists who specialize in treating patients in their practice do. Therefore, it is not surprising that, in general, even less is known about what a more specific area of applied psychology consists of: the work of child psychologists.

This is normal, no one is born knowing and there is no reason why everyone should know, just because they exist, what child psychology professionals do. However, taking into account that the mental health and emotional well-being of the youngest are very important for them to develop correctly, it is interesting to know even the basics about this branch of psychology.

Therefore, in this article we will see what the functions of the child psychologist are , how he can help children and families, and how he works in this professional area.

What is child psychology?

The first thing that must be taken into account to understand what child psychology is is that it is not a scientific field that is hermetically sealed or clearly differentiated from the rest of the branches of psychology, with which it would hardly be touched. Rather, it is a field that overlaps with many other areas of psychology and that focuses on the needs and characteristics of children.

This means, among other things, that in child psychology there is a facet oriented towards the investigation of the behaviour and psychological processes of the youngest, and another oriented towards applied psychology in helping children and families with children, as well as entities that work with them (typically, schools).

In both work spaces, these professionals collaborate with other types of psychologists to build theoretical and practical knowledge; in the end, one does not learn about childhood without learning about the human being in general, and vice versa. However, in practice, when we talk about child psychologists we are referring to those who work in this second field, the applied one.

But there is not only an overlap in the kind of work that needs to be done. There is also a thematic overlap, in terms of the contents to be worked on. Thus, among the main functions of a child psychologist are to know areas of knowledge such as the process of maturation of the nervous system during childhood, the different forms of learning, family dynamics and styles of upbringing and education, the expression of psychological, neurological and psychiatric disorders in children, and more. All these contents, in turn, are addressed by other fields of psychology : developmental psychology, clinical and health psychology, educational psychology, etc.

In conclusion, child psychologists work in a field of reality centred on the experiences that the youngest children go through, and which intersect with the fields of study and intervention of other specialisations in psychology.

The functions of the child psychologist

These are the main tasks that child psychologists deal with on a daily basis, although there are different sub-sections of specialization.

1. Child and youth therapy

Child and youth therapy is one of the most important areas of work in child psychology, since it helps children in situations of special vulnerability .

2. Educational counselling

Also it is frequent that child psychologists collaborate with educational centres to help them develop effective ways of educating, adapt to the needs of students with some diagnosis linked to their cognitive abilities or their behaviour patterns, and solve specific problems.

3. Family therapy

In some cases, the problem to be solved is in the mode of problematic behaviors that have become chronic in the way family members relate to each other . Therefore, among the functions of child psychologists is to participate in helping these families with problems and with one or more children of a few years of age.

4. Child neuropsychology

It is possible that due to acquired damage or diseases of genetic cause alterations in the functioning of the Central Nervous System of children may arise . To attend to their needs and favour their rehabilitation, child psychologists and neuropsychologists intervene.

5. Research

As we have seen, experts in child psychology can also engage in research, publishing in scientific journals.

Are you looking for professional support from expert child psychologists?

If you are interested in having the help of child psychologists in areas such as education, treatment of emotional or behavioural disorders or family counselling, we invite you to contact us, the Cribecca psychology centre .

In our facilities located in the city of Seville you will be attended by a team of professionals with solid experience in child and adult therapy, working from the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy, one of the most effective and scientifically proven. If you are interested in seeing our contact details, click here.

Bibliographic references:

  • Blasi, C.H.; Bjorklund, David F. (2003). Evolutionary Developmental Psychology: A New Tool for Better Understanding Human Ontogeny. Human Development. 46(5): 259 – 281.
  • Hogan, J.D. (2000). Developmental psychology: History of the field. In Alan E. Kazdin (ed.). Encyclopedia of Psychology. Volume 3. pp. 9 -13.
  • Mattison, R.E., Mayes SD (2012). Relationships between learning disability, executive function, and psychopathology in children with ADHD. J Atten Disord. 16(2): pp. 138 – 146.
  • Snowman, J. (1997). Educational Psychology: What Do We Teach, What Should We Teach? Educational Psychology, 9, pp. 151 – 169.