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The Role of a Child Psychologist

Child psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with the mind and behavior of children beginning with prenatal development all through the adolescence period. The most common focus of child psychology is on a child's physical, mental, emotional, and social development.

A child psychologist often works as a counsellor, diagnosing and treating patients in a clinical setting. As a counsellor, he may modify traditional therapy approaches to make them more suitable for children. So he may use play, music or art in his therapy sessions. This is especially necessary when dealing with very young children, who have not yet developed the ability to communicate or analyse their problems as adults to. With older kids, a child psychologist may apply therapy methods which are also used in adults, such as role playing and talk therapy.

A child psychologist can assess a child's behavioural problems and apply various treatments, including therapy, to help them.  He may employ diagnostic tests to establish whether or not a child is suffering from such conditions as a learning disability or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. Some child psychologists try to find out how a child's physical health is affected by his behavior, and guide the young patient as well as his family to have a healthier lifestyle. Others tend to focus more on brain-injured patients or those suffering from physical problems which are brain related and which affect their behavior.

It is vital to know that, in general, psychologists are not allowed to write prescriptions. It is the psychiatrists who normally prescribe medications as they are medical doctors.  However, a psychologist may help a child and his family handle the medications he is taking. Should a counsellor think that a prescription is necessary for a child, he may refer the young patient to a psychiatrist or a pediatrician for evaluation in order to confirm whether or not medication is a suitable treatment.