Clinical Psychologists have both an undergraduate psychology degree as well as a post graduate training in Clinical Psychology. They are trained to work with people of all different ages using a number of different psychological models and techniques to apply the science of psychology to individuals and groups who have problems such as psychological disorders, problems in relationships, adjusting to a disability or problems arising from serious injury or trauma. Individualised treatment plans are developed based on a shared understanding of the difficulties (called a “formulation”), and drawing on different evidence based approaches. Most clinical psychologists have worked in the NHS, hence the term “clinical”. An increasing number of clinical psychologists, such as myself, now work independently.
A clinical child psychologist (child psychologist) is a clinical psychologist who has specialised in working with children, young people and their families from birth right through to the transition to early adulthood. They are trained in the field of child psychology and focus on the emotions, cognitions and behaviour of children from birth through adolescence. Child Psychologists deal with how children grow and develop physically, emotionally, in learning and socially. As clinical psychologists are trained to work with people across the lifespan then this means alongside specialising in working with children we are able to consider the emotional well-being of other members of the family. Children do not exist in isolation and the well-being of all family members is critical for a healthy and happy childhood.
Childhood is a time of rapid change, growth and development and for all of us there are many stressors and bumps in the road towards adulthood. Some children progress smoothly, dealing with problems as they arise and use the support of their family and friends to get by. For others the road is more difficult, with more hazards, stressors and ups and downs. Child psychologists help children overcome the hazards and help parents to support their children to be happy and fulfilled.
Child development is influenced by many factors. Some of these are based on what goes on within an individual, such as genetics and personal characteristics. Development is however also heavily influenced by environmental factors such as social relationships, relationships within the family, socio-economic factors, exposure to opportunities for learning and the culture in which a child lives. A child’s environment is very important and their relationships, perception of their relationships, values and what children observe and experience will have a profound effect on how children think, learn and develop. This combination of factors will also have a profound effect on how they view themselves and their resilience in times of adversity. A child psychologist considers the complex interplay of factors when attempting to assess, understand and treat children displaying a variety of difficulties.
For anyone, including a child psychologist, understanding children and teenagers is an enormous task, so the study of child psychology is both wide and deep. The ultimate goal is to study the many influences that combine and interact to help make children who they are and to use this information to develop a shared formulation to offer an appropriate therapy to improve the situation.
As a clinical child psychologist I am committed to offering the best service possible to the families I see and recognise the realities of the stresses and strains of everyday life which can impact upon mental health and emotional wellbeing. I offer assessments, provide an understanding of the difficulties you/your young person is experiencing, and intervene using evidence based scientifically validated research therapies. The aim is to improve functioning, alleviate psychological distress, increase emotional wellbeing and support psychological health.