A psychologist is a health professional that has studied human behaviour at university and is a trained expert in the way people behave and think. Their job primarily involves helping people to change their emotions, thoughts and behaviour to enable them cope better and be happier in life.
There are many reasons why a child might be referred to for Child Psychology including, but not limited to:
• Developmental delay in speech and language
• Learning and attention problems like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
• Developmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
• Mental health problems such as anxiety or depression
• Interpersonal / relationship issues with their peers, family etc
• Behavioural problems like anger, misbehaving, aggression, self-harm
• Management of issues related to chronic illnesses
• Adjustment issues eg. helping to deal with major life events
During the initial consultations your psychologist will endeavour to gain a good understanding of your child’s presenting difficulties and the current concerns regarding their mental health. This involves collating information from various sources such as parent interview, consultation with the child’s teachers, observation of the child at school/kinder/child-care and at home and a one-on-one session with your child which may include clinical diagnostic tests. This information combined helps them to form a diagnosis of your child’s condition and plan appropriate treatment.
There are many types of therapies that involve different interventions, approaches and techniques. Your psychologist may utilise one or a combination of a few that they deem most appropriate for your child after they have been assessed. Some of the main therapies involved in Child Psychology include:
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
CBT helps people to change unhelpful or unhealthy negative thinking habits, behaviours and feelings. It is very helpful for children who have anxiety, depression or who have problems coping with stress.
Family Therapy focuses on helping the whole family function in more constructive and positive ways. The psychologist will provide education and support to facilitate good communication and behaviours to create and maintain a harmonious, happy household.
Children meet in groups and are guided by one or more psychologists to discuss and solve problems as well as learn new skills such as anger management and social skills.
This is a non-directive therapy approach which is child led and leads to a development of safe feelings and a relationship of trust with the psychologist. Children are encouraged to express their thoughts and verbalise their feelings through toys, dolls, drawing, puppets, blocks and games.