What is Childhood Psychology?

Childhood Psychology is a branch of psychology that is concerned with the study of infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents. The main purpose of this field is to potentially gain a better understanding of what individuals within this group need to thrive and lead happy and health lives.

Child Psychology Picture1Studies in this field include a look into cognition – which can show how and why children gain the ability to learn and process information, social psychology – which looks at interactions and relationships in a child’s environment, and clinical treatment – which outlines the processes for providing interventions to children in need of assistance.

Some of the topics included in this discipline include a looking into the influence of biology on a child’s behavior, cognition, or emotions, defects or deficits that are present within childhood in cognition, the effects of traumatic occurrences, health’s influence on a child’s mental state, and problems adjusting in a social context. Learning how to address different disorders or deficits can help professionals be more effective in treating children or providing assistance in creating more supportive environments in which children can thrive.

What you can learn throughout this degree program can provide you with skills needed to help children find healthy ways to cope with unexpected life events, assist with changing behavior to a more acceptable state, and promoting healthy adjustment throughout the childhood stage.

Example Courses in Childhood Psychology

Universities that offer Child Psychology Master’s programs are expected to provide a set of courses that best allow for growth in this field. Accredited universities are the only ones that can provide degrees that lead to licensure, which is something to consider when choosing a degree program. The course work that you take part in during your program may focus primary on the mental, emotional, and developmental psychology of children from birth to adolescents. Our team has provided some example courses below for you to review.

  • Cognitive Processes: Students within this course may have the opportunity to learn more about how memories are formed and stored, how language is learned and passed on, and how children learn throughout different stages of their lives.
  • Social Psychology: This course studies how children interact with their social environment and how this plays a role in the development of personalities, resilience, identity, and attitude.
  • Lifespan Development: Lifespan Development is a course that outlines the psychological development of children from before birth until adolescence. Students in this course may learn how early childhood experiences can shape a child’s future in profound ways.
  • Theories of Personality: This course takes a look at the different theories of personality development from an unbias standpoint. Students taking this course may be expected to understand what each theory contributes to the field of psychology and how they can be useful in a clinical setting.
  • Developmental Psychology: This course outlines the developmental milestones that are related to biological, social, cognitive, and emotional health. Students within this course may study different perspectives of development and weigh their contribution to psychology in current times.

What can I do with a Master’s in Childhood Psychology?

Although most people think that becoming a Child Psychologist is the most sought after career with this degree, there are actually several different options. Having a master’s level education in Child Psychology can lead to careers that act as consultants for social service agencies, consultants in the creation of helpful educational programs and environments, and even leaders within social services agencies. Some popular job titles are listed below this section.

  • Child Psychologist
  • Behavior Interventionist
  • Cognitive Psychologist
  • Social Psychologist
  • Foster Care Specialist
  • Social Services Team Manager
  • Educational Specialist

Steps to becoming a Child Psychologist

Step 1: Obtain Your Bachelor’s in Psychology

Obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology is the first and most fundamental step to becoming a Child Psychologist. At this level, students can learn about the basic ideas and theories surrounding the field of psychology, which can help them become better practitioners in their career. Most Bachelor’s in Psychology programs can be completed in around 4 years at full-time enrollment.

Step 2: Enroll and Complete A Master’s Degree

After obtaining a Bachelor’s in Psychology, students move forward into master’s level programs. In order to become licensed as a psychologist in any state, students must have obtained a minimum of a Master’s in Psychology within their chosen discipline. For Child Psychologists, the best specialization or concentration to choose for a degree program would be Child Psychology, Developmental Psychology, or Childhood Development. Most students can complete the master’s program within 1-2 years depending on the university.

Step 3: Achieve Supervised Work Experience

Obtaining the right degree is not the only step to becoming a trusted provider in the field. After you have completed your master’s program, you are expected to find a supervised working environment in which you can observe other licensed professionals during every day work. This experience should last between 2 and 3 years for most states and can teach you more about your responsibilities in the field. Most states require that you register through their department of psychology prior to beginning your supervised experience.

Step 4: Register and Complete State Board Exam

This examination is provided to all upcoming psychologists and is a requirement for licensure. You may also be expected to obtain certification through the American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, which includes the completion of another board examination that focuses specifically on the application of child psychology.

Step 5: Licensure

Once you have completed all of the above steps, you can apply for licensure within your state. This process involves providing proof of degree acquisition, test scores, and supervised work experience. Most states also submit all applicants to a background check and short state law examination to ensure that are fit to practice within their state. After all of these steps have been completed, you will be free to work as a Child Psychologist within your state.