Child Psychologist Perth
A child psychologist is a practitioner of psychology that focuses on working with children or adolescents. The focus of child psychology is meeting the cognitive, emotional, and social needs that will help a child develop properly. Allowing a child to grow up to be a healthy adult involves not only being physically healthy, but also being in a good place psychologically.
A child psychologist comes in to form a partnership with the child and their parents to address any issues that may hamper the child’s development. Ensuring that a child is psychologically healthy also involves ensuring that they are holistically healthy, which includes their basic needs as well as their relationships. The family is as much a part of this process as the child.
What does a child psychologist do?
Child psychologists specialise in treating psychological issues that affect younger age groups. They work with children to help them reach the right developmental milestones. Child psychologists diagnose and treat mental illnesses and developmental disorders in children as well, working with families to help their children make full recoveries.
Child psychologists may administer different kinds of tests to assess the health of a child. They conduct therapy or counselling sessions, many of which are one-on-one with the child, but may also include parents and family members.
Since the people that come to child psychologists are children brought by their parents or caregivers, some child psychologists will want to meet with them before seeing the child. This allows them to get to know what problems the child is experiencing from the perspective of a close adult.
The first meeting of the psychologist and the child will involve the psychologist getting to know the child and allowing the child to get comfortable with them. Establishing trust between the psychologist and the child is essential in getting the child to speak freely and open up about what they are experiencing.
What a specific therapy session will look like differs depending on what the child psychologist is treating or helping the child with. The sessions will always aim to achieve the goals set by the psychologist together with the child’s caregivers and sometimes even with the child.
How do I know if my child needs to see a psychologist?
Bringing your child to see a psychologist may feel like a very heavy decision for some parents. Many parents are unsure if their child’s behaviour indicates the need to see a psychologist or if it is just a normal part of their growth.
It’s okay not to be sure. Many parents that actually end up going for a session with a child psychologist can actually have their child assessed to see if what they are experiencing is something that could benefit from some extra support.
Some of the signs that your child might need some help from a psychologist are:
- Your child is having difficulties participating in activities that are considered appropriate for their age (for example, if they are unable to attend school or play with friends or physical activities)
- Your child is difficulty eating properly or sleeping well
- Your child has been in a depressed mood, or emotionally drained for long periods of time or having many recurrent episodes
- Your child is lethargic or having a very significant decrease in functioning compared to how they normally are
- Your child is suddenly not excited anymore by any of the things they normally enjoy
- Your child is unresponsive to affection and encouragement
- Your child experiences drastic negative changes in relationships or interactions with parents, peers, teachers, or others
What does child psychology treat?
A child psychologist treats problems that children have with their mental health. They also work with children experiencing emotional challenges and even behavioural issues. They can help with problems ranging from relatively benign issues like problems handling stress or mild difficulties in social situations to more serious conditions like childhood depression or anxiety.
Child psychologists may also treat adolescents. In addition to depression or anxiety, a teenager may benefit from the help of a professional if they have difficulties managing their emotions, or if they are experiencing social problems like bullying. Some parents may also bring their child to a psychologist for help with correcting impulsive or delinquent behaviour.
Some of the most common psychological diagnoses made in children are:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Behaviour problems
- Childhood anxiety
- Childhood depression
Childhood psychology is a broad field of study and practice, and child psychologists are equipped to treat a wide range of problems that children may be experiencing.
How much does a child psychologist cost?
Depending on the child psychologist, a session may cost $150 to $300 per hour. There are also child psychologists or clinics that may be partnered with Medicare, which may cover or reduce the cost of child psychology services.
Depending on the assessment of the child’s mental disorder, a diagnosis of depression or anxiety may receive rebates from Medicare for up to 20 sessions with a psychologist, therapist, or social worker. As per Medicare requirements, a referral from a psychologist or a pediatrician or a mental health care plan from a general physician will likely be required to avail of these rebates.
While not all insurance companies cover mental health or psychiatric treatment, some may have plans that include these forms of healthcare. It is best to discuss this with your individual provider.
A final word on child psychology
It may be worrisome or even frightening for some parents and caregivers to think about taking their child to see a psychologist. Some parents may think that their child’s difficulties are in some way their fault. It is important to understand that some children just need a little extra help with certain things, not unlike anyone else.
Some children and even adults may benefit from seeing a psychologist even when nothing, in particular, is actually wrong. If you think your child might benefit from seeing a psychologist, there is virtually no harm that could come to them by taking them to one.
A child psychologist, a child, and their parents or caregivers are all on the same team, working for the child’s good.