Childhood psychologists do crucial, irreplaceable, and life-changing work. Whether you’re exploring your career options for the future or have known what you want to do for a long time, if you’re interested in working in the field as a child psychologist, you’re likely wondering what it takes to get there.
Becoming A Child Psychologist
Here’s what you’ll need to do to start your journey as a childhood psychologist:
- Complete your Bachelor’s degree
To become a psychologist, therapist, or counselor, including one that works with kids, you must complete the appropriate amount of schooling. Your first step will be to complete an undergraduate degree, which will generally take about four years. You may decide to obtain an Associate’s degree at a community college first and transfer to a four-year college as a Junior to lower the cost. Scholarships and grants may also help you complete your degree at a lower cost.
- Complete your Master’s degree
After you complete your Bachelor’s degree, it will be time to attend graduate school for a Master’s program. Graduate school can be competitive, so don’t get discouraged if it takes some time or if you have to apply for a school twice! Seeing a guidance counselor during your undergraduate years can help you prepare for success in entering graduate school. A Master’s degree typically takes two years to complete. Some people take some time off between their Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, where others start graduate school directly after undergraduate school.
- Complete a Doctorate’s degree
Note that if you choose to become a therapist or counselor, including one who works with kids and teens, you don’t necessarily need to complete a Doctorate degree. However, if you would like to take the path to become a PsyD or obtain your Ph.D., you will, of course, have to complete a doctorate’s degree. The time a person spends on completing their Doctorate’s degree varies, but statistics indicate that, on average, a person spends about eight years completing their Doctorate’s.
Many people choose to get their Master’s degree, work in the field, and obtain a Doctorate degree later on. Your path is yours! To decide what you want to do, it can be helpful to look into the job market, requirements for positions you’d like, and opportunities open to you in the area you’d like to practice in.
- Complete the necessary hands-on experience
Internships are one of the most important parts of preparing to be a psychologist or therapist for many people. They help you get hands-on experience and allow you to gain insight into what you do and don’t like in terms of the work that you do and the work environment(s) you prefer to be in. Additionally, you will be able to network and get the chance to obtain work references for the future during internships. Note that internships won’t always reflect the exact position you’ll enter later on. For example, even if you intend to work with children in a private practice or another similar setting later on, you may complete an internship in a hospital or another similar environment. Make sure to check on the requirements for internships and the number of required supervised hours of practice in your area, as they vary significantly from state to state in the USA and across the globe.
- Obtain licensure
Once you’re ready, it will be time to take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Requirements for licensure, like requirements for internship or practicum completion, vary based on your location. You can learn more about the EPPP and how to prepare for it here on the APA website.
As for board certification, you can check out the ABPP website here to learn about specialty boards. If you’re becoming a childhood psychologist or child psychologist, you will likely want to look at the American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (ABCCAP) specifically. It can’t be stressed enough how vital it is to look into the exact requirements to become a licensed psychologist, therapist, social worker, or counselor in your area. Should you run into difficulty along the way, make sure to reach out to someone who can help. It is crucial to speak up and ask any questions that you have. Although it may seem overwhelming right now, this is a step-by-step process. Whether you decide to work as a psychologist, counselor, therapist, or social worker who works with kids, you are doing vital work that will make a difference in the world.
Childhood psychologist or not, we all need help from time to time. Whether you’re facing life stressors such as those related to your career and schooling, difficulty in interpersonal relationships, familial issues, a mental health condition, or anything else that’s going on in your life, seeing a counselor, psychologist, social worker, or therapist can help. There are a number of different ways to find quality mental health support. You can ask your doctor for a referral to someone to see for talk therapy, utilize on-campus mental health resources at your college or university, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, search the web, or use an online therapy platform like BetterHelp. All of the providers on the BetterHelp platform are licensed, and it’s often more affordable than traditional in-person counseling or therapy is without insurance. Regardless of how you find a provider, you deserve to get the support that you need, so don’t hesitate to reach out and get started today.
Marie Miguel Biography – Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.