Child psychology is regarded in the main as being part of developmental psychology. This sub-area of psychology addresses the mental processes of children and adolescents. The mind of the child differs considerably from that of adults. This is why treatment appropriate to the child's age is so important in psychiatric disorders.
During their development, children and adolescents must work through various different skill areas. For example, these affect the emotions or relate to social interaction. Likewise, bonding skills or linguistic and scholastic skills are developing. In all these areas, disorders may arise as the young person grows up.
A pediatric and adolescent psychologist's practical work addresses the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of psychological and also psychosomatic disorders. The main feature of a psychological disorder is behavioral and experiential change. In a psychosomatic disorder, there are physical symptoms without any organic cause.
The correct name for a pediatric psychologist is a child and adolescent psychotherapist, also abbreviated to CAP. Doctors, psychologists and educators also work as CAPs if they have completed a course of further specialist study focusing on child and adolescent psychiatry in addition to their other study.
A child and adolescent psychotherapist treats developmental, psychosomatic, mental, neurological and social disorders or behavioral abnormalities in childhood and adolescence.
These conditions also include, for example, attention deficit syndrome or the condition known as elective mutism. In this, the child's linguistic communication abilities are severely impaired.
Also, bonding disorders, nocturnal bed wetting or soiling without any organic cause and the broad field of autism spectrum disorders are assigned to the sub-field of child psychology.
Some adult mental diseases can also appear in children and adolescents. For example, some patients already suffer from depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders or schizophrenia during childhood and adolescence.
Below are examples of some of the conditions treated by experts in child psychology:
- post-traumatic stress disorders
- eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa
- personality disorders
- sleep disorders
Unlike psychology in adulthood, the child's environment plays a crucial role in diagnosis in child psychology. Details of previous history are frequently gathered together with those of the family or foster family or youth support organization.
Also, standardized psychological tests such as intelligence tests or reading and spelling tests are used, for example. Likewise, there are test procedures designed to reveal the child's socio-emotional status or sensomotoric development.
In order to rule out a physical cause for the disorders, the child and adolescent psychiatrist generally collaborates with doctors. These will additionally, for example, undertake neurological examinations or laboratory examinations of blood and urine.
Psychotherapeutic methods are key ways of treating the minds of children. The principal aspect of this is behavioral therapy. But also deep psychological therapeutic techniques, systemic therapy or special play, music or art therapy styles are suitable as treatment techniques.
Depending on the disorder profile and cause of the mental disorders, parents, siblings, care workers or teachers are included in the treatment. Specialist therapies such as occupational therapy, speech therapy or exercise therapy can be practical ways of amplifying the psychotherapeutic treatment.
Child and adolescent psychotherapists are the specialists to consult when a child's mind is the matter of concern. In that case, always call on a child psychologist in good time if your child needs psychological support.