What is Child Psychology?

Child psychology is a refined subcategory of its parent science, psychology. In child psychology, a professional child psychologist analyzes, interprets, and records all elements of a child’s behaviors and thought processes. This information can later be used to help diagnose or treat the child accordingly.

There are many areas of focus in child psychology as well as industries working within those areas. Preventive medicine or reactive, rare condition or common ailment, very young or adolescent, the entirety of the field is massive no matter with which ways it is categorized. There are however four main arenas with which we can generally classify most child psychology work. Such are the following.

Clinical Practice

Clinical practice is the operation of a psychologist from a clinical location. The child psychologist here sets appointments and sees children in a clinical setting daily. In this most common form of child psychology, the psychologist will see the child for recurring, scheduled sessions which can include talking, play therapy, and regression. The child may participate alone or with parents or be counseled in a combination of both settings.

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It is important to also note that the child psychologist will typically consult with a psychiatrist on each case. The psychiatrist can then can prescribe medication for the patient as needed. Psychologists themselves do not prescribe medicines.

Public Health

There are plenty of operating child psychologists that are crucial to the public health system as well. A child psychologist in the public health arena may work with foster children and their situational needs with regard to mental health. They might also work for child welfare services, screening children for abuse and following up on past cases. Many other public health organizations also depend on the work of a child psychologist.


Whether it comes to private or public education, the need for child psychologists here is a constant. In these areas, the child psychologist may be concerned with simply helping students get through the mental endeavors of childhood and school. In other cases, the child psychologist has been brought in to work with at-risk and abused children. Interactions with a child psychologist starts with children entering school in programs like Head Start, preschool, or kindergarten. All cases are tracked and actively worked by the child psychologist assigned to them until resolution or the child’s departure from the school.


At all levels of psychology, proper practice is not without its preceding research, according to the American Psychological Association. For this reason, there are many child psychology workers working specifically in the field of research on the topic. Most often, at the heart of this research is the ultimate goal of understanding the child-family dynamic. Other objectives can include topics concerning adolescent behaviors, early childhood milestones, sociological elements in childhood, and many others. It is through this ongoing research that workers in all other areas of child psychology all subsequently benefit.

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These are some of the more common areas of child psychology practice. Other areas of practice outside of these would generally be concerned as a specialty service of the field.