As a parent, your child’s wellbeing is probably your top priority. If you’re seeking help for your child, you may be considering engaging a child psychologist. But what exactly does a child psychologist do, and how can you tell if your child needs one?
What Do Child Psychologists Do?
A child psychologist is a mental health professional who specialises in helping children and their families. More specifically, they assess, diagnose, and treat children’s emotional, behavioural, and mental health issues. A child psychologist uses a range of therapies, such as talk therapy, play therapy, and cognitive-behavioural therapy. From time to time, they may also use an eclectic approach to help children overcome challenges and build healthy coping mechanisms.
Child psychologists have received intensive training and skills to evaluate and treat infants, children, and adolescents. Furthermore, they have an in-depth understanding of children’s basic and psychological needs and how their environment and cultural contexts influence their:
- interpersonal adjustments;
- developmental processes; and
- behavioural adaptations.
Child psychologists in Singapore use psychological interventions like behaviour management and prevention programs, and develop strategies to prevent bullying, addictions, and teen pregnancy. In addition, a child psychologist often collaborates with other healthcare professionals to devise the best treatment option based on individual needs.
Treatment for children usually varies from treatment for adults due to differences in age, maturity, and cognitive levels. A child psychologist plays an important role in providing comprehensive care for children with medical issues. For example, they may help children with chronic pain or hyperactivity or offer therapeutic services to cope with a chronic illness.
How Can a Child Psychologist Help My Child?
A child psychologist helps children by creating a safe and supportive environment where they can express their thoughts and feelings. Through therapy, children can learn new coping skills, better understand themselves, and develop healthy relationships. Below is a non-exhaustive list of things they can help your child with:
Emotional and Behavioural Issues
Child psychologists have been trained to help kids who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder, or behavioural problems. They work with children to understand the root causes of these issues and aid them in developing strategies to manage their symptoms.
A child can develop trauma due to several factors like abuse, neglect, or the lack of family support. A child psychologist thus guides these children in processing their negative experiences and picking up healthy coping methods. They play a vital role in bringing back joy and happiness into the lives of these children.
Sometimes, families struggle with issues that directly or indirectly affect their children. These can be something unavoidable, like relocating to another country, or even major life changes like divorce. A family member’s illness might also influence the child. In view of these situations, child psychologists can help these families work through these challenges and create a supportive environment for their kids.
Learning and Development
Children who struggle in school or with developmental milestones can benefit from counselling sessions. In particular, speaking with a child psychologist can help them identify learning difficulties they may be experiencing and navigate through their problems in a safe setting.
If you’re not sure whether your child needs to see a child psychologist, here are some signs to look out for:
- difficulty with developing or maintaining relationships;
- sudden and constant changes in mood or behaviour;
- decline in school performance or extracurricular activities;
- excessive worry or fear;
- difficulty sleeping or waking up; and
- aggressive or self-sabotaging behaviours.
What Conditions Do Child Psychologists Treat?
Child psychologists have the expertise to treat a variety of mental health and behavioural challenges in children and adolescents. Some of the many common conditions they treat include:
This can manifest in various forms, such as social anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. Child psychologists can help children understand and manage their stress through talk therapy, relaxation techniques, and other coping skills.
Children and teenagers can also experience depression, which can characterise feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of energy. Child psychologists can help children and teens understand and manage their emotions and work on ways to improve their moods.
Children with behavioural issues may struggle with impulsiveness, aggression, defiance, or other disruptive habits. Child psychologists can help children understand the reasons behind their behaviours and develop more appropriate and healthy coping methods.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Children with ADHD have difficulty paying attention, following instructions, and controlling impulsive behaviours. Child psychologists can help these children develop strategies to manage their symptoms and improve their daily functioning.
Children with learning disabilities may struggle with reading, writing, or mathematics. Child psychologists can help these children better understand their strengths and weaknesses and work on strategies to improve their learning and academic success.
Trauma and Abuse
Children who have experienced trauma or abuse may struggle with feelings of fear, anger, guilt, or shame. In this case, child psychologists can provide therapy and support to help these children work through their emotions. They help children unlearn negative thought patterns and work with them to construct helpful and positive thoughts.
Difference Between a Child Behavioural Psychologist and Child Psychiatrist
Child psychologists and child psychiatrists are both professionals who work with children and help improve their mental health and wellbeing, but they differ in their approach and the services they provide.
As mentioned previously, a child behavioural psychologist is a mental health professional who focuses on children’s emotional, social, and behavioural development. They have extensive knowledge of psychological research and use advanced clinical practice to diagnose mental health and learning issues. Some common conditions a child behavioural psychologist handles are autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, and neurodevelopmental disorders.
On the other hand, a child psychiatrist is a medical doctor specialising in treating children with mental illness. They are experts in psychiatry, which is the study of the human mind and behaviour. They can prescribe medication and offer therapy, but their focus is primarily on the biological and medical aspects of children’s mental health.
Child Psychologist Singapore: Navigating Counselling Services
What happens during a session?
Child counselling in Singapore is a form of therapy that helps children overcome emotional and psychological issues. During a typical session, the child psychologist starts by creating a rapport with the child to help them feel comfortable and at ease. This may include discussing the child’s interests, playing games, or simply chatting.
As the session progresses, the psychologist will guide the child in exploring their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. This usually involves asking open-ended questions, storytelling, play therapy techniques, or simply listening and providing a non-judgmental space. The psychologist may also use several therapeutic tools to help the child get in touch with their emotions, such as by encouraging the child to draw, paint, sing, or act.
Above all, the psychologist reassures and gently prompts the child to express themselves freely and openly throughout the session. This creates a space for them where they feel heard and validated.
Child counselling creates a positive impact on children’s wellbeing and allows them to overcome difficult situations and improve relationships with their family and friends. At Talk Your Heart Out (TYHO), we offer a range of child counselling services. Our professional therapists use a holistic and child-centred lens in therapy.
Best Child Psychologist Singapore: Factors to Consider When Selecting a Psychologist
Choosing the best child psychologist for your child can be difficult, as what is “best” is often subjective. Generally, the multiple factors taken into consideration include the psychologist’s experience, training, and reputation. Here are some of the most crucial things to keep in mind:
Qualifications and Credentials
In Singapore, child psychologists should have a degree in psychology and a minimum master’s degree in the relevant field. If you are still in doubt, you can always check the Singapore Psychological Society to find a list of registered psychologists. At TYHO, all our Therapists possess the right qualifications and are committed to providing effective therapy.
Experience and Expertise
Most significantly, one common ground among the best child psychologists in Singapore is their experience working with children and providing support for several mental health conditions. Hence, it might help to look for someone with a good reputation and who has been in active practice for a few years.
For the most part, the cost of seeing a child psychologist in Singapore can vary widely depending on the location and organisation. You can visit our pricing page to learn about our fees and other relevant information.
The location of the child psychologist’s office is also another factor to keep in mind. If you are looking for an efficient, accessible, and convenient option for you and your child, you might want to consider online therapy.
Best Child Psychologist Singapore: Questions to Ask Your Child's Psychologist
Your initial meetings with a child psychologist may bring about a couple of questions or concerns as you are unfamiliar with the therapeutic process. We have been there and want to help you with this process. Before your child attends their first session, you might want to clearly understand the psychologist’s approach, as well as your child’s needs and goals. For instance, some helpful questions to ask them include:
- What is your education, training, and experience working with children and adolescents?
- How do you approach therapy with children, and what techniques do you use?
- How do you work with parents and families in therapy?
- How do you determine if my child is making progress in therapy?
- How do you address my concerns about my child’s therapy?
- How often do you see children for therapy sessions, and how long does a typical course of treatment last?
- Can you provide references from other parents or professionals in the field?
- What is your policy on confidentiality, and how do you handle sensitive information?
- Are you familiar with any specific disorders or issues my child is facing, and how would you approach treatment for them?
- How do you handle emergencies or crises outside of regular therapy hours?
In essence, these inquiries can help you make an informed decision about a child psychologist, and ensure the best possible outcome for your child’s journey in therapy!