What does a psychologist do?A psychologist helps people cope more effectively with life and emotional and mental health issues. A psychologist is usually registered in a category that determines what type of client they are working with. Those that more commonly work with children are the following: a counselling psychologist (focuses on dealing with emotional difficulties and challenges using counselling techniques), a clinical psychologist (focuses on clinical abnormalities) and an educational psychologist (focuses on those who have difficulty learning in the typical manner and child development as it relates to education). A registered psychologist with an interest in children is a professional who is knowledgeable on child development and who is trained to determine academic and intellectual potential in children. They would be able to identify areas of strength and weakness in your child. They are also trained to assist you and your child with emotional issues. In addition, they have a broad knowledge of the roles of other disciplines and can appropriately refer your child to other relevant professionals such as therapists, social workers and psychiatrists.
When should I take my child to a psychologist?If you have concerns regarding any aspect of your child’s development (behaviour, social interaction or functioning in a preschool environment) an assessment by a psychologist is often the best place to start.
A paediatrician or your family doctor is an alternative starting point as a psychologist often initially refers to a doctor to rule out medical issues. Psychologists generally prefer to identify problems at an early age with the aim of early intervention. It is useful to find a psychologist through the recommendation of other professionals, or by “word of mouth”. Ideally you should find a psychologist who has experience in working with children and a history of effective intervention with them. They should have contacts for a variety of other professionals so they can refer your child as needed. Psychologists should be able to provide guidance on what to expect from your child and how best to manage her difficulties, especially in relation to her functioning in the school environment.