A child therapist treats and diagnose children who are below the age of 17 years with emotional, mental and behavioral problems. They work in in private pratices in a clinical setting, in hospitals as part of a medical team and even in schools.
A child therapist may use play and language to observe, help, access and treat children who have emotional, behavioural, psychological and social psychological problems or difficulties. A child therapist works with kids who suffer from emotions such as aggression, phobia, anxiety, and behavioural problems . Other disorders are depression, learning problem or difficulties and psychomatic disorders. They interview and conducts tests on their patients. For example if a patient suffers from phobias then therapist may implement a behavior modification program.
Mainly a child psychotherapist aims at helping the child address and understands their inner conflicts. They help children their patients use their own strength to cope with their issues and may even counsel the whole families where necessary. They do perform controlled sessions with individuals, groups or families depending on the case scenario they are handling. In these sessions toys, verbal interaction, and dolls, art material are used in order to help the child or the children feel comfortable and in a familiar environment thus they are able to open up
. The contacts with the patients vary with the nature of the condition, it could be months and even over a year based on the nature of the problem. They focus on the diagnosis and how to treat the mental and behavioural disorders discussed above. Their training is based on belief that the behavior of an individual is influenced by factors like environment, race, gender, sexual orientation and culture and religion and because of this each patient’s psychological problems and their potential wellbeing are diferent and unique.
The child therapists also work with other professionals like teachers paediatricians, social workers and psychiatrists. They supervise new trainees and keep afloat on the new developments within their profession by attending seminars and confrences and attending appropriate courses. Child therapists need to have skills like observation which helps in understanding the patient, resilient listening skills, sensitivity since the patients are not stable and can become hostile due to insensitivity, discretion and sincerity in order to maintain doctor patient confidentiality and be open with their patients, empathy and positive outlook in order to help the patient recover and great communications skills which is very essential for the therapist to be able to get and give information required.
Many states require a doctorate level training or at least a master’s degree in social work for one to practice independently. They also require a qualified postdoctoral internship. Clinical social workers, professional counselors and psychologists are qualified to provide therapy to children. A masters degree in social work takes two years of full time study. A doctorate level training in psychology can take up to five years or even longer. It is advisable to obtain training from an accredited school.
During graduate studies one is required to complete an internship providing clinical services to patients under the direct guidance of a qualified supervisor. Already having an experience before working gives one an added advantage since there is some level of experience. Play therapy is famous among clinical therapists. Play therapy is a form of specialized therapy that help children to be able to express themselves through play and art. This certification gives one additional knowledge, supervision and also working experience by providing play therapy services to children.
In order for a child psychotherapist to operate or practice independently and be allowed to offer child therapy services they need: a license and can only acquire this by submitting your qualifications, sitting for and passing a licensing examination administered by the professional body that is in charge of your field of practice. You also need to complete a compulsory course on child abuse identification and reporting.
People who meet the qualifications of a child psychotherapist can be employed in hospita, mental health services, in child guidance clinics, schools, social service departments, student health centres and also in National Health Service. Some therapists also take up private practice.
On average a child therapist in the United States earns between $40, 793 to about $142, 980 per annum and an hourly wage is $33 per hour. A starting salary ranging between $30, 000 to $40, 255 per annum. On average the salary of a child therapist is more than $110, 810 and the lowest is less than$39, 200. The job comes with prestige as child therapists are held in high esteem and they also have regular business hours working hours and comfortable working conditions. It also provides emotional satisfaction from helping children to have more fulfilled and happier lives.
There are strong job prospects in this field. According to the bureau of labour statistics jobs are projected to grow by 12% from the year 2012 to 2022. The increased demand for counseling services especially for school based counseling is one of the reasons for the projected growth.
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