In-depth education in working with adolescents is available either in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree program. These programs explore the development of children and teens while looking at common psychological issues and methods of treatment. These doctoral programs emphasize advanced clinical experience and research projects.
Some programs require both a bachelor's degree and master's degree in psychology, while other programs require only a bachelor's degree. Depending on an applicant's background, prerequisite coursework in abnormal psychology, statistics, experimental psychology and research design may be required.
Doctoral Degree in Adolescent Psychology
Coursework in doctoral-level adolescent psychology programs focuses on theories and research methods in clinical psychology. In addition to advanced psychology courses most programs include clinical experience and a dissertation or similar research project. Course topics may include:
- Psychopathology for children and teens
- Assessment of children and adolescents
- Therapy for children
- Psychotherapy process for adolescents
- Family therapy with child emphasis
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted employment of psychologists, regardless of specialty, would increase by 19% during the 2014-2024 decade, which is much faster than the average (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for clinical, counseling and school psychologists was $70,580 in May 2015, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education, Certification and Licensing Information
The American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, part of the American Board of Professional Psychology, has a board certification program for child and adolescent psychology professionals. To be eligible, an individual must have a doctoral degree from an approved program and a specified amount of post-doctoral work experience. Also, applicants must complete a post-doctoral residency program and pass a peer-reviewed exam (www.abpp.org).
Practicing psychologists must be licensed by the state and requirements vary. States also may require continuing education, which is available through professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association. This organization also has information about educational programs, careers and state licensure (www.apa.org).
Individuals who would like to specialize in adolescent psychology typically do so at the doctorate level where they participate in hands-on experiences to master patient assessment and therapy skills. To practice as a psychologist, state licensure is required, and, as an option, individuals can earn board certification to become a child and adolescent psychology professional.