PsyD in Child and Adolescent Psychology: Degree Program Overview

Aspiring clinical psychologists who want to work with children and adolescents may pursue a doctorate in the field. Find out more about this degree, what you need to apply, and what you can do when you finish the program.

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Essential Information

At the doctoral level, child and adolescent psychology is most commonly found as a specialization or concentration option within a clinical psychology program. Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) programs are professional degree programs that prepare students to become licensed clinical psychologists. Students learn about clinical psychology theories and intervention strategies for various issues affecting children and adolescents. These professional degree programs prepare students to become licensed clinical psychologists. Through lecture-based coursework and hands-on training, students learn about psychological theories and intervention strategies as they relate to children and adolescents. Due to the intensive clinical training components, these programs are generally not available through online learning.

In order to apply, students must hold at least a bachelor's degree and need to have taken a significant amount of undergraduate coursework in psychology. Some programs only accept students with master's degrees. Most schools give preference to applicants who have relevant work or life experiences.


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  • Child Psychiatry
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Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Psychology

Students in a clinical PsyD program in child and adolescent studies are trained to evaluate, diagnose and treat a variety of issues pertaining to children and adolescents, which may include family problems, mental disorders, emotional issues, peer pressure, behavioral problems, learning problems or traumatic incidents. They are taught research methodology, experimental design, statistical analysis and various assessment procedures, and they can study and critique psychological theories. Students may learn various intervention techniques, which include cognitive, psychodynamic, interpersonal, behavioral, humanistic and group intervention. They can also learn treatment strategies like art, dance and music therapy; psychotherapy; medication; and counseling.

Students are typically trained to understand populations with varying sexualities, ethnicities, religions and socio-economic statuses and to apply clinical psychology principles with respect to each patient's situation. They attain necessary skills in observation, establishing relationships with people, critical thinking, listening and interviewing and learn to uphold an ethical and professional character during their work as clinical psychologists. Some of the topics that may be covered in advanced classes are:

  • Clinical psychology assessments
  • Biological and social bases of behavior
  • Cultural psychology
  • Psychopathology
  • Health and dysfunction
  • Expressive therapies

Popular Career Options

Hospitals, medical schools, educational institutions, mental health facilities, rehabilitation centers, businesses, research institutions, public service agencies and governmental bodies may hire clinical psychologists who specialize in child and adolescent psychology. Some graduates choose to open a private practice.

Licensure and Certification

In order to practice clinical psychology, graduates of PsyD programs must meet the licensure requirements of the states in which they work. After clinical psychologists attain postdoctoral training and professional experience, they can also become board certified.

By earning a PsyD with a specialization in child and adolescent psychology, students gain the advanced psychological expertise and communication skills they need to counsel youth and their families on a wide range of topics. All clinical psychologists must be licensed and can become board certified after gaining work experience.

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