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What is an Adolescent Psychologist?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 August 2016
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A psychologist is a person who has completed doctorate level training and then achieved licensing so that they may offer counseling and treat those with mental health issues or illnesses. Any psychologist can treat children, but sometimes the term child or adolescent psychologist is used. This is not a protected title in most cases. People don’t get additional certification claming their merits to treat kids or teens, but what most people mean by adolescent psychologist is that their focus of study in doctoral training was primarily on adolescents. Some may even have done a research study or a dissertation on some aspect of mental health and teenagers.

Adolescence is viewed as having its own set of emotional issues and problems. In depth understanding of these can help inform treatment of this group of people. Treatment might not be the same for a 16 year old as it is for a 25 year old, since intense developmental work is occurring in the former. As a group, teens can be studied to see how they respond to different types of treatment, and also how they manifest symptoms of mental distress or illness. There are even some mental disorders particularly associated with the teenage years, like eating disorders.

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When choosing a therapist for a teen, many people look for an adolescent psychologist, since they want that special expertise that can come with a person well trained in this subject. It may be easier to find a child psychologist, though, and this may also suggest a person trained in working with teens. Certainly childhood and adolescence are two distinct developmental periods, but those who study child psychology (which is also not a protected title) have often spent a fair amount of time studying teen psychology. The best way to find out the psychologist’s expertise is to ask.

An adolescent psychologist isn’t limited in terms of how they might work. Some of these practitioners do primarily practice therapy. Others might work in mental health institutions, particularly ones for teens, treatment or rehab centers for teens, or children’s hospitals. Psychologists of this type might also work in schools, as educators, or they may do research.

Something that may confuse many people is the difference between the terms adolescent psychologist and adolescent psychiatrist. Typically, psychologists are not medical doctors (though some medical doctors have a degree in psychology), and they cannot prescribe medication. When teens require medication for various mental illnesses, parents might want to look for an adolescent psychiatrist, who may offer therapy in addition to managing medications.

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golf07
Post 4

When I went through a divorce, my kids also went through a really hard time. I ended up having them see an adolescent therapist to help them cope. It took awhile for my son to warm up to the idea, but he eventually came around.

He was able to discuss his feeling with the therapist and share things that he didn't feel comfortable sharing with anyone else. I have a lot of positive things to say about the therapist my kids saw during this time.

I think their sessions really helped keep them grounded and realize that they could work through this and it didn't have to be the end of the world.

myharley
Post 3

I think it would be really hard to work as an adolescent psychologist in a mental institution. Mental problems would be hard to deal with no matter what, but when working with kids I think it would even be tougher.

Mykol
Post 2

One of my good friends has a nephew who went to an adolescent counselor because of being abused. It breaks my heart to think about some of the situations kids go through.

At first, he was very reluctant to talk to anyone about it, but the psychologist he saw was trained in this type of work. He saw this psychologist for at least a couple years as he worked through some of the tough issues he had to deal with.

sunshined
Post 1

When my son was in junior high, one of his female classmates was gone from school for a couple weeks. We found out later that she was receiving adolescent counseling and treatment for an eating disorder.

This came as quite a shock to me at the time because she was a very beautiful, well liked girl and I had no idea she was struggling with this problem. I am glad they have people who are trained to help those struggling with eating disorders.

I don't know much about this, but imagine that someone who was specifically trained to work with young people and teenagers would have a much better success rate. There is a lot of pressure on kids this age, and if it were one of my kids, I would want to make sure they were seeing someone who knew how to work with kids their age.

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