Adolescent psychology is a specialized field. It is not quite child psychology, since teenagers are not children. Yet neither is it adult psychology because teens are assuredly not adults, either. Nevertheless, those wanting to become an adolescent psychologist will study child psychology, and should probably choose a program of doctoral study that offers focus on treating the adolescent.
The path to become an adolescent psychologist begins with obtaining an undergraduate degree and the best major to choose is psychology. Many graduate programs will have will expect a thorough beginning knowledge in this subject. Grades will also need to be excellent, because people will have fewer options when choosing a graduate school and need to it narrow it down to those schools that can offer them considerable instruction in child and adolescent psychology.
While in late junior year in college, students will need to begin the process of selecting a graduate school. This requires research and also a decision. Students may choose to a get a PhD (doctor of philosophy) or a PsyD (doctor of psychology). Sometimes students choose an EdD (doctor of education) instead, but licensing may be more difficult. If the goal is to treat patients, a PsyD may be preferable, since orientation in the PhD is often more on research. However, a number of excellent schools exist that offer PhDs and considerable training in child/adolescent psychology.
Once students have researched schools and narrowed the field, they will need to do some additional research by contacting the schools. Getting program guides, talking to advisors, and perhaps even touring campuses and meeting faculty are all good ideas. Students should plan on submitting applications to several schools to increase likelihood of getting accepted to at least one.
Acceptance to a graduate program means people are truly advancing on the path to become an adolescent psychologist. They will spend the next three to six years in graduate school training for this profession. Students should take every opportunity to take classes that have to do with child or adolescent psychology, or they may be in a program specific to this subject. Psychology students can also expect to undergo personal counseling while they are studying, and they will need to submit a final dissertation in order to graduate.
It’s actually not over when people graduate. They then must get licensing to work as an adolescent psychologist. This will mean another year or two of performing supervised therapy prior to being eligible for licensure.
People tend not to become an adolescent psychologist when they get a license. They just become a psychologist. They can claim they have specialized in adolescence, and they could belong to organizations that exist for child and adolescent psychology. Theoretically this means anyone who is a psychologist can be an adolescent psychologist, but having the extra work and study in this specific area would certainly be beneficial to the population of patients a person wants to treat.