Working with children is a popular option for those with degrees in psychology. With a rapidly increasing number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and an increasing awareness of childhood mental illness, professionals qualified to work with children are sought out by schools, social services agencies and mental health organizations. Those with degrees in psychology may find careers working with children on the autism spectrum, as school psychologists, child psychologist, youth service worker and residential care provider.
An autism specialist is a relatively new career choice. With the rapidly rising diagnostic rate of autism spectrum disorders, many more schools and clinics are hiring autism specialists in order to develop appropriate treatment programs for children with ASDs. Autism specialists typically have degrees in psychology and receive additional education in autism diagnosis and treatment. CAS offers certification in autism in order to allow professionals to remain up-to-date on the latest research on working with children on the autism spectrum.
School psychologists are licensed professionals that provide mental health care to children in a school setting. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, they typically provide mentoring and counseling to children struggling with emotional, behavior and social problems. They also help identify strategies to help students overcome barriers to learning. However, in crisis situations, school psychologists may also provide interventions to children experiencing trauma or loss.
Child psychologists are licensed clinical psychologists that specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illness in children. They also work with children who are experiencing trauma such as severe illness, death of a family member, extreme bullying, behavior difficulties or adoption. Professionals in child psychology might also assist children in transitioning to a new school following a move, help children with parents in the military work through deployments or teach social skills to children with developmental delays. Child psychologists typically specialize in a treatment modality, such as play therapy, cognitive-behavior therapy or art therapy.
Youth Services Worker
Youth services workers can be found in a variety of settings. Careers in this field can include case managers for children in the foster care system or those with severe behavior difficulties. Those with bachelor’s degrees in psychology who are not eligible for licensure may find positions working with at-risk children in an after-school setting, tutoring latchkey children or working with the children of domestic violence victims in a crisis center.
Residential Care Provider
One of the most in-demand career options, especially for those with bachelor’s degrees in psychology who may not be licensed to practice psychology, is a residential care worker. These professionals may work in a variety of residential care settings, including group homes for teens in foster care and residential schools for children with severe developmental delays. Residential care workers can use applied behavior analysis techniques to teach social, educational and behavior skills needed to participate in the community. They may also assist residents with day-to-day activities, such as self-care, cooking, cleaning and school work. Residential care workers are often responsible for carrying out treatment plans developed by social workers, licensed psychologists or board certified behavior analysts.