• Eunice Chan

What Is The Difference Between A Child Therapist And A Child Psychologist

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Child psychologists are specifically trained to analyse and assess neurodevelopmental conditions in children. In comparison, there are many types of child therapists with a broad range of specialties and expertise to provide treatments for children that the psychologist has identified.

Child psychologists detect developmental issues and emotional problems from childhood to young teens. They determine what's best for the individual's care. A psychologist can work in tandem with a psychiatrist or a medical physician that can suggest medication. They can also work with a child therapist to provide various treatment routines for different concerns.

Children's emotional issues can range issues arising from sexuality, drugs, alcohol, depression, stress, anxiety, schoolwork, time management, and emotionally traumatic situations such as divorce, death, and frequent relocation. Developmental delays range from speech, motor skills, cognitive, and behaviour.

Child therapists assess the problems, layout treatments to help them, execute the interventions, review their progress, and coordinate their efforts with the rest of the child's allied care team to improve their abilities.

Therapist vs Psychologist


  • Has an Master degree in psychology

  • Has done research or therapy

  • Diagnose conditions or problems in their patients/clients

  • Determine appropriate treatments based on clinical diagnoses.

  • Can work in tandem with a psychiatrist and child therapist


  • Can include psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage counsellors, life coaches, and social workers

  • Can have degrees in a range of disciplines, including a master's degree, PhD, MD, or certificate in areas such as social work, substance abuse, clinical psychology, psychiatry, or family counselling

  • Implement intervention and course of action

There are many different types of child therapist for various issues such as a speech educational, occupational and behavioural therapist.

1. Child Speech Therapist

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), commonly called speech therapists, specialise in the study of human communication. Speech-language treatment is the treatment for children with speech or language disorders. Pediatric speech therapy deals with children with communication challenges, both in how they speak and how they recognise interaction. Speech therapy also treats oral motor concerns, such as eating, swallowing, expression, auditory processing, and partly social skills. A therapist can determine an issue as well as the very best means to treat it.

2. Counsellor

A common concern in children is anxiety. This disorder triggers extreme fear and worry, and changes a child's behaviour, sleep, eating or mood. Children and teenagers with anxiety also experience symptoms that others can't see. It can make them feel afraid, worried, or nervous. Most often, anxiety disorders are treated with an approach called cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Counselling helps families, children, and teens learn to manage to worry, fear, and anxiety. CBT teaches children that what they think and do affects how they feel. In CBT, children learn that when they avoid what they fear, the fear escalates. However, when they address their fear, the fear becomes weak and they learn various strategies in coping with anxiety.

In CBT, parents also learn the ideal response when aiding children to cope with their anxiety. Children learn coping skills in different scenarios which equips them with appropriate skills to manage any situation. Eventually, children learn to deal with worries and feel better, with a calmer mind, they can concentrate on other things like school, activities, and entertainment.

3. Educational Therapist

Educational therapy addresses the weakness of your child in school. However, it isn't the same as tutoring. Traditional tutors concentrate on academics and may not recognise your child's learning and thinking differences.

A psychologist isn't trained to satisfy academic needs. An educational therapist can fill the gap between a tutor and school as an educational therapists have more experience dealing with your child's academic needs.

4. Behavioural Therapist

The behavioural therapist uses a range of techniques to change maladaptive or challenging behaviours. Behavioural therapies for children vary, yet they all focus primarily on how some disturbing thoughts or negative actions might unconsciously or unintentionally get "rewarded" within a young person's surroundings. These rewards or reinforcements often increase the frequency of these undesired behaviours.

A behavioural therapist will evaluate challenging behaviours based on functionality behind the behaviour. In accordance with this, a behavioural therapist will develop a behaviour strategy on managing the behaviour at home, school, and other natural environments where the behaviour may occur. A behaviour strategy will also include how to reward and promote the behaviour we intend to see as we try to replace these ideal behaviours from the challenging ones.

Behavioural therapies can be used on a wide range of psychological symptoms among teenagers and children. Although it can vary significantly, a common thread is that behavioural therapists encourage kids to try out new behaviours, reward desired behaviours, and to allow undesirable behaviours to extinguish or neglect unwanted behaviours.

Children most commonly seek behavioural therapy to treat:

  • anxiety

  • anger issues

  • eating disorders

  • autism

  • bipolar disorder

  • ADHD

  • phobias, including social phobias

  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • self-harm

A behavioural therapist trained in disciplines such as behavioural science, psychology, or social science and has specialised training in applied behavioural analysis.

A behavioural therapist will analyse the purpose behind the behaviour to come up with a course of action to correct it. For example, maladaptive behaviour is when a kid is attacking other children for attention. The reverse is adaptive, and the adaptive form of getting attention can be asking for it. An excellent behavioural therapist will understand this pattern and work towards changing the child's behaviour to one that is socially appropriate.

Behavioural therapists, eliminates the child's maladaptive behaviours and reinforces the adaptive and functional behaviours. A good behavioural therapist is proactive; this means that behavioural therapists' primary purpose is to teach appropriate behaviours before maladaptive behaviours can happen. Behavioural therapists teach children everything they need to know to access their world functionally. By having access to every ideal way of accessing our wants and needs, challenging behaviours no longer have any purpose.

A behavioural therapist should not only be able to see challenging behaviours but also be capable of recognising the gap in a child's development. When these learning gaps are identified, a behavioural therapist will create an IEP to teach the skills required to fill up these gaps.

Notes of Therapist and Psychologist
Psychologist vs Therapist

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