Child psychotherapists are tasked with providing non-medical treatment to children and teenagers with emotional, psychological and mental health issues.
The services they provide are similar to those provided by adult psychotherapists, but obviously these guys only work with children and adolescents. This area of psychotherapy can therefore be more challenging, but ultimately it can be much more rewarding.
The disorders and issues covered by child psychotherapists include:
- Learning difficulties
- Abnormal behaviour (i.e. extreme passivity or aggression)
- Eating disorders
- Delays in physical and mental development
- Behavioural changes in response to extreme trauma or abuse.
Child psychotherapists may provide individual or group therapy to patients, depending on their particular situation.
The majority of child psychotherapists use multiple therapy approaches, such as using arts or music to stimulate reactions. They may also use psychoanalysis or systemic therapies to help young people deal with their problems.
Salary & benefits
Child psychotherapists tend to be employed by the NHS or within private practices.
Starting salaries for trainees range between £25,000 and £35,000 a year. However, once you’ve qualified and your career progresses, you could earn anything up to £70,000 per annum.
If you take the private practice route, you could be charging patients between £40 and £100 an hour. As your reputation and expertise improves, your hourly rate could even be as high as £150.
If you work for the NHS, your work schedule will be fairly standard and you’ll most likely be working between 35 and 40 hours a week.
The working hours of child psychotherapists that work in private practices are largely self-regulated and based on client availability.
To begin your career as a child psychotherapist, you’ll need to undertake the relevant training course with the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) or the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP). This process tends to take between five and seven years.
To get onto one of these courses, you’ll need to obtain an undergraduate or postgraduate degree first, preferably in a subject such as psychology, medicine, or social work. You’ll also need to have some professional experience of working with children of various age groups.
Training & progression
Child psychotherapists are required to undertake continuing professional development activities, which include doing a minimum amount of hands-on clinical work each month and attending training courses and conferences on a regular basis.
NHS regulations for performance appraisal and promotions apply to psychotherapists working with the organisation. Consequently, child psychotherapists have the option to maintain a general practice or specialise in a particular area of therapy and treatment.
The other alternatives for career progression are focusing on academic research work or exploring the freelance path.