What is child psychology1? For most professionals who work with children, a child psychologist is someone whose job is to "fix" your child. They usually "fix" your child by spending many, many, many sessions with your child. First, they form a relationship with your child. This will take an average of six and one-half sessions2. Then, these individually-focused therapists use this new "relationship" to try to get your child to gain insight into their maladaptive behaviors. Then, they tell you to have patience, as this type of therapy takes a long time3 to have an impact. During this therapy, they will meet with you, the parents, briefly and sporadically. These individually-focused therapists will tell you that things are either progressing well, or, not so well. But, they will meet with you occasionally. I was trained differently, and, I believe most child psychologists (and play therapists) are really trying to perform a "Parentectomy4."
What do I do with my child psychology clients? First, as a child psychologist, I know children really well. And, as a family therapist, I understand families really well. I meet with the whole family for the initial visit, sometimes meeting alone with parts of the family for parts of this first session. But, I always keep the whole system5 in mind. I believe that parents can be put in a position to help their children NOT need a child psychologist. This shouldn’t take a long, long, long time.
1- This is the first sentence of this article, which, I feel, effectively captures the tone of this piece.
2- I made this up, but I am pretty sure I am close.
3- Originally written as "a long, long, long time"
4- A painful surgical procedure where a child is artificially treated (and viewed) as if they exist independently of his or her parents.
5- Most child psychologists see a child as existing in a world where parents are merely impediments to a child’s health6.
6- I am not sure if one is allowed to footnote a footnote, but, I feel parents are a child’s best chance of the child "getting his or her act together."