Child and Adolescent Proficiency Track
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Child and Adolescent Proficiency Track

The burden of suffering experienced by children with mental health needs and their families has created a health crisis in this country. Growing numbers of children are suffering needlessly because their emotional, behavioral and developmental needs are not being met by those very institutions which were explicitly created to take care of them. It is time that we as a Nation took seriously the task of preventing mental health problems and treating mental illness in youth.

Report of the Surgeon General’s Conference on Children’s Mental Health
January 3, 2001

In the United States, approximately one out of every 10 children and adolescents suffers from a mental illness serious enough to interfere with their healthy development and functioning (U.S. Public Health Service [USPHS], 2000).  Unfortunately, only one in five of these children will receive mental health treatment for these difficulties.  The World Health Organization projects that by the year 2020 childhood neuropsychiatric disorders will rise by over 50% internationally, making it one of the five leading causes of morbidity, mortality, and disability among children.

The increased focus on, and concern about, children’s mental health issues by policy makers and organizations worldwide has created new opportunities for professional psychology. Psychologists are in a unique position effect enormous positive change in children’s mental health.  Psychology’s dual emphasis on empirical research and clinical practice prepares psychologists to serve this special population in a multitude of ways.  As the diverse needs of this population steadily increase, acquiring the attitudes, knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with children and adolescents becomes more critical.

Today’s child psychologist must be prepared to execute a variety of roles.  Along with traditional skills, child psychologists must be able to develop, implement, and evaluate new interventions, programs, and systems of care for children and families.  Child psychologists are called to be advocates and supervisors, and must know how to negotiate, collaborate, and consult within numerous systems from community pediatric groups to schools, youth bureaus, and juvenile justice centers.  Child psychologists are committed to utilizing the most reliable and swift means to identify, assess, and prevent mental illness and, when necessary, intervene in the most efficacious manner possible for the child and the family.  Child psychologists also value the fact that the children and families they serve live in a diverse society, and may come from cultures and perspectives far different from their own.  Therefore, cultural differences should be acknowledge, respected, supported and appreciated.