What’s it all about?
Working as a child psychotherapist is extremely challenging. Some days will be the most challenging days you’ve ever faced professionally. However the rewards that come with truly helping a young person deal with significant problems more than make up for such challenges.
You will be part of a multidisciplinary team and have direct contact on a regular basis with children who need help. Due to the nature of the post, you will find yourself dealing with a number of different children with a wide variety of issues and needs. These include:
- Self harm
- Eating disorders
- Learning difficulties
- Development Delay
These are just some of the areas you will be involved in. You’ll also be in contact and consultation with families of children who have problems in these areas.
Your responsibilities will include:
- The development of assessment plans and treatment plans for children, either individually or in a group
- Working with children and responding to their communication with a focus on your treatment goals and objectives
- Developing a schedule of interventions to work with children as individuals or groups. These interventions can be long-term
- Providing training to other professionals in the local area who work with children
- Helping to plan the service delivery with stakeholders
- Observing children and responding to their communication
So how do you get there?
Training is available from schools accredited by The Association of Child Psychotherapists. An undergraduate degree and experience working with young people is a pre requisite for gaining entry to these courses.
You will undertake a clinical training scheme, but before you do this you will have to complete a pre-clinical session, which usually lasts three years. This will be course of observational psychoanalytic studies at postgraduate diploma, Masters or equivalent level.
The clinical stage lasts for a further four years. This stage will be completed with you attached to an NHS team, usually within the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) team. The NHS only offers a limited number of training positions within local teams.
Most child psychotherapists work for the NHS as part of the local CAMHS team. However there are a number of other options:
- Pre-school, primary and secondary schools
- Voluntary sector work
- Youth justice settings
- Specialist residential units
Show me the money
The NHS has its own payscale that it applies to child psychotherapists. Not every child psychotherapist will be working within the scale, but trainees can expect to earn £26,000 to £35,000 a year.
Once qualified, there is an increase in the salary earned. Qualified professionals can expect £31,000 to £41,000 a year. A Principal Psychotherapist, with a number of years of experience, can see their salaries fall within the range of £40,000 to £83,000.
The duration of training is equivalent to the time spent training for the medical profession, and is a significant amount of time. If you like helping young people, and you have clear experience of doing so in a recognised setting, then this could be the ideal role for you.