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My job explained: Child psychotherapist

Career profile: Child psychotherapistJohn is a child psychotherapist in a child and adolescent mental health service.

For me, the great interest of child psychotherapy lies in trying to understand children’s emotions and the way that they communicate, both through talking and also through play.

When and where do you see your patients?

I usually see pre-speech children with their parents, but the psychotherapist’s specialism lies in seeing children on their own and working with them in a very detailed way. Sometimes they don’t know themselves what it is that is worrying them – and perhaps there’s more than one worry – but they have a strong sense that something is the matter.

Child psychotherapists work very much as a team and various other professionals will be involved in seeing the family and making an assessment: psychologists, psychiatrists, family therapists, clinic social workers and community psychiatric nurses.

What is your role?

My contribution is to try to see what is in the child’s mind in the context of what is happening in the family. I am interested in the child’s inner life and how that might effect their behaviour and relationships. Initially I might see a child briefly and short-term as part of the assessment process, but if it’s decided that the child needs to see a psychotherapist regularly, then I will probably see them at least once a week for a couple of years.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Psychotherapy can be a long and gradual process, but for me the really rewarding thing is when the child starts to take part in ordinary life once again. They are able to make relationships, play their part within the family and at school, and do all the ordinary things that a child does, without their worries interfering. That is when you see the benefit of your work.

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(Information taken from NHS Careers)