Child Psychology

Child Psychology involves the assessment and treatment of a diverse and interdependent biological, psychological and social problems experienced by children. Some of the areas that are covered include:

  • Emotional and developmental problems.
  • Significant mental disorders.
  • Cognitive deficits.
  • Stress and coping related to developmental change.
  • Problems in social context.
  • ADHD Assessments
  • Cognitive/IQ Assessments
  • Assessment and therapy for ASD

View our Psychologists' profile

So what is the difference between Neuropsychologists and Clinical or Educational Psychologist?

 by Dr. Linda Borg

Good question!

There are many different types of psychologists, with the  most common type of psychologist people think of being a 'Clinical Psychologist'. A Clinical Psychologist is someone who can assess, diagnose and treat psychological and mental health problems.  These can include, but are not limited to, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and so on.
A neuropsychologist on the other hand is someone who can assess, diagnose and treat psychological disorders associated with brain-based conditions.  For example, they can assess the cognitive, behavioural and emotional deficits resulting from a brain injury, stroke, dementia or a pattern of cognitive strengths and weakness in someone with a learning disorder or a disorder on the Autism Spectrum.
A neuropsychologist uses a series of tests to assess various areas of cognition and behaviour, such as memory, attention, learning, processing speed and abstract reasoning.  This information is linked back to brain structures, to provide information regarding the impact of any identified areas of difficulty on a person's day to day functioning.  
A neuropsychological assessment also differs from that conducted by an educational psychologist.  An educational psychologist will assess a child's history, intellectual abilities, basic academic skills and conduct a screening psychological assessment.  This type of assessment does not include tests to reliably capture cognitive difficulties associated with attention, memory or executive functioning weaknesses, as well as Autism Spectrum disorders or more subtle psychological/social difficulties.  
A neuropsychological evaluation includes detailed investigation of a child's developmental, medical, social and psychological history, as well as an extensive testing battery that examines intellectual, academic, attention, executive functioning, language, visuospatial, visuoconstructional, memory and fine motor skills. The results of a neuropsychological assessment are intended to identify not merely any intellectual or learning difficulties, but also any other cognitive or psychological difficulty that may be a contributing to a child's profile.


What are Cognitive Assessments for Children and Adolescents?

by Cassandra Gist - Paediatric Psychologist.

Cognition is the mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and our senses. Your child is continually learning and experiencing the world, in order to develop their cognition.  Sometimes a school teacher, guidance officer, or a parent may notice some strengths and weaknesses in your child’s cognition, or may comment on a particular learning style they have.  In order for your child to continue to develop and learn, a cognitive assessment is helpful to identify the areas of strengths and weaknesses that they may be experiencing.  When interpreted along with comprehensive background information, parent and teacher reports, the results of cognitive assessments can provide information about your child which can assist to develop individualised learning plans for children.

What is an IQ test?

Another word for a cognitive assessment is an IQ test or Intellectual Quotient test.  A series of activities are administered by an accredited psychologist to assess various areas of cognitive ability including:

  • Verbal Comprehension – measures the child’s range of vocabulary and their ability to express general knowledge and explain concepts
  • Visual Spatial – measures the child’s verbal reasoning, understanding, concept formation and knowledge
  • Fluid Reasoning – measures the child’s ability to solve novel problems independent of previous knowledge
  • Working Memory – measures the child’s ability to learn, manipulate and retain information to complete new tasks
  • Processing Speed – measures the child’s ability to quickly process and make decisions about visual information

Reasons for Cognitive Assessments

Cognitive assessments are often used with children who are experiencing academic issues at school.  Common concerns may include:

  • identifying intellectual disabilities
  • identifying and diagnosing learning disabilities and disorders
  • evaluating cognitive processing strengths and weaknesses
  • assessing for giftedness
  • assessing for the impact of brain injuries

Types of Assessments

The type of assessment used will depend on your child’s age:

Ages 4 to 7 years and 3 months – WPPSI-IV Wechsler Preschool & Primary Scale of Intelligence Fourth Edition

Ages 6 to 16 years 11 months – WISC-V Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children Fifth Edition

Cognitive assessments are conducted in a testing room that is quiet and has minimal distraction for your child.  The word “test” will not be used with the child, and will instead be replaced by the words “puzzles and games”, to create a more relaxed environment for your child.

Process of Cognitive Testing 

1.    Initial appointment with parent and child – background information is gathered from the parents, including developmental history, academic ability, medical issues, family relationships, and issues raised by the parents in order to gather a holistic picture of your child’s environment. 
2.    Testing over one or two session – depending on your child’s ability and willingness to test, the testing will be done over one or two sessions
3.    Scoring and interpreting results – each assessment will be scored and interpreted against standardised results
4.    Report writing – the behavioural observations of your child during testing will be recorded, along with the results of the testing, and recommendations
5.    Feedback session – the psychologist will discuss the outcomes of the testing in this session and provide recommendation for parents and schools as required

For further information please access The Australian Psychological Association’s website