How Do You Know If Your Child Needs a Psychologist?

Mental health no longer has the stigmatism it once had. Like visiting your primary care physician when you are concerned about pain, injury, or illness, psychologists have the tools, solutions, experience, and training to help you with your mental health. But how do you know when your child needs a psychologist? 

Many different signs indicate your child may have a severe mental health problem and would benefit from seeing a psychologist. We’ve created this comprehensive guide to help you on your journey to enhancing your child’s mental health.


Therapist vs. Psychologist – What’s the Difference?

child therapist vs psychologist what is the difference

The term therapist serves as an umbrella term for all professions within psychotherapy (such as counselors, social workers, etc.). While they do not provide a diagnosis, therapists offer rehabilitation and treatment to people with mental or behavioral health issues and those who are simply dealing with the daily struggles of their lives. 

A psychologist is an individual who has been trained and educated in, and practices, one or more types of therapy to treat mental illnesses. In the context of mental health, the term psychologist is often used synonymously with psychotherapists. In particular, a child psychologist specializes in working with children. Child psychologists are trained to conduct tests that diagnose neurodevelopmental conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and learning difficulties such as ADHD. 

While all psychologists are trained therapists, not all therapists are psychologists. 


Common Signs Your Child Should See a Psychologist

Sometimes, what appears to be normal childhood difficulties can turn into something more serious. Throw in the impact of the global pandemic thwarting normal life activities, such as school and extracurricular activities, adjustment difficulties, anxiety, and depression are becoming more common among children and teens.

  • Defiant behaviours: while it’s common for children to test boundaries when these actions become standard practice, it might be time to seek professional help. A psychologist can determine if these actions are associated with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). ODD is a type of childhood behavior disorder where children become uncooperative, rebellious, and hostile toward peers, parents, teachers, and other authority figures. And if these patterns are beyond what is developmentally appropriate for their age. These patterns may also be indicative of a trauma response and potentially a trauma diagnosis. 


  • Sudden shifts in interests: changes in your child’s day to interests and habits that last more than a few weeks can signal that your child may be suffering from anxiety or depression. Most commonly, significant changes in eating, sleeping, and personal interests could indicate there is an underlying mental health concern that needs to be addressed. A psychologist can help determine if these changes are fleeting or symptoms of a mental/behavioral health disorder.


  • Excessive worrying or sadness: while it’s normal to feel anxious or sad from time to time, especially in relation to the global pandemic and around the holiday seasons, excessive worrying and sadness are signs that your child may need the help of a psychologist. When these emotions become excessive and begin to consume your child and their thoughts, it could be the result of an anxiety disorder or depression.


  • Regressions: common during life transitions, such as during a divorce or after the birth of a new child; when regressions happen for seemingly no reason, your child might benefit from seeing a psychologist. 

Common regressions include:

      • Bedwetting (when trained)
      • Frequent temper tantrums
      • Clinginess or separation anxiety
      • Excessive fear or worry
      • Language regression (such as baby talk)


  • Social isolation: if you’ve noticed your child socially withdrawing, it may indicate something is going on emotionally. When a child is anxious, angry, or sad, they may withdraw from social situations and turn inwards. This is especially concerning if your child isn’t typically shy or introverted.
      • Eating lunch alone
      • Avoiding playdates or friends
      • Lack of desire to leave the house


  • Talking or thinking about self-harm: Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, if your child expresses any feelings or ideas of self-harm, it’s essential you seek help for them right away. This can start subtly with traces of hopelessness and feeling alone or be more direct through the presence of suicidal thoughts and cutting. It’s important to note that feelings of self-harm can be expressed in a number of different ways, including hitting oneself, banging their head against something, and digging nails into their skin.

common signs your child should see a psychologist


Be Psychology

While not all children need a medical diagnosis or medication for their mental health problems, a psychologist can determine whether or not your child has a mental health illness that needs to be addressed. They can also provide therapy sessions to help your child develop positive solutions and coping mechanisms to deal with their challenges.

At Be Psychology, our team of therapists and psychologists are trained to help treat both children and adults with any mental health concerns. If you or a loved one are in need of testing, assessments, or psychotherapy, we can help.


Contact a member of our team to schedule your appointment today.


reem shaheen counseling psychologist


Reem Shaheen – LMHC