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Areas of psychology

Educational and developmental psychology

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Learn Well. Live Well.

Educational and Developmental psychology is concerned with wellbeing across the lifespan, especially development and learning throughout people's lives.

Educational and developmental psychologists work in a range of research and practice areas and may have one of many titles, such as school psychologist, guidance officer, disability services officer, child and adolescent counsellor and geropsychologist. Educational and developmental psychologists may work with individuals, couples, groups or organisations.

In educational settings, educational and developmental psychologists are centrally placed to identify and assist people with mental health and other psychological issues.

Skills of educational and developmental psychologists 

Educational and developmental psychologists have knowledge and skills for evidence-based practice in the following areas:

  • Assessing developmental, learning and behavioural difficulties throughout the lifespan
  • Diagnosing disabilities and disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Differential diagnosis 
  • Identifying and using evidence-based interventions
  • Counselling
  • Consulting with individuals and groups
  • Designing training programs
  • Evaluating programs and interventions
  • Designing and implementing professional development programs
  • Case management and liaising with other specialists
  • Writing reports for multiple audiences (e.g., parents, teachers, and other
  • professionals)
  • Psychological consultancy and professional learning

Areas of expertise

Early childhood

Parents or professionals (e.g., GPs, Pediatricians, Child Health Nurses, and Child Care Centre staff) may refer a child to an educational and developmental psychologist for the following reasons:

  • Concerns about a child’s cognitive, behavioural, or emotional development
  • Assessment of a developmental delay
  • Assessment of specific disabilities (e.g., Intellectual Disability and Autism Spectrum Disorders)
  • Assistance with feeding, sleeping or behaviour problems
  • Infant mental health problems (e.g., anxiety and disordered attachment)
  • Managing a child's difficult temperament
  • Assistance with attachment issues, or with ‘goodness of fit’ between parent and child
  • Parenting issues
  • Sibling rivalry within the family
  • Assessment of school readiness
  • Assistance with treatment planning and early-intervention programs

School years

Parents, teachers or other professionals (or children themselves) may seek assistance for the following reasons:

  • Problems with the transition to school, or from one phase of education to another
  • Separation anxiety or school avoidance
  • Psycho-educational assessment
  • Assessment, diagnosis and treatment of learning difficulties and disorders (e.g. Dyslexia)
  • Poor peer-relationships
  • Behaviour problems and disorders (e.g., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Expert behaviour management planning
  • Low self-esteem
  • Wellbeing issues
  • Mental health problems (e.g., mood disorders)
  • Assessment of giftedness
  • Family relationship issues
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Assistance with treatment planning and specialist support
  • Whole school consultancy or intervention (e.g., social-emotional learning programs and critical incident intervention)

Adolescence

Adolescents, their parents, or others concerned with their welfare may seek help to deal with:

  • Conflict between the adolescent and parents
  • Friendship issues
  • Peer pressure
  • Behaviour problems
  • Sexuality issues
  • Disability issues
  • Identity issues and the transition to adulthood
  • Mental health problems
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Career guidance
  • Adjustment and transition issues
  • School to work transition
  • Whole school community issues

Adulthood

Individuals, their partners or employers may seek assistance with:

  • Relationship problems
  • Divorce/separation
  • Parenting and child-rearing
  • Adoption issues
  • Mid-life concerns
  • Career restructuring
  • Work stress
  • Education and training in the workplace

Later adulthood

Elderly people or their adult children may seek details or assistance with:

  • Healthy ageing
  • Coping with decline in functioning
  • Dependency
  • Adjustment and transition issues
  • Issues of loss or grief

Standards

Members of the Australian Psychological Society College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists will also have the following post-nominals after their name:

  • MCEDP (Member of the College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists)