Child and Adolescent Specialization

Help Young People in Need

Counseling@Northwestern offers a Child and Adolescent Specialization so you can make a difference in the lives of the increasing number of American youth facing challenges related to mental illness.

  • 13–20 percent of children living in the United States experience a mental disorder in a given year.*
  • 50 percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and 75 percent begin by age 24.
  • 70 percent of youth in state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental illness.

Required Specialization Courses

The specialization comprises five courses focused on specialized techniques for working effectively with youth.

  • Human Growth and Development (Child and Adolescent Focus): This course provides an understanding of the nature and needs of persons at all developmental levels in a multicultural context, as well as implications for assessment and preventive and/or supportive intervention strategies. The course has an additional specific focus on child and adolescent development.
  • Child and Adolescent Counseling and Psychotherapy: This course examines central issues in child and teen counseling and psychotherapy, including psychoanalytic, play, cognitive-behavioral, and behavioral treatment approaches. Emphasis is placed on the high-frequency problems for which children and adolescents enter therapy.
  • Assessment in Counseling (Child/Adolescent): Understanding of individual approaches to assessment in a multicultural society across the lifespan. Review of commonly used assessments in counseling including rationale, characteristics, administration, and interpretation. This course has an additional specific focus on child and adolescent assessment.
  • Evaluation and Treatment of Trauma (Child/Adolescent): This course is a review of the nature of children’s and adolescent’s posttraumatic conditions; the psychobiology underlying these; and the treatment of posttraumatic conditions for this population.
  • Play Therapy Methods: This course provides students with the philosophical basis for play therapy, including a review of the history of play therapy, how to develop a relationship with a child through a theoretical framework, and an introduction to various theoretical applications and play therapy best practices.

If you choose to do the specialization, you will also be fully prepared to work with adults in professional counseling settings. If you want to learn more about child and adolescent counseling but do not want to choose the emphasis, you can work with an adviser to potentially enroll in some of the classes as electives.  

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*This information was most recently published from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013.