What Are The 7 Benefits Of Seeing A Developmental Psychologist?

Updated February 20, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Dawn Brown

What Is A Developmental Psychologist?

A developmental psychologist is someone who studies how people grow and develop during their lifetime. By growth, we don't just mean that your body changes happen when you age, but how you grow as a person. There are many types of development a psychologist will study. Here are a few types.

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Cognitive Development

The brain is complex and ever-evolving. From childhood to young adulthood, the brain grows and matures. And even as you get older, your brain still changes. A child who is only a few years older has a different brain than a child a few years younger. A developmental psychologist studies how the brain develops and looks for abnormalities in development. A problem may be due to normal brain development, or there may be a delay in developing the brain.

Social Development

Learning how to communicate with others is key when it comes to succeeding. As someone grows, they learn how to socialize and talk to others. However, some have a lot of problems figuring out the social mores. It may be because some people learn at a slower rate, or there may be people who have a disorder that hinders their social growth. Either way, a developmental psychologist can teach the person how to catch up.

Intellectual Development

As someone grows, they learn how to be more intelligent. They can see things outside the box and think critically. They realize that there is more than just the space around them. However, some people may have delays in intelligence, and a developmental psychologist must understand why. Is it common?


As a child grows, their senses grow too. They are soon able to smell different odors, hear better, taste different foods, and more. If a child is having trouble with their senses, a developmental psychologist will figure out why.

Personality Development

As a person grows, they grow into their own personality. They go from being a blank slate to being their own person, and many factors can shape one's personality. A developmental psychologist studies how a personality grows and changes over time.

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Emotional Growth

As someone grows, their emotions grow too. They can express their emotions better and be able to hide their emotions if needed. Someone who is having trouble controlling their emotions may need help from a developmental psychologist who can figure out why.

So What Exactly Do They Do?

Developmental psychology is a diverse field, and different psychologists will have different tasks depending on where they are and what they can do. Some psychologists who study developmental psychology will work with children who have problems with development. Others may work with adolescents who are struggling with their changes in their body or their identity. Some psychologists work with older adults who are having problems dealing with their cognitive decline.

As you can figure out, developmental psychology is a diverse and rewarding practice. Here are some more things they do.

  • Studies of language skills. How do people acquire them? Why are there people who can learn the language faster than others?
  • How do morals develop? Why do some children learn morals quickly, while others take a long time to learn?
  • How can someone aging keep their independence? How can one reverse disorders that can lead to cognitive decline?
  • How do babies develop?
  • What are some ways we can treat developmental issues?

Where You Can Find A Developmental Psychologist

If you're looking for a developmental psychologist, you usually don't have to look that far. Developmental psychologists work in:

  • School settings. This does make sense, as developmental psychologists do study children and adolescents as they develop. A developmental psychologist may also be at a university to study or to help young adults. They can also be teaching.
  • Government agencies such as hospitals and labs. These are not only designed for studies but to help those who have problems with developmental disabilities.
  • Assisted living homes. These are typically for the elderly, and a developmental psychologist may be there to help the elderly live a more independent life and study developmental changes in the elderly.
  • Rehab clinics. They are especially prevalent in teen rehab clinics, where they will learn how drugs hinder the development cycle.
  • Homeless centers. They may be there to help the homeless and study how being homeless can affect development.
  • Hospitals and psychiatric centers.

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What Training A Developmental Psychologist Has

A developmental psychologist usually has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology. If someone has a Ph.D., they can teach at universities and have jobs in private establishments and other places. A developmental psychologist's education typically begins with an undergraduate degree, and then they either choose a master's or go to the Ph.D. program.

The need for more developmental psychologists has grown at an average rate. As the population ages, more psychologists may be needed to study how people develop as they age.

By learning about how people change, a psychologist can use it to help those with developmental problems. How can they help? Here are a few ways they can.

Helps Parents Who Think Their Toddler Has Development Issues

During the toddler stage, your child will begin learning how to walk, talk, use the bathroom, and other important milestones. However, some toddlers will develop earlier than others. A toddler may learn how to use the bathroom at a young age or take a while. Some parents may believe there is a problem if the toddler doesn't make it to the stage at the right time, but usually, there isn't a problem when a psychologist looks at it. The parent may learn that there is more to the development cycle than they thought.

Can Help Children Who Are Having Learning Difficulties

Once again, every child learns at their own pace. Some children can read fluently before they even hit the first grade. Other children may struggle to read way past that. A psychologist can figure out if your child's delay in learning is normal or if there's something more to it.

Can Help Teenagers With Their Problems

Being a teenager comes with many struggles. These struggles range from changes in your body to how you behave as a person. Being a teen comes with many questions, and you may not know how your body has changed. A developmental psychologist can assess a teenager and see the difference between a struggling teen and normal teen behavior.

Can Help Young Adults With An Identity Crisis

Young adults who are entering college or the adult world are still struggling with identity, and sometimes, it can be due to developmental issues. Those who have problems with their identity can be people who didn't learn the social and emotional skills for their personality or need a psychologist's help. Either way, a developmental psychologist is here to help you figure out what you need to survive in an ever-changing adult world.

A Developmental Psychologist Helps The Elderly

The mind does not stop developing as one ages. A person's outlook on life may change as they age, and they may be affected by mental disorders in mind—for example, dementia. A developmental psychologist needs to study these changes and apply treatments to help the older adult live a better life.

They Can Be Valuable Teachers

Those who pursue a career in developmental psychology may end up being teachers in the end. A developmental psychologist may work at a university, and students who want to study to be the next developmental psychologist, or are curious about the subject, can learn a lot. Someone who has studied developmental psychology knows how people can learn, and their teaching can reflect that.

They Can Help Teens Recover From Addictions

It's common for a teenager to experiment with drugs, but if they have problems with drugs and are addicted, a developmental psychologist can help. They've studied how drugs can change a teen's brain and work to reverse the effects and get the teen the help they need.

These are just a few services that developmental psychologists have to offer.

Seek Help!

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If you are having trouble with your development, or your child is, there is no shame in talking to a developmental psychologist. They can help by teaching you how the human mind develops, why you may be having a development issue, and what you can do to change it. Sometimes, you can change the way you develop by talking to a psychologist. You may need to improve the various ways you learn by trying different learning tactics.

A developmental psychologist is a rewarding career and one you can benefit from, be it the psychologist or the client.

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