How To Find The Best Child Psychologist In Sydney

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Are you a parent looking for the best child psychologist in Sydney? It can be overwhelming to navigate the search process, especially when you’re not sure what to look for. You might have had already read through our article on finding the best adult psychologist in Sydney, but are wondering whether there’s anything more to finding a great child psychologist? Let’s dive into the extra things that are worth checking out before you hand your child over to a psychologist so that everyone in the family has the best experience possible.

Differences Between Adult and Child Psychologists

Before we get into the top tips it’s worth understanding the difference between adult and child psychologists. As a parent you’ve seen your child go through all of those wonderful developmental stages and the associated milestones. A child psychologist has a really comprehensive knowledge of these which allows them to tailor therapy specifically to your child’s need. While there is often some overlap between strategies used to treat issues such as anxiety between children and adults, there is often a massive difference in the way they need to be delivered. 

Sometimes you will find psychologists offering to treat every age range in the human lifespan. Although all psychologists should technically have been trained to treat children and adults as part of their registration process, it’s important to consider whether you want to have your child see a jack-of-all-trades or a child psychologist who has honed a specific area of expertise. 

One of the other major factors is that there are a multitude of psychological difficulties that are specifically childhood disorders. Issues such as learning disabilities and sensory sentivities are generally picked up by the primary schools early on and are topics in which a child psychologist is more likely to have expertise.

With this in mind lets jump into some tips to help you find the right psychologist for your child. 

Top Ways To Find The Best Sydney Child Psychologist

1. Look For A Registered Child Psychologist

First and foremost, it’s important to find a psychologist who is registered with the Psychology Board of Australia. This ensures that they have completed the necessary training and meet the standards required to practice psychology. You can verify a psychologist’s registration status by searching the AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) register.

Remember that anyone in Australia can call themselves a “therapist” or “counsellor”, but “psychologist” is a legally protected word which means you can rest assured that anyone using that title has completed specific training.  

2. Check The Child Psychologist's Experience and Expertise

best child psychologist in sydney tipsWhen looking for a child psychologist, it’s important to find someone who has experience working with children and adolescents. Children have unique developmental and emotional needs, and a psychologist who specializes in working with children will have the training and expertise to provide the best possible care.

You should also consider the psychologist’s areas of expertise. If your child is struggling with anxiety, for example, you’ll want to find a psychologist who has experience treating anxiety in children. If your child has a specific diagnosis, such as ADHD or autism, you’ll want to find a psychologist who has experience working with children who have that diagnosis as these in particular can require very different therapy interventions to more general presentations such as anxiety or depression

You can often find such information on the psychologist’s “about us” page on their website, but always feel free to give the psychologist a call. The best child psychologist’s will normally offer free intake call where you can ask any questions you may have before booking in a session.  

3. Consider The Child Psychologist's Approach

Psychologists use a variety of approaches to therapy, so it’s important to find a psychologist whose approach resonates with you and your child. Some common approaches include cognitive-behavioral therapy, play therapy, and narrative therapy. At the end of the day all of these therapies have the same aim, but they get there via different paths. 

It’s important that you feel comfortable with the therapy approach in which the child psychologist works. Some therapies such as play therapy can seem a little odd from the outside and it may be helpful to talk to the child psychologist to understand the rationale.

Other therapies such as Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) are more structured and can feel like your child is working on something concrete, but may not actually be a great match for their needs. 

Take the time to think about both what you want your child to get out of therapy and what the child psychologist thinks is the best way to acheive this goals. After all, the best therapy is when everyone has your child’s improvement as a shared goal! 

4. Get Referrals For The Best Sydney Child Psychologists

Word of mouth is a powerful tool when it comes to finding the best child psychologist in Sydney. Ask your child’s doctor, teacher, or other parents for recommendations. You can also check online reviews and ratings to get a sense of a psychologist’s reputation.

Keep in mind however, that there are some significant restrictions placed on marketing for psychologists in Australia. For example a psychologist isn’t actually able to classify themselves as “best”. 

While Google reviews are technically permitted it’s a gray area at best and they are not allowed to be solicited so unsurprisingly most child psychologists in Australia don’t have a lot. 

5. Location and Availability

best child psychologist sydney play therapySydney child psychologists are very popular people just before and after school for obvious reasons. Because of this, the location of a child psychologist can go a long way to determining whether they are best for you. 

For adolescent client’s a child psychologist that is near their school may mean that they can actually get themselves there at lunchtime which can be really convenient. 

The other factor to check out is when the child psychologist can actually get you in. Child psychologists often work with areas such as autism and ADHD which can require long interventions. This can mean that they get booked up far into the future. Of course it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the wait as a child psychologist may have a reputation that you’re willing to wait for. 

6. Ability To Build Rapport

There’s not much point to spending the money on therapy is your child is too scared to be in the room with the child psychologist. 

Sometimes the best child psychologist will be the one that your child feels comfortable with. Building rapport is an essential aspect of working with children. A top child psychologist must be able to build a strong connection with the child to ensure that they feel comfortable and safe in the therapy session. They should be able to create a positive environment where the child feels free to express themselves and work towards their goals.

You can often get a sense of this through the initial intake call, but as the parent you can always ask about being allowed to sit in on the session if you have any doubts about the connection. 

7. Excellent Communication Skills

Another critical quality of a top child psychologist is excellent communication skills. Children may not always have the words to express their emotions, which makes it challenging to understand their needs. Therefore, a top child psychologist must have excellent communication skills to be able to help children articulate their feelings and thoughts. 

They should also be able to communicate with parents and other caregivers to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

8. Telehealth or Face-To-Face

Telehealth consults are now a regular part of the health landscape, including child psychology. While telehealth sessions can provide greater convenience and accessibility for sessions in addition to allowing you to pick the best child psychologist anywhere in Australia, there are a few drawbacks.

Children are not generally fantastic with attention and as you have no doubt noticed, the minute a screen is introduced, most children have trouble focusing on anything else! This can be particularly problematic for therapy when dealing with issues such as ADHD or behavioural issues.

It can also be difficult for the child psychologist to observe nonverbal cues which can be really important if working with a presentation like autism.

While many great psychologists can find ways to work with these issues, it’s worth taking the time to find a child psychologist who can best meets your child’s needs as a number of practices have moved to telehealth only since the pandemic.

9. Do You Need A Neuropsych Assessment?

best psychologist sydney adhd assessmentA common demand on child psychologists is for neuropsych assessments. This often occurs after the child’s school has identified some type of learning or behavioural difficulty. Getting these assessments done can also be an important factor in getting access to funding to support your child. 

But not every psychologist is trained of setup to run these assessments. Some of the materials such as the The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) can cost more than $3000 for the practice to buy, which can put a lot off. Some child psychologists also prefer to spend their time doing therapy rather than writing reports. 

While many registered psychologist can provide assessments, clinical neuropsychologists are technically the experts in this area. Be aware though that the cost for a full 4-hour assessment and report write up can move into the thousands of dollars very quickly! 

The best child psychologists in Sydney will be able to have an honest conversation with you about whether they have the skillset to do a neuropsych assessment and if not, can direct you towards colleagues they trust.   


Finding the best child psychologist in Sydney can take some time and effort, but it’s worth it to ensure that your child receives the best possible care. Remember to take your time, do your research, and don’t hesitate to switch psychologists if you feel that it’s not a good fit. Your child’s mental health is too important to settle for anything less than the best!

If you’re looking for a Child Psychologist in the North Sydney area feel free to give Cadence Psychology a call to see if we’re a great fit for you.

Elizabeth Giles

Elizabeth Giles

Elizabeth Giles is a Sydney child psychologist with over 15 years experience in schools and private practice, who loves nothing more than to help young children and adolescents find their voice and thrive.