One in six children aged two to eight in the United States have been diagnosed with a behavioral health disorder, and one in five adolescents aged thirteen to eighteen have experienced a severe behavioral health disorder, per a previous study from 2015. Few of these children and adolescents receive mental health services.

This study, led by the American Psychological Association, determines the amount of licensed psychologists with various specializations nationwide who treat children and adolescents with behavioral health disorders. Three data sources were used: 2015 APA Survey of Psychology Health Service Providers, NPPES/NPI Registry, ABPP Board Certifications.

Findings

Nationwide, there were 5.4 clinical child and adolescent psychologists per 100,000 population under 18 years old. Geographically, the District of Columbia (31.2 per 100,000 population under 18), Rhode Island (23.5), and Massachusetts (21.1) had the highest concentrations of clinical child and adolescent psychologists, while Mississippi (1.0), Louisiana (1.1), and West Virginia (1.6) had the lowest. The majority of counties (80.1%) in the United States had no clinical child and adolescent psychologists.

Nearly half (49%) of clinical child and adolescent psychologists worked in private practice. The majority frequently or very frequently provided services for anxiety disorders (83%), depressive disorders (73%), and disruptive, impulse control, and conduct disorders (58%). Clinical child and adolescent psychologists also reported higher overall cultural competency ratings.

Future policies could provide greater support for this workforce by increasing the availability of child and adolescent psychology speciality training opportunities, such as doctoral programs, internships, postdoctoral fellowships, ABPP certifications, and continuing education offerings. Another consideration is to support training programs that increase psychologists’ capacity to work with underserved populations, such as through grant opportunities or toolkits for expanding funding and resources.

Publications

The Child and Adolescent Psychologist Workforce

Policy Brief
Full Report

Researchers

Luona Lin, MPP, American Psychological Association
Karen Stamm, PhD, American Psychological Association

Partners