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10 Famous Child Psychologists and Their Credentials

December 15, 2011

Child psychology is a decidedly fluid discipline, wherein new discoveries and research are constantly reshaping the clinical landscape. There are many notable doctors in the field of child psychology, not all of whom agree on theory, much less proper diagnosis or treatment of disorders. Here we will look at 10 famous child psychologists and their credentials:

  1. Sigmund Freud – Noted for his research and theories in the area of psycho-sexual development, Freud’s work in child psychology identified five stages of child development: oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital fixation. He theorized that if a child experienced anxiety which impeded their sexual growth during any of these stages, it would manifest itself in adulthood as a neurosis.
  2. John Bowlby – British child psychologist best-known for his work in attachment theory. Bowlby published a trilogy of works advancing the theory, which eventually became the dominant approach in studying social development in children.
  3. Anna Freud – Daughter of Sigmund Freud, founder of child psychology and pioneer of the concept of defense mechanisms of the ego.
  4. Mary Ainsworth – Contributed much research in the field of attachment theory; developed the “strange situation” assessment in which children would be left alone in a room briefly, then reunited with the mother. This research led to her concluding that there were three types of attachment.  Ainsworth was a pioneer in advancing the understanding of child development.
  5. Erik Erikson – Developed the stage theory of psycho-social development, exploring events throughout one’s lifetime, from childhood, to adulthood, to old age. Studied with Anna Freud, and is also considered an ‘ego’ psychologist.
  6. Melanie Klein – An innovator in child psychoanalysis, and infant development theories, and co-founder of object relations theory, which posits that adults relate to each other and situations as we were programmed to do so in our childhood through our relationships with our parents.
  7. Jean Piaget – Piaget held to the theory, as did, Erikson, that children developed in stages. Piaget theorized that these were stages of a child’s cognitive abilities. One of the first psychologists to recognize that children thought differently than adults.
  8. Sidney W. Bijou – A developmental psychologist, Bijou was a proponent of behavioral therapy in treating psychological disorders in children such as autism and attention deficit disorder.
  9. Hans Steiner – Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Stanford University. A proponent of developmental psychopathology.
  10. Sir Michael L. Rutter – First consultant of child psychiatry in the U.K, often referred to as the father of child psychology; Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.

5 Responses to 10 Famous Child Psychologists and Their Credentials

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Betty says:

Nice article! Interesting to see the different people who have shaped the theories we have surrounding children today.

Irene W. says:

I didn’t realize Sigmund Freud had a daughter who also went into the field of child psychology – how interesting!

Garrett D. says:

Bijou was a pioneer when it came to treating autism and ADD. He did some great work.

Jessicabells says:

Really these men are great. Hats off to them.

paul says:

all of these men and women have definitely helped shape the way we look at child psychology today. good post.