VÚDPaP was established by a resolution of the Presidency of the Slovak National Council of 26 November 1963 with effect from 1 January 1964. The idea to establish a workplace focused on psychological research of a child was promoted by Associate Professor PhDr. Miroslav T. Bažány, who also became its first director. From the very beginning, the institute worked in the education sector; since 1968, the Slovak Ministry of Education has been the founder. Until 1992, the institute had activities for the whole of the then Czechoslovakia.
The tasks of VÚDPaP enshrined in the first statute included:
- research into the formation of the child's psyche and the social determination of this process,
- research on the psychological development of disabled children and children with learning and behavioral disorders,
- elaboration of basic theoretical issues of psychological educational care for children and youth and professional management of the Psychological Educational Clinic in Bratislava,
- gathering scientific information from the fields of child psychology, pathopsychology and social pathology,
- development, verification and standardization of psychodiagnostic methodologies.
The last task shortly after the establishment of the institute required the establishment of an independent workplace (Psychodiagnostické a didaktické testy, n.p. - today Psychodiagnostika, as), and was therefore deleted from the statute. The Psychological Educational Clinic in Bratislava began to be joined by others in other cities, until the whole system of educational counseling was established. Since 1976, its individual workplaces have been called pedagogical-psychological counseling centers, so they function in the Czech Republic to this day. In Slovakia, since September 1, 2008, they have been renamed centers of pedagogical-psychological counseling and prevention. VÚDPaP was entrusted with their methodological management.
At its inception, the institute had 25 employees, five years later 57, in 1989 already 74. In 1993, the number was reduced to 50 and it is still around this number today. The structure of the institute underwent changes, but for the first 25 years the key organizational units included the department of developmental psychology, the department of child pathopsychology, the department of social development and the center of scientific information (with a professional library). Since 1966, VÚDPaP has been publishing the professional journal Psychology and Pathopsychology of the Child. (original Slovak title: Psychológia a patopsychológia dieťaťa) Psychology and Pathopsychology of the Child.
In 1989, the then representatives of the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Socialist Republic decided to abolish the institute, despite the protests of the scientific community and the professional public. In their opinion, psychology should have helped more to fulfill the tasks of socialist pedagogy, so they merged the institute with the Research Institute of Pedagogy and subordinated its management (the Research Institute of Pedagogy and Psychology was established). This situation lasted exactly a year. On July 1, 1990, the Minister of Education of the Slovak Republic restored the independence of both workplaces.
Since 1991, VÚDPaP has been involved in the grant system of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Academy of Sciences, within which it was one of the most successful psychological workplaces. By 2010, its staff had completed thirty-five tasks approved by the Scientific Grant Agency. As VEGA's funds are intended only for universities and SAS institutes, in the following period the institute did not participate in this grant scheme.