Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

What is Childhood Psychiatry?

Psychiatry is a medical field which involves the diagnosis, understanding and treatment of mental health conditions. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who focusses on the mental health of children and adolescents up to the age of 18 years old. Child and adolescent psychiatrists also work with families and can support parent / carers alongside working with the child.

Unlike other mental health professionals, such as psychologists and counsellors, psychiatrists are medically qualified doctors who have chosen to specialise in psychiatry. This means they can prescribe and/or make recommendations about medication as well as recommend other forms of treatment such as therapy.

In general, a child psychiatrist can:

• Assess behavioural, mental, developmental, and emotional health

• Perform psychiatric examinations

• Make recommendations to your GP for laboratory tests

• Prescribe / make recommendations to your GP regarding medication if required

• Diagnose and treat a range of mental health and neurodevelopmental conditions

What can psychiatrists assess and diagnose?

• Anxiety difficulties – for example, panic disorders or attacks, acute stress disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or phobias

• Trauma – for example PTSD or developmental trauma Attachment difficulties

• Mood difficulties – like depression

• Behavioural difficulties – such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), or conduct disorders

• Psychotic disorders – like paranoia or delusions

• Personality disorders – including borderline personality disorder

• Eating difficulties – such as bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating

• Developmental conditions – including autism, ADHD and intellectual disabilities

What happens during your appointment?

During your first appointment, your psychiatrist will carry out an initial assessment. They’ll look at your child’s mental and physical health, and may ask:

• about the problem that brought you to see them

• general questions about your child’s life and thoughts

• for information from other sources, such as your child’s GP, school or social worker

After the assessment, your psychiatrist may recommend medication or may suggest other treatments, such as psychotherapy or counselling.

The number of times your child will need to see a psychiatrist and the length of each appointment will depend on your circumstances and will be tailored to your child’s needs. It is usually recommended that your child meets with the psychiatrist at least 3 times to allow for a full, in-depth biopsychosocial assessment, formulation and treatment plan to be developed.

At first, your psychiatrist is likely to see you and your child together. After this, you will agree how you would like future appointments to take place, depending on your child’s age and needs.

What happens after the appointment?

After carefully evaluating all the information gathered during the assessment, your child’s psychiatrist will make their conclusion.

You will receive a comprehensive psychiatric report via encrypted email. This will include a clear diagnosis (if a diagnosis is felt to be appropriate), and personalised treatment recommendations such as referral to another healthcare professional, therapy or medication. We are happy to support you by providing a copy of this report and recommendations to your child’s GP.

At The Retreat Clinics, we have a wide range of specialist child and adolescent psychotherapists and counsellors. This means that we can offer ongoing therapeutic support following your child’s psychiatry assessment and can provide a holistic approach to ensuring your child gets the best possible support.

Get in touch about child & adolescent psychiatry

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