Child and Adolescent Treatment
Why Seek Treatment?
There are many questions that parents
ask themselves when they discover that their own child may be
experiencing difficulties or experiencing problems. Often parents
decide to seek treatment when they notice
a difference in their child or teens attention, mood, sleeping
or eating habits. Initially, many parents discuss their concerns
with a family physician, school counselor or members of their
clergy. Often they are referred to a child/adolescent psychiatrist,
who will be uniquely qualified to understand the full range of
factors associated with emotional and mental disorders that can
affect children and teens.
Who Will Help?
Child and Adolescent psychologists
are physicians who specialize in evaluation, diagnosing and treating
children and adolescent's with psychiatric disorders which cause
problems in feeling, behaviour and thinking. They are specially
trained to treat infants, children, adolescents and adults as
individuals, couples, families and groups. They may practice independently
in offices, in hospitals or in clinics. A Child and Adolescent
psychiatrist has 9 to 10 years of special training. This includes
4 years of medical school, from which they receive a Doctor of
Medicine Degree (M.D.) degree, 1 year of supervised general medical
practice in a residency program in a hospital, 2 or 3 years of
supervised training in general psychiatry, and then 2 additional
years of supervised training working with children and
adolescents. They are licensed to practice medicine.
How Long will it Take?
The duration of psychiatric treatment
varies. Some children and adolescents will respond to short term
treatments (i.e., 12 sessions). For example, a child may be experiencing
problems of post
traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and may only need to talk
to a psychologist a few times to deal with their grief. If a disorder
has persisted for a long time or is more complicated a longer
term treatment may be needed. For example, a child who has been
severely abused for a long period of time will need extensive
treatments. Children with chronic
disorders may require continuing treatment. For example, a
child with Autism will need to be continually monitored.
How Much will it Cost?
The fees of child and adolescent
psychiatrists are based both on complexity of treatment and the
amount of time involved. Fees vary depending on where one lives
in the country. In order to determine whether health insurance
will cover the plan, you must contact your insurance plan office
to find out the details of your insurance and the extent of psychiatric
services covered by your plan. Most cover some portion of evaluations,
consultation and treatment services, however they may be restricted
and limited. It is important to discuss money issues with your
psychiatrist if it may prevent you from giving your child the
help that they need.
What is the Process?
After choosing a psychiatrist, the
evaluation of the child will then begin, starting with the psychiatrist
carefully listening to the concerns of the parent. A review of
medical history will be done and additional information from other
members of the family, the school, the child or adolescents personal
physician and other adults in the child's life will be taken.
As well, the parent is counseled on how to deal with questions
about the process that may be posed by their child along the way.
When the child or adolescent meets with the psychiatrist, this
may involve talking, drawing or paying with toys in order for
the psychiatrist to better understand the child. The child is
asked about their view of the problems, as well as how they feel
they are getting along with family, friends and teachers. From
here an assessment is made.
Next, a treatment plan will be
decided upon. An individual plan of psychiatric treatment will
take into account the child's problems, as well as strengths that
are identified in the child's personality, family and community
resources. A variety of treatments may be used (i.e., psychotherapies,
behaviour therapies, medications, interventions). The psychiatrist
will discuss your child's treatment plan with you and your child,
including the advantages and disadvantages of various treatments
as well as availability and services in your community. State
laws will protect the confidentiality of communication between
patients and physicians, and psychiatrists will not discuss information
about the parent and the child or adolescent
with others without consent except as required by law.
Blaming Oneself and Stigma
Some parents may be worried that
they are responsible for their child's problems. This fear may
even cause them to delay seeking help for their child. This feeling
of responsibility is a normal sign of caring and attachment.
There can be multiple causes for many of the problems that children
experience. The cause may never be known, but all are treatable.
As well, stigma often concerns parents as they do not wish their
child to be labelled with a psychiatric disorder. Emotional illnesses
should be seen a lot like physical illnesses, and many of these
problems can be overcome and symptoms improved through treatment.
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