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.
Problems of Children & Teens
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Fighting & Biting
Alcohol & Drug Abuse
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Gay & Lesbian Teens