Consultation with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

It can be a hugely daunting step to take your child to see a psychiatrist without knowing how they may be able to help. We can help you decide whether a psychiatric appointment may be beneficial for your child and arrange a referral where appropriate.

What to expect:

  • The initial consultation appointment with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist usually lasts between one to two hours.
  • If a young person is under the age of 18 they will need to be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians during consultations.
  • The psychiatrist will need time alone with parents to talk about the difficulties a child is struggling with both at home and in school. They may also ask questions relating to a child’s early developmental history and their current health before possibly spending time with the child and the whole family together.
  • A child may be understandably worried about talking to a complete stranger. They may find it helpful to write about how they are feeling or draw their feelings and bring this with them to share with the Psychiatrist.
  • You may be asked to fill out questionnaires about your child and these may also be sent to their school.
  • The assessment may take more than one appointment if additional time is needed to consider any test results, responses to questionnaires, and consultation with other professionals such as GP and school.

What can Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists help with:

Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists are not only specialists in assessing, diagnosing and treating a wide range of mental health problems in children and young people, but also in helping to prevent the development of such difficulties. A Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist is a medically trained doctor who has completed basic training in all areas of psychiatry and then specialised in children and young people. Some of the mental health difficulties a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist can help with include:

  • Anxiety and phobias
  • Acute Stress Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity ADHD
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorders
  • Adjustment Disorders in the context of life events, such as parental separation and divorce
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Depression and Bipolar Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Emerging Personality Disorder
  • Obsessional Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Self-injury and addictions

It Isn’t Just Bad Behaviour

What is happening in a child or young person’s life at home and school can impact in ways that deeply affect their emotions and behaviour. This may include:

  • Stressful or distressing events at home, such as parental conflict, separation, divorce and loss can have a profound impact on a child and young person.
  • Problems at school, such as bullying, friendship difficulties or struggling with the demands of school can be enormously distressing for a child rendering them vulnerable and unable to manage hurt or injured feelings.
  • Stressful early life events are often related to the development of psychiatric difficulties in childhood and early adulthood.

Messages emerging from Neuroscience research is helping us understand the impact of early life experiences, including in-utero, on the developing brain/minds of infants, children and young people. This research also helps us understand how the brain develops and what kinds of nurturing experiences are necessary for healthy development.

Psychiatric Assessment Report:

You can expect to receive a psychiatric report usually within two to three weeks following the initial consultation. This may take a little longer if there is a delay in receiving any questionnaires either from home or school. The final report may suggest a diagnosis where this is possible and outline some recommendations for treatment going forward. The report will also be sent to the child’s GP and anyone else who may be involved in supporting your child.

Psychiatric Medication:

If medication is recommended, the Psychiatrist can arrange for prescriptions to be provided by your GP or privately. The GP may wish to see a copy of the report or a letter from the Psychiatrist before issuing a prescription.

Follow up consultations:

The Psychiatrist will arrange follow-up consultations to monitor progress or additional challenges that may arise. If medication has been prescribed the follow-up consultations will probably be more regular to monitor for any potential side-effects as well as to establish whether the medication needs adjusting.

There may be situations where your child’s needs are better met by more specialised services. This may arise if there is a high risk of injury or harm to self, or significant concerns about suicide. We can signpost you to the most appropriate services and consult with other professionals who may be able to offer additional help and support.