Treatment

Psychological therapies, whether using a psychodynamic approach or a cognitive-behavioural one, have traditionally predominated over drug treatments in child psychiatry. The whole family should preferably be involved in therapy, since family functioning appears to have a marked influence on most psychiatric disorders of childhood. Sometimes, although the child is presented as the patient, the primary problem turns out to lie with another family member, such as a mother suffering from depression. In other cases, parents or siblings are being secondarily affected by the child's emotional disturbance.

Child psychiatry is usually practised in the community, with a team approach, often called Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Inpatient admission is rare. In child and family therapy centres, a team of professionals including child psychiatrists, educational psychologists, social workers, child psychotherapists, and community nurses carry out multidisciplinary treatment. Child psychiatrists and their colleagues also practise in general hospitals, special schools, social services assessment units, and remand homes.

Both assessment and management require collaboration between health, education, social, and legal services. Liaison child psychiatry is concerned with physically ill children, both in hospital and community settings.

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