Evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist is appropriate for any child or adolescent with emotional and/or behavioral problems. Most children and adolescents with serious emotional and behavioral problems need a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation.
Comprehensive psychiatric evaluations usually require a few hours over one or more office visits for the child and parents. With the parents’ permission, other significant people (such as the family physician, school personnel, or other relatives) may be contacted for additional information.
The comprehensive evaluation frequently includes the following:
The child and adolescent psychiatrist then develops a formulation. The formulation describes the child’s problems and explains them in terms that the parents and child can understand. The formulation combines biological, psychological, and social parts of the problem with developmental needs, history, and strengths of the child, adolescent, and family.
Time is made available to answer the parents’ and child’s questions. Parents often come to such evaluations with many concerns, including:
Parents are often worried about how they will be viewed during the evaluation. Child and adolescent psychiatrists are there to support families and to be a partner, not to judge or blame. They listen to concerns, and help the child or adolescent and his/her family define the goals of the evaluation. Parents should always ask for explanations of words or terms they do not understand.
When a treatable problem is identified, recommendations are provided and a specific treatment plan is developed. Child and adolescent psychiatrists are specifically trained and skilled in conducting comprehensive psychiatric evaluations with children, adolescents, and families.