Childhood is the happiest phase of one’s life, free of problems and worries. or so we think. Many children exhibit different behavioral patterns like sadness, anger, violence, or hyperactivity. If ignored, these symptoms can develop into mood disorders or disruptive behavior patterns and end up as a mental illness.

If a child shows difficult behavior and is hard to convince or console, it is best to take the child to a healthcare professional for mental health treatment. When it comes to childhood mental issues, the best person to consult would be a child psychiatrist.

Child Psychiatrist – The Right Mental Health Professional for Your Child

Most people are confused as to whom to consult when their children are facing mental issues. Should you go to a child psychiatrist, a child psychologist, or a child therapist?

The basic difference lies in who among these 3 are qualified medical doctors. A child psychologist may have a doctoral degree in child psychology but it may not be from a medical school. The child therapist can even be a social worker who helps the child with counseling. It is only the child psychiatrist who is a qualified clinical physician with a medical degree, training, and specialization in child psychiatry. Only a child psychiatrist is authorized to prescribe psychiatric medication to treat your child’s mental health disorder.

Now, it is clear that a child psychiatrist is the right person to consult for the treatment of child mental health conditions. The next question that arises is “how do I choose the right child psychiatrist for my child?”

Here are some tips from our specialist that will help you in selecting the right psychiatrist for your child.

Choosing the right licensed psychiatrist for your child

Is your psychiatrist a licensed practitioner? This is the first factor you must check.

You can gain this information by checking their website or business card. It is always good to corroborate this fact by checking on Google if the said doctor is truly a licensed psychiatrist or just a licensed psychologist or a licensed therapist. Also, check if the psychiatrist you select has faced any allegations in court or by the statutory board for any ethical violations.

Validating the academic qualifications, license, and professional integrity of the psychiatrist is a must as your child must be entrusted in the right hands of a licensed mental health provider.

List of questions to discuss the treatment plan 

Before taking the psychiatrist on board, you must collect complete information about what type of treatment he intends to employ for your child. After a preliminary physical examination and psychiatric evaluation, the psychiatrist will outline the treatment plan.

You must ask questions on the following:

  • The goals for treatment.
  • Types of therapy and medication they intend to use.
  • The duration of the treatment.
  • The side effects of the medication.
  •  Any underlying risks involved in the treatment.

A good psychiatrist will give a detailed treatment plan and complete mental health information on the condition of the patient along with treatment options.

Compare the treatment options

When it comes to psychiatric treatment for children, the psychiatrist first analyzes the medical history of the child, his /her behavioral pattern, etc. Apart from this, he also studies the child’s academic history, his relationships with his parents, the entire family history, etc. All these factors play a vital role in the therapy process. Then, he suggests a combination of medication and therapy sessions to cure the child.

The types of therapy a psychiatrist may use include

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Cognitive-behavior therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Psychological therapy or psychotherapy
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy

The psychiatrist may have his treatment team or may work in conjunction with a specific type of therapist. Whatever the case may be, you should compare the treatment options and analyze their pros and cons. Getting the list of therapists and checking their credentials and background will also be best for your child. Do not forget to make a note of the number of therapy visits needed for the entire course of treatment.

Understand your child’s mental health issues

Although young, children suffer from a wide range of mental disorders. Starting from small sleep disorders, these may even lead up to complex illnesses like bipolar disorder. 

For instance, young children may show signs of a defiant disorder or an attention-deficit, hyperactive disorder. Teenagers are known to exhibit disruptive behavior disorders or depressive disorders that need the help of an adolescent psychiatrist.

As a parent, you must understand the complete nature, signs, and symptoms of your child’s mental disorder. This will help you choose the right mental health therapist for your child.

The mental health care you provide for your child will improve every aspect of his daily life. Use the above pointers to choose the right psychiatrist for your child and grant him/her a better life. Dr. Sagnik is an experienced licensed psychiatrist that has dealt with various psychological and psychiatric problems. Call or visit his psychiatry clinic in Kolkata for more information.