The role of a Child Psychiatrist

The child and adolescent psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and the treatment as well as prevention of mental disorders in children, adolescents, and their families. The child and adolescent psychiatrist is specialised on difficulties of thinking, feeling and/or behaviour affecting children, adolescents and their families. He offers families the advantages of a medical education, the medical tradition of professional ethics and medical responsibility for providing comprehensive care.


The child and adolescent psychiatrist uses the knowledge of biological, psychological and social factors in working with patients. Initially, a comprehensive diagnostic examination is performed to evaluate the current problem with attention to its physical, genetic, developmental, emotional, cognitive, educational, family, peer, and social components. The child and adolescent psychiatrist arrives at a diagnostic formulation which is shared with the patient and family, then designs a treatment plan which considers all the components and discusses these recommendations with the child or adolescent and family. An integrated approach may involve individual, group or family psychotherapy; medication; and/or consultation with other physicians or professionals from schools, juvenile courts, social agencies or other community organizations. In addition, the child psychiatrist is prepared and expected to act as an advocate for the best interests of children and adolescents and performs consultations in a variety of settings (schools, juvenile courts, social agencies).


Child and adolescent psychiatric training requires completion of medical school, followed by five-year training for the title of Child Psychiatrist which includes specialized training in Neurology,in General Psychiatry and in Child, Adolescent and Family Psychiatry. In some countries, Pediatric training is also required. In neurology, the physician is trained on general neurology science and neurological examination. In the general psychiatry training years, the physician achieves competence in the fundamentalof the theory and practice of psychiatry. In the child and adolescent psychiatry training, the trainee acquires a thorough knowledge of normal child and family development, psychopathology, and treatment.

Special importance is given to disorders that appear in childhood, such as autism spectrum disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disability (ADHD), learning disabilities, mental retardation, mood disorders, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, depressive and anxiety disorders, drug dependency and delinquency (conduct disorder). The child psychiatry trainee applies and develops psychiatric skills by treating children, adolescents and their families in a variety of settings. An experience in consultation to other physicians, mental health professionals, schools, and community agencies is an important part of training.

Continuous Education

The child and adolescent psychiatrist continues to study and learn about new advances by reading scientific literature and attending conferences. New knowledge is then applied to diagnostic, therapeutic and consultative work