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Child and adolescent psychiatry is a service where children and young people under 18 and their parents can go if they have problems with mental health or parenting. Here we explain what child and adolescent psychiatry is and what you can get help with.

What is child and adolescent psychiatry?

Child and adolescent psychiatry is a specialised subsection within the frameworks of a broader mental health support system that offers psychological and psychiatric care and treatment to children and adolescents up to 18 years of age. In Ireland, this service is called CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).

Child and adolescent psychiatry works with a range of mental health problems and disorders, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, behavioral problems, ADHD, and autism. They provide services such as assessment, diagnosis, individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy and, if necessary, medical treatment. The aim of the clinic is to support children and adolescents in their mental health, promote their development and well-being, and provide support to families.

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What can child and adolescent psychiatry help with?

At the CAMHS, children and adolescents up to 18 years old can get help with a range of mental health problems and disorders, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, ADHD, autism, behavioral problems and trauma. They offer assessment, support and treatment through individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy and in some cases medication, all tailored to the specific needs of the child or adolescent. The team consists of psychologists, psychotherapists, doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together to provide comprehensive support.


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Do psychologists have a duty of confidentiality?

Yes, psychologists and occupational therapists have a duty of confidentiality. This means that they are obliged to keep information they receive in their professional work with clients, patients or in research confidential. They may not disclose this information to third parties without the consent of the client or patient, except in certain exceptional cases regulated by law. These exceptions may include situations where there is a risk of serious harm to the client or others, or where the psychologist is legally obliged to report certain information, such as in cases of suspected child abuse. Confidentiality is fundamental to maintaining trust between psychologist and client and is a central part of the professional ethics of psychology.


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Treatment in child and adolescent psychiatry

Seeking help from a child psychologist is an important step when a child is experiencing mental health difficulties. A first step in getting help through CAMHS can be to call or contact the HSE with a referral from a GP. Treatment at CAMHS usually begins with an assessment phase in which the child or young person’s needs are carefully mapped through interviews, observations and sometimes also psychological tests. However, it is advised that waiting lists for these services can be extremely long. Based on the assessment, an individual treatment plan is drawn up which may include various interventions such as individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and in some cases medical treatment.

Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are common. The aim is to provide the child or adolescent and their families with tools and strategies to deal with specific psychological challenges. The clinic focuses on creating a safe environment where the child or adolescent can feel understood and supported through their treatment process. Collaboration between therapists, parents, schools and other relevant stakeholders is often an important part of treatment to ensure a holistic approach to the child or adolescent’s situation.


12 common questions about child and adolescent psychiatry

What is child and adolescent psychiatry?

Child and adolescent psychiatry is a specialised clinic within the public healthcare system that offers psychological and psychiatric care and treatment to children and adolescents up to 18 years of age.

What can you get help with at child andadolescent psychiatry?

They work with a range of mental health problems and disorders, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, behavioral problems, ADHD and autism. They provide services such as assessment, diagnosis, individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy and, if necessary, medical treatment.

Do you get to meet different professionals?

You often work in a team of psychologists, psychotherapists, doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together to provide comprehensive support. So you may meet different professionals.

What is a child psychologist?

A child psychologist is a licensed professional with knowledge and experience in working for the well-being and mental health of children and parents.

What does a child psychologist do?

A child psychologist offers therapy and counseling, but also works with families in parental support and the whole family when needed. They also collaborate with schools to create good conditions for the child.

Does a psychologist have a duty of confidentiality?

Psychologists are bound by professional secrecy, which means that they are not allowed to disclose information about their clients to third parties without consent, except in specific exceptional cases provided for by law, such as risk of serious harm or suspected child abuse.

Can I see a child psychologist privately?

It is also possible to see a child psychologist privately. At Lavendla we have several psychologists who have extensive experience of working with children and young people. For more severe problems, it is good to seek help in specialist psychiatry for more extensive treatment efforts, you can get a referral via your health center or contact BUP directly.

What are the signs that a child is not well?

There are several signs that a child is unwell, which can be manifested in behaviors and emotional expressions such as anxiety. It can show up in social relationships or in physical symptoms. It can affect school performance and lead to risky behaviors. It can affect the thoughts and feelings of the child in different ways.

I am having difficulties in my parenting, how can I get help?

Child psychologists also work with parents in parental support. If you are having difficulties, you can seek professional help to get more support.

What does treatment through child and adolescent psychiatry involve?

Treatment in child and adolescent psychiatry usually begins with an assessment phase in which the child’s or adolescent’s needs are carefully identified through interviews, observations and sometimes psychological tests. Based on the assessment, an individual treatment plan is drawn up which may include different interventions such as individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and in some cases medical treatment.

How long is treatment?

Treatment is tailored to the nature of the child’s or parent’s problems. It can range from a few sessions to longer treatment over a couple of years.

Where can I go if I or my child needs help from a child psychologist?

Depending on how old your child is, you can turn to different services. If your child is over 13 years old, you can go to a youth clinic or a school counselor. You can also contact your medical centre or child and adolescent psychiatry. At Lavendla, we have experienced child psychologists who can also help.

How can a treatment at a child and adolescent psychiatry clinic work?

Seeking medical help is an important step when a child is experiencing mental health difficulties or if you are having difficulties as a parent. Here is a brief overview of what treatment can look like:

First step: Initial consultation where the psychologist or other qualified health professional assesses needs by talking to the child and parents.

Treatment plan: An individualised plan is developed, based on the child’s specific situation and needs.

Types of therapy: Common approaches include play therapy for younger children, where play is used as a tool for expression and processing, and talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for older children, which focus on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. Other methods such as family therapy can also be helpful.

Parental counseling: Parents receive guidance and support to better help their child at home.

Monitoring and adjustment: The treatment plan is continuously evaluated and adjusted as needed to ensure the best possible outcome.

It is important to remember that each child is unique, and therefore treatment may vary. Working together with a child psychologist can give you and your child the tools they need to manage their emotions and behaviors in a healthy way. At Lavendla, we have child psychologists who can help make the hard stuff easier.

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Written by Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.