are often concerned about their child's emotional health or
behavior but they don't know where to start to get help. The
mental health system can sometimes be complicated and difficult
for parents to understand. A child's emotional distress often
causes disruption to both the parent's and the child's world.
Parents may have difficulty being objective. They may blame
themselves or worry that others such as teachers or family
members will blame them.
are worried about your child's emotions or behavior, you can
start by talking to friends, family members, your spiritual
counselor, your child's school counselor, or your child's
pediatrician or family physician about your concerns. If you
think your child needs help, you should get as much information
as possible about where to find help for your child. Parents
should be cautious about using Yellow Pages phone directories
as their only source of information and referral. Other sources
of information include:
Assistance Program through your employer
medical society, local psychiatric society
mental health association
mental health department
hospitals or medical centers with psychiatric services
of Psychiatry in nearby medical school
Advocacy Organizations (NAMI, Federation of Families for
Children's Mental Health, NMHA)
professional organizations (American Academy of Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychiatric Association)
of mental health practitioners can be confusing. There are
psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers,
psychiatric nurses, counselors, pastoral counselors and people
who call themselves therapists. Few states regulate the practice
of psychotherapy, so almost anyone can call herself or himself
and Adolescent Psychiatrist — A child and adolescent
psychiatrist is a licensed (M.D. or D.O.) physician who is
a fully trained psychiatrist and who has two additional years
of advanced training beyond general psychiatry with children,
adolescents and families. Child and adolescent psychiatrists
who pass the national examination administered by the American
Board of Psychiatry and Neurology are board certified in child
and adolescent psychiatry. Child and adolescent psychiatrists
provide medical/psychiatric evaluation and a full range of
treatment interventions for emotional and behavioral problems
and psychiatric disorders. As physicians, child and adolescent
psychiatrists can prescribe and monitor medications.
— A psychiatrist is a physician, a medical doctor, whose education
includes a medical degree (M.D. or D.O.) and at least four
additional years of study and training. Psychiatrists are
licensed by the states as physicians. Psychiatrists who pass
the national examination administered by the American Board
of Psychiatry and Neurology are board certified in psychiatry.
Psychiatrists provide medical/psychiatric evaluation and treatment
for emotional and behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders.
As physicians, psychiatrists can prescribe and monitor medications.
— Some psychologists possess a master's degree (M.S.) in psychology
while others have a doctoral degree (Ph.D., Psy.D, or Ed.D)
in clinical, educational, counseling or research psychology.
Psychologists are licensed by most states. Psychologists can
provide psychological evaluation and treatment for emotional
and behavioral problems and disorders. Psychologists also
provide psychological testing and assessments.
Worker — Some social workers have a bachelor's degree
(B.A., B.S.W., or B.S.), however most social workers have
earned a master's degree (M.S. or M..S.W.). In most states
social workers can take an examination to be licensed as clinical
social workers. Social workers provide most forms of psychotherapy.
should try to find a mental health professional who has advanced
training and experience with children, adolescents, and families.
Parents should always ask about the professionals training
and experience. However, it is also very important to find
a comfortable match between your child, your family, and the
mental health professional.
information see FFFs - #00 Definition of a Child and Adolescent
Psychiatrist; #24 Being Prepared: Know When to Seek Help;
#26 Know Your Health Insurance Benefits; and #52 Comprehensive
#25 Updated 8/99