I chose psychiatry as a specialty because, of all areas of medicine, it most allows me to treat the whole person, including their life circumstances and experiences as well as the specific symptoms that brought them to care. A thoughtful psychiatric evaluation should consider the biological, psychological and social aspects of someone’s life. Only when considering all these things can we craft an appropriate treatment plan and have the most positive impact.
A child psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the mental health of children and teenagers. Child psychiatrists attend medical school followed by five to six years of specialty training. A child and adolescent psychiatrist can diagnose illness, prescribe medications, and perform therapy. He or she may treat mood disorders, anxiety, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder, among other issues.
I received my undergraduate education at Willamette University, majoring in biology and minoring in sociology and chemistry. After college I spent a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer, working in literacy intervention with elementary school children. I then attended medical school at the University of Utah. I completed my residency training in Psychiatry, as well as my fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, at Oregon Heath and Science University. During this training I worked with patients in a variety of settings including hospital units, residential facilities and outpatient therapy clinics.
I structure all my initial intake evaluations as consultations which generally consist of 2-4 sessions. During these sessions I will meet with the parents or guardians, the child or adolescent, and then with the family together to determine a treatment plan. We will decide what kind of care is needed and if we are a good fit to work together. In the office I may take a child or adolescent’s blood pressure or other vital signs to make sure they are physically healthy. I may also recommend he or she get blood work done.
The short answer is… it depends! In some cases, after the initial series of appointments, we do not need to continue meeting. I may make recommendations that can be carried out by the primary care doctor or therapist. For patients I see for therapy on an ongoing basis, it is most common to meet weekly. If we’re meeting to make sure your child’s medication type and dosage are working well and to make adjustments as needed, then appointment frequency can vary from monthly to every three months. If we’re making medication changes, then we might need to meet more often.