Treatments & Therapies

Child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy – treatment, effects and risks

Child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy

Child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy deals with the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of mental illnesses and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents. With the help of medical and psychological procedures, the mental health of the patients should be established and maintained.

What is child & adolescent psychiatry & psychotherapy?

Child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy is an independent medical specialty. It deals with the research, diagnosis and therapy of mental illnesses and social abnormalities in adolescents. The prevention of mental illnesses is also one of their core tasks.

In order to achieve these goals, knowledge from medicine, biology and psychology is used in child and adolescent psychiatric and psychotherapeutic practice . These are used to treat mental, psychosomatic and neurological diseases, to intervene in the case of conspicuous social behavior and for rehabilitation in the case of addiction .

Boys and girls as well as adolescents up to the age of 18 are considered children and adolescents here. In exceptional cases, child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychotherapists can also treat older adolescents. These have either completed a medical degree with further training in a child and adolescent psychiatric clinic or a degree in psychology or pedagogy and subsequent training. Accordingly, a distinction must be made between treatment by a doctor and treatment by a psychotherapist .

Treatments & Therapies

Two international manuals form the basis of diagnostics in child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy. These are catalogs of well-known diseases that contain a classification, definition and brief description of these diseases. These are the ICD (English abbreviation for “International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems”) and the DSM (English abbreviation for “Diagnostic and Statistical Guide to Mental Disorders”). As extensive as they are in the field of mental illnesses in children and adolescents, the range of treatments in this specialty is just as varied.

First of all, intellectual disabilities and states of dementia , which can already occur in children and adolescents, fall into this spectrum. These can be related to developmental disorders such as reading and spelling disorders as well as arithmetic disorders, while dyslexia or dyscalculia cannot be inferred from reduced intelligence . Motor disorders can also have psychological or psychiatric causes.

In the field of hyperkinetic disorders, attention deficit disorder ( ADHD ), which is controversial among scientists, should be mentioned in particular. In Germany alone, more than 600,000 children and adolescents were diagnosed in 2011 and are usually treated pharmacologically.

Tics can also occur in childhood and adolescence, as well as typical behavioral problems that can go hand in hand with self-injurious behavior. In the case of impaired speech behavior, child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychotherapists work together with speech therapists and speech therapists.

Other disorders include autism and other cognitive and communication disorders. Schizophrenia can also occur in childhood and requires psychiatric and psychotherapeutic treatment. In addition to depression , affective disorders also include manic and bipolar disorders . Personality disorders, disorders of social and sexual behavior can be similarly serious.

Anxiety disorders , obsessive -compulsive disorders and stress disorders can occur in childhood and adolescence . These can, but do not have to be associated with traumatic experiences. Finding out its cause and remedying it is also part of the tasks of psychiatrists and psychotherapists who specialize in this age group. Another problem that practitioners often face is eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia , but also obesity . Addiction disorders are also common at this age.

Diagnosis & examination methods

Child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy is interdisciplinary. This means that scientific knowledge from different areas flows together here, different diagnostic and therapeutic approaches can coexist, complement one another and compete with one another. The basis of diagnostics in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy is the anamnesis interview, the medical examination and psychological test procedures.3

The anamnesis is the history of the disease. Since children and young people are often unable to describe them, the caregivers play a crucial role. In the course of the anamnesis, not only the reason for the examination is determined, the doctor or psychologist also formulates the questions for the further examination steps, which are decisive for the selection of the medical and psychological test procedures. Depending on the course of the anamnesis interview, the medical examination can use different methods. The doctor’s physical examination and determination of the patient’s laboratory values ​​is only the first step, as well as imaging tests such as computed tomographyand functional magnetic resonance imaging can be used.

Once a diagnosis has been established, child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychotherapists have various test procedures and therapies at their disposal, such as drug treatment, depth psychology or behavioral therapy procedures. Treatment with psychotropic drugs can only be carried out by a doctor. Drugs from the group of stimulants, antidepressants and neuroleptics are frequently used . Pharmacotherapy is rarely the sole measure, supplemented by conversational and behavioral approaches.

In addition, systemic, family-related approaches are of great importance in this area. The focus is not only on the affected child or young person. Rather, his behavior within the family constellation, in the school and private context is considered. Children and adolescents can be treated on an inpatient basis, in specialized psychiatric clinics, or on an outpatient basis. The legal basis for the work of child and youth psychiatrists and psychotherapists is laid down in law, among other things, in the Child and Youth Welfare Act (KJHG) and in the Mental Illness Act (PsychKG).

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.