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Pediatric Psychiatry

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No one wants to see their child struggle with feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that seem out of their control. This can be especially scary if your child already is seeing a therapist. A psychiatrist is a valuable member of most care teams for mental health conditions. By combining medical and non-medical therapy services, children often get the leg up they need to really get the most from therapy.

At UVA Health Children’s, our child psychiatrists specialize in a wide variety of conditions. We can help you find a psychiatrist who you trust. And we’ll talk you through your child’s treatment options.

Child Psychiatry at UVA Health Children’s

Psychiatrists have training in therapy methods. They also are the only mental health professionals who can prescribe medication. Their extensive training means they can develop a robust treatment plan for your child. They may work together with your child’s psychologist to use therapy and medication.

Your child should talk to a psychiatrist if:

  • They were just been diagnosed and you want to explore all treatment options
  • They haven’t yet been diagnosed and you want testing
  • Their symptoms aren’t managed with therapy alone
  • A psychologist or therapist has advised medication
  • You have questions about medications

They’re the right people to talk to if you’re still unsure about medication. After meeting with you and your child, they can help you understand the pros and cons of medicine. They can also help you monitor side effects and evaluate if a medication is helping.

Conditions We Treat

Psychiatry FAQ

Your child’s psychiatrist will be able to answer your questions in detail. But here are a few of the common questions we see before a first visit.

Will medication make my child different?

The hope is that the right medication will make your child well. This means they’re actually more like themselves. But they might act differently than you’re used to, which can feel “wrong”.

What if a medication isn’t a good fit?

Then talk to your psychiatrist. They can recommend a different medication based on your child’s side effects. If your child wants to come off medication completely, they can also help you develop a plan to do that safely.

Will my child need to take medication forever?

Sometimes, yes. It depends on your child’s condition.

Much like how many diabetics always need insulin or people with poor vision need glasses, some mental health conditions require ongoing medication.

Is medication the only treatment available?

No. Our psychiatry department works hand-in-hand with our psychology department to offer many other treatment options. This includes non-medical options like cognitive behavioral therapy, play therapy, art therapy, or integrated health.

How does the treatment process work?

At your first visit, your child’s psychiatrist takes a detailed history. This includes medical information and personal observations. We’ll work out a treatment plan and then schedule follow-up visits. This lets us know if our treatment plan is working for you and your child.

What if my child is scared before their first visit?

It’s normal for kids to feel nervous. Let them know that all they need to do is talk about themselves honestly.

For younger children, bringing a comfort object or toy may help.

How can I support my child?

Parents and guardians are an important part of a child’s treatment team. You know your child and can help us identify areas of concern. You can also show them support by listening to them. You, your child’s psychiatrist, and your child can help define everyone’s roles so it’s clear you’re on the same team.