How Adolescent Psychiatry can Help Your Family

Feb 14, 2024
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The practice of adolescent psychiatry specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders in children and teenagers.

The practice of adolescent psychiatry specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders in children and teenagers. According to the World Health Organization, 50% of mental disorders arise in children by the age of 14, and the majority of these disorders can be missed by the people closest to the child. Family involvement is an important factor in the success of psychiatric therapies and techniques in a child patient.

The role of family in adolescent psychiatry

An adolescent psychiatrist not only performs a diagnostic exam on a child but also spends time focusing on the child’s interactions with peers and family. A child’s relationship with family members can affect personal health and the health of family members, so involvement of the household in the process is important. Psychotherapy techniques vary, but the overall purpose is for a child, the family and the therapist to have conversations that can be therapeutic for the patient. Different psychotherapy techniques can be combined, and sometimes families find that the addition of prescribed medication can make the process more effective.

Types of psychotherapy

Adolescent psychiatry practitioner may use multiple psychotherapy techniques to help a child and family understand mental disorders.

Family therapy

This technique helps family members explore the ways they communicate and interact with each other. Family members, which can include parents, grandparents and siblings, learn better techniques for supporting a child with a mental disorder. Similar to family therapy, Parent Child Interaction Therapy uses coaching sessions to help parents connect with their child through positive interactions.

Play therapy 

For a younger child who may not be able to verbalize as clearly as a teenager, play therapy helps the psychiatrist communicate with the child and demonstrate how to verbalize feelings and emotions through the process of play. Play therapy helps the child learn how to better communicate needs and frustrations, and it can help a family to understand a child’s behavior.

Dialectical behavior therapy

Older children who have issues with ideations of suicide, depression or bipolar disorder can benefit from dialectical behavior therapy. This form of psychotherapy combines individual sessions with family group sessions. The psychiatrist helps the child and family identify thoughts, feelings and actions that can lead to self-harm behavior. Working together, a family can learn how to handle these negative emotions and how to assist a child coping with these feelings in a positive manner. 

Psychodynamic psychotherapy

Psychodynamic psychotherapy can be used in both children and teenagers. With this psychotherapy technique, family members understand the motivations behind a child’s behavior and actions. The psychiatrist helps the family recognize specific patterns that can lead to inappropriate or negative behaviors. By recognizing these triggers, a family can help the child identify and cope with internal struggles.


The health of a family can be both negatively and positively impacted by the mental health of a child. By embracing psychotherapy techniques that benefit young patients with mental disorders, a family can learn how to heal their child and themselves.

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