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For Patients & Families

Frequently Asked Questions

A child and adolescent psychiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in the diagnosis and the treatment of disorders of thinking, feeling and/or behavior affecting children, adolescents, and their families.

Child and adolescent psychiatrists consider biological, psychological, developmental, and social factors when evaluating patients.

After an interview with the child and caregivers, the child and adolescent psychiatrist arrives at a diagnosis and “diagnostic formulation” which are shared with the patient and family.

The child and adolescent psychiatrist then designs a treatment plan which considers all the components and discusses these recommendations with the child or adolescent and family.

An integrated approach may involve individual, group or family psychotherapy; medication; and/or consultation with other physicians or professionals from schools, juvenile courts, social agencies or other community organizations.

Child and adolescent psychiatric training requires 4 years of medical school, at least 3 years of residency training in general psychiatry with adults (which includes medicine and neurology), and 2 years of training in psychiatric work with children, adolescents, and their families in a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry.

Child and adolescent psychiatrists can be found through local medical and psychiatric societies, local mental health associations, local hospitals or medical centers, departments of psychiatry in medical schools, and national organizations like the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association. In addition, pediatricians, family physicians, school counselors, and Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) can be helpful in identifying child and adolescent psychiatrists.

FAQs adapted from FFF Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, please see link for more details

General Resources

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is our parent organization. The AACAP website has a number of helpful resources for families and patients.

AACAP’s Facts For Families provide concise and up-to-date information on issues that affect children, teenagers, and their families. Here are some of our favorite AACAP Facts For Families:

Common mental health issues:

Other issues:

School issues:

Technology and Teens:

AACAP also has a number of Resource Centers available to families and patients. The Resource Centers empower consumers through patient education. Each AACAP Resource Center contains consumer-friendly definitions, answers to frequently asked questions, clinical resources, expert videos, and abstracts from AACAP’s scientific journal.

Here are some of our favorite Resource Centers:

Local Resources

PerformCare – New Jersey Children’s System of Care is an excellent statewide resource for families and patients. PerformCare helps families to access the right services, including behavioral health, intellectual and developmental disability services (including eligibility and application materials), and substance use treatment services.

Youth who are eligible for services through PerformCare are primarily between the ages of 5 and 21, reside in the State of New Jersey, and have an emotional or serious mental health or behavioral need. Special consideration for services is given to children under the age five.

– Adapted from PerformCare – New Jersey Children’s System of Care. Please see link for more details.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) New Jersey is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. Through education, support, advocacy and public awareness programs NAMI NJ fosters understanding about mental illness, confronts stigma often associated with mental disorders, advocates for public policies that benefit those affected by mental illness, and promotes research into the causes, treatment and recovery of mental health disorders.

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ) is a statewide non-profit organization that strives for children and adults to achieve victory over mental health and substance use disorders through advocacy, education, training, and services.

Child and adolescent psychiatrists are at the intersection of General Psychiatry and General Pediatrics. These are our local counterparts:

The New Jersey Psychiatric Association (NJPA) is our state’s chapter of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Among other roles, NJPA educates the public and New Jersey’s lawmakers on the science of psychiatry, promotes the professional standards of psychiatric care, and advocates to protect the interests of patients and their families.

The New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (NJAAP) is our state’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). NJAAP is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children in the state of New Jersey.

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