What is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist?
As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, my job is to evaluate and treat individuals with psychiatric disorders. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is a specialty of Psychiatry, which is, in turn, a specialty of medicine and therefore requires a medical degree (M.D. or D.O.). My patients often ask me how much education it takes to become a C/A psychiatrist. The minimum training includes four years of college (except in rare cases), four years of medical school, three to four years of general psychiatry residency, and two additional years of child and adolescent psychiatry training. That adds up to thirteen to fourteen years! At the end of this time period, C/A psychiatrists are educated in multiple areas including general medicine, neurology, child development, research and statistics, diagnosing psychiatric disorders by understanding the symptoms of each illness, and treating them using a variety of interventions including psychotherapies (individual, group, and specialized) and the use of medications to treat psychiatric illnesses. Child Psychiatry trainees must observe children in a variety of settings and understand how the environment impacts their functioning in addition to learning about the biology and genetics of psychiatric illnesses.
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