Children-First Visit

In addition to reviewing the information on first visits for adults, it's worth spending some time on how visiting  a psychiatrist is different for children and families.


I work in a way that emphasizes the parents' role in treatment, and often the first step in providing effective treatment for kids is understanding what the parents are going through. I always see parents of young children by themselves before I see the child, and in our visit we'll talk about when we think it would be best to bring the child in. 


When it is time for a child to visit me, it's nice to remember that the first visit to any new place can be scary, and in particular visiting psychiatrists can make for a lot of worries. I've found that talking with kids about where they're going and why helps their worries. I encourage parents of younger kids to use terms such as "we're going to see the thinking and feeling doctor. There'll be no shots. We'll talk to the doctor together, and if you want, you can talk to the doctor on your own too." I think it's best to tell kids why they're coming to see me in simple, action-oriented terms such as, "We're going to see the doctor because you get into fights at school / you're having trouble paying attention in school / there's a lot of fighting in the house / we argue a lot / etc..." 


It's often helpful (and comforting) for young children to bring a favorite toy or two. If they like to draw or read, bringing materials to let them show off what they can do is fun for everyone.