At The Center for Developmental Psychiatry, we frame our practice of psychiatry, including prescription medication, in the context of child development. If you are interested in getting beneath the surface and understanding your child’s underlying social-emotional issues, we can help.
When you call us at 201-304-7552, you will speak with Emily, our office manager. Emily will walk you through the evaluation process and schedule your initial appointments. Our evaluation for a child or teenager consists of four sessions. The first session is a parent session in which we gather an objective account of your child’s struggles as well as a history from birth to the present. Then we meet with your child individually for two separate one-on-one sessions. The initial parent session provides a huge amount of data regarding symptoms and diagnosis, and the two individual sessions provide a much deeper view of your child’s subjective internal world. Our goal is to identify the underlying psychological factors at play and gain a sense of what’s causing those difficulties in the first place.
Our diagnosis is based on symptoms, but the individual sessions provide a deeper understanding that often drives our treatment recommendations. The fourth and final session is a feedback session, during which we share our conceptualization of the issues at hand, including a synthesis of genetics, neurobiology, psychology, and family dynamics.
Most importantly, we strive to present you with a coherent narrative understanding of your child, focusing specifically on the issues of social-emotional development that we have found. When medication may be helpful, our psychiatrist will explain the different options, the possible side-effects, and the pros and cons of each option.
We will also explain the various types of psychotherapy that may help, and either provide that psychotherapy ourselves or provide you with a list of psychotherapists with whom we work closely. We have close relationships with several psychotherapists in the community, and this allows us to collaborate closely and informs our prescribing. The way we see it, our job is to provide the various options, explain the pros and cons of each option, and then let you decide what works best for you, your child, and your family. Often, there is no one right answer, and we will help you wade through the complexity to make a decision that is most in-line with your personal preferences.
If you are like many parents, you worry that medications will be addictive or that your child will become dependent on them for years. For the vast majority of patients, we prescribe very mild medications that cause few side-effects. With very few exceptions, these medications do not cause dependence. In other words, your body does not get used to them to the point where you need the medication to function.
Stopping medication is usually easy, especially if we taper off slowly. In most cases, the worst that happens is the underlying symptoms return. Even when medication is helpful, we usually consider stopping the medication after 6-12 months of stability. The goal is to use medication to return a child to the proper developmental trajectory, after which it is sometimes possible to stop the medication.
Another concern that many parents have is that medication will numb their child or change their personality. Though these concerns are common, this feared result almost never happens. And when it does, we just adjust or stop the medication. The goal is not to numb emotions or to change personality, but rather to reduce the intensity of emotions so that they can be managed.