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3 min read

Does My Child Need a Psychologist or Psychiatrist?

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We are often asked, “Does my child need a psychologist or psychiatrist?” Knowing the difference between a therapist, psychologist, and psychiatrist is helpful when trying to determine the right fit for your child. 


Reviewed by Dr. Alexandra Schira

This article has been reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Alexandra Schira, PsyD., a psychologist on-staff at Williamsburg Therapy Group. 


Read about child mental health on this page:

The Mental Health of Children

When to See a Child Therapist or Psychologist

When to See a Child Psychiatrist

Therapy Services at Williamsburg Therapy Group

The Mental Health of Children

Our mental health is connected to every part of who we are. When your mental health is struggling, your social, emotional, and physical health will usually feel the impact. and vice versa! 

Given all the changes, transitions, and adjustments of growing up, this mind-body connection makes children particularly susceptible to mental health challenges. Did you know that “15.08% of youth (age 12–17) report suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year” and that “the number of youth experiencing MDE increased by 306,000 (1.24%)” compared to last year? These statistics from Mental Health America are eye-opening.

Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that “ADHD, anxiety problems, behavior problems, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children,” and “1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2–8 years (17.4%) had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder,” according to a 2016 parent survey.

We often talk about the mental wellness of adults, but it is important to remember that children are not excluded from experiencing poor mental health as well. Children face mental, emotional, and social challenges just like adults do, and therapy is a wonderful resource to help kids work through those difficulties.

When it comes to receiving therapy, not all mental health professionals offer the same services. Services vary based on what a patient needs, but they also change based on the therapist's title and qualifications. 

Here at Williamsburg Therapy Group, we work with parents who seek out therapy for their children for all of the above reasons and more.

Book a Therapy Session in Brooklyn Today

When to See a Child Therapist or Psychologist

A therapist tends to be a catch-all term for mental health professionals, and their respective services are referred to as "therapy." A child therapist works with a child and their parent or caregiver to navigate through mental, emotional, and behavioral issues, but a therapist cannot prescribe medication as part of their treatment services.

While therapists often have different designations and levels of training, here at Williamsburg Therapy Group, all of our therapists are doctoral-level psychologists (Psy.D. or Ph.D). They have received extensive training in clinical child therapy and research, and can provide the following therapy services to assist children and their families:

  • Individual talk therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy 
  • Family therapy

When you are wondering should my child see a psychologist or psychiatrist, the diagnosis matters in order for your child to receive proper treatment. Both psychologists and psychiatrists are trained to evaluate, diagnose, and treat a variety of mental health disorders, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Behavioral problems
  • Obsessive-compulsive and tic disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Panic disorders
  • Eating disorders

These professionals can also assist in the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders, learning disabilities, and social difficulties (which are not technically categorized as mental health disorders) and include conditions such as:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Language processing disorders
  • Auditory processing disorders
  • Dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, or a visual perceptual or visual motor deficit.

Therapists can also assist children with navigating many parts of life, including transitions, moves, family conflict, grief and loss, divorce, new siblings, and more.

When to See a Child Psychiatrist

Psychiatric services include medical and mental health evaluations, often for the purposes of medication and symptom management. A child psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe medication as part of a child’s therapy treatment. 

Oftentimes, a psychiatrist will partner with a therapist or psychologist to be able to provide complete care for a child who takes prescribed medicine. A psychiatrist makes sure the child is receiving the correct type and dosage of medicine and is tolerating it well, while a therapist or psychologist provides the specific therapy needed. 

Therapy Services at Williamsburg Therapy Group

When trying to answer the question, "Does my child need to see a psychologist or psychiatrist?"  Our team here at Williamsburg Therapy Group can help.

Our child-centered program is designed to ensure parents find the right mental health professional for the specific needs of their child.

We offer specialized therapies for mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, behavioral concerns, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and personality disorders. 

We provide neuropsychological assessments for neurodevelopmental disorders (i.e., ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders), learning, social, and memory issues.

We look for signs of ADHD or other conditions that affect how the brain develops and need specific treatment plans. 

We understand that determining if and when a child needs mental health support can be terribly hard for parents. It is not easy to know whether my child needs a psychologist or a psychiatrist, and we are ready to guide you through the process. 

If you feel your child could benefit from therapy, take a minute to learn more about our child-centered program, our mental health team of doctors, or how you can contact us with questions. 

We look forward to providing the absolute best care for the young, developing mind of your child. 

Book a Therapy Session in NYC or Austin Today

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