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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 49 (2007) 7, 429 - 438


Child and adolescent psychiatry: a profession and its identity II

F.R.J. Verhey, F.C. Verhulst, R.F. Ferdinand

background Up till the 1970s child and adolescent psychiatry had no distinctive diagnostic system of its own. From the 1980s onwards qualitative information-gathering (e.g. via discussion or play-situations) was no longer regarded as adequate and the standardised gathering of (quantitative) information became the cornerstone of the diagnostic process. This development fundamentally changed the child psychiatrist's profession and its identity.
aim To investigate the specific features that are required in current child and adolescent psychiatry.
method In this article we will clarify the change in the child psychiatrist's profession and identity by outlining how child an adolescent psychiatry evolved as from the early 1980s. We will do this by concentrating on the diagnostic process. The treatment aspect will be discussed only briefly.
results Over the last 25 years the role of the child psychiatrist has undoubtedly changed. From being mainly a diagnostician and/or being personally responsible for treating the child or adolescent the child psychiatrist has become increasingly the person who controls the diagnostic process and plans treatment.
conclusion Over the last two decades the diagnostic technique of the child psychiatrist has developed in a new direction. The child psychiatrist has chosen instead to elucidate a patient's referral and to discuss the reasons for a request for assistance and/or care. The psychiatrist uses many types of information and a multitude of informants and methods. This development has led to a fundamental change in the child psychiatrist's profession and its identity.


keywords adolescent psychiatry, child psychiatry, diagnosis, examination