CAMHS staff

When you attend an appointment at CAMHS with your child, you may meet a range of mental health professionals, all of whom are specialists in what they do.

They include (in alphabetical order):

Art therapists (art psychotherapists)

Art therapists are trained in art therapy, a form of psychotherapy in which art materials are used to express thoughts, feelings, inner conflicts and confusions which can then be shared and reflected upon. Your child does not have to be good at art to use this process. It gives a child or young person space to express themselves, especially when it is hard to talk about something which is upsetting or frightening.

Child psychotherapists

Child and adolescent psychotherapists are trained to carefully observe children and young people and respond to what they might be communicating through their behaviour and play. They may provide younger children with toys to play with or materials to draw with. Older children might talk with child psychotherapists about their feelings and have an opportunity to explore and understand their inner world.

Family therapists (family and systemic psychotherapists)

Family therapists aim to maximise your family’s strengths and help you to overcome problems experienced by individual family members or your family as a whole. They assist family members to express and explore difficult thoughts and emotions safely, to understand each other’s experiences and views, appreciate each other’s needs, and make useful changes in their relationships and lives. Family therapists also help family members to understand how they function as a family and to develop more helpful ways of interacting with and supporting each other.

The Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice has some useful introductory information for families.

Primary mental health workers

Primary mental health workers work with children’s services, offering early help to improve emotional wellbeing. They often work in clinics, schools and homes, and carry out shorter term interventions. They also provide training and consultation to other professionals, such as teachers and social workers, who refer to CAMHS services.

Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists have trained as medical doctors and then continued to complete training in mental health. They have specialist knowledge of diagnoses where this is required. In situations where other professionals are concerned about your child’s safety in relation to their mental health, a psychiatrist has professional training to assist with this. A psychiatrist will help arrange an admission to hospital or prescribe any medication if necessary.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has created information about mental health for parents.

Psychologists (clinical psychologists)

Psychologists are trained in different types of therapy. They help children and families to explore and understand their emotional difficulties. They may do this through looking at their thoughts, feelings and behaviour and relationships. They consider past and present experiences might contribute to current problems and how to work towards agreed goals. They are also trained to complete assessments which look at memory, concentration, attention and other thinking skills.

The British Psychological Society provides general information about psychology and the work of psychologists.

More information

Young Minds has a helpful list of the kinds of people you and your child might meet when they come to CAMHS.

If you meet other mental health professionals whose roles aren’t described above, it’s OK to ask them about their job and what they do.