Pediatric Psychiatry & Therapy


Every parent wants the best for their child. It’s why we make sure they get proper nutrition, plenty of exercise and a good education. Making sure our kids are psychologically healthy can be a little more difficult. When children display signs of emotional or behavioral problems, parents often ask themselves questions such as Is this behavior normal? Is my child just going through a phase? Is my child really hurting inside?

Mercy's child & adolescent psychiatry specialists provide the behavioral health expertise to help you get answers to those questions by:

  • Performing a thorough psychological evaluation
  • Analyzing your family's dynamics
  • Working with you to develop a plan to support you, your family and your child throughout the healing process

Mercy’s behavioral health experts are committed to promoting and restoring the mental health of children and their families with services which include inpatient care, outpatient care and educational programming. 

Pediatric Psychiatry Services

Watching a child battle depression, anxiety, addiction or other behavioral problem is heart-wrenching for a parent. It's painful for the child, and also exacts an emotional toll on you and your family. Your care team includes therapists, advanced practice nurses and psychiatrists who work closely with your family to help your child live their best life.


Prior to beginning therapy, Mercy’s Behavioral Health therapists will consult with you and your child, first together and then separately. This not only gives the therapist time to assess your child’s condition, but it also gives you the chance to decide whether you’re comfortable with the therapist. 

Psychological Testing

The therapist may also administer some standard psychological tests to help determine what specific challenges your child is facing and as a first step toward developing an individualized treatment plan. These tests are non-invasive and may involve questionnaires, essays or other formats. Depending on the assessment, therapists may test cognitive function, personality, social and emotional health, and adaptive functioning (how well the child handles new situations or contexts). 

Pediatric Psychotherapy

Pediatric psychotherapy is therapeutic care designed for children and adolescents, which takes into account their level of emotional and cognitive development, and age-specific issues and needs. It generally takes the form of conversations and other personal interactions between child and therapist and concentrates on identifying and understanding problems, behavior modification and issue and conflict resolution.  

Many different forms of therapy have been proven to be both effective and beneficial. Depending on your child’s struggles and diagnosis, your child’s doctor may use a combination of these and other therapies to create a personalized treatment plan. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

(CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented form of psychotherapy used to change negative patterns of thinking. Through counseling sessions, your child learns how feelings impact mood and how to improve their moods and behavior. 

Play Therapy

Play Therapy is a form of therapy used most often with young children (ages 3-11). By allowing children to come to terms with their challenges in an unstructured and no-pressure environment, play therapy allows children to learn and rehearse coping mechanisms and teaches them to transfer those strategies to the real world. Play therapy may be guided, during which a counselor gently steers a child toward resolution, or unguided, during which a child discovers coping methods on their own. 

Family Therapy

Family Therapy is a form of psychotherapy engineered for the family unit as a whole. It’s often used to identify and treat unhealthy family dynamics and aspects of familial relationships and leads to improved communication and healthier conflict resolution. 

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

IPT is a form of psychotherapy based on the idea that personal relationships are often the root of psychological problems. IPT focuses on helping patients improve those relationships by addressing the dynamics of the relationship. 

Adolescent Group Therapy

Adolescent Group Therapy involves one or more therapists working with a group of teens. Groups are designed to target specific problems such as anxiety, depression, or grief.

Research shows that group therapy can be very effective for adolescents. During group therapy, adolescents can communicate in ways that normalize their feelings and experiences. Group settings allow them to learn about themselves and the impact their behavior has on others. Another benefit is that adolescents receive feedback from peers, which they value and prefer over adult feedback at this age.  

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is used to treat older adolescents with suicidal thoughts, self-harm behaviors including bulimia, substance use or binge-eating, bipolar disorder or PTSD. DBT can be provided in both group and individual settings. DBT helps patients take responsibility for their problems and learn how to deal with conflict or intense negative emotions using four key elements:

  • Mindfulness
  • Distress tolerance
  • Emotional regulation
  • Interpersonal effectiveness 

While not all treatments are available in all areas, Mercy offers a variety of services. Our behavioral health specialists can help you understand your child’s illness and give you information and strategies to help you manage the stress that accompanies your child’s diagnosis and treatment. 

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