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Child Psychiatry

We provide assessment, stabilization, and treatment recommendations and initiation to children under 12 years of age from British Columbia (BC) and The Yukon Territories.

Who we treat

Children referred to the Child Psychiatry Unit often have complex mental health disorders, and have accessed their community mental health resources and require further intensive services.

Access to the unit is by referral only and requires the following:

  • A recent physical exam
  • A recent psychiatric assessment when available
  • Before- and after-care support by a health care provider
  • Parent / caregiver involvement

Services we offer

  • Consultation
    All referrals are reviewed by the pre-admission team. Consultation is provided to community health care providers and is required as part of admission.
  • Assessment
    Assessment is provided by the interprofessional team that may include psychiatry, nursing, psychology, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, social work, special education.
  • Diagnosis
    Provide assessment and diagnostic clarification.
  • Treatment
    Can be individual, family and group work within a Monday to Friday therapeutic setting. May include medication trials.
  • Education/family support
    The parents / caregivers play a significant role in the treatment of their child, and their transition back to home and community. We provide family assessment, intervention, support, and education.
  • School program
    Onsite education support is provided including assessment and provision of strategies for use in the classroom to support success in the community. This program is available during the school calendar year.
  • Transition to and from community
    Pre-admission and post-discharge support is provided by the Pre- and Post-Care Team.

Evaluation and care for patients and families are provided by an interprofessional team including nurses, psychiatric nurses, youth and family counsellors, family resource clinician, social workers, pharmacists, psychologists, occupational therapists, dietitian, teachers, psychiatrists and other disciplines as needed. Our assessment and treatment process requires the active participation of children and their families or care providers, and community partners.


Research initiatives include a pre-admission pilot project, research on children who witness violence, a study of narratives with children with psychiatric diagnosis, and patient satisfaction surveys.

Learn more about our research at Child & Family Research Institute.


Student placements and training opportunities are provided to students at all levels and from multiple disciplines including: social work, nursing, occupational therapy, psychology, youth and family counsellors, medicine and psychiatry.



During treatment

The child receives a comprehensive assessment that may include:

  • a psychiatric assessment and medication review
  • psychological testing
  • occupational therapy assessment
  • speech and language testing
  • academic, sensory, and family assessments
  • a medical workup with appropriate medical investigation

The child psychiatry team use the principles of trauma-informed care and the engagement model.  Using the Attachment, Self-Regulation and Competency (ARC) model the team in collaboration with the family design a client-service plan to promote positive relationship building, self-regulation tools and support and understanding how your child thinks.


Based on the ongoing assessment, interventions may include psycho-education and teaching with the child and family, on topics such as anxiety and anger management, social skills teaching, cognitive behavioural therapy, and sensory and self-regulation strategies.

Interventions may also include family support groups or brief family therapy, medication management, school planning, diagnostic-specific interventions (e.g. autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome disorder strategies), and treatment planning with community providers.

Interventions are focused on assessing strategies that will be most effective for the child and family in their home environment and for supporting the family and community resources required to implement these strategies with the child.

Evening and weekend passes

Evening and weekend passes are part of the assessment process and allow the parents/ caregivers opportunities to practice skills they have learned. 

On the unit

While on the unit, individual counselling is provided for each child and there are regular group meetings to help children learn constructive coping and social skills. Children attend a school program with a special education teacher.

Members of the interdisciplinary team review patient progress and meet with parents / caregivers at least once a week to share successes and new knowledge. These conversations help to guide our next steps in working with you and your child. Strategies to support your child are discussed and the program allows opportunities for families to try these strategies during the admission within a supportive therapeutic environment.

During your child's admission there are a number of family education opportunities both within a group setting or with an individual focus.

Length of stay

The average length of stay is 4 weeks.


The pre-admission program provides the child and family with information and support to prepare for the admission. Once your child has been accepted for our program you and your family will be assisted by one of our team members.  These members of our team are here to support you during your transition to our program and assist in reviewing our welcome booklet.

After treatment

Discharge planning begins at admission. The pre and post-care team are available for support and information throughout your child's stay.  

As your time with us nears the end, our team will meet with you to share what we have learned about your child and future recommendations.  A discharge planning will be scheduled, this will be an opportunity to share our findings with yourself and your community team and to collaborate on a successful transition plan back home.

The Post-discharge Care team are available to provide ongoing support to you, your family and community team. 



Enter the hospital site from Oak Street. Use entrance 85 or 87 to enter the building. Upon entering the building, press the buzzer at the door of the unit and you will be let in.

Visiting opportunities

The Child psychiatry unit is a family-centred program, and patients’ families are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the program, including family teaching sessions, multi-family groups and outings with the patients. 

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