Child psychiatry is the branch of medicine concerned with the study and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders of childhood.
Children live through active and critical phases of development, so the approach to the diagnosis and treatment of children’s mental and emotional disturbances is necessarily different from that used with adults. Dr. Mapatwana understands that personality changes that occur as a child grows, and she has extensive knowledge of the developmental stages of personality which makes her uniquely suited to treat children with a wide array of emotional and psychological issues.
Child psychiatry is primarily concerned with the study and treatment of behavioral disorders and emotional problems that affect children. These typically manifest as anxiety reactions and habit disorders, such as nail-biting, thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, and temper tantrums.
They may also manifest as conduct disorders, such as extreme aggressiveness, lying, stealing, destructiveness, fighting, fire setting, cruelty, and running away from home. Among infants, deprivation of mothering or problems in the infant’s relationship with the mother may lead to withdrawn behaviour, continuous crying, inability to eat, insomnia, and physical or mental retardation or both.
Just like adult psychiatry, an in-depth analysis of all contributing factors of behaviour must be done. For therapy to be successful, the parent-child relationship must also be analysed, as well as other inter-family relationships.
School experiences also can create personality problems. Many children exhibit conduct and learning disturbances because they are emotionally, temperamentally, or intellectually unable to learn. Children with perceptual difficulties such as dyslexia, for example, may fail to learn to read or to develop reading skills appropriate to their age level. As a consequence, they often become frustrated and anxious over their failure to meet the standards of their family and their classmates.
Many therapeutic techniques used with adults are also used with children, in addition to more-specialized methods such as play therapy. In the latter, play activities are used as the primary basis for communication between the child and Dr. Mapatwana. Play activities enable children to express their feelings, thoughts, wishes, and fears more freely and easily than they can through purely verbal communication.