Chapter 6. The Process of Assessment and Diagnosis

John D. O'Brien, M.D.; Alexander Kolevzon, M.D.
DOI: 10.1176/appi.books.9781585623921.452748



The purpose of a psychiatric evaluation is to answer several fundamental questions: Does this child or adolescent have one or more psychiatric disorders? If the answer is yes, the next question confronting the clinician is, What is/are the disorder(s)? (Do the symptoms and their patterns fit a known recognizable clinical syndrome or diagnosis?) The next question is, How does this come to be? (What are the factors—biological, psychological, and social—that have influenced this child or adolescent and his family to be in their current state and present for evaluation?) The final fundamental question for the evaluation is, What is the recommended treatment (if any)?

Your session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In to Access Full Content
Sign in via Athens (What is this?)
Athens is a service for single sign-on which enables access to all of an institution's subscriptions on- or off-site.
Not a subscriber?

Subscribe Now/Learn More

PsychiatryOnline subscription options offer access to the DSM-5 library, books, journals, CME, and patient resources. This all-in-one virtual library provides psychiatrists and mental health professionals with key resources for diagnosis, treatment, research, and professional development.

Need more help? PsychiatryOnline Customer Service may be reached by emailing PsychiatryOnline@psych.org or by calling 800-368-5777 (in the U.S.) or 703-907-7322 (outside the U.S.).


Ebert MH, Loosen PT, Nurcombe B: Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Psychiatry. New York, McGraw-Hill, 2000
Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry: From diagnosis to treatment: an approach to treatment planning for the emotionally disturbed child. Rep Group Adv Psychiatry 8:517–662, 1973
Jellinek MS, McDermott JF: Formulation: putting the diagnosis into a therapeutic context and treatment plan. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 43:913–916, 2004
Looney J: Treatment planning in child psychiatry. J Am Acad Child Psychiatry 23:529–536, 1984
O'Brien JD, Pilowsky D, Lewis O: Psychotherapies With Children and Adolescents: Adapting the Psychodynamic Process. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press, 1992
Sullivan HS: The Collected Works of Harry Stack Sullivan, Vol I: The Psychiatric Interview. Edited by Perry HS, Gawel ML. New York, WW Norton, 1954
Yeh M, Weisz JR: Why are we here at the clinic? Parent-child (dis)agreement on referral problems at outpatient treatment entry. J Consult Clin Psychol 69:1018–1025, 2001

CME Activity

Add a subscription to complete this activity and earn CME credit.
Sample questions:
Child assessment differs from adult assessment in a number of ways. Which of the following describes aspects of the child assessment that are different from the adult assessment?
In conducting the parent interview, clinicians should not
Which of the following is the most important source of an outside report the clinicians should obtain (with permission) when assessing a child?
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).
Related Content
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 1.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 2.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 3.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 4.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 5.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
  • Print
  • PDF
  • E-mail
  • Chapter Alerts
  • Get Citation