What is a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist?

Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists, like Dr. Shannon Sniff, M.D., are physicians who specialize in evaluating and treating behavioral and emotional disorders in children and adolescents. Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists often use a combination of medications and/or psychotherapeutic interventions when working with children and their families. Common concerns that lead to evaluation by a child psychiatrist include: anxiety, poor attention and concentration (ADHD), depression, anger outbursts, learning disorders, academic difficulties, changes in behavior, history of abuse, autism, or developmental delays.

What kind of training do Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists complete?

Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists are medical doctors (M.D.’s) who complete at least 3 years of general psychiatric training after medical school, and then also go on to complete a 2-year fellowship in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. In total, a typical Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist has completed about 13 years of education beyond high school. During residency and fellowship, child psychiatrists are required to complete training in psychiatry, neurology, pediatric neurology, internal medicine, and pediatrics. Once they have successfully completed their training, psychiatrists have the option to take a rigorous exam in order to become Board Certifie by the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology.
Dr. Shannon Sniff is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

What should I expect at the initial appointment?

At Fort Bend Psychiatry, Dr. Shannon Sniff designates 90 minutes for the initial appointment. The initial appointment usually focuses on gathering a great deal of information from parents/guardians and the child. This usually includes medical, psychological, and social information, which will be used to formulate a diagnosis and treatment plan. Child Psychiatrists often inquire about general medical history, medical and genetic testing results, psychological reports, school records, family history, developmental history, and history of the signs and symptoms that led to the current concern. One of the most important tasks for a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist is to gather information from the parents and child separately. In child psychiatry, it is crucial to allow parents to discuss concerns freely, as well as to allow children to share their own perspective. By the end of the interview, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists formulate a diagnosis and plan, and discuss it with the parents and child (when appropriate). They will also discuss various options for treatment including medications, therapies, and any further testing that is warranted. Therapeutic interventions may include psychotherapy, behavioral management techniques, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and/or physical therapy.

What if I don’t want my child on medication?

Each situation is unique, and there are often many options for how to proceed once a diagnosis has been made. A competent Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist will suggest various options for treatment and explain what to expect with each one. Parents should always feel comfortable asking questions, so that they may make an informed decision. Dr. Sniff makes an effort to use the least amount of medication to obtain the ideal outcome.