CAMHS stands for child and adolescent mental health services. Our CAMHS sessions will give young people the chance to talk to a qualified mental health expert about what they’re struggling with, and take steps to improve their wellbeing.
Starting the CAMHS assessment process
As an initial step, eligible young people will receive a virtual session with one of our expert Priory therapists. During this session, we’ll aim to get to know the young person as much as possible, helping us to develop an understanding of their situation.
To do this, our therapist will ask some questions to explore how the young person is feeling and the issues they’re struggling with. We’ll also try and explore anything that’s going on in their life at the moment that might be causing them to feel this way.
Following this, we’ll be able to advise on the best treatment pathway for the young person, which could include direct access to private CAMHS support and therapy through our Priory network, or an appointment with a consultant psychiatrist. We’ll also give the young person a summary of the session and our recommendations.
What happens during the first CAMHS assessment?
Following this initial discussion, some young people will be able to progress straight to CAMHS therapy, without the need to see a consultant psychiatrist.
The first therapy session is known as a formulation session. It’s designed to help us build trust and rapport with the young person, setting the stage for a successful therapeutic relationship. During the formulation session, we will:
- Try to make sense of the young person’s story and how this links to the problems they’re having today
- Ask the young person some questions to get to know them better, which might include things like their interests, hobbies and what brings them to CAMHS therapy
- Invite the young person to ask as many questions as they want during this session, to make sure they understand what’s going on
- Talk about the initial virtual session that the young person had, and go through the summary notes to make sure we’ve understood everything
- Ask the young person for more information about their current situation and how they’re feeling
- Educate the young person around the mental health challenges they’ve spoken about. This is known as psycho-education and can help them to understand more about why they’re feeling the way they do. If appropriate, we can also give the young person handouts and resources that they might find useful
- Explore the young person’s treatment goals and what they want to get out of therapy
It’s normal for a young person to feel a bit nervous or unsure of what to expect during their first CAMHS session. However, we’re committed to providing a safe and confidential space where young people can talk openly about their thoughts, feelings and concerns, without fear of judgement. We are there to guide and support young people on their journey to better mental health.
Commonly asked CAMHS assessment questions
The questions that we ask during the assessment or formulation session might be different for each young person, and vary depending on the kinds of problems they’re experiencing. However, the following are all the types of things we might ask:
- How are you feeling at the moment?
- How long have you been feeling this way?
- What is your mood like, most days?
- Do you enjoy school?
- How are your relationships at home?
- Have you tried any coping strategies in the past that have been helpful?
- If you could change something in your life, what would it be?
- How would you like us to help you?
- What do you hope to achieve by coming to see us?
- Have you gone through any changes or transitions recently that have been difficult for you?
Therapists within our CAMHS team have lots of experience working with young people, and we’ll do our best to make them feel as comfortable as possible throughout the session. Within the boundaries of therapy, the sessions are confidential, and we offer a warm and empathetic space, helping the young person feel able to open up about what they’re going through.
Next steps of the private CAMHS assessment process
After the initial session, we’ll be able to create an ongoing treatment plan, tailored to the young person’s needs. This might include setting goals for therapy, identifying strategies to address the young person’s challenges, and agreeing a schedule for any future sessions.
Ultimately, the goal of CAMHS therapy is to help the young person to improve their mental health, build resilience and develop the skills they need to live a fulfilling life. While the therapy process may take time, with patience and support, we can help young people to overcome their challenges and achieve their goals.