This book integrates developmental child psychology and an introduction to child psychiatry in a modestly sized guide to clinical practice by packing information into succinct chapters and excellent summarising tables. It spans normal development, assessment, family and genetic influences, classification, developmental and psychiatric disorders, management and treatment issues, and child psychiatry and the law. The authoritative contributors produce chapters that are easy to digest.
The assessment section offers excellent chapters on the assessment of psychiatric disorders in children, developmental paediatric and specialist neuropsychological assessment, IQ testing and scales to measure behavioural and emotional adjustment in children and their families. Summaries of other models that often contribute to a psychiatric assessment and formulation are not given here but can be found in later chapters on treatments. The emphasis in the assessment chapters is therefore on establishing a diagnosis; factors other than diagnosis that influence treatment choice, such as emotional literacy, motivation and patient/family preference, are not mentioned.
The structure of the book is clear and informative in itself. The chapters on groups of child psychiatric disorders are particularly useful as they cover the contemporary scientific understanding of childhood psychopathology alongside necessary aspects of clinical assessment and current evidence-based treatments. Summaries of topics such as the heritability of specific conditions also make this a useful reference book. Packing so much into 190 pages is quite an editorial feat.
For readers seeking an introduction to this clinical area, an additional chapter on multidisciplinary services might have been helpful, especially as most child psychiatrists and many child psychologists work within the context of multidisciplinary teams, albeit teams that vary in their constituents and their functions. This book is most useful for practising psychologists and psychiatrists, because, through it, experts in their field give us an up-to-date understanding of what is known about disorders and assessment in our clinical area, especially from a neurodevelopmental perspective. It is when dealing with what is not known – a clinical area where there is little evidence, or diagnostic and therapeutic uncertainty – that the reader will need to refer to other resources on the ‘art’ (p. xi) of clinical practice.
Edited by David H. Skuse. Abingdon: Medicine Publishing Company. 2003. 228 pp. £29.00 (pb). ISBN 0 953259 85 4