Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services (CAPS)

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services (CAPS)

The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services (CAPS) program is an inpatient unit for children and adolescents up to age 18 with psychiatric illness. The unit is located on the third floor of the Nelson Family Pavilion.

Comprehensive psychiatric care is provided by a highly experienced team of specialists from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and specially trained health professionals from Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.

The conditions treated include:

Upon admission to CAPS, all children and adolescents undergo a comprehensive psychiatric, medical, occupational, and dietary assessment. Specialized assessments are also available, which include biological tests, imaging and electrophysiological measures, nutrition, and neuropsychological testing. These assessments allow the multidisciplinary treatment teams to quickly identify and target problem areas and to develop an individualized treatment plan to meet the specific needs of the child or adolescent.

Individualized services include medication management, behavioral programs, specialized therapies, eating programs and occupational therapy.

Community meetings are held each morning, and again in the afternoon, to allow patients to establish positive goals for themselves, review their progress, and learn positive coping strategies to regulate mood and behavior. Special education instructors and aides (provided by the San Diego Unified School District) are available and offer the opportunity for patients to continue their education while in the hospital.

Patients also participate in a variety of activities and groups, including a daily process group, horticulture, relaxation, hygiene and nutrition. The children are also introduced to basic concepts in various therapies, including cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapies.

An attending physician examines patients daily. UC San Diego Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellows and psychology interns also assist in the care of each patient. All patients have individual therapy several times a week with the therapist assigned to their care; family therapy is available as well.

When patients leave the facility, they participate in a good-bye group and have the opportunity to formally separate from their peers. Families also receive referrals for individual follow-up appointments and recommendations for community-based services.

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