Testing & Diagnosis for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Children

How is post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed?
Here at Boston Children's Hospital, a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or other mental health clinician will make the diagnosis after a comprehensive assessment—a series of interviews—with you and your child. During the interviews, the clinician will ask about:

  • the traumatic experience your child suffered or witnessed
  • your child’s symptoms
  • your child’s school, social and medical histories
  • your family’s medical and mental health history

Together with the mental health clinician, you will arrive at a formulation or explanation of your child’s PTSD symptoms, which will lead directly to a mutually agreed-upon treatment plan.

If my child is diagnosed with PTSD, what happens next?
Your child’s mental health clinician will explain the diagnosis and answer any questions you or your child may have. The next step is developing a mutually agreed-upon treatment plan that works for you, your child and your family. The plan may include one or more of the following therapies:

  • psychotherapy (“talk therapy”) for the child
  • family therapy
  • medication (in conjunction with talk therapy)