Who works in CAMHS?

The CAMHS service is made up of a wide range of specialist staff who are trained to support children and young people facing mental health difficulties.

Which of our staff you see will depend on your individual needs, and we will talk to you at your first appointment to agree who the best people will be to help you. You can find out more about what different people do at CAMHS below, and hear directly from a few of our team members too.

For more information about the type of therapy and treatment CAMHS provides, see our section How Do We Help?

Our admin team are usually the people who answer the main telephone line if you call CAMHS, and will put you through to the right people to speak to. They're also the people who will greet you at reception when you first come into CAMHS. They will tell you where you need to wait for your appointment, and can answer any questions you might have before you go into your appointment.

Meet the Poole admin team below:

Behavioural practitioners work with young people who display challenging behaviours that are linked to a mental health difficulty or neurodevelopmental condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism (ASD).

The practitioner may also work with parents, carers and teachers to develop behavioural strategies that will help.

Meet Juliette Hine, a behavioural practitioner at Poole CAMHS, below:

Clinical psychologists are trained to work with people of all ages who experience emotional, social and behavioural distress.

They are often trained in a number of different psychological therapies, which allows them to work in a flexible and responsive way. In CAMHS a clinical psychologist is more likely to work directly with children and families where there are chronic and complex relational and emotional difficulties. A clinical psychologist will pay close attention to the child’s environment and relationships in order to understand the how these are related to the emotional health difficulties of the child. Clinical psychologists also work very closely with other clinicians within the team to support them in delivering psychological therapies with families.

One of the main tools that a clinical psychologist will use is 'psychological formulation'. This is a way of working with people to reach an understanding about why they are experiencing emotional difficulties. A psychological formulation considers personal strengths, life experiences and family factors. The formulation will then guide the appropriate treatment and allow progress to be mapped.

As well as working therapeutically, a clinical psychologist might conduct detailed psychological assessments including assessments of cognitive functioning, developmental assessments and assessments of early relationships and trauma.

Clinical Associate Psychologists are trained to undertake assessments and interventions using a range of different psychological therapies which allows them to work in a responsive way. They use a psychological formulation which is a way of working with a person to reach an understanding about why they are experiencing emotional difficulties. A psychological formulation considers personal strengths, life experiences and family factors. The formulation will then guide the appropriate treatment and allow progress to be mapped.

There are crisis and home treatment practitioners in each CAMHS team in Dorset. They work in the short term with a young person who is experiencing particular difficulties and struggles, such as with low mood, suicidal thoughts and self harm. These thoughts and feelings can make someone feel unable to get on with their life and feel nothing can change. They can also work with a young person to create a ‘tool box’ of strategies and ideas to help you cope when life seems overwhelming.

Some young people find it difficult to leave home when they have faced a mental health crisis – the outside world can feel scary and it may take a while to build up some confidence to be able to go outside. Crisis workers can help with those little steps so you can begin to get out and about, start living your life again and face those activities that have just felt too difficult.

Family therapists are skilled in drawing out everyone’s strengths and resources so that problems can be seen in a wider context. They work with a family so that everyone becomes part of the solution to the mental health difficulties a young person may be facing.

Family therapy often asks all family members to consider change, so it can be a tough but highly rewarding process.

Julie Oates is a family therapist at Poole CAMHS:

When you come to CAMHS, a mental health practitioner will meet with you to talk about about what support you might need and how we could assist with that, then develop a care plan that will support you.

The term 'mental health practitioner' can be used to describe any qualified member of the team, such as a mental health nurse, occupational therapist or social worker. These roles often help to support the co-ordination of your care and also can also provide treatment.

Occupational therapy aims to improve your ability to do everyday tasks that you might otherwise struggle with as a result of a physical or mental health problem.

At CAMHS, occupational therapists (OTs) help children and young people with challenges linked to mental health difficulties,and work with them to improve their physical, psychological and social wellbeing. You might see an OT on a one-to-one basis or within a group. They can help with issues such as clumsiness or poor coordination, sensory processing difficulties, poor concentration or attention problems and controlling impulses.

You might meet a primary mental health worker if you have a mild to moderate difficulty. You may see them for six to eight sessions, to help you develop some skills to manage your emotional health and wellbeing. They also support schools as part of their role.

A psychiatrist is a medically trained doctor who has undergone additional training in the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions. In a CAMHS team they are likely to see patients who are more unwell or have more complicated symptoms. They will take into account other contributing factors to mental health problems including physical health conditions including arranging investigations such as blood tests. They may give a formal diagnosis of a young person’s condition and they will usually explain about a range of treatment interventions. They are likely to be able to explain the nature of the condition and its likely progress and long term outcome.

Psychiatrists main therapy is with medication but they will also be able to use a range of psychological approaches that may be helpful as well. Medication rarely ‘cures’ mental health problems on its own but it can substantially improve and sometimes eliminate symptoms. Whilst on medication patients are encouraged to return to as normal a life as they can getting enjoyment and a sense of achievement in what they do. Normal activities will tend to allow the brain to repair pathways that have been under strain.  Psychological work will tend to build new pathways in the brain and develop coping strategies. The brain does, however, take longer periods of time to recover than with physical illnesses.

Medications can have side effects however most of these are mild and tend to resolve with time, once the body has become accustomed to it. Where these persist then this can be discussed with your medical team and alternative treatments can be considered. Many medications can be withdrawn after a period of time, however some people do need ongoing treatment in order to remain well.

Meet Cheryl Bailey, a consultant psychiatrist at Poole CAMHS, below:


The CAMHS team includes child and adolescent psychotherapists, who treat a range of emotional and behavioural problems that may have been resistant to other treatments.

Child and adolescent psychotherapists tailor their approach to the individual child or young person and can use a combination of talking, observation and play to understand what the child is struggling with. They are specially trained to understand communications at a deep level, and this has been proven to lead to long term benefits in terms of mental health.

Psychotherapists at CAMHS might also work with parents, families and carers.

Social workers at CAMHS usually support children and young people who are looked after by the local authority.

Social workers support individuals and their families during difficult times and ensure that vulnerable people, including children and adults, are safeguarded from harm.

Support workers usually work in the community rather than in our clinics, and can help with practical aspects of treatment such as practising getting on a bus or getting out of the house. You will usually see a support worker on a one-to-one basis, and they might also work with your family too, to make sure you've got the support you need to become more independent again.

Team leaders are responsible for the day to day running of the team and work closely with the clinicians. If you have any concerns about your treatment then you can ask your key worker to give you the contact details of the team leader.

CAMHS also has service managers, who works closely with the team leaders and clinicians to develop the service and to ensure that you have a good experience with CAMHS.

Natasha is a team leader at Poole CAMHS:

Sam is a clinical service manager at Poole CAMHS

Wellbeing practitioners offer treatment for young people experiencing low mood and anxiety, using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) skills. Treatment usually lasts for 6-8 sessions, and involves home tasks to practice the skills learned in sessions.

Wellbeing practitioners offer one-to-one sessions and groups, and sometimes work with parents. Sessions may be offered on their own, or as a ‘bolt-on’ to ongoing CAMHS treatment.