Occupational therapy is in need of role clarification within the specialty of child psychiatry. The literature reveals that occupational therapy is often undelineated or unrecognized by child psychiatry, has limited efficacy research, and may be at risk for losing its practice with children hospitalized for psychiatric disturbances. This paper outlines steps for the formulation of a specialized role for occupational therapy within this specialty. The Model of Human Occupation (Kielhofner, 1985) is suggested as a basis for conceptualizing this role. A clinical study focused on the evaluation of adaptive functioning with use of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (Sparrow, Balla, & Cicchetti, 1984, 1985) is presented as an example of a way in which occupational therapy can provide assessment data valuable to the interdisciplinary clinical team. The role of occupational therapy in both short-term and long-term hospitalization of children with psychiatric disturbances is described.

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