How Do I Find a Good Therapist for My Child?: Ask These 9 Questions

These days family and child therapists are very much in demand. It has become a challenging environment in which to raise a family.

News is everywhere. Even the most conscientious parent can’t eliminate the constant barrage of difficult images and reporting. The advent of the internet has made it nearly impossible to let children be children.

Social media has exploded. Much of it is positive, but a fair amount is not. Gone are the days when a bullied kid could escape his tormentor overnight, or over the weekend.

Parents are stretched thin. As a result, more and more families are looking for support and are turning to therapy. A wise choice, but how does one find a good child therapist?

Three Basic Premises; 9 Basic Questions

One size does not fit all: Every therapist is not right for every child. Regardless of training, or proven outcome, some therapists might not be the right style, have the right language, or understand your child’s needs.

Choosing your child’s therapist is just as crucial as choosing a pediatrician --  you’ll want a therapist who understands your parenting goals and values.

During an intro session, ask:

  • What are your thoughts on my parenting priorities?
  • Can you support my choices even if you don’t agree?
  • What creates a good bond between a parent and a child’s therapist?

Children aren’t small adults: But sometimes we forget. Different cognitive abilities mean different therapeutic treatment. For example, small children think quite literally, ex:  a small child might wonder why you are taking a car when you tell them, “I’m going to run to the store.”

An elementary-age child may have a hard time with the question, “How was your day?” It’s too easily answered with a simple, “Bad.” They may feel sad, confused, or blue but not be able to link it to anything specific.

Teens have broader abilities to identify how they feel; as a result, they can become a different kind of participant in therapy.

Successful therapy means tools tailored for your child’s development.

During an intro session, ask:

  • What is your training?
  • How many kids this age have you worked with?
  • What approach has been most effective?

Engaging the child: Making it fun. Children’s job description is play. It’s how they make sense of the world. Age-appropriate engagement is key. Candyland does not appeal to teenagers and Monopoly is not appealing to small kids.

Selecting a therapist who understands not just your child’s abilities, but also their interests, is essential. If a child is interested and involved in therapy, a lot can be accomplished.

During an intro session, ask:

  • How do you build rapport with kids?
  • How do you make it appealing?
  • How do you handle hesitation to therapy?

The Upshot

Ultimately, your goal is to help and heal your child. Your child’s therapist has the same goal. Take your time, ask the right questions and you’ll find the right therapist for your child’s well-being, and future.

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