Introducing a new mental healthcare provider into your child’s life can be a great joy or a difficult chore. With significant impact and influence on the entire family, the provider/client relationship can be a great source of emotional growth or can make matters much worse.
A therapist who immediately relies on medication may not be getting to the root of a problem. Another who involves parents, siblings, and teacher may have a better chance of seeing the “big picture” and successfully guiding lasting change.
As such, it is critical that you take some time to interview potential caregivers to find the right fit for your child and family.
- Insurance Verification. Check your health insurance policy to see if it covers mental health providers. Verify what is covered, how many sessions are available, and which providers are within your network.
- Get recommendations. Ask around to see if anyone you know has positive recommendations for a therapist. See if your Pediatrician has any suggestions. Look up reviews online.
- Research the therapist. Contact a few child therapists to get a variety of opinions and be able to select the one that seems the most effective. Ask what licenses they have. For example, find out if they are a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), Marriage, Family and Child Therapist (MFTC) and/or certified social worker (ACSW). These designations will show that the person will most likely have a master’s degree and at least two years of supervised experience. They should have also passed a state exam.
- Prepare a list of questions. A therapist/client relationship can be highly personal and private. This is your chance to determine if this is a person you feel your family would be comfortable with. Prepare a list of questions you would like the child therapist to answer such as their training background, preferred level of family involvement, and opinions about various types of therapy. Remind yourself why your child may need a therapist. Is she having difficulty in school in school, has his grades suddenly fallen, did she recently undergo a traumatic experience? The more research you perform before the interview, the more effective your questions will be.
- Interview. Set up a short meeting to talk with the therapist about your questions. Bring your child with you to see how they interact. Sometimes children take an immediate liking to an adult, other times, they may dislike them and refuse to talk. The more comfortable the child is with the therapist, the more open and honest they are likely to be.
- Decide. After watching your child’s interactions with the therapists and comparing their various responses to your questions, make a decision that works best for you and your family. Know that you have made a careful selection with your child’s best interest in mind.