my kid needs therapy: 6 questions to help you find the right therapist
Friend of Ricki John Sovec: Making the decision to take your child to a therapist is not an easy one. Trusting your child’s well being to a mental health professional is a big step and it is important that you both feel comfortable with the therapist you choose. As a parent, you need to be prepared to ask the right questions and keep your parenting radar on at all times.
As you consider therapy for your child it is important to realize that every kid is different, even normal development varies from child to child. Many everyday stresses such as school, relationships and family expectations can cause changes in behavior. Sometimes parents become worried about how their child's behavior has changed.
When should you consider therapy? Problems deserve attention when they are persistent and negatively impact a family’s daily activity. A depressed or anxious child may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative, grouchy, and feel misunderstood. In such a case, if a visit to the child's pediatrician rules out physical symptoms, scheduling an appointment with a therapist who specializes in working with children can create the support that your child needs.
6 questions to ask when meeting with a therapist for the first time:
• Do you specialize in treating children?
• What training and experience do you have in working with kids?
• What is your basic approach to therapy?
• How frequent are sessions and how long do they last?
• Do you include the family in therapy?
• How will I know that my child is responding?
Another piece of the puzzle that is very important is that both you and your child feel comfortable working with the therapist. One of the most important aspects of therapy is the relationship of trust that develops between the client and the therapist. If you or your child don’t feel comfortable with the therapist it is unlikely that you will see positive results.
Finally, in almost all states it is easy for consumers to access the licensing board for therapists and counselors. Through these licensing boards you can check to see that the therapist is properly licensed and that there are no outstanding charges or investigations for professional misconduct.
When and if the time arises, it is important to find a psychological professional who both you and your child are comfortable with, who has the education and training to work with kids, and is able to address your concerns and the needs of your child.
John Sovec, MA, LMFT is a psychotherapist in private practice in Pasadena, California who works with clients facing issues of anxiety, depression, career transitions, goal setting, and grief and loss. He specializes in working with teens and their families during the coming out process for LGBT teens as well as adolescent anxiety, teen depression, and school performance issues. Through his work, John helps clients to develop awareness and openness, provides practical tools for both parents and teens, and assists in building a close and supportive family connection. To learn more about John and his work, visit JohnSovec.com.