Finding the proper care for kids can sometimes be tricky and even stressful, especially for parents. You want to find a therapist that you trust, and you want to ensure that the children’s behavioral therapist you choose is the best and most effective fit for your child as a unique individual. Thankfully, there are steps to take to help you feel better about your search and find the right children’s behavioral therapist. While BetterHelp does not offer child therapy at this time (we do offer teen counseling and online therapy for adults), the below content provides helpful information on how to find a ''.
What Disorders Does A Behavioral Therapist Treat?
Various disorders and concerns can present themselves at a very early age and can cause significant challenges. Some examples of the types of conditions and behavioral disorders that a child behavioral therapist might work with regularly are:
These types of professionals can also work closely with those with language (speech therapy) and intellectual challenges and emotional ones like depression, anxiety, grief, anger, or self-esteem. Note that various types of therapy can be used for kids and that the therapeutic experience is not one-size-fits-all. One child therapist may specialize in a specific condition or modality like cerebral palsy, where another child therapist may specialize in a completely different mental health field like play therapy. If you aren’t sure what a specific type of treatment or therapy will entail, you can ask the child therapist before therapy begins, or search 'find a child therapist near me' or 'find a children's therapist near me'.
Child therapists may work in a variety of clinical settings: behavioral health center or a private practice setting. Early detection and treatment are affiliated with better outcomes for several concerns or conditions. Even children and adolescents who have gone through a tough time but don’t necessarily have a diagnosis – for example, a child who has faced bullying or trauma – can benefit from seeing someone. Speaking with school psychologists can give you a good understanding of how your child's mental health is when they are not at home.
Therapy Vs. Medication
Medication can be used alongside therapy when deemed appropriate, though this is not always the case. Medication will be prescribed by a medical doctor such as your child’s PCP or a psychiatrist.
Some medications can be quite powerful and work wonders for a lot of people, including kids, but they do not cure disorders. Therefore, finding additional ways to manage symptoms can be effective for long-term treatment. In therapy, children benefit from learning skills from a child therapist that they can use on an ongoing basis, getting a higher level of support for any mental health issues the child may have.
Before considering any medication options, make sure to consult with a qualified professional such as your child’s pediatrician or psychiatrist for all treatment options. They’ll be able to go over information related to dosage, side effects, or any other questions you have.
Finding The Right Therapist For Your Child
The remainder of this article will be dedicated to giving you advice on how you can find a reputable therapist for your child. You’re right to have questions and reservations when you want to find a child’s behavioral therapist, and instead of letting these questions and reservations stop you from your search to find a child therapist, what you can do is let them guide you.
Here’s how to feel more confident to find a child therapist for your child:
Gather A List Of Questions For Prospective Therapists
One thing that can help you feel a greater sense of ease right off the bat is remembering that you’re in control. With this in mind, whether you’re seeking professionals for your child or yourself, empower yourself to ask questions. View it like this: Even if your insurance company covers the cost or part of it, you are hiring these professionals to provide a service.
Questions you ask children’s behavioral therapists or psychologists might include things like, “Can you tell me about the modalities/approaches you use?” and “How long have you been working with kids who have (insert condition or concern here)?” or "What kind of training do you have in ____ field?" Don’t hesitate to bring up any concerns you have. Children’s behavioral therapists are professionals who are confident in their work will understand what a big decision this is and will be there to answer your questions. You can talk with these professionals on the phone before they meet your child for the first time, and especially if your child is young, you will almost certainly be with them for the intake session.
If you find, at any point in time, that a therapist or form of treatment is not the best fit for your child, your child can switch to a different one of these professionals or psychologists.
Any doctor who has experience helping children or adolescents, such as pediatricians and general practitioners, will be a valuable resource in finding a therapist in psychology. Remember that these individuals are not therapists, so they will not be able to provide counseling and therapy.
Some psychiatrists, who are also medical doctors, are trained in psychotherapy. Psychiatrists primarily give out diagnoses and prescribe medication to treat conditions, which a therapist cannot do unless they are licensed doctors. Because of this, a therapist will not be prescribing drugs for your child’s behavior condition. Since only psychiatrists can prescribe medication, it is best not to go to educational psychologists, licensed therapists, child counselors, or developmental psychologists for help with medication.
Other than diagnosing and recommending medication, doctors can also refer you to a behavioral therapist or a specialist for a child behavioral disorder for a deeper look into your child's mental health. For example, if your child has ASD, someone who specializes in that mental health condition can be recommended to you. Your doctor will send a referral out, and you will get a general timeframe for when you should be hearing back from the specialist or when you should reach out to the mental health specialist.
Adults can perform a search on Google or their preferred search engine for "find a childrens therapist near me" to give you local options in the local zip code specific to your location.
You can make many different inquiries to find what you are looking for; typing “children’s behavioral therapist near me” will probably provide you with at least a few local choices that are relevant to your needs. You can also be more specific and write something like “find a children’s behavioral therapist ADHD” and find similar results geared toward a particular mental health concern or type of care. Or you could search for "children's cognitive behavioral therapy" or "children's behavior therapy" to bring up results specific to an approach you have in mind.
The great thing about finding a therapist through a search engine is that there are often reviews for them, and you can find out if other people have had success treating whichever child behavior disorder that yours has. This will give you confidence that this is the right therapist for your child and that they are in good hands as other families approve of these mental health professionals.
While a doctor can provide you with information for a therapist that you can contact, branching out and choosing who you think is best is hard to beat. Some parents who have kids already diagnosed with a child behavioral disorder by a child counselor or mental health provider might also skip visiting a doctor to find recommendations and opt for this method instead because it is quicker, and you do not need to make an appointment to search for a therapist online.
Taking this route also means that you can contact multiple mental health providers and schedule a phone consultation with each of them or give them a quick phone call to get a feel for who is out there and who might be the best children’s therapist to pursue mental health treatment and growth to improve the life of your child.
One-On-One Vs. Group Therapy
Individual therapy isn’t the only option. Group therapy is another research-backed option to help with a number of mental health concerns that could impact a child, such as ADHD, ASD, and anxiety. Kids in these groups will be around the same age and will typically share similarities in condition or therapy goals to improve their lives. Group therapy is not the same as a support group and will be led by a licensed and qualified mental health professional who works with children.
Some kids may benefit from a combination of group and individual therapy. Or, a child may benefit from working one-on-one with a child therapist for a little while first. In these private experiences, they can improve their social skills or otherwise prepare for a group setting, which can help them work with others in the future, and possibly transition into or include a group setting in their treatment if it feels appropriate and the child.
Where they go is largely up to the parent or guardian because they know their kids best. Are they disruptive, defiant, or even aggressive and violent? Individual therapy with a child therapy could be a better fit to start. Often, if your child is working with an individual therapist, the therapist might find or recommend a mental health group.
While most parents probably put their child’s welfare ahead of their own, it is important to remember to take care of yourself and find the support you need in treating your child’s behavioral concerns.
An excellent way to do that is to consider therapy for yourself. Not only can a therapist help you process the emotions you are going through and find ways to manage stress, but they may also be able to recommend skills or techniques hat will help you understand your child, support them, and maintain a healthy relationship in life with them. A therapist may also recommend support groups so you can meet parents of children who live with similar concerns. Getting individual therapy or counseling means that you will have a designated time and space that’s just for you, which can benefit your relationships and overall well-being.
Online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp is one potential way to make therapy work for you. Scheduling is more flexible, and it will be one less appointment that you need to run around for. Online therapy services are also typically less expensive than traditional, office therapy, and it is a great option for busy parents. These are a variety of online therapy's benefits.
If you have an older child (over the age of 13), you may also consider BetterHelp’s sister website, TeenCounseling, to find a counseling services for them.
Here are some recent reviews by BetterHelp users with similar issues of their counselors:
“Kerri is great at helping me with fear, anxiety, uncertainty, parenting, and career issues. She listens and offers guidance and support. She always makes sure my needs are addressed.” Read more on Kerri Wenner.
“In just three weeks of having Mary listen and support and encourage me through a difficult time, my self-confidence and self-assurance have been boosted. I’m open to hearing if there may be another way for me to do things, and it’s been a blessing to know that she validates my concerns and approach to the issue at hand. As a mom who is trying to do the right and the best thing for my kids, she has been a calm voice amid the turmoil.” Read more on Mary Bulla.
Regardless of which route you decide to go with to find a therapist, you will be able to find a solid treatment plan for any child behavioral disorder. With education, you can also make a difference at home. Treating behavioral conditions often requires family and friends, and sometimes even teachers and peers at school. With everyone’s help, your child can get the well-rounded, quality care and support they need.
Mental health professionals state that they begin working with children for child counseling on their own around ages 7-9. By this age, they are more independent as they leave their parents for school each day, and more capable of verbalizing their thoughts and feelings in counseling sessions.
How do I know if my child needs therapy?
Look for signs your son or daughter might need help from child counselors, child psychologists, or child therapists. This might include developmental delays, emotional changes, or physiological changes like increased sleeping or loss of appetite. All of these challenges can be addressed in child therapy sessions.
Finding a child psychologist near you might be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. If you’re still wondering if therapy is right for you and your family, and how much therapy costs, please contact us at email@example.com. BetterHelp specializes in online therapy to help address all types of mental health concerns. If you’re interested in individual therapy, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.