How Can I Find The Right Children’s Behavioral Therapist Near Me?
Updated January 28, 2021
Finding the proper care for kids can sometimes be tricky and even stressful, especially for parents. Despite this, regardless of what a child's condition is, you can narrow your search down and eventually find the right doctor for their needs. This article will show you some practical ways to find someone who specializes in children behavioral disorders.
What Disorders Does A Behavioral Therapist Treat?
Several mental disorders can present themselves at a very early age and can cause significant challenges. Some examples of the types of conditions that a child behavioral therapist regularly treat are:
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)
- Conduct Disorder
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
These types of professionals can also work closely with those with language and intellectual disabilities as well as emotional ones like depression and anxiety.
While depression and anxiety are typically identified in later childhood, it is also possible for these kinds of conditions to go undetected in earlier years. This is because some kids have not yet developed the vocabulary to express their feelings and emotions. Additionally, some doctors have trouble distinguishing ordinary emotions and childish behavior, such as crying and fear, from ones that are more persistent distress found in disorders like major depression.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is also a possible condition that can be observed during one's childhood, but it can also often go unnoticed for the same reasons.
Nonetheless, a therapist will be able to treat all of these conditions by teaching kids new skills that they can use to keep symptoms under control.
Therapy Vs. Medication
Medication can be a very useful and sometimes necessary tool in helping to treat child behavioral disorders, such as the ones mentioned in the previous section; yet, relying on medication alone will cause you to miss out on another effective avenue - therapy.
Some medications, like antidepressants, stimulants, and mood stabilizers, can be quite powerful and do work wonders, but they do not cure disorders. Therefore, finding additional ways to manage symptoms can be effective for long-term treatment.
Therapy is also an excellent option for those who are hesitant about having their children taking medications either due to sideeffects, dependency, or other personal issues. Some people are also non-responsive to various types of drugs and need another option.
However, therapy can be effective in ways that medication cannot, and vice-versa, and they complement each other well, which is why a combination of the two is recommended for an assortment of mental conditions.
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. A good children's behavioral therapist should not be hard to come by if you follow these tips, and most of them can be used immediately as long as you have an internet connection.
Consult With Your Family Doctor Or Pediatrician
Any doctor who has experience in helping children, such as pediatricians and general practitioners, will be a valuable resource in finding a therapist. Remember that they 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 is something that a therapist cannot do, unless they are also a licensed doctor. Because of this, a therapist will not be prescribing drugs for your child’s behavior condition.
Other than diagnosing and recommending medication, doctors can also refer you to a behavioral therapist or a specialist for a child behavioral disorder. For example, if your child has ASD, someone who specializes in that condition can be recommended to you. However, a behavioral therapist who has general knowledge in treating a variety of conditions can also be extremely helpful.
Most children behavioral disorders are also treated with medication, so if you can connect with a therapist via your doctor, you will be getting the most optimal course of treatment by tackling the condition from two angles.
Do Some Research
Performing a search on Google or whichever your preferred search engine is should yield results and give local options.
There are many different inquiries you can make 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 "therapists for my 4-year old's behavior problems" and find similar results.
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.
While a doctor can provide you information for a therapist that you can contact, being able to branch out and choose who you think is best is hard to beat. Additionally, if you feel that the therapist you currently have is not working, you can always try another one.
Some parents who have kids that are already diagnosed with a child behavioral disorder 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.
One-On-One Vs. Group Therapy
Another thing that you will also need to consider when trying to find the right behavioral therapist for your child is whether they will benefit from group therapy or one-on-one sessions.
Group therapy sessions can be excellent for helping to develop your child's social, communication, and problem-solving skills, but, unfortunately, it is not for everyone.
The more antisocial the individual is, the more increasingly unlikely group therapy will be helpful and effective becomes.Instead, one-on-one meetings will be optimal. In these personal settings, kids can still learn skills to treat their behavior conditions, but they just will not be interacting with others.
In these private sessions, they can still improve their social skills, which can help them work with others in the future, and possibly transition into a group setting if feels appropriate and the child is in favor of doing so.
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? If so, group therapy is probably not ideal for now.
Either option will be beneficial though because, without any treatment, behavioral disorders are unlikely to improve at all and can escalate out of control during one's adolescent years.
Remember To Take Care Of Yourself
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 issues.
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, but they may also be able to recommend skills that will help you understand your child, support them, and maintain a healthy relationship with them. A therapist may also be able to recommend support groups so you can meet parents of children with similar issues.
Online therapy is one potential way to make therapy work for you. BetterHelp is one platform that you should consider.
Online therapy has only become more and more popular, and research continues to support its use. HuffPost recently ran an article about the overall state of online therapy. It sums up the following point: for most talk therapies, online therapy has been found to be just as effective as traditional in-person therapy, particularly for cognitive behavioral therapy, which is one of the most common types of talk therapy. CBT trains you to examine unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and then grow them into healthy, helpful thoughts and behaviors.
Online therapy also has some great benefits. Scheduling is more flexible, and it will be one less appointment that you need to run around for. Online therapy is also typically less expensive than traditional therapy.
If you have an older child (over the age of 13), you may also consider BetterHelp’s sister website, TeenCounseling, to find a licensed therapist 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 has really 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 in the issue at hand. As a mom who is trying to do the right and best thing for my kids she has been a calm voice in the midst of turmoil.” Read more on Mary Bulla.
Regardless of which route you decide to go with, you will be able to find a solid treatment plan for any child behavioral disorder, and with education, you can also make a difference at home. Treating behavioral conditions requires participation from family and friends, and sometimes even teachers and peers at school. With everyone's help, life with a behavioral disorder can get easier.
- Ogundele, M. O. (2018). Behavioral and emotional disorders in childhood: A brief overview of pediatricians. World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, 7(1), 9-26. doi:10.5409/wjcp.v7.i1.9
- American Psychiatric Association. (n.d.). How Do I Choose Between Medication and Therapy? Retrieved July 9, 2019, from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/medication-or-therapy
- American Addictions Centers. (n.d.). How to Find Help in Treating a Behavioral Disorder. Retrieved July 9, 2019, from https://www.psychguides.com/behavioral-disorders/find-help/
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