Child Counseling: When And Where To Find A Therapist For Your Child

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated November 29, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised that the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Free, exclusive support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

If you're considering child counseling for your child, it can be daunting to figure out which type of therapist may work best. One specialized area to consider is pediatric counseling, which focuses specifically on the mental health needs of children and adolescents. An online search for “child counselors near me” can yield results, but a long list of child psychologists may not be beneficial if you aren't sure what would benefit your family best. 

Children may experience mood swings, challenging emotions, and life transitions that cause stress. Children have mental health needs like adults and may benefit from child counseling to address family conflict, school problems, self-esteem issues, or stress. Being aware of all the child counseling services available to you can help you, as the parent, make the healthiest choices for your children.

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Have More Questions About Child Counselors?

When To Reach Out For Support 

Many parents may struggle to know when their child could benefit from therapy. If your child is experiencing or expressing the following symptoms, they might benefit from counseling. However, a child does not need a mental illness diagnosis or severe symptoms to see a child counselor

Signs Of A Mood Or Anxiety Disorder 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), over 40% of children experiencing anxiety and depression go to therapy. Mood and anxiety disorders can be common in children. Consider bringing your child to counseling if they display the following symptoms: 

  • Frequent worrying
  • Panic attacks 
  • A prolonged sad mood 
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Fear of social situations
  • Compulsions or rituals
  • Unexplained physical symptoms like shaking, headaches, or stomachaches 

Emotional Challenges 

Children and adolescents may have trouble expressing emotions as they learn to control their emotions for themselves. However, if your child has outbursts that can't be controlled, acts destructively, frequently cries, or exhibits abnormal emotional responses, consider scheduling a session with a mental health professional like a child counselor.

Behavioral Concerns 

Children may have behavioral challenges at times. However, if your child's behavior is causing harm to you, themselves, or other families, it could signify an underlying mental health concern that may be addressed through therapy.

Self-Esteem Struggles 

Many children can experience self-esteem challenges. Bullying at school or online may cause young children and teens to feel they aren't worthy of care or that they aren't beautiful. If you've tried helping your child strengthen their self-image with minimal success, a counselor specializing in adolescent issues might offer unique advice and coping mechanisms to support them. 


According to the CDC, as of 2020, one in seven children has experienced neglect or abuse of some form. As many cases go unreported, this number is an estimate. Although many parents may not want to consider that their child has experienced trauma, childhood trauma is relatively common and may not only happen at home. Traumatic occurrences can happen publicly, at school, or through extended family outings. If your child showcases extreme fear of a particular place, person, or situation, consider having them evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

According to studies, divorce is a leading cause of childhood PTSD, as well. If you have been through a separation or conflict in your relationship, your child may benefit from discussing how it impacted them with a therapist. 

If you're a teen or child experiencing or witnessing abuse from a family or caregiver, reach out to the Child Help Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 or use the online chat feature.

Sleep Or Appetite Changes 

Changes in sleep and eating patterns can suggest mental health concerns or stress. In addition, if your child has drastically changed their eating habits, they may be experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder. A child therapist educated in these types of conditions may be beneficial. 

Self-Destructive Behaviors

Self-harm or threats of self-destructive behaviors can be dangerous for children. If you are concerned that your child's behavior is significantly harming them, they may benefit from immediate psychological intervention. Sometimes, parents opt for a residential or short-term treatment program for children experiencing self-harm or suicidal thoughts. 

If you are experiencing thoughts or urges of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 988 to talk to someone over SMS. They are available 24/7 to offer support. 

Life Stress 

Counseling may benefit children who are experiencing stress in various areas of life. For example, they might feel weighed down by family conflict, struggle to fit in at school, or feel stressed after a significant move. Reaching out to a therapist can help children process this stress with a compassionate professional. 


How Does Child Counseling Work? 

Every session with a therapist may be tailored to the child's individual needs. Sessions might include talking, completing activities, creating art, playing, solving problems, or practicing new skills. Since children often learn well through imagination and play, many therapists use play therapy. Play therapy is often less intimidating than other types of therapy for children.

How long sessions last and the duration of treatment can depend on a child's needs and the parents' goals. In some cases, child therapy might be conducted with the entire family in the format of family counseling. When looking for a therapist, consider the following: 

  • Choose a counselor who is qualified, experienced, and kind. 
  • See the counselor one-on-one to discuss your goals and observations. 
  • Encourage your child to practice skills learned during counseling.
  • Be patient and available. Let your child talk openly to you about therapy. 
  • Support your child's mental health by acting as a positive role model. 

Child Counseling Options 

There are a few ways you can find a counselor for your child, including the following. 

School Resources

Many schools offer mental health support free of charge for students in need. School psychologists or child therapists are often trained in the developmental needs of the age range they serve. Although school psychologists can't offer long-term care, they may support your child through bullying, academic challenges, stress, or at-home concerns. 

Local Counseling Centers

Many towns have walk-in mental health clinics for children and adults. If you're looking for quick support, consider taking your child to one of these centers to help them sign up for therapy, like play therapy for children. This can be an effective way to find a child therapist in your area.

Personal Practice Therapists

You can often find one-on-one practice therapists by quickly searching online for "child therapist near me" or asking for a referral from your child's pediatrician. One-on-one practice therapists can come with a higher cost, but many accept insurance plans. It can be wise to contact the office ahead of time to ensure your insurance will cover child therapy.

Counseling Options For Teens And Parents 

Many parents may opt out of treatment for themselves or their children due to barriers to care such as cost, distance, or scheduling. However, with online therapy, these barriers can be removed. Although there may not be as many online options for young children, many platforms offer support for teens and adults. It’s sometimes easier to find qualified child counselors online, especially if there aren’t many therapists near your home or in your local area. The best child therapist for your child’s situation may be one located across the country, for instance.

Studies show that online counseling from licensed professionals is an effective alternative to face-to-face therapy to manage mental health conditions or stress symptoms. Online counseling services connect parents or teens with a counselor to discuss concerns, symptoms, or treatment goals. Online therapists can offer the same care as in-person providers, except for medication management or diagnosis. 

If you or your child is interested in an online platform, consider signing up for a website like BetterHelp for adults or TeenCounseling for teens aged 13 to 19.  If you sign your teen up for therapy, they can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions. As many teens enjoy texting, text therapy may be more enjoyable for them than in-person options. All providers through BetterHelp and Teen Counseling are licensed and vetted. To sign up and find a therapist, teens under 18 must have parental permission.  

Have More Questions About Child Counselors?


Regardless of the route you choose, child counseling can help your child understand how to manage distressing emotions, which can help them as they grow older. By connecting with a counselor to assist your child with their challenges, you are offering them the chance to find support and understand their mind and body early in life. Reach out to a counselor for further guidance and information on how to get started. You can find a child counselor online or in person.

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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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