How Can I Find A Child Psychologist Near Me?
Updated April 29, 2020
Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault
As parents, we try to give our children the best lives possible by giving them the tools they need to lead happy and successful lives. However, sometimes your child needs more than you can provide. Even if you happen to be a physician or a psychologist yourself, it's important to find a professional you can trust when your child is struggling with a mental health issue.
My Child Is Anxious
As a parent, before looking for the best child psychologists near me, I would first look at the reason that I think my child needs to see a professional. For example, is your child showing signs of anxiety? Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States. In fact, anxiety affects approximately 18.1 percent of the population-equivalent to about 40 minutes people-every year.
In other words, it's very common. Luckily, due to the prevalence of these disorders, there are a lot of ways to treat anxiety. Recent research shows that cognitive therapy on its own significantly improves anxiety symptoms and even causes complete recovery from anxiety for about 85 percent of people tested. If your child is struggling with anxiety, you're not alone. Many other parents have been in your shoes, so there is no shame in asking for help.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), just over 25 percent of children between the ages of 13 and 18 have an anxiety disorder. There are several types of anxiety such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder (PD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some of the signs that your child may have an anxiety disorder include:
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Increased agitation or anger
- Chronic fatigue
- Shaking or trembling
- Avoiding friends and family
- Refusing to go to school
- Lack of interest in favorite activities
- Trouble concentrating and remembering things
- Inability to make decisions
- Constantly worrying about everything or just one certain thing
- Increased heart rate
- Sweating more than usual
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Nervousness or being on edge
Why Is My Child So Sad?
Everyone gets sad sometimes. Sadness is a normal human emotion, and it's a common experience for people of all ages. However, if your child shows signs of sadness for no obvious reason and it lasts for more than a few weeks, it may be a sign that your child is depressed. Similar to anxiety disorders, there are different types of depression. These include major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), psychotic depression, and bipolar disorder; older female children can also suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Some of the signs of depression in children include:
- Avoiding friends and family
- Extreme fatigue
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Sleeping more than usual
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or gain
- Acts of aggression or agitation for no obvious reason
- Sadness for longer than two weeks
- Feelings of hopelessness or low self-esteem
- Talking about death or dying
My Child Cannot Sit Still
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is by far the most common mental illness seen in children. Previously known as attention-deficit disorder (ADD), many people confuse these two names, but they refer to the same disorder. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), this common disorder affects more than six million children in the United States.
What exactly is ADHD? It is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder that is most often diagnosed in children between the ages of six and nine. Researchers are still not sure what causes the condition, but the science behind it shows that children with ADHD have unusual neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Some of the signs of ADHD include:
- Hyper or restless behavior
- Inability to concentrate or pay attention
- Disruptive behavior
- Inability to control impulsive behaviors
- Lack of attention to detail
- Difficulty listening or understanding instructions
- Poor organization or management
- A tendency to lose or misplace things often
- Often distracted or forgetful
- Inability to sit still
- Talks too much
- Displays little or no patience
It's important to note that the medical community acknowledges that the facts are a bit murky when it comes to diagnosing ADHD. Just because a child exhibits the symptoms listed above, it does not necessarily mean this child has ADHD. You'll want several opinions from different doctors before accepting a formal diagnosis.
Types of Mental Illness
While there are more than 200 different types of mental illnesses, the ones described above are the three most common disorders that affect children under the age of 18. If your child has any of the above symptoms or if any of their behaviors concern you, it's time to reach out to a child psychologist for help. Whether your child has signs of depression, anxiety, ADHD, or another mental or emotional condition, finding the right child psychologist is important. Some psychologists specialize in specific areas, so you should do your homework and make sure the one you choose is the best one for your child.
Finding A Child Psychologist
You may be wondering how to find a pediatric psychologist. There are many helpful websites you can use, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) psychologist locator, where you can search for someone nearby using your zip code or address. As a parent, supporting your child comes first, but what happens when you need someone to support you in that process? It's critical for you to make sure you're taking care of your own needs, so that you can be there for your child. Many parents have used online counseling platforms, because they allow you to see someone on your schedule (without adding the stress of another drive to another appointment).
Different Types Of Child Psychologists
Psychologists who specialize in childhood psychology work in many different settings, including hospitals, schools, private practice, and research. Depending on what your child needs, you can to find the right type of psychologist with a bit of research. Each child psychologist has a unique specialty, and you should be aware of this when searching for a pediatric psychologist.
- Abnormal child psychologists typically work with children and adolescents who are suffering from a mental health disorder. These include anxiety, depression, and other personality and mood disorders.
- Adolescent psychologists mainly work with children between the ages of 12 and 18-years-old who are suffering from mental illness. These include anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and behavioral conditions.
- Developmental psychologists usually focus on the development of children, but they can also follow their conditions through adulthood.
- School psychologists work in the educational system to help children and adolescents with academic, social, behavioral, and emotional issues.
- Educational psychologists study how individuals learn, including differences in learning ability, learning disabilities, and gifted learners.
Different Types of Children's Therapy
Child psychologists use a variety of treatment methods to work with different conditions. Whether you take your child to a traditional counselor or use online therapy, your psychologist will develop a treatment plan that is likely to include one or more of these six choices:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) works beautifully for children because it teaches them how to replace their negative thoughts with positive ones and how to cope with and control their behavior.
- Social skills therapy helps children who are struggling with their interaction skills in everyday life. This could include making friends, interacting with adults, making eye contact, or even holding a simple conversation with someone.
- Traumatic-based therapy is often best for children who have been exposed to a traumatic situation, such as the death of a loved one, abuse, neglect, natural disasters, or a major accident.
- Grief counseling is similar to traumatic-based therapy in that it deals with a traumatic situation, but it only involves healing after the death or loss of a loved one. Children do not process the loss of a loved one the way adults do, so they need special support at this delicate time.
- Family therapy involves treating the entire family as a unit. This is good for those with behavioral issues or those with a troubled family issue, such as divorce or abuse.
- Group therapy can be helpful for children who need to build social skills and self-esteem. It lets children know that they are not the only ones feeling the way they do.
If your child has been having issues at school, isolating themselves, or experiencing behavioral problems, you should not wait and see if it goes away. This is especially important if they have been exposed to a traumatic situation, such as abuse, violence, or a natural disaster
Children can learn to start hiding their feelings if they think you're making a big deal out of them or if you're avoiding the issue. It's best to talk to your child about what is bothering them or tell them why you're concerned. However, be careful to avoid becoming obsessive about it. If they do not want to talk to you, drop it gently, but let them know that you are there if they need you. Then, find a top-rated psychologist who can help you address the situation. You can ask the psychologist for evidence-based suggestions on how to approach your child, so they can support you while you support your child.
If your child is young, you will likely need to attend a counseling session with them at least once to help them feel more comfortable, but psychologists typically like to talk to children alone as well. It's essential for the psychologist to see how your child behaves while you're not around because it may help them see signs of certain conditions that are not as evident when you're in the room. At some point, the psychologist may want to see the entire family as well to give them clues about how the family interacts, so they can implement the most effective treatment plan possible.
In conjunction with therapy, there are a few other things you can do to help your child.
Get involved. Having the support and love of a parent is crucial for your child's success. Kids feel more confident and stable when they know they can count on the adults in their lives.
Get moving. Talk a walk around the block together. You can use this time to talk about problems and brainstorm ways to overcome them. As a bonus, exercise releases endorphins to the brain, which will put a little pep in both of your steps.
Encourage your child to journal. Having a creative outlet can be a great thing for a child. If you give them their own private space to document and express their problems, it will be easier for them to cope.
If can be hard to find the right psychologist, but with a little research, you're sure to find the support you need. With a platform like BetterHelp, you can choose traditional face-to-face therapy or online therapy, which can be a great option for parents. BetterHelp also has a service specifically for children aged 13-18 years old, at TeenCounseling. Online therapy will allow you and your child to communicate with a psychologist via video conferencing, phone, email, text, or live chat.
No matter what signs or symptoms you're seeing, do not hesitate to contact an online psychologist right away if you need help. It can sometimes take weeks or even months to get an appointment with a traditional psychologist, but online psychologists like the ones on BetterHelp.com are available 24/7. Consider reaching out today. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp and TeenCounseling counselors, from parents experiencing similar issues.
"Dr. Torres is amazing with the things she is doing with my 13 year old daughter. My daughter has recently been bullied which caused her to be angry and lack of motivation skills was 0. No confidence in herself. She would not go anywhere or do anything. When my daughter spoke with Dr Torres for the first time, a few days later she picked up herself and started to go out and wanted to do things with me and by herself, she also wants to sign up for dance. I was completely amazed, everyone I spoke to was amazed. I'd also like to add that Dr. Torres is kind, patient, calm and very warm and friendly to me and my daughter. Every time I tell my daughter Dr. Torres is calling, a big smile comes on her face, it's so wonderful to see that. I know will still have a long journey to go, and I cant wait to see what happens next, I am so glad I signed my daughter up for this. Please keep up the excellent work."
"I've been using BetterHelp for a while now and have really enjoyed working with Rachel. I'm a mom to a young child and having the ability to message her or schedule live sessions is a game changer. She is very kind and attentive to my feelings and concerns and gives me helpful insight. I have genuinely appreciated her support and benefited greatly from spending time working with her."
If your child is struggling with anxiety, depression, or another mental disorder, seeking help is the best thing you can do. An experienced child psychologist can give you and your child the support both of you deserve. Take the first step today.