I’m Looking For A Child Therapist Near Me: Where Should I Start?
Updated June 28, 2019
Reviewer Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
For many people, the most important thing you will do in your life is a parent. Parents put their children above themselves all the time, in many different decisions. Your child's wellbeing is your utmost concern. When your child displays signs of depression, anxiety, ADHD, low self-esteem, or unwanted behaviors and emotional outbursts, you may need to seek outside help to cope.
Children's therapists are available for that purpose. These therapists are specifically trained in helping children and teens work through their problems and improve behaviors and mood. They will work with you to make changes at home to help your child deal with whatever is troubling them. As a team, you and your child's therapist will teach your child the skills they need to get along in the real world.
Yet finding a child therapist can be difficult. You may not have therapists readily available in your small town or area. You may have insurance barriers, as well as cost barriers. There are some very good ways to find a child therapist near you if you know what you are looking for.
What to Look For in a Children's Therapist
There are several things you will want to look for in a child therapist. Your child's therapist should be licensed by the state to practice psychotherapy within that state. To be licensed, a therapist must hold a minimum of a master's degree, although they may not be a medical doctor. If medications may be required to help your child, your therapist will refer your child for an evaluation by a psychiatrist.
Your child's therapist should also be prepared to handle your child's unique case. They should have several tools in their toolbox that they can use to help your child depending on their own needs and responses to different therapeutic skills. You can get more information about the methods and treatments that child therapists use by seeking out reviews online as well as calling their office for an interview before starting therapy.
Of course, price is another factor in finding a children's therapist. If you have health insurance, you may want to find a therapist that accepts your insurance. Barring that, you'll want to find a therapist that is reasonably priced so that you will be able to continue to follow through with therapy for your child. Child therapists can be very expensive, so you might want to shop around for the best rates as well as the best treatments.
A children's therapist should be accessible enough to help your child when they need it most. If you can only get an appointment every month or two, your child will not greatly benefit from therapy. Your child's therapist should be available for sessions at least twice per month, with more frequent sessions preferable in a variety of cases.
Finally, when you are looking for a therapist, you will want to make sure you find someone who communicates well, not just with your child but with you. It is likely that your child's therapist will not share anything with you from sessions unless the child agrees, or it is harmful to the child or others to withhold the information. Still, it is important that you know about your child's progress. Finding a therapist that understands the parent's concerns and need for information yet balances it with trust and silence as the child desires is a delicate balance that can be difficult to find.
You may also want to look for a therapist that does sessions with adults. Often you may find that it is helpful to have someone to talk to who understands what you are going through with your child. Having your therapist is a good idea to help you maintain a good balance. If that therapist is also the one treating your child, you won't have to explain as much about what is going on that is causing an issue for you.
Insurance Directories for Child Therapists
According to the Affordable Care Act, all health insurance policies must cover mental health services. If you have health insurance, you have coverage for a child therapist. However, many child therapists do not accept insurance, and they require patients to self-pay. If you do have insurance, starting with your insurance company's directory is your best starting point. If there are any child therapists available in your area that accept your insurance, they will come up in a search through your insurance directory. You can also call your health insurance company for a referral.
Your pediatrician is an excellent resource for getting referrals of any kind for your child. If your child needs a therapist, talk to your pediatrician about your concerns and what you are looking for. If the pediatrician does not have a direct referral for you, they will at least be able to point you in the right direction.
Online directories are a great place to look for a child therapist. With online directories, you get all the information about the therapist in a snapshot. Most of the directories also have review features. You will be able to see real comments from real patients so that you can decide which child therapist will be best for your child. Reading the reviews could give you valuable insight into what to expect in therapy with your child, as well as the methods that different therapists use. You can often avoid a bad therapist by reading reviews online.
Widening Your Search
If you want an in-person therapist for your child and you live in a rural area, you may have to widen your search to nearby towns and cities. You may find that you must drive quite a while to get to a child therapist for sessions. Each time you come up empty in a directory, widen your search by 25 miles to get more results. Of course, no one wants to drive 100 miles to a therapy appointment, but you may be able to find a therapist within 50 miles by widening your search.
Friends and Family
Of course, friends and family are great resources for referrals. If you want to find a child therapist that you know you can trust, ask other parents you know if their children have ever had therapy. If so, find out about their therapist, and decide whether you want to contact them. You can also get referrals from school counselors, church members and leaders, and scoutmasters.
Community Mental Health Centers
Some communities have mental health centers where you can get matched with a child therapist based on your child's needs and your ability to pay. Most of these centers have income-based sliding fee schedules so that you can afford to continue with therapy. If they do not have a child therapist on staff, they will be able to refer you to other child therapists and mental health centers in the area. These mental health centers are also sometimes found in rural areas where fewer psychologists and psychiatrists are employed.
One good thing about these mental health centers, particularly in rural areas, is that often if the child therapist you need is not available in your area, they can use telehealth to have your sessions in your hometown or nearby. The therapist interacts with you and your child through a live video feed in which the therapist can see everything in the room, and the therapist can be seen and interact with the child. The younger the child, the less likely that this type of therapy would be effective.
There is another form of telehealth that you could take advantage of in your search for a child therapist. There are services, such as BetterHelp, that offer online child therapists. These therapists are available through video chat, in much the same way that you would see a telehealth professional in a mental health center. The difference is that you are in your own home, and you can use a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can also see online therapists through phone call sessions and chat sessions.
Finding a child therapist in this way can be very helpful, particularly if you live in a rural area or are having a hard time finding a child therapist near you. You can schedule the sessions when it is convenient for you and your child, and you will be able to have the sessions in the privacy of your own home. Online therapists are available in nearly every area, as therapists are licensed by the state and can practice anywhere within their state.
To get started with a child therapist online today, contact Better Help for more information or to get started with a child therapist right away.