Find A Child Therapist

Updated October 5, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

For many people, the most important thing you will do in your life is a parent. Parents put their children above themselves often, in many different decisions. Your child's well-being is your utmost concern. When they display signs of depression, anxiety, ADHD, low self-esteem, unwanted behaviors, and emotional outbursts, you may need to seek the support of a nearby child therapist. While adults can leverage online therapy services through BetterHelp, we'll help you navigate the process of finding a child counselor near you. 

Have Questions On Finding A Child Therapist?

Why Should You Find A Child Therapist?

If you are witnessing your child struggle with severe mental health concerns, then the answer to this question is obvious. After all, who wouldn’t want to find a child therapist to ease their child’s mental health and emotional pain?

However, some situations are not so obvious reasons to find a child therapist. Many children struggle with various stressors or situations without their parents realizing the toll it is taking on their mental health. Below are a few other reasons you may want to consider seeking counseling for your child:

  • Struggling with a mental health condition or emotional problem
  • Experiencing trauma, such as abuse or natural disasters
  • Difficulty adjusting to disabilities or health problems, such as cerebral palsy
  • Struggling with academic success
  • Loneliness or social isolation
  • Not showing interest in any activities, hobbies, or social opportunities

What Should You Look For In A Child Counselor?

Child therapist is specifically trained in helping kids and teens work through their problems and improve their mental health. They will work with you to make changes in your house to help them deal with whatever is troubling them. You and the child therapist will teach your son or daughter the skills they need to get along in the real world.

Yet, it can be difficult to find a child therapist. For example, you may not have a mental health professional readily available in your small town or area, or you may have insurance or cost barriers.

There are several things you will want to look for in a child counselor. The state should license your counselor to practice psychotherapy within that state. To be licensed, a counselor must hold at least a master's degree. If medications may be required to help them, your counselor will refer them for an evaluation by psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are the only mental health professionals that can write prescriptions for psychiatric medication. Keep this in mind if you are considering it as one of many treatment options for your child. Learn more when looking into "children's therapist near me."

The mental health professional should also be prepared to handle your son or daughter's unique mental health situation. They should have several tools in their toolbox that they can use to help your son or daughter depending on their own needs and responses to different therapeutic skills. You can get more information about the techniques that counselors use by seeking out reviews online as well as calling their office for an interview before starting therapy.

Child Therapist Costs

Of course, price is another factor in finding the right child therapist. If you have health insurance, you may want to find a child therapist that accepts your insurance. Barring that, you'll want to find counselors that are reasonably priced so that you will be able to continue to follow through with therapy for them. Counselors can be very expensive, so you might want to shop around for the best rates as well as the best care.

The counselor should be available enough to help when they need it most. If you can only get a session every month or two, your son or daughter will not greatly benefit from therapy. The mental health professional should be available for therapy sessions at least twice per month, with more frequent sessions preferable in a variety of cases.

Finally, when you are looking for counselors, you will want to make sure you find a counselor who communicates well with both of you. The mental health professional will not give any information to you from the sessions unless the patient agrees or it is harmful to your family or others to withhold the information. Still, you must know about your son or daughter's progress in their mental health journey. Finding counselors that understand the parent's concerns and need for information yet balances it with trust and silence can be difficult to find.

You may also want to find a child therapist that conducts mental health or therapy sessions with adults as well. Often you may find that it is helpful to have a professional to talk to who understands what you are going through with your son or daughter. Having your therapist is a good idea to help you maintain a good balance. If that professional is also the one treating your son or daughter, you won't have to explain as much about what is going on that is causing an issue for you.

Insurance

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 counselor. However, many counselors 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 counselors available in your area that accept your insurance, they will show up in a search through your insurance directory. You can also call your health insurance company for a referral.

Referrals

Child Pediatrician

Your pediatrician is an excellent resource for getting referrals of any kind. If your son or daughter needs counseling, 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 Therapy Directories

Online directories are a great place to look for a counselor. With online directories, you get all the information about the counselor in a snapshot. Most of the directories also have review features. You will be able to see real remarks from real patients so that you can decide which counselor will be best for your son or daughter. Reading the reviews could give you valuable insight into what to expect in therapy with your child, as well as the techniques that different professionals use. You can often avoid a bad counselor by reading reviews online.

Widening Your Therapy Search

If you want to search for in-person child therapists and you live in a rural area, you may have to widen your search to a nearby zip code, town, or city. Usually, a quick Google search for "teen therapist near me" or "child therapist near me" can yield results. You may find that you must drive quite a while to get to a counselor for sessions. If you can't find anyone 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 session, but you may be able to find a counselor 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 counselor that you know you can trust, ask other parents you know if their kids have ever had therapy. If so, find out about their counselor, and decide whether you want to contact them. You can also get referrals from school counselors, your church congregation and leaders, and scoutmasters.

Community Mental Health Centers

Communities have health centers where you can get matched with a counselor based on your family's needs and your ability to pay. Most of these centers have sliding fee schedules so that you can afford to continue with therapy. If they do not have a counselor on staff, they will be able to refer you to other counselors and health centers in the area. These health centers are also found in rural areas where fewer psychologists and psychiatrists are employed.

Have Questions On Finding A Child Therapist?

One good thing about these health centers, particularly in rural areas, is that often if the counselor you need is not available in your area, they can use telehealth to have your sessions nearby. The professional interacts with you and your son or daughter through a live video feed in which the professional can see everything in the room and can be seen and interacted with. The younger the person, the less likely it is that this type of therapy would be effective.

Types Of Mental Health Professionals To Consider

When conducting your research, you are bound to come across a few different types of mental health professionals. All the lingo and job titles can be confusing when all you want is to heal your child’s mental health. Below is a short breakdown of a few mental health professionals you should know about.

  • Child therapists: These are licensed therapists that use different therapeutic techniques (such as cognitive behavioral therapy) to help your child address their stressors and negative thoughts.
  • Psychiatrists: These are medical professionals who specialize in psychology. They have a more scientific and analytic approach to mental health and are the only mental health professionals who prescribe psychiatric medication.
  • Developmental psychologists: These psychologists study the changes in human development over the lifespan. They help children get back on track to normal, healthy development. Though they primarily work in research or clinical settings, you may occasionally see them work in school settings.
  • Educational psychologists: These psychologists work in school and educational settings to study how children and people learn. They help students improve their learning abilities and processes so that they can succeed.
  • School psychologists: These psychologists work at schools to help support the student's abilities to learn.

These are just a few of the many options you have for a child therapist. Knowing about these different types can help you find the best child counselor to support your child’s mental health or academic needs.

As you can see, some options may be available at your child’s school, potentially for no extra cost. If this is the case, this is an option you might want to pursue as children often benefit from working on their mental health with someone they are familiar with.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Child Therapy

When should a kid see a licensed professional?

Any child can benefit from child therapy even if nothing is wrong or no symptoms are present, but if they are starting to have a problem or problems in multiple areas of life, such as consistently low self-esteem, excessive worry about the future, expressing hopelessness, withdrawal from friends and family, has significant eating or sleep changes, visible health issues or difficulties, or talks about engaging in self-harm, a doctor will suggest visiting a mental health professional who can help your kid. Research studies show how talking about feelings, thoughts, and experiences can help children better face challenges that may arise in their environment.

What does a kid behavioral therapist do?

Psychologists are mental health professionals who work specifically with adolescents to tackle and move past behavioral issues and situations that may exist. Psychologists can have several specialties, and behavior specialists are just one example that often helps children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and learning disabilities. Adolescent counselors typically have more excellent knowledge of the developing mind than other types of counselors, which can help them ensure your son or daughter does feel comfortable speaking with them about any issues. If you believe your adolescent may benefit from an adolescent counselor or counselor, find a counselor in your area or visit a doctor who may be able to suggest a certain professional.

When should children start seeing a therapist?

A child can technically start seeing a therapist at any age, but therapists generally recommend waiting until at least age seven, once the child has developed enough verbal skills and self-awareness to effectively communicate with a therapist. A licensed mental health professional can help your child cope with trauma, unhealthy relationships, anger, grief, mental disorders, problems in the parent's marriage, and stress, among other conditions.

Is it good for kids to go to therapy?

It can be beneficial for anyone to go to therapy, regardless of age, gender, or life circumstances. Child counseling content can be great communication, coping skills, and skill-building exercises for kids, especially if they are displaying behavior that is hard to manage at home. It can also be helpful to participate in family therapy, which involves both the child and the parent or guardian.

What is the difference between a child psychologist and a therapist?

While both a psychologist and a therapist can work with a child, psychologists have more training that allows them to test and diagnose clients that are children with emotional or learning disabilities that may need extra care. If you would just like a professional who your child can talk and build skills with, a therapist may be best for you, and they may be easier to find.

How do I get my child to open up for therapy?

For younger children, therapists often use play therapy to understand the child better and encourage them to open up in a way that feels comfortable to them and sparks their imagination. Older children may be confused as to why they are seeing a therapist and thus be hesitant to open up. The most important thing to remember when signing your child up for therapy is that it is okay for them to go at their own pace and open up naturally and when they feel ready. It may help to remind them that therapy is confidential and normal, just like seeing a medical doctor.

How do I know if my child needs behavioral therapy?

It is completely normal for children to exhibit some behavioral problems or mood changes. Childhood is meant for children to figure themselves out, how the world works, how to communicate, and what it means to be a human being. This experience can vary for each child. That being said, psychologists recommend seeing a therapist for behavioral concerns if the child is intentionally harming themselves or others, doesn't seem to be acting their age or exhibits behavioral issues for over six months that aren't seeming to go away. If you're concerned, the best first step is to talk to your child's doctor.

How much does therapy cost?

In-person therapy prices will vary by therapist, location, and insurance plans. The cost of therapy through BetterHelp app subscription options ranges from $60 to $90 per week (billed every 4 weeks as a subscription plan) and it is based on your location, preferences, budget, and therapist availability.

How do I get my child tested for behavior problems?

If your child is displaying ongoing, concerning behaviors, you should first see your family doctor rule out any medical reasons for problems. If the doctor finds they are physically healthy, they may refer you to a child psychiatrist or psychologist for further evaluation.

Is a child psychologist called Doctor?

Psychologists have their doctoral degree, either a Ph.D. or Psy.D., which means they are indeed a doctor and should be referred to as such. That being said, this is different than a medical doctor who has an MD. Psychiatrists are psychological doctors who have an MD and can prescribe psychiatric medication. Before prescribing drugs, psychiatrists will review families' and individuals' history of health to assess risk in addition to potential side effects. While everyone may benefit from talking to a therapist, one study found evidence that suggests the use of medication combined with therapy may help reduce depression symptoms in adults.

Can therapists diagnose mental illness?

While therapists can diagnose common conditions such as depression and anxiety, they may decide to refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist for more specialized condition care.

Conclusion

There is another form of telehealth that you could take advantage of in your search for a counselor. There are services, such as BetterHelp, that offer online professionals. These counselors are available through video chat, as you would see a telehealth professional in a health center. The difference is that you are in your own house, and you can use a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can also see online professionals through phone call sessions and chat sessions.

Finding a counselor in this way can be very helpful, particularly if you live in a rural area or are challenged in finding a counselor near you. You can schedule sessions when convenient for you and your kid, and you will be able to have the sessions from your own house. Online counselors are available in most areas, as counselors are licensed by the state and can practice anywhere in each state.

To get started with online therapy today for you or your kid, contact BetterHelp to learn more about our services.

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