How to Pick the Right Therapist
Whether your child has been given a working diagnosis by a physician or if your first appointment is with a therapist, the relationship between the child and therapist is going to be critical in your child's treatment and its ultimate success. There are several things to consider when picking the very best therapist for your child.
Remember that you are basically interviewing a therapist who will potentially be treating your child. You are also paying for a service and you deserve to get the best. That is why you should interview several therapists until you find the one who is just right for your child. Ask about her education, her licenses, and her work experience. You should also ask if there are any complaints lodged against her by patients with her licensing board.
Just because a therapist has a complaint against her does not mean you shouldn't employ her. Patients complain for all sorts of reasons, and licensing boards are required to look into all of them no matter how baseless the complaint. Ask questions — you'll be able to tell if your therapist is being open and honest with you.
Ask about Therapy
Next you should inquire about what kinds of therapy are going to be used with your child. Cognitive therapy looks at a child's beliefs about herself and her world and how those beliefs contribute to the way she sees herself and, ultimately, her depression. For some children, this is a very effective way to treat depression.
If the therapist says she plans to use behavioral therapy, she will use techniques aimed at helping a child behave differently in the face of depressive symptoms. Troublesome behaviors are targeted because they are believed to be part of the causes of a child's depression.
Family therapy may be a part of your child's treatment and you need to be prepared to cooperate. In no way is a therapist who recommends family therapy saying you are to blame for your child's depression. As you will read about later, the family who has a child with depression is also affected by the depression. Other problems within the family, such as parenting, your marriage, or an illness, may have contributed to your child's depression. The family may need to have a chance to work through some issues as a way to help the depressed child, and in turn, the entire family.
If you decide to employ a particular therapist, the next thing you should do is address how therapy will be structured. Aside from discussing the cost of therapy, you will want to know how long your child's sessions will last and how often she needs to be seen. In addition, ask how often you will be allowed to talk with the therapist about your child. Setting some goals for therapy will give you some security that your child really is going to be helped and that there is a workable plan.
Children under the age of sixteen do not have the right to privacy, which means the therapist can talk with the parent if she chooses. Adolescents have the right to privacy, but that confidence can be breached with a parent if the therapist believes the child is a threat to himself or others.
If your child is prescribed drugs in conjunction with therapy, make sure the therapist has some working knowledge of the prescribed medications. She will be unable to offer advice about taking the drugs, but she can spot side effects or signs that the medicine is working. She can then work in collaboration with the doctor prescribing the drugs in order to optimize the treatment.
Is It a Good Fit?
The therapist you have picked for your child can be the most reputable in town, but she might not be the best match for your child. Initially, your child may say he doesn't like the therapist. Frequently this is a response born of fear and reluctance to open up to a stranger. If it is a good fit, then these comments will cease.
It isn't necessary that you like the therapist in the same way as your child. Look at the rapport between them and how your child responds to her feedback. As long as you feel confident about the therapist's credentials, if your child seems to be getting something out of his time with her, leave it alone.
Last, a good therapist will know if she and your child don't jive. If she recognizes this she will likely refer him to another therapist. Don't take offense at this, because actually she is doing you a favor.