You know your child is struggling, but what questions should you ask?
You are looking at the list of therapists on your insurance panel. You are checking it against the list the pediatrician gave you and you can't figure out who to call or even how to do this process. You suspect this isn't like choosing a dentist, but you aren't sure what you are looking for. This is the last article in my 3 part series on Reasons Your Child Misbehaves. Hopefully, if you haven’t read the first two, you will go back and read them, but you won't need to before you read this one.
- Investigate: Therapy with children is complicated. Check if this is a person who has specialized training, specialized supervision, and commits to learning more about children and their interactions. The best and easiest way to tell this is by seeing if they are a Registered Play Therapist. Registered Play Therapists have specific credentials. Click here to go to the Association for Play Therapy website to see what they are. Look at their website, paperwork and office. Are they set up for children? Are children an afterthought or the primary focus?
- Interview: This is likely a very emotional time, but you will need to trust this person. Their judgment, knowledge, wisdom, and world view are very important parts of how they will interact with you and your child. Before you have your child meet with them, find out if you like and trust this professional. Most therapy occurs without the parent present. Would you feel comfortable leaving your child in this environment and with this person? What if your child asks about religious questions? Morality? How will this therapist respond? Finding someone who shares your worldview can be difficult, but finding a therapist who shares it is priceless. Finding a therapist who can articulate their own and is willing to discover the differences and support your family atmosphere? This can help you to teach your core beliefs more intentionally. Remember, therapy is a relationship-not just between your child and their therapist but between you and the therapist as well.
- Insurance: If this were a perfect world, you would be able to see any clinician who fit the first two points. Unfortunately, it is not necessarily reality. Therapy can take 3 months of weekly appointments or 2 years. Even with all my experience, I can’t always tell in the first interview how long it will be. Changing therapists because of finances is difficult and can set you back weeks or months in their progress. When you decide to start therapy, it is important that you decide to finish it as well. If your therapist doesn’t take insurance, look for ways to utilize this to save money—HSAs, FSAs, out of network deductibles, out of pocket expenses, taxes—therapy is considered medical care. Please think carefully, though about utilizing these. Each of these ways of getting credit for therapy as healthcare also comes with accountability. They will need a diagnosis and dates of service. These may stay private and they may effect your children in unforeseen ways in the future.
Some of my clients come to me because I have Star Trek figures in my office or because I wear Lego earrings. Some come because I have a Christian world-view and can help parents be intentional about teaching that world-view. Some come because their lawyer has seen me in court and likes how I present a case to a judge. You are the best person to pick a therapist for your child because you are the expert on them and on what your family needs.
If you have any questions, or need specific guidance on how to choose your child’s therapist, call me! I may not know your choices, but I can help you figure out who is the best fit. My number is 940-597-9635 and my email is Christy@christygrahamlpc.com. Therapy is very personal. Don't make your decision too soon.