Choosing the Right Therapist for Your Adolescent

January 12, 2021 | by mikkie mills, guest contributor

Adolescence can be a difficult time. Children are growing into young adults, and this experience comes with insecurity, body and hormonal changes, social pressures, and a nagging desire for independence they may not be ready for yet. When you add family issues, this can make things even more confusing. To help them manage their mental health, you may want to consider counseling for your child. However, how do you pick a therapist for your child? Here are tips for choosing the right therapist for your adolescent. 

Go Over Credentials 

You need to pick a therapist with proper credentials. Talk to the potential therapist about where they went to school and exactly what they got a degree in. There are different types of degrees and training available. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe medication while some therapists have a bachelor's and/or master's degrees in psychology or social work. You want to pick a therapist with the proper credentials for your situation. 

You also want to choose a therapist who specializes in working with young adults the same age as your child. They will have the experience necessary to relate to them and communicate with them in a positive and effective way. 

Talk About Views on Medication 

There are a number of different opinions when it comes to medicating children and teenagers. Many believe medication should be a last resort. Others believe the medication will be able to help with behavioral issues. Talk to your therapist about how they feel about medication. Try talk therapy and changes at home. 

Go Over Therapy Methods 

There are a lot of options when it comes to therapy. The therapy methods your therapist will use generally depends on what your child struggles with and the therapist's own beliefs on what works best. Talk to your child's therapist to determine their methods. Some methods they might use include play therapy, group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and individual therapy. Make sure you are comfortable with the process. 

Listen to Your Child 

Adolescents aren't especially known for having consistently good judgement. However, you need to trust their judgement when it comes to their therapist. They need to like their therapist in order to truly open up to them. If they don't click with the therapist, they won't tell them anything. Give it a couple of sessions, but talk to your child about how they feel about the situation. They may not want to go to therapy at all, trying online therapy may be a good start. If that doesn’t work, you should make it clear that it's not up for discussion, as caring for their mental health is as important as caring for their physical health. However, you will do what you can to choose a therapist they like.   

Consider Going to Therapy as a Family 

Sometimes your child isn't the one going through problems. Sometimes they are reacting to things that have happened in their life, such as divorce, death, or a parent with an addiction. In these cases, it may be wise to get everyone together to go to therapy as a family. It will give everyone a safe space to tell others how they feel. It can also make the child feel better knowing that they aren't the only one experiencing these feelings. Plus, if they see you going to therapy, they may see it as normal health, just like going to the doctor. 

Almost every adolescent can benefit from having someone to talk to. However, you need to pick the right therapist for your child and possibly the whole family. Be sure you and the therapist are clear about what you want to accomplish in these sessions and pick someone with whom your child feels comfortable. 

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