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If you’re looking for a therapist for your child, you might be wondering where to start. There are so many options out there when you search for therapy, but it can still be tricky to find a child therapist near you who is a good fit or who has a specialty that will help.
In addition to having different specialties, there are different types of credentials and levels of education that therapists pursue. Certain credentials don’t mean that one type of therapist is better than another. When searching for a child therapist, ask any prospects about their experience with your child’s particular issue, what theoretical frameworks they use in their practice, and their general approach to therapy.
Not every therapist will be a fit for everyone, but there will be child therapists out there who fit your needs. It’s also important to ask about the logistics – payment, paperwork, what to expect in session, etc., so you can be prepared ahead of time.
Another thing to keep in mind when searching for a child therapist is how you and your child feel when you talk to them. What kind of vibe do you get? Do you both feel safe and listened to? Parental intuition is significant, and you know your child best. Pay attention to how you feel and how your child feels after interacting with the therapist, because it can give you important information.
Here are 5 tips on how to find a child therapist near you so your child can get the mental health support they need:
Use a directory
There are a bunch of different directories out there that list therapists based on location, specialty, therapeutic approach, and more, including child therapists. Some directories are broad and include all different kinds of mental health professionals, and others are more specific. Psychology Today is a popular one, and there are also options like Inclusive Therapists, Therapy for Black Girls, and GoodTherapy. Professional therapist associations like the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) also often have directories where you can search for a specific license type.
Ask people you trust
Therapy is a very personal thing, and it can be vulnerable to look for a therapist for your child. You want the best for them, of course! It can be helpful to ask people you know and trust if they have any recommendations for mental health professionals. Many people will either have experience themselves, or know of someone who does. It can be reassuring to know that someone you trust has had a good experience with someone you may bring your child to for therapy.
Talk to your doctor
Primary care physicians often have vast networks of specialists they can refer patients to, and therapy is one of those specialties. If you have a physician you know and trust, get in touch with their office to see if they have any suggestions for where your child can receive services. They’ll usually be able to point you in the right direction in your search for a child therapist.
Search by specialty
There are lots of different specialties that therapists can have. Some therapists utilize more than one approach when they work with clients. Others prefer to stick to one framework. You can do some research about the different therapy modalities out there.
Here are some to start with:
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Art Therapy
- Dance Therapy
- Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
- Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)
- Play Therapy
- Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
- Somatic Therapy
- Solution Focused Brief Therapy
- Marriage and Family Therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Once you’ve done some research about the different therapeutic approaches out there, you can start to get a sense of what might be a good fit for your child. You can search for local therapists in your area based on specialty on search engines, social media, and directory sites. If you’re not sure about what approach would be the best fit for your child after doing some research, that’s okay! Talking to a child therapist can help you narrow down what your child’s needs are further.
Involve your child’s school
If your child goes to school, that’s another resource you can turn to while you search for a therapist. Schools often have a counseling department, or access to counselors within the district. Those counselors can often make referrals to local therapy practices that they’ve worked with in the past or give suggestions on more places to expand your search.