The school has been sending letters home about your child’s behavior and you’ve been having difficulty controlling him at home. You’ve thought about taking your child to a therapist but just been putting it off. Now that the holiday is over and they’ve been wild at home during the vacation you’ve decided it’s time – your child has got to see a therapist. So, now what do you do? You’re not comfortable asking a friend – this is too personal, and the yellow pages just won’t do. Your child’s pediatrician may have some names for you. And your insurance company may have a list of providers in your plan. The school may know of some therapist with whom they have worked before. However you get your referral here are some things to know to have a successful therapeutic experience for your child.
To be effective therapy should be done on a regular weekly basis. Appointments need to be kept and children should know it is a part of their routine. After the therapist has achieved some of the goals sessions can be twice a month.
Chose someone whose office is convenient for you. The more travel time the more likely you won’t want to go every week.
Meet the therapist before taking your child. It’s important that you have a good rapport with your child’s therapist. Expect to be asked to join some of the sessions. Your participation will be crucial to your child’s success. There is a good chance that the therapist will be making suggestions as to how you might change the way you interact with your child. Don’t expect the therapist to “fix” your child without your participation.
While therapists will have one of many different disciplines – social worker, psychologist, licensed practical counsel – the only person who can prescribe medications is a medical doctor. And the best choice for prescribing mental health related medication is a psychiatrist. Your therapist will make a referral for you if they feel a medication assessment is appropriate.
Rarely does a child ask to see a therapist. Usually the adults in their lives are unhappy with their behavior and so they take them for counseling. Some adults can handle more acting out then others. Children should be active. Only a professional can assess if the behavior is extreme and needs to be treated.
If your child is improving you will see it as an improvement in behavior. Grades should improve. Attitude should improve. Your relationship with your child should improve. If you don’t feel you see any improvement after two or three months speak to the therapist. They will help you to understand the changes they feel the child has made. If you continue to feel your child has not changed you may want to change therapists. But if you find yourself wanting to do that a second time it might be necessary to let the therapist help you set more realistic expectations of your child’s progress.
If there are serious problems at home – like abuse or alcoholism – let the therapist know. They will figure it out anyway. They can help you as well as helping your child.
There are many caring professionals in your community who can make a significant difference in your child’s life. If you don’t have insurance or cannot afford a private therapist there are many community agencies that will provide this service on a sliding scale and may not charge a fee at all. You doctor and school will know where those places are. Early intervention is the key to helping a child live a happy successful life.