Your child’s health and well-being is so very important, and, as a parent, you can agonize over every decision you make. You want to find the perfect solution, the best possible plan to help your child have a bright future. You want the child’s wishes to be fulfilled, life goals to be realized, and you know that working with a therapist can often help along the way. It’s such a big step, and you must entrust your child to the perfect therapist. Below are five important things to consider:
Passion and Compassion – Quite simply, you need a therapist who cares. This starts with compassion for your child. You want someone who is nurturing, who really will keep your child’s best interests at heart. But you also want to look for a therapist who is passionate about the job. This is someone who is devoted and committed, who will strive to make a difference and go above and beyond. Every child is different, and you need someone who is dedicated to working hard to find the perfect approach.
Proper Training and Certification – Start by looking at the therapist’s license and ensuring that everything is in order. Even when it is, though, take a moment to sit down and learn more about the therapist’s training and education. How much of it was child-focused? How much experience with children does the therapist have? This isn’t to say that someone without experience can’t do well – everyone has to start at some point – but you ideally want someone who has been focused on helping kids, specifically, for some time. Therapy for children is often far different than adult therapy, so don’t assume the two are always interchangeable. Remember, under most ethical guidelines to which therapists adhere, the therapist must tell you exactly what areas he or she is trained in and licensed in up front.
A Relationship-Centered Approach – Some studies have found that relationships are so utterly crucial that 85% of all change can be linked back to the relationship between the child and the therapist. This isn’t a cold, calculated science. It’s about trust. It’s about building blocks. It’s about time. When a therapist is committed, a lot of time and energy will be spent getting to know the child and building up that trust, helping to set in place a foundation for true exploration and change.
Looking at the Big Picture – A good therapist must always consider the big picture, not just the symptoms. For example, perhaps your child struggles with anxiety. The therapist should look at the big picture and realize that simply addressing over-anxiety about small issues doesn’t go far enough. Why is the child anxious? Does it stem from some desire for self-protection? What are the root causes of that desire? These situations can be complicated, but your child deserves someone who will really look at the whole situation and find realistic solutions that work on a long-term basis.
Considering Culture and Circumstances – Two children may appear very similar on the surface. They’re both the same age, they have similar interests, they go to the same school, etc. But that doesn’t meant they’ve had the same experiences or that their issues are identical. There isn’t a cookie-cutter approach that’s always going to work. A therapist has to consider the child’s unique circumstances, culture, home life, opportunities, and much more to really delve into helpful solutions. Things like race, gender identity, ethnicity, faith, and community background can all play a tremendous role. In short, a therapist must be flexible and willing to consider all aspects of a child’s situation and personality. As noted above, this can take a lot of time and effort, but the payoff is worth it.
As you look for a therapist, keep these five key areas in mind. Let them guide your search. Trust your gut, and always look for a therapist you feel incredibly comfortable with. The work a good therapist does can be life-changing and incredibly impactful for your child’s growth and development. Understanding this long-term impact, you can see just how important it is to have the very best possible therapist.