Therapy Is Only as Good as the Therapist: Finding a Counselor with Whom Your Child Can Connect

One of the most critical aspects of children’s lives is the people on whom they rely for honesty and guidance. While this generally involves parents, guardians, and other caretakers, sometimes that inner circle of influential people can grow to include a therapist or counselor. Hiring someone professional to help your child in a therapeutic or counseling capacity can be frightening, especially if the therapist doesn’t share your family’s beliefs, faith, secularism, or questions your values.

What Is Their Professional Background?

Does the therapist in question have a history of working with clients of the same age as your child? More importantly, have they had success in working with a child or teenager with the same issues or condition? Even if their academic specialty was the same area, if they don’t have recent hands-on experience, they may not be the best fit for your child. It’s good to look into their specialization and work history before you schedule a meeting to see how the therapist gets along with your child.

Additionally, look them up online. Many sites, from Angie’s List to Facebook offer space for customer reviews of service professionals. See if there are any reviews discussing the therapist you are considering and read them (with a grain of salt) to see if their values or practice will work for your family.

What Kind of Chemistry Do They Have with Your Child?

One of the most important elements in a therapy relationship is how the therapist and your child relate to one another. The therapist can be from another religion, gender, or even another country without that impacting how well they can relate to your child. The better their interpersonal chemistry, the better the chance that the therapist will be able to help your child in a positive, real manner.

One of the best ways to see if there will be good chemistry is to have a low-pressure meeting before you agree to begin therapy. This could be as simple as a five-minute consultation in their office before or after their daily appointments. It’s best to see if they get along before going through the stressful process of an intake appointment, if possible.

It can be nerve-wracking to work with a therapist who questions your family’s choices in terms of values or lifestyle. However, sometimes those questions are valuable in and of themselves. Is it possible that some of the elements the therapist finds questionable, such as interpersonal isolation or over-scheduled days, could be leading to the issues that created a need for a therapist in the first place? An outsider’s perspective and opinion can be invaluable when it comes to your daily life habits and familial relationships. Instead of looking for someone who views your family and the world the exact same way, you and your child may benefit more from having a therapist who presents a differing worldview.

Can You Respect Their Professionalism?

This is key. Most therapists, given the chance, will set aside their personal prejudices to do all they can for a client. If the therapist you are considering has a different faith, lifestyle, or philosophical approach to child-raising, they can still work well with your family, provided they are able to set aside their opinions and be professional. Do you foresee yourself (or your child) regularly butting heads with them, or can you view them as professional in a therapeutic capacity? Your perception of the therapist will likely influence your child’s perception too.

Talk to Your Child About Options

Make sure that your child understands that they can work with a different therapist if this one is disrespectful or pushy about any sort of personal agenda. Encourage your child to be positive and assertive within the therapy process, but also honest with you about whether or not the therapist is being respectful to them. Hopefully, with a little effort, your family can find a therapist, who, even if they don’t share your exact values, can respect your family and your family’s values while working with your child.

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