Ten Things You Need to Know about Selecting a Therapist for Your Child or Teen

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Dr. Debra Moore is the Clinical Director for Fall Counseling Associates in Carmichael, California. She has observed alarming trends in her business over the last generation.

Moore observes that kids today in general are more stressed as we are multi-tasking with demanding schedules and intense cyber communications of the Internet and mobile phone.  “They are over scheduled, over stimulated and constantly multi-tasking.”

And parents are key.  Moore offers tips for parents to select a therapist. (See also 20 reasons to consult a therapist).

  • 1. Don’t be afraid to ask for names.  Teachers, doctors, and other parents appreciate being asked.
  • 2. Do some research first.  Google the names.  Visit the therapist’s website if they have one.
  • 3. Call the therapist.  It is reasonable to expect a same day return call and a brief (5-10 minute) chat over the phone.
  • 4.Trust your gut during the phone call.  Does the therapist sound genuinely interested in helping your child?
  • 5. Ask questions during the phone call.  Does the therapist routinely work with children or teens? Many don’t.
  • 6. Discuss the therapists’s views on interacting with parents.  Will you be expected at or invited to sessions? Does this match what you are looking for?
  • 7. The therapist should be willing to gather information from you (even if your child is a teen) and to provide ongoing feedback (though it may be more general the older the child is).
  • 8. Many, if not most, seasoned therapists are not “in-network” insurance providers.  Try not to make this your only selection criteria.  Ask about a sliding fee based on income if necessary.
  • 9. Academic degrees are less important than the therapist’s experience with your child’s concerns.
  • 10.It is vital that your child is comfortable with their therapist.  This may take a few visits to “feel out” but make sure your child and the therapist “click”. 

With the advent of the Internet and mobile phone, Dr. Debra Moore has seen a ten-fold increase of children needing treatment for anxiety and depression.

For more insights on parenting in the network culture, subscribe to Banana Moments: Family Business Quarterly. Subscribe and raise money for your child’s school.

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna (jullien@surewest.net) and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.

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