I probably don’t have to tell you that finding the right therapist to work with you and your child is key to their success in treatment. If you are seeking help for the first time, or had a negative experience in the past, finding the right professional can be daunting. As a child therapist, I have talked with many parents who have been satisfied or dissatisfied with prior therapists. Using their feedback, as well as my own beliefs about the therapeutic process for children, I feel there are 5 key elements of a child therapist.
Your therapist should be knowledgeable in child development, as well as in the problems and concerns you present. Specialized training in working with children, such as a certification in play therapy, is also important. Children are a very special population and require a treatment approach geared towards their developmental level.
2. Loves Children
This sounds obvious, but it is too important not to include. A therapist who claims to work with children should love children! Trust me when I say that your child will know if their therapist is not enthusiastic about them or their play.
3. Parent Involvement
Your child’s therapist should show a willingness to communicate with you regularly. This communication can include feedback from the child’s treatment, parenting techniques, and suggestions for helping the child outside of the session. Parents should also feel open to asking the therapist questions and sharing regular updates on how things are going at home and at school.
4. Coordinates Care with Other Professionals
Children who attend school or daycare are likely exhibiting their behaviors in the classroom. In fact, many parents seek counseling because their teachers have expressed concerns and want help as well. It may also be important to communicate with your child’s pediatrician, especially if medication is involved. A willingness to collaborate with your child’s teachers, doctor, or other providers can further foster their success outside of the play room.
5. Establishes Good Rapport
Just like any other relationship, you will connect with some therapists and not with others. Especially in a field when you are trusting this professional with intimate details of yourself and your life, you want someone you are comfortable with and trust. Your child will feel the same in their sessions so be sure they enjoy being with that individual.
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