Finding a therapist for your teenager can feel daunting. Understandably, you want the best care and most effective assistance for your child.

“Word of mouth” recommendations from a trusted friend, family member, teacher or GP are a great place to start, though it is important to consider your teen’s individual needs. A Therapist who was perfect for someone else may not be a great fit for your adolescent.

Many professionals provide therapy to adolescents, including clinical psychologists, registered psychologists, counsellors, social workers and nurses. Who do you choose? Each of these providers will be trained differently. It helps to do your homework to understand the differences in credentials. Whoever your teenager sees, it’s important that they graduated from an accredited program and that they are registered to practice in their profession in Australia. A quick search on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s website is a good idea.

Clinical psychologists tend to receive the most intensive training in the assessment and treatment of mental health difficulties. In addition to a 4-year undergraduate degree in psychology they have 2 to 4 years postgraduate training as well as 2 years of supervised practice following university. This means that clinical psychologists are highly trained in the most up-to-date and scientifically proven approaches to psychological problems (e.g. cognitive behaviour therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, play therapy, attachment-based Interventions). As a result, Medicare provides the highest rebate for appointments if your child sees an endorsed clinical psychologist.

No matter how qualified and experienced the therapist, their relationship with your teenager is also key. A good therapist can usually engage even the most reluctant young person. It is critical that your child forms a secure bond with their therapist for positive change to occur. Whatever their age or difficulty, the therapist should exhibit genuine interest in your child and a desire to compassionately understand their world.

It is also important that you as the parent feel a strong rapport with the therapist and that they involve you in the treatment process. The therapist’s involvement with your teenager will be temporary, and you need to be able to work collaboratively with them so that you feel empowered to help your child over the longer term. Occasionally it’s just not a good “fit” for either you or your teen. Trust your intuition about this and try someone else.

At MyLife Psychologists many of our registered and fully trained clinical psychologists have extensive experience in working with older adolescents (16+) and helping them through difficult situations. To learn more about our services, contact us to arrange an appointment or to talk about your situation.

Written by Tal Schlosser, Clinical Psychologist