Finding a therapist for your child 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 child’s individual needs. A Therapist who was perfect for someone else may not be a great fit for your child.

Many professionals provide therapy to children, including clinical psychologists, registered psychologists, counselors, 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 child 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 child is also key. A good therapist can usually engage even the most reluctant child. 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 child 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 child. Trust your intuition about this and try someone else.

MyLife Psychologists provide child and adolescent psychologists at our Inner West and CBD Sydney practices. Our registered and fully trained child clinical psychologists have extensive experience in working with children and helping them through difficult situations. To learn more about our services, contact us to arrange an appointment or talk about your situation.

Written by Tal Schlosser, Clinical Psychologist