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Parents of a child with behavioral problems or mental health issues often seek help from child psychologists. There are many important points to consider when trying to choose the best child psychologist. Parents should thoroughly investigate the psychologist's credentials to ensure that he or she is qualified for the job. Since many psychologists specialize in a certain age group or type disorder, it is important to consider a professional's area of expertise to ensure quality treatment. Parents can receive additional information about how to choose the best child psychologist by consulting with social workers and other mental health professionals.
A parent or caregiver can begin the quest to choose the best child psychologist by conducting an Internet search of local professionals. After identifying several candidates, the parent can make calls to the appropriate offices or clinics to obtain information about their credentials. Some practicing child psychologists have not yet earned their licenses; they are completing postgraduate internships under the supervision of other professionals. The fact that a psychologist is new does not mean that he or she cannot do a great job, but some parents might prefer to choose someone with more experience.
Another factor to consider when trying to choose the best child psychologist is the type of services that different professionals offer. A particular psychologist might, for example, specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy. Such a psychologist can help a child who struggles with behavioral issues at work or school. He or she can help children understand why behavioral issues arise and learn what to do to better control their actions.
Parents may be more concerned with their child's interpersonal relationships than their behavioral issues. A child and family psychologist can hold group therapy sessions with children and their family members, so that individuals can learn to better communicate and work together to avoid crises. Most psychologists or their receptionists will fully explain the services offered in a phone or in-person consultation.
If a parent is still unable to choose the best child psychologist, he or she can consult a social worker or general psychologist at a local mental health clinic. These professionals are typically very familiar with different child psychologists in their network, and can help find the best fit for a family. Finally, after a few sessions with a new psychologist, children and their parents can usually get a clear idea of whether or not he or she is right for their situation.
I would think about trying other services as well as a psychologist. A counselor might be cheaper but no less effective depending on what problems your child has.
Alternatively, if your child has had serious difficulty your GP might recommend a psychiatrist rather than a psychologist.
You might also need to keep in mind that good counseling professionals are going to be kept very busy. It might take a while before you can get an appointment. Having a doctor's recommendation can really help in this case, but sometimes if you need immediate care for your child you might have to go with the less well known psychologist in town.
@KoiwiGal - I think if the psychologist is a good one they will be able to tell whether they can help the child after a few sessions anyway.
As you say, not everyone will be a good fit, and the fit has to be right for both child and parents.
But, I personally think the child is usually the most flexible of the bunch. Even if he or she starts out sullen and unwilling, that will probably be true for any psychologist.
A really good child psychotherapist will be able to break down those barriers, which are likely the reason for problems in the first place.
I know when I was a kid and had a few counseling sessions I wasn't
very happy about them at first, but my counselor quickly made me feel better, to the point where I looked forward to them.
After all, it is a chance for the kid to have someone's undivided attention and they generally love that.
Try to take your child's wishes into account, but also remember that they might be resistant to the very idea of a psychologist, so make sure you give it a few sessions before stopping if they claim they don't like it. Child counseling is not going to be effective, however, if your child doesn't like the professional, no matter how much experience they have, or even how much you like them.
Children don't often get treated as though their opinions matter in their day to day lives. I personally think it's important to try and help your child feel like they have some say over what they get to do. But, even more importantly, if they are truly unhappy they are unlikely to open up to the psychologist and to eventually feel better, which is the point of the whole thing.
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