As a psychotherapist, I have seen my share of adolescent clients and their parents. Regardless of the diagnosis or the reason why their parents brought them into my office, one thing is certain – most parents desperately want their children to feel better. And professional intervention is often their last hope.
Once you’ve made the decision to seek mental health treatment, there are a few key questions you should ask during the initial consultation. Not all mental health professionals practice the same methods, therapeutic models, and specialties, so it’s important to do your homework to find the best fit for your daughter – and your family. Be sure to include your daughter in this process, after all, she’s the one who will be spending hours in his/her office. If she objects to your choice, therapy will not be successful, so it needs to be a mutual decision.
Use these general interview guidelines below to help you determine the best fit for your daughter.
Top Must-Ask Questions:
- Are you licensed? Check to see if he/she is licensed in the state that they are practicing. You can usually check with the state boards, accessible by phone or website for verification.
- What is your specialty? Most therapists specialize in one or more mental health issues such as Depression, Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress, etc. Make sure his or her specialty is a good fit for what’s going on with your daughter.
- What are your credentials and experience? Don’t be afraid to ask for a resume or references. Make sure the therapist has sufficient experience working with children and adolescents. Sometimes parents get intimidated when they walk into a therapist’s office, so be sure to speak up. After all, you are your child’s best advocate.
- What type of therapy do you provide? Most pre-adolescents and adolescents benefit from a combination of individual, group, and family therapy depending on the issues and illness. If you or your daughter prefers a certain type of therapy, make sure the therapist can accommodate your wishes.
- What is your therapeutic approach? All therapists approach problems differently. For example, some remain completely silent and chose to let the patient “free associate” while others take a cognitive/behavioral approach and are more active in the session.
- What is your after-hour policy? Is the therapist on-call or available for emergency sessions? Do they charge more for these special sessions?
- How much information will you disclose to me about my daughter? Don’t assume that you will be privy to everything that’s discussed in your daughter’s closed-door sessions. Often, parents are blind-sided by the fact that they are not told every detail. Therapists, typically, are bound by law to notify you if they suspect your daughter is suicidal, homicidal, or a victim of sexual abuse. Find out the boundaries of the patient-therapist relationship ahead of time.
- How much is this gonna cost me? Most insurance plans include some kind of mental health coverage, but check with your provider to make sure the therapist you choose is covered. In addition, ask him/her about additional expenses like testing, assessments, hospitalizations and on-call fees, that may or may not be covered by your insurance carrier.