Choosing a Mental Health Provider for Your Teen

Before deciding on a provider for your child, take the time to call, ask questions, and do your research. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Before deciding on a provider for your child, take the time to call, ask questions, and do your research. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

The first challenge in helping your troubled teen get the help they need is accepting that help is needed in the first place.  The good news is that this is often the hardest step.  Once you have determined that your teenager’s needs require the experience of a professional, finding the right mental health provider can seem overwhelming.  This is especially true if this is your first experience with mental health care.   Finding the right provider isn’t always easy but you can simplify it by starting off with a sound strategy.  Here are some tips to help you choose the best mental health provider for your teen.

1.     List Your Must Haves

Next, you need to think about your requirements.  Is your child facing a specific problem like anxiety or depression?  You may want to focus your search on providers that specialize in helping people with the specific challenge your teen is facing.  You may also want someone who has a certain amount of experience or who primarily works with people the same age as your child.

2.     Start Searching

One of the best places to start is to call your health insurance provider and ask for a list of available providers that are covered under your plan.  This gives you a good start and puts you ahead of the game.  You can also ask your child’s guidance department or pediatrician, friends, and family members for a recommendation.  Just remember to double check that any referrals are covered by your insurance plan.

3.     Research Your List

Once you have a list of options, do your research.  Look at their websites.  Google them.  Read any papers they have published or blogs they write.  Use the resources available to you to get to know your options a little and to help whittle down your list.

4.     Check them Out

Check with your state’s licensing board to ensure the people on your list are properly licensed for your state and do not have complaints against them.

5.     Schedule a Session

Take time to vet your final selections yourself before introducing them to your child.  In many cases, teens are willing to try therapy once and if they don’t have a good experience, it can be challenging to get them back through the door.  Meet with each candidate first to discuss your child, your concerns, and then listen to your gut about which is the best candidate for your child.

After you have decided on which provider is the best fit for your child, let your child know that they are going to be seeing a provider and tell your child a little about them before you arrive.

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