Our family was blessed to have an amazing therapist for almost five years. Then in January of this year, she told us she was moving her practice out of the area. We could stay with her, but we’d have to drive an hour and a half each way if there happened to be no traffic. Before she left, she gave us several names of counselors we could contact. In February, I called those numbers and either received no response or was told they didn’t take our insurance. Since my daughter was so stable at the time, we decided to stop our search for awhile.
Little by little my husband and I saw the signs in instability creep back in. Then in August, the dam broke. We saw several maladaptive behaviors emerge in ways that we hadn’t experienced in a long time.
I tried looking on our insurance’s website for a qualified therapist but came up dry. Finally, a former high school buddy of mine who follows my Facebook page reached out to me privately. She said that she was an insurance broker and wanted to help me. I called her the next day. Within minutes she had pulled up a list of over 80 professionals who practice in or near my home town. She just happened to mention that one name stood out to her. It was a therapist named Miss A.
Later that day I called Miss A and a few other therapists to get a feel for who might be a good fit. Miss A called me back a few hours later. She explained she wasn’t able to see me until the end of the month. I hesitantly booked an appointment for the last Saturday in August.
A week before our appointment, Miss A. emailed me to tell me she’d read over my daughter’s medical and educational history. She was concerned based on the intensity of my child’s previous hospitalizations she wouldn’t be a good fit. She only saw patients once a week and felt like my daughter needed more. I assured her she had a lot of supports at school, which included two separate counselors. Our family decided she needed a private therapist for additional support. Once Miss A heard this, she decided to move forward.
Finally, the big day arrived. After our appointment, I can truly say my husband and I are cautiously optimistic Miss A will be a good fit for our daughter. The appointment with our daughter’s new therapist was actually just part of the interview process. We’d been in contact via email several times that week. Miss A really tried to get a flavor for my daughter’s unique and challenging needs. Knowing what I know now, I can confidently say there are a few signs all parents should look for when searching for a child therapist.
1. A qualified therapist will call any previous therapists and professionals to confer with them.
Miss A asked me to sign releases of information for my daughter’s private therapist, psychiatrist and school staff. Then she took the time to contact them. I’ve had several instances where professionals have asked for releases, but never took the time to contact those who know our story.
2. She has names and numbers of other professionals you can add to your child’s team.
My husband and I have been talking about getting our daughter a more formal autism diagnosis. This will hopefully make more services available to her. After telling Miss A about this, she produced a list of people who took our insurance. Guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow morning?
3. A highly qualified therapist will provide practical solutions based on your child’s unique needs.
When we told Miss A my daughter was taking things that don’t belong to her, she suggested some useful tips. One of which I was already doing. (Telling my daughter to say, “I’m struggling” when she feels tempted to take something.) She said, “Consequences for impulsive behavior will not work with your child. Instead you need to have a plan to prevent this behavior.”
4. You hear the phrase, “I will let your child lead our sessions. She’ll choose what we play with.”
Miss A told my husband and I all of the different play options that were available to her. She definitely knows the direction she’s going in, but she wants to make it a fun experience for my daughter.
5. As you leave, your child’s therapist tells you she can’t wait to meet your child next week.
It gave me and my husband great comfort hearing this. Just knowing a stranger who knows my child’s challenges still wants to take her on as a client gives me peace of mind. I’m entrusting this professional with my child. It could either be a struggle to get her to the therapist each week or this could be the start of a wonderful patient/therapist relationship. If it’s not a good fit we could see more instability. If it’s a great fit, this could help my child grow into a mature young lady. After seeing these signs, I’m hopeful this will work out.