No one likes the back and forth of trying to find the right therapist, especially with a child. Finding a therapist for your child is an exhausting process. Who is available? Who takes your insurance? Does he/she have a waiting list a mile long? Will it be a good match? Do they work with a psychiatrist?
I have a few tips to help. If you have other suggestions, please put them in the comments.
- Ask your primary care physician to rule out physical ailments. PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections), autism and some thyroid problems can be a root cause of mental health issues.
2. Get a diagnosis. Start with an psychological evaluation. If you had a heart problem, doctors would do this before treatment. The same goes with mental illness.
3. If you have insurance, go to your insurance website, download the list of mental health professionals that take your insurance. That will give you a list to start with.
4. Utilize County Resources. Some counties and states have resources and can assign you a caseworker to help you through this process. In Virginia, we have CSBs or Community Service Boards that can help you navigate the system.
5. If you live in the state of Virginia, you can contact CMHRC-Phone: (804) 828-9897. CMHRC stands for Children’s Mental Health Resource Center. You will leave a message but someone will call you back with some referrals.
6. If you work for a large company or corporation, ask Human Resources if they have an EAP program, also known as an Employee Assistance Program. Referrals you get through this program can often bypass long waiting lists. Don’t worry about the stigma. We utilized this resource and information was kept private.
7. Join a support group and ask them! Families anonymous is for those with children struggling with an addiction. NAMI has classes and support groups to help families and individuals with mental illness. Family to Family is the class I mentioned and there are NAMI chapters all over the US.
8. If you have the name of a practice but not an individual, you can ask the receptionist at that practice who might be a good match for what you are looking for. This has worked for a number of parents I’ve spoken with.