When it comes to predicting successful outcomes for any kind of therapy, I strongly believe that the most important factor is finding the right fit.
The therapist’s credentials, training and experience are definitely important. (Feeling confused about a therapist’s credentials? Check out this summary chart for some quick tips.) If you are bringing your child to therapy for support around a specific concern, it makes sense to look for a therapist with that specialization.
For example, if your child is grieving the loss of their grandparent, it may be helpful to work with a therapist who has completed bereavement training or worked in a hospice. Training and past experience may mean that they are skilled and effective helpers for clients who share your concern.
But even more important than the formal stuff like education or experience is how it feels when you’re in the room with the therapist. If you don’t feel connected with the therapist, their specialized training won’t make much of a difference.
So how do you find the right fit? As a prospective client, your initial interaction with any therapist is all about determining whether, essentially, you like them.
Choosing a therapist is a significant decision. You have every right to shop around until you find someone you click with.
I’m not saying that your best fit therapist will be exactly like you. Actually, it’s often nice to work with someone who is a bit different from you, because they can offer a fresh perspective. What’s most important is that you feel comfortable with them, because effective therapy requires vulnerability and lots of communication. It’s important that you feel comfortable sharing concerns about your child’s progress, opinions about the therapist’s recommendations, or just that things aren’t going as you had expected.
Even if therapy is for your child, some collaboration between you and the therapist is required or, at the very least, recommended. So it has to be someone you can see yourself working with.
The therapist also needs to be someone you can imagine your child spending time with. After all, you’re going to be leaving your child in their hands.
In general, when looking for a child therapist I recommend someone who:
- seems approachable,
- will get down on your child’s level (physically and emotionally), and
- genuinely seems to like kids.
Bringing your child to therapy can stir up lots of emotions for you AND your child, both positive and negative. It can feel stressful if therapy is something new for your family. You don’t know what to expect. The last thing you need is a power struggle to get your child through the door each session.
Kids don’t care about where the therapist went to school or who they had for a clinical supervisor. All they know is what their gut tells them when they walk into the office. Is it a friendly space? Is this new person making them feel safe? If these two conditions aren’t met, all the training in the world won’t get your kiddo to buy in.
In my experience, once families find the right therapist, the power struggles become less frequent or non-existent. Ideally, your child will like their therapist. They’ll probably enjoy the sessions. They may even ASK to go back again.
Therapists understand the importance of finding the right fit. They offer free meetings or phone calls so that you can try things out before making a significant financial or time commitment. They won’t (or shouldn’t!) be offended if you want to take some time to think about things, or if you would like to meet a few therapists before you make a final decision. This is completely normal and an important part of the process.
At Resourceful Me Art Therapy, my hope is that you never feel pressured or like you only have one option. As a caregiver, you get to choose your family’s support team. I want you to feel encouraged and empowered to find the right person to support your family.
This is why I offer a free introductory meeting for caregivers, and the Resourceful Me Sneak Peek for kiddos. I want you and your child to have a chance to check out the office, meet me, and see if this is a good fit for your family.
If you’re considering Resourceful Me as a possible support for your family, please call or email for more information or to book your free meeting. If you’re not from the area or are unsure about this whole process, I am happy to help with your search for the right therapist. I look forward to connecting with you!
Written by Rubi Garyfalakis, DTATI, RP, RCAT