How To Choose A Child Psychologist

There are many things to consider when looking for a psychologist suitable for your child.  It is essential to choose a child psychologist who will be able to meet your specific requirements and provide you with the best possible care to assist with the difficulties your child is facing.  This article explores some of the key factors to consider when choosing a child psychologist for various issues such as anxiety, ADHD, ADD, autism, dyslexia, and learning difficulties. Please note that not all considerations are listed and there may be other factors specific for you to consider.

Child Psychologist Referrals

Friends, families, or schools may recommend a particular child psychologist based on their own personal or professional experiences. This ‘word of mouth’ referral is a fantastic source of information about psychologists available in your local area and the experiences that people around you have had with them. However, it is also necessary to consider your child and their unique needs in seeing a psychologist to ensure that you select a clinician who is best suited to your child and their difficulties.

Child-Psychologist Connection

Your child’s connection to their psychologist plays an extremely significant role in the therapeutic process. It is important to consider whether or not you believe your child will be able to form a meaningful connection with their psychologist and fully engage with them. Choosing a psychologist that your child is comfortable and at ease with is crucial. If your child does not feel comfortable, very minimal therapeutic work will be possible to complete, regardless of the specialist training and qualifications of the psychologist. A good psychologist will try to engage even the most shy, disengaged child. It may take a few sessions for your child to really engage and trust their psychologist, depending on your child’s personality, how they respond to new people and how interested they are in therapy. However, if this is not happening, you may want to see a different psychologist to find someone better suited for your child.

Experience In Children’s Psychology

Ensure that your child psychologist has relevant experience working with clients similar to your child.  It’s important to enquire about their experience working with younger children, primary school aged or adolescents, as each age group can be very different. Also ensure that your psychologist is experienced in the area, which your child is seeking assistance with.  Some therapists specialise in areas which children generally experience challenges in such as anxiety, developmental disorders or social difficulties.

Therapeutic Approaches

Child psychologists will work from a slightly different therapeutic approach, according to their specific training and practice preferences. Choose a therapist who utilises approaches that your child will be able to engage with and receive maximum benefit from. It is also very important to enquire whether the therapeutic approaches your therapist employs are founded in evidence-based practice and psychological theory. In other words, are the approaches your psychologist uses supported by research in the profession to show results? Are they generally accepted as best-practice methods among their peers?

Psychometric Assessment Services

It is vital to consider your child’s needs, both immediately and in the future, as well as the services the specialist is able to offer. In conjunction with therapy services, some children or adolescents can benefit from undergoing a standardised psychometric assessment. It is important to consider whether your child may benefit from this assessment for diagnostic purposes, school-funding purposes, or to shape treatment strategies.

A Team of Expert Professionals

Does your child psychologist work in a team of experienced professionals who can provide your child with the best care available? Working in a team of experienced professionals can ensure your psychologist stays up-to-date across best practices grounded in current research. In some cases, if your child has been engaged with the psychologist for a significant period of time, they may not be able to conduct a standardised psychometric assessment with them. Instead, this can be conducted by a different psychologist within the team, which can help to eliminate some of the anxieties typically felt with these types of assessments.

Availability For Psychology Appointments

Is your child psychologist able to provide appointments within a reasonable timeframe or are there extended waiting periods? Once an initial appointment has been scheduled, will they have the availability to see your child as often as needed depending on the presenting issue? Depending on your child’s needs, sessions may be scheduled on a weekly basis.  It is important to ensure that your therapist has the availability to provide the best care for your child.  In some cases it may be worth being on a waiting list if the psychologist is able to offer specific services to your child’s needs. In other cases, timing is an extremely important factor and difficulties need to be immediately addressed by a psychologist.

Find A Child Psychologist in Canberra

No one child psychologist is going to ‘fit the bill’ for all of your child’s needs.  It is important to look at all of the factors in order to make the best decision possible. This may mean sacrificing one need for another.  Ultimately, the single most important factor to consider when choosing a child psychologist is the connection and relationship your child forms with them. This is one of the largest predicting factors in outcomes from psychological services. If your child does not feel comfortable with their therapist, very little therapeutic work will be achieved.

If you would like assistance in finding a psychologist for your child, call Strategic Psychology in Canberra on 02 6262 6157.

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