I agree with your plan of having him evaluated for both medication and therapy. There are several ways to find good practitioners in your area. Some people just call their insurance company or get on their website and look for people who list the specialties you want, such as anger issues, adolescents, mood disorders, etc. However, many people feel more comfortable starting with a more personal referral. I would suggest asking around for a recommendation. Talk to your family doctor and ask friends, coworkers, family, and neighbors.
Chances are that someone will know of a practitioner who they have gone to or they will know someone who has. You may also check the phone book ads or online advertisements, again, looking for the specialties relating to your son’s issues. Many times you may also find educational anger management groups run by the local community mental health center, youth center, school or possibly even juvenile court.
Reach out to everyone you can so that your son can get the help he needs before he finds himself in a worse situation than the one you described. Many times both depression and bipolar disorder can appear as anger and irritability in teens. It will be important to address both the biological aspects as well as the psychological ones. Sometimes it makes sense to try to find a therapist and therapist in the same practice or agency so they can share information. However, there are also times that this just isn’t possible or the referrals lead in different directions, in which case, you can sign releases so they can still communicate with each other. The good news is that you are involved and you care enough to get him some help.
The even better news is that he is asking for help and will most likely cooperate. Maybe getting arrested was the wake up call he needed to realize that this issue is bigger than he is. It may also be good if he ends up on probation as a juvenile because many times the PO’s are social workers who really care about the kids and want to help them. Good luck with your situation and be persistent until you find the right match of services for your son and your family.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on November 18, 2006.