Locating a Therapist
The way you find a therapist, psychologist or other mental health professional can be crucial to your child’s success, said Dale Masi, a professor at the University of Maryland graduate school for social work. In her recent book “Shrink to Fit” (Health Communications, $10.95), she suggests seeking referrals from mental health workers you know, your primary physician and people in support groups dealing with the same issues.
“You know, most people find a therapist in the telephone book,” she said. “I would not necessarily recommend that.”
Garnette strongly suggests that parents check with their insurance company or HMO for guidelines about what is covered and for how long. When in doubt about a practitioner, she would turn to a trusted friend.
“Your best bet is a friend who operates very much like you do,” Garnette said.
Once you have a few names, Masi suggests meeting with the doctors without your child. Go armed with a list of questions and get answers about their education, experience, expertise with children, and the specific issues or diagnoses affecting your child.
“You should not feel uncomfortable interviewing a therapist,” Masi said.
And think about the office atmosphere. Masi would have doubts about a doctor who claimed to specialize in children, but who had no toys or child-sized furniture in the waiting room.
“Definitely look for an expertise in treating children,” Garnette said. “Children are not all little adults. A lot of it has to do with how you just click with a person because it’s so personal.”