What kind of therapist

The first thing to do is to get your child examined by your doctor to rule out any medical issues. Many times a physical problem is first identified through your child's changed behaviour.

The next step is to talk to your child's teachers and caregivers. Find out if they also noticed anything different and if they perhaps have observed additional symptoms you may have missed (such as attention difficulties, how they interact with their friends and how they behave in class).

Once you have as much information as possible, it is important to find the right therapist for your child's needs. This will all depend on the specific problems you are having and may include occupational therapists, speech therapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists.

Very often your doctor will recommend where to go next and what type of help you will need.  This will usually involve seeing a psychologist first, and there are a number of different types, and each of them specialise in different areas.  

For example, a clinical psychologist is the best person to go to if your child has just gone through a traumatic event or abuse, whereas a counselling psychologist is ideal if your child needs to talk through a divorce or problems with bullying at school.  Also, most psychologists have specific areas they are experts in and you will usually be able to find one that is very targeted to your child's needs (ADHD, depression, bereavement, etc.).  

If your child needs any form of medication (such as Ritalin or anti-depressants) it is best to see a psychiatrist.  Psychologists can't prescribe medication and your GP isn't equipped to cover the counselling and therapy aspect as well.  Psychiatrists can do both.  

Regardless of who you choose to go and see, it is most important to find someone that your child is comfortable talking to.  The ideal mix is someone who has the right experience for what your child is battling with and also uses the approach you are most happy with.  In the end, the therapist who clicks with both you and your child and who is an expert in the relevant field is the one you need to stick with.

How did you choose your child's therapist?

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