We all want the best healthcare, but when it comes to our children, that importance is heightened. When our children are very young, they struggle to express their physical needs. When they enter the teenage years, they can have just as hard a time expressing their mental health needs. It’s up to parents to help their teens get the mental health care they need.
Types of treatment
Your child may need talk therapy, drug intervention, a listening ear, or an adolescent treatment center for teens. The first step is talking to a professional and getting their advice.
LMHC and LCSW
Both licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) and licensed mental health counselors are specialists who can help your teen through medical health treatment. These specialists have completed two-year training programs and have licenses to provide a certain level of therapy.
This route tends to be the most affordable option, as these professionals have the least amount of training. They may not be able to deal with more difficult cases: however, they will be able to point you in the right direction for getting more help.
PhDs and PsyDs
These are both psychologists with a minimum of five years of education and specialized training. PhDs will do more psychological research and clinical rotations, but both of these degrees require substantial education and preparation. Neither of these professionals can prescribe medications unless they also have an MD degree.
For difficult issues or at the suggestion of a psychologist, a teen treatment center might be the best answer for your child. The advantage of a treatment center is that it allows a holistic treatment that addresses issues from every angle, helping teens gain the skills they need to confidently advance in life.
Do your research
As you narrow down your choices, you’ll want to consider some basics like location and price, but remember that quality should be the deciding factor. The legal practice of Howard Fensterman, among others, has highlighted issues of malpractice in medicine, and when your teen’s mental health and future are at stake, there is no room for mistakes.
Look at the reviews of any doctor, therapist, or treatment center you choose, and ask questions about any recommendations they make.
You can also check with your district branch of the American Psychiatric Association and your state medical board to verify any complaints against the therapist you’re considering.
Questions to ask
On your call or initial visit to a treatment center, you should ask these questions:
Do you treat teens?
You don’t want a psychiatrist or treatment center that only has training in working with adults. Make sure you find someone with expertise in teen and adolescent issues.
Are you comfortable with my teen’s case?
Sometimes a clinician or therapist will have training in an issue but never actually have dealt with it in practice with a patient. Give them a chance to pass on your child’s case and direct you to someone who might be more experienced.
What do you specialize in?
You want to ensure that any potential therapist or clinic has what they need to treat your child’s problems. The therapist or clinic should be able to suggest some treatments or directions they might go in based on your teen’s symptoms.
Don’t be afraid to move on
You aren’t locked into working with just one person, and it is an acknowledged reality in mental health that a patient and therapist have to “click” in order for healing to happen. After your child’s first appointment, talk to your teen about what happened.
You should expect your teen to be anxious after the first appointment, but they should also feel that the therapist understood them. They should not express any discomfort with the therapist as a person. Don’t be surprised if it takes a few appointments to find the right person, but know that the search is worth it.