ADHD Therapies

5 Ways to Choose the Right ADHD Therapist for Your Child

A therapist should make you and your child with ADHD feel comfortable and hopeful. Proceed with caution if one guarantees a successful outcome.

Q:  I was told a therapist could help my child, who has ADHD, with his behavioral issues. How do I choose a therapist and what can I expect in the way of treatment practices?

A: Many mental-health professionals are adequately trained to address behaviors that accompany ADHD. Finding the right therapist to work with your child is an important task; the therapist you choose will work closely with your child, and with you.

How will you know if a therapist is the right choice for your child?

Do your research.

The therapist you choose should be experienced in working with children who have ADHD. Make sure they have the requisite experience by reading their bio online. You might also consider reviewing the therapist’s licenses, certifications, post-graduate training, years of experience, roles in professional associations, availability, mission statement, and fee structure. Most states have a searchable website that allows consumers to see whether a therapist’s license is current and in good standing.

[Read: How Does Behavior Therapy Work?]

Look for red flags.

It is not possible to guarantee success in treatment, so if you are promised this, be cautious. Not only are “successful outcomes” subjectively defined, but each circumstance is unique. Find a mental health professional who is optimistic for your child but who does not make guarantees.

Ask questions.

Inquire about the therapist’s experience with ADHD and how he or she will help your child and you. Clear and constant communication between parent and therapist is essential for treatment to be effective, so ask about the therapist’s availability outside of session, and how they prefer to communicate with parents.

Expect to get homework.

Experienced therapists know that they can do only so much when seeing clients. Part of therapy will include having you and your child practice strategies, such as token reward systems based on collaboratively planned charts to motivate certain behaviors, outside the office. Behavior therapy tends to be the treatment of choice for ADHD because it is evidence-based, however it’s important to consistently implement at-home treatment practices that you learn from the therapist. After all, if nothing changes at home, change will likely not come at all.

[Download: Choosing the Right Professional to Treat ADHD]

Make a change, if needed.

The right therapist should have a demeanor that puts you and your child at ease. If you find, after a few sessions, that the relationship between the therapist and your child is not a good fit, talk about it. Therapists usually have great referral networks to utilize in these situations.

Behavior Therapy for Kids with ADHD: Next Steps

Brent Moore, Ph.D., is the director and associate professor of clinical mental health counseling at Indiana Wesleyan University. He also specializes in treating ADHD at his practice in Liberty, Missouri.

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