I'm Looking for Child Counselors Near Me and My Family -- Where Should I Start?
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated April 30, 2021
Finding a counselor when you think you need therapy is difficult enough. But when you need to find someone for your child to talk to about a mental health challenge or something that they're experiencing, it can be even harder. You may be confused as to what to look for and what the process should be like. If you find yourself asking, "How do I find child counselors near me?" keep reading.
What Do Child Counselors Do?
Ultimately, child counselors do the same thing as counselors for adults. They help children work through mental health challenges or difficult life situations. It's easy to think that only adults struggle with anxiety, depression, or mental health diagnoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but that's not always the case.
Children of different ages can deal with mental health challenges. Most people think of ADHD, but that doesn't mean that they also struggle with many illnesses and challenges. And, children can also be the victim of trauma, both big and small. When a child goes through having their parents split up, moving, losing a loved one, or living in poverty, it can be something that they struggle to deal with.
Just like some adults, children can struggle to understand and process through their emotions. And they can deal with negative thinking that impacts their behavior.
How A Child Counselor Helps
When a child is struggling, a child counselor can come in and help them where they are. If the child has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, the counselor can help them understand the symptoms they're experiencing and coping strategies.
If the child is in counseling because of a life situation they've experienced, the counselor can help them understand the situation better and process it. Overall, a child counselor can help a child learn how to handle or overcome a challenge in a healthy way. When these issues are left untreated, it's more likely that they will continue to struggle with the same challenges when the child becomes an adult.
Is There A Difference Between A Child Counselor And One For Adults?
The answer to this question is both yes and no. Overall, a counselor is going to have the same basic requirements and degrees. This includes at least a Bachelor's degree, but a counselor will generally have either a Master's degree or a Doctorate. The license requirements vary from one state to the next, so you'll want to check these requirements for your specific state.
So while the educational requirements might be the same, that doesn't mean it's the only thing you want to consider. You want to make sure that you're working with a child psychologist that has experience working with children. This may not be something that's designated in their credentials listed after their name, but it's something that you need to do your due diligence on checking. Just because someone is licensed and educated in therapy does not mean that they will have the right personality or skills to benefit your child the most.
How To Know When Your Child Should See A Counselor
As discussed above, there are many different reasons why your child would benefit from seeing a counselor. Here are some signs that you should watch for:
They have high levels of anxiety
If your child experiences high levels of anxiety, you're likely to notice. They may be nervous about things such as getting sick, dying, not having any friends, or any other number of things. They may also experience symptoms of anxiousness such as digestive issues, insomnia, nervous movement, and more.
Whether you know what the cause of anxiety is or not for your child, it can be a good reason to have them talk with a child counselor. The counselor can help them get to the bottom of their anxiety and learn strategies that will help them manage it.
They have shut down and don't seem like themselves.
If your child has all of a sudden become withdrawn and doesn't seem to be acting like their normal selves, it could be time to talk with a child counselor. There can be many reasons why they are behaving this way, such as depression or being bullied, and it's something that you don't want to let go of. Your child may not be comfortable opening up to you, and you may not know the right questions to ask to get to the bottom of it. This is where the comforter can help.
You hear anything that concerns you from other sources.
No matter how well you think you know your child, there are some times when other people are going to pick up on issues before you can see it yourself. This could include your children's friends, their friends' parents, teachers, or coaches. If someone lets you know that they noticed a shift in your child's behavior or the things that they're saying, then it's something that you can address by meeting with a child psychologist.
You pick up on physical symptoms.
Physical symptoms that would indicate that your child should see a counselor could include body aches, upset stomach, trouble sleeping, or frequent headaches.
But it could also be symptoms that you can see physically on them. This can include things like signs of substance abuse. If you see physical symptoms like this in your child, it's a good indication that they would benefit from talking with a child counselor.
School is a struggle.
There are a lot of different reasons why school could be an issue for your child. They could have a difficult time learning because of something like ADHD or social challenges such as bullying. Having your child talk with a counselor can be a good way to get to the bottom of where the struggle in school is coming from.
As a parent, there may be times when you feel that it would be wise to have your child talk with a counselor. You may not be able to pinpoint the exact reason why you feel this way, but as a parent, you know your child better than most. You may be able to pick up on things that other people aren't noticing yet. Trust your instincts as a parent.
How To Find A Child Counselor Near Me
If you're interested in finding a child counselor for your child to work within your area, there are several things that you will want to consider. Listed below are some of these considerations, along with how to find a child counselor.
Once again, you're going to want to find a counselor experienced in working with children. There are different strategies in therapy that can be used with children that are more beneficial than the traditional therapies used for adults.
When looking for a counselor to work with, make sure that you asked about their experience with children. Some examples of this include having children do drawings and other activities that can help them express their feelings from a certain situation. Children might not be capable of expressing their thoughts and feelings, and an experienced child counselor will know how to pull these things from the child in a way that they can understand.
There are many different places where you can get referrals for a good child counselor. If your child is in school, you can start by talking with the school administration. They may have a counselor on staff that your child can meet with, and if not, they should have a list of names that they can refer you to.
You can also try talking with your child's pediatrician. Generally, they will have a list of other professionals, including mental health professionals, to refer you to for all other services.
If you know of another parent who has taken their child to see a counselor, you can also ask them for a referral. They will tell you their opinions and any negative experiences with anyone you might want to avoid.
Why you may want to consider meeting with a counselor too
There's a lot of pressure on parents. You want to make sure that you're doing the best that you can for your child. And there are some situations, such as if your child has a mental health disorder or has experienced trauma or something similar, when you may feel like you can't do enough. This might leave you feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or struggling with your own self-confidence.
Talking to a therapist yourself can be a good way to help your child as well. Parents are likely to get their children the help that they need while not doing the same for themselves. However, getting the help you need and taking care of yourself allows you to better your child. It also sets a good example for your child that counseling is good and something that you benefit from.
If you're interested in talking with a therapist about parenting or any other issues that you're facing in your life right now, ReGain has online therapists available that make the meeting with a counselor easy and convenient.
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