A few decades ago, there was no telling whether your child was just being a child or if he had something that was out of the ordinary. Parents didn’t usually worry when their children were more active than the other students in school, or if they were a little more ‘off’ than your neighbors’ kids. Perhaps your child had a schoolmate who was always alone and played all by himself and the other kids would call him ‘freak’ or ‘odd’ but there was never any official diagnosis about children like them.
Today, your children now have a formal diagnosis when they are described as hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive. They have what doctors call attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children with ADHD don’t often get the best intervention from their primary physicians but they need to be recommended to a reliable and efficient therapist who has spent a good number of years specializing on the different mental and physical conditions of children.
However, as parents, you cannot keep yourself from being meticulous when it comes to choosing the right therapist for your ADHD child. Although you will be with them during treatment, the therapist will be responsible for doing certain tasks and activities to help your child cope with his mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. You must choose carefully and wisely. “The field of psychotherapy has evolved a lot over the last few decades,” Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D. says. “It’s no longer what we’d call a one-size-fits-all model.”
Before anything, ask help from family and friends. They might have recommendations that they know of that they trust. Your child’s pediatrician perhaps knows some specialists who are experienced clinically and theoretically. Finally, here are a few important criteria that you should keep in mind before choosing the right therapist for your ADHD child.
The Right Therapist:
- Always coordinates with the child’s parents or guardians. He is aware that his role as the therapist does not mean he can perform any treatment or do an activity without consulting the child’s parents or guardians. He knows that parents always fret about their kids and that he should not do anything that would hurt them. He doesn’t think that only his interventions will help the child improve, but that he contributes to the well-being of the child and fulfills his role efficiently, honestly and humbly.
- Sees your child as someone that needs his help and compassion, not a thing to be fixed. Steven Reidbord M.D. suggests that, “A therapist who knows what it is like to be a patient may be more empathetic, and may anticipate unstated feelings more readily than a therapist without this first-hand knowledge.” He wants to learn more about your child’s strengths, enhance those strengths and reduce or get rid of his weaknesses. He knows that achieving a goal is not easy for your child and so he doesn’t take this for granted. He shows your child (and you) that he is awesome and special. He does not see the child as the disability but someone having the disability.
- Is experienced, professional and reliable. He is confident that through his years of practice and study, he is capable of helping and guiding your child into becoming more functional and utilizes his abilities and gifts to the fullest. He shows professionalism by being on time for the treatment and being alert and ready to work efficiently.
- Considers himself not only as your child’s therapist but also his friend, playmate, and confidant. When a therapist is happy to play and have fun with your child, your child will be more comfortable with him and chances of achieving the goals of therapy are better. Your child will turn to his therapist when he is sad or even happy or if there are things that are bothering him that he can’t tell you.
- Contributes to the improvement of your child’s well-being mentally, emotionally and physically. After weeks of therapy with him, you see visible changes, such as positive behaviors and a happy mood. Then you know that the relationship between your child and his therapist has been working.
It may take some time to find the right therapist that will suit your child – and you – and perhaps it will only take days. When you find a match, it will be about you and the therapist initially so you must ask all the questions you need to ask before beginning your child’s treatment. Tracey Cleantis, LMFT points out to “Also notice if there are any red flags, any ethical, boundary issues, or cottage cheese eating that starts to arise. If there are, it might be time to pick another therapist.” You may need to make an extra effort in finding the perfect therapist for your ADHD child, but will all be worth it.