Working With Your Mental Health Professional

You may remember taking your child in for an ear infection. The treatment was fairly simple. After an evaluation, the doctor prescribed a medication, and told you to go in for a follow-up in two weeks. If the medication was given properly, the ear infection cleared up.. For mental health problems, the treatments are not as clear-cut as the treatments for medical problems. This is because the causes of mental health problems are not as clear-cut. In fact, mental health problems may be caused by several factors, acting together. For example, the causes of depression may be a combination of physical problems, family problems, and problems with adjusting to a new school.

For these reasons, it is important to be patient and work with your mental health professional. Sometimes it may take weeks or even months before you see any changes. Medications used to treat mental health problems take time to work. Therapy that requires a person to talk about their problems also takes time. While it is important for you to be patient, it is also important for you to be open and honest about what you think is best for your child. The mental health professional has special training, but you know what’s best for your child. If a certain medication or other treatment is not working, be assertive and let the mental health professional know.

Once your child is in therapy, it is important to evaluate the experience. Some therapists work better with some families. It is just as important to have a good match with your therapist as it is to have one with good credentials. Evaluate the treatment experience by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I feel the mental health professional is genuinely concerned about my family and me?
  • Does he keep his appointments?
  • Does he concentrate on my child’s problems or does he spend time talking about his own feelings and problems?
  • Do I feel comfortable raising any issues with him?
  • Is he available when my family is in a crisis?
  • Am I using the mental health professional appropriately and getting the most out of therapy?
  • If I disagree with the mental health professional does she listen to me? Do I feel good about these interactions?
  • Is he helping me to solve problems for myself? Is he encouraging my family to grow and change at a pace that is comfortable?

If you answered more "no’s" than "yes’s" it may be time for you to find another therapist.

The best treatment experience will happen when the family, the child and the professional work together. If you feel like the professional is ignoring your needs or your opinions, find another professional. It may take one or two tries before you find a good match.