Parenting a child or teen with anxiety can often feel overwhelming. You want to help your child find relief, but what’s the first step? Who can you turn to? What resources are available?

Remember, experiencing one or more anxiety disorders is relatively common during childhood and adolescence. The problem arises when these issues go untreated, as they can turn into chronic conditions that linger into adulthood—and may even lead to serious depression, alcohol abuse or other destructive behaviors. Unfortunately, due to a lack of awareness about anxiety disorders or a perceived stigma around recognizing them, up to 80 percent of children are not getting the necessary treatment.1

Getting your child or teen the appropriate professional help is one of the most important steps you can take in helping him or her find relief. Read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions when searching for a psychologist.

How will I know if my child needs professional help?

Getting your child or teen the appropriate professional help is one of the most important steps you can take in helping him or her find relief. 

Anxiety is a common emotion among all people, young and old, which can make it hard to deduce if your child or teen has a true anxiety disorder or is simply experiencing everyday worries. But, typically, if he or she is experiencing intense worries or fears that impact everyday interactions or responsibilities, it may be time to seek professional help. This guide to the six major types of anxiety disorders can also be helpful in determining if your child or teen may benefit from professional help.

When should I seek professional help?

As mentioned above, if the anxiety persists for six months or more, your child or teen is likely experiencing anxiety that isn’t going to resolve on its own. Keep in mind, however, that the six-month timeline is meant to serve as general guidance. If your child is experiencing debilitating anxiety that is causing you alarm, it’s not necessary to wait to seek help. Debilitating anxiety is generally defined as anxiety that interferes with your child’s basic daily functioning. If your child can’t participate in afterschool activities, won’t go to school, or is suffering from extreme insomnia, for example, these are all issues that you’d want to seek help for immediately.

Where can I find a therapist for my child?

The right therapist can play a central role in helping your child or teen get better. It’s important to find one that you both feel comfortable with. You may start by asking your child’s teacher or school counselor if they have any local recommendations. These trusted adults in your child’s life will likely be familiar with his or her issues, and might have experience with helping other students find the right therapist. Your family pediatrician can be another good resource, as are recommendations from trusted friends. The American Psychological Association also coordinates psychologists through its Psychologist Locator tool. This resource ensures that you’re finding licensed and vetted professionals. The tool allows you to search by geographic location, as well as look up areas of expertise (dealing with specific anxiety disorders in children and teens, for example).

What questions should I ask a therapist before making an appointment?

You’ll want to do some research before meeting with a psychologist in person and introducing him or her to your child or teen. A few basic questions to ask in a phone call include2:

  • Are you a licensed psychologist? How many years have you been practicing?
  • Do you have experience with anxiety disorders? Give some background on the issues you are attempting to address in therapy, and ask if they have expertise in these specific topics (and particularly with children or teens).
  • What kinds of treatments do you use? There are multiple types of treatment, such as cognitive or behavioral therapy, or a combo of several types. All should be evidenced-based. You may also want to ask a potential therapist about his or her philosophy on using medications in conjunction with therapy.
  • Do you accept my insurance? Find out if the therapist accepts insurance or how else they handle payment.

Remember, it’s a good idea to reach out to more than one therapist, and it’s okay to have an initial in-person meeting with more than one before deciding on the best fit for your child or teen.

How do I introduce therapy to my child?

If you have a young child, you may want to do much of your initial research before talking with your child about an upcoming therapy appointment. If you have a teenager, it can be helpful to make him or her part of the process earlier. This will provide a feeling of control and help your teen get more comfortable with the idea of therapy. Whatever the age of your child, introducing therapy and discussing anxiety can be an intimidating conversation. These guides will help you discuss with your child or teen and ready them for an initial meeting with a therapist.

Remember, helping your child or teen find a therapist is an important first step in getting relief from anxiety. Working with a therapist should be an ongoing process that involves open, honest, and confidential communication as all parties work together as a team to help your child feel better.

Reference List

1 Source: 2015 Child Mid Institute Children’s Mental Health Report ( and
2 Adapted from How to Choose a Psychologist at

Related Books from Magination Press

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