7 Tips for Finding a Good Therapist for Your Child

If you have a child with autism, you want to give them the best possible chance they can have at living happily and independently. Teaching them the important life skills they need to accomplish this can be achieved through therapeutic intervention.

Sadly, however, there are many bad therapists out there in addition to the many good ones. Some therapists may shine when working with other children, but not yours. And some therapists may not even be properly qualified to help your child!

How do you avoid this? Lots of research, lots of questions, and lots of observation. Here are some specific tips to help you out.

7. Ensure the provider has the proper qualifications

It probably goes without saying, but any therapist you employ should know what they’re doing. Depending on what type of therapy you utilize, the standard education and experience needed to perform the job well may vary. But here’s what an ABA provider should have under their belt—at the very minimum.

Young child psychologist working with little boy

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)

An additional note: if your child is receiving therapy under a BCaBA, a trained and certified BCBA MUST be supervising the treatment. This supervision could span from analyzing data to getting directly involved in the therapy. As BCBAs inherently have more experience and training, you’re best off finding a BCBA who will be as involved as possible in your child’s therapy.

And if you can find a BCBA who received a degree in Behavior Analysis—as opposed to a similar field like psychology, special education, or child development—that’s even better.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for any sort of documentation or information that will aid you in your decision—proof of certification, background checks, and references from other families who have received treatment in a similar scenario, for example. It is not out of line or impolite to ask for any of this—this is your child’s safety and overall wellbeing we’re talking about, here. If they put up a fuss about it, that’s a red flag.

6. Be wary if they talk about a “cure” or “quick fix”

Regardless of where you stand on the “curing autism” debate, there is no cure for the disorder. There is no quick and easy fix. Therapy takes time, patience, and dedication from you and your child’s therapist. Best case scenario, the therapist is making promises s/he cannot keep. Worst case scenario, the therapist has some quack treatments in mind that could pose a danger to your child. Any sorts of “guarantees” should also be taken with skepticism and caution.

5. Ensure the therapist’s theories, ideologies, and beliefs match up with what’s best for your child.

The world of autism treatment is not black and white, and as a result, therapists’ ideas and preferred practices might be widely different. Some might feel that a flexible approach is best, whereas others are more structured. Some may take a holistic approach—taking into account any physical issues when looking at behavioral issues—while others do not. Whatever you feel is best for your child, make sure you find a therapist who takes that same approach or at least respects it.

Find more tips on the next page!

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