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Choosing a Mental Health Provider

Researching and asking questions can help you make an informed decision when choosing a provider. It is important to know the answers to these questions before starting treatment with a Mental Health provider so you know what your responsibilities are and what to expect. Below are some suggestions of questions, and you will most likely have more of your own. Make sure to make a list of the ones that are important to you when meeting with the provider.

Common Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Mental Health Provider

Meeting the Provider
  • May I visit with the provider either in person or by phone to get to know them better before we set our first appointment?
Experience
  • Do you have experience with a child whose diagnosis and abilities are similar to my child’s?
  • What strategies or techniques do you use in treatment that have evidence to support their effectiveness?
  • What is your specific experience as a mental health provider?
Clinic Practices and Policies
  • Do you support parents in carrying out home-based therapy?
  • How frequently are visits typically scheduled? Do you provide one-on-one therapy, and/or group therapy, depending on my child’s needs?
  • What will treatment/sessions look like?
Roles
  • What are the responsibilities of my family?
  • How will you communicate and interact with the school or other services so we can coordinate care?
Assessment and Goal Setting
  • What is your process for setting goals for my child?
  • How will you assess my child before we begin treatment?
  • As my child gets older, how may treatment change?
  • How often will you assess and communicate my child’s progress to me?
  • Will you be able to see my child as an adult?
  • Are there any specific examples of why we would terminate treatment?

Examples of Specific Subspecialists and Questions

Psychologist
  • Do you provide psychological testing and which specific tests do you use?
  • What are conditions you test for and diagnose? (i.e. Autism, ADD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  • Do you administer psychosocial evaluations?
  • Do you administer a physical examination?
  • What other types of assessments do you administer?
  • What treatments do you provide for my child’s diagnosis?
  • What is the highest frequency you see patients?
  • Who is asked to complete evaluations of my child? (i.e. doctor, therapist, one or two parents, teachers)
Psychiatrist
  • Do you provide psychiatric testing and which specific tests do you use?
  • What are conditions you test for and diagnose?
  • Do you administer psychosocial evaluations?
  • Do you administer a physical examination?
  • Do you provide laboratory testing?
  • Do you provide social, nursing, and activities assessments?
  • Who is asked to complete evaluations of my child? (i.e. doctor, therapist, one or two parents, teachers)
  • What other types of assessments do you administer?
  • What treatments do you provide for my child’s diagnosis?
  • As a first route of treatment, do you prefer medications or alternative therapies?
  • What is the highest frequency you see patients?
Behavioralist
  • How often do you like to have sessions with your clients?
  • What roles do my family, school, and caregivers have in behavioral modification techniques? Can you provide a plan for us to follow?
  • Do I need to keep a record of antecedants/prior activities to a behavior? Should I keep a record of some or all of my child’s concerning behaviors? Are there tools that can help me do this more easily?
  • Is there a definitive point at which treatment would no longer be needed?

Authors

Authors: Jeanette Pascoe - 7/2015
Tina Persels - 7/2015