I get asked all the time by my clients, friends, and parents what makes a good adolescent therapist. Mind you, these are just my opinion—and as I am an adolescent therapist myself—I am quite biased. I thought I would put together this list as an easy reference and as a place to collect my thoughts on the subject.
- A good adolescent therapist should be young-hearted and relate to teens. There are many adult therapists that also work with teens I DON'T recommend this kind of therapist. You should find an actual adolescent therapist to work with your teenager. They work specifically with teens.
- They should be willing to do therapy in a way that isn't just sitting in an office (box) and talking/listening. They need to be willing to walk around, do some art therapy, music therapy, teens cognitively process better when they can move around, hold something in their hands, etc.
- A good therapist should help the client/adolescent move in a forward direction. When I ask the teens I work with, "What is it that you don't like about therapy?" they usually tell me they don't like going week after week to a therapist that is just "listening". A good therapist should help them set goals that they can work towards and in the end feel a sense of accomplishment/self worth.
- They should have a plan and not just be doing therapy sessions for months on end. Don't just pay someone to sit with your kid. They should have a plan and work themselves out of a job. When the client/child has accomplished their goals for going to therapy—a good therapist should let you and your child know.
- A good therapist should be willing to collaborate with previous therapists or those who have been working directly with your teen. In this way they are adding to what experience she/he already has built up in previous relationships.
- They should be confident in their area of expertise and licensed accordingly. If your child has needs they are unable to meet they should refer you to another therapist.
I am sure there are many other things that make up a good adolescent therapist but these are on the top of the list I give to those who ask me on a regular basis. I hope this has in some way been helpful.