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Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

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How to Find a Therapist

Whether an adult or child needs therapy, finding the right therapist takes research, patience, and intuition.


Baker says patients don't always like his suggestions -- yet he knows from intuition and experience that its good advice.

Example: Your husband uses profanity constantly when talking to you; you want him to quit. Baker suggests that you mirror your husband's behavior -- you use profanity the next time he does -- a technique he knows will work. "People are always resistant to that, they don't want to 'sink that low,' but then they're amazed at how well it works," Baker says. "It's not that you should take up bad habits, but that he stop his."

Child/Adolescent Therapy

"It's tough finding a good child psychotherapist," says Weiss. "Not many people have much experience working with adolescents. You can end up with a therapist trained to work with adults, but they work with adolescents because they have an adolescent or because they like working with adolescents."

A pediatrician can often make a referral, he tells WebMD. "I warn people about school counselors making referrals; they are overwhelmed and busy, don't follow up to see if good work is happening."

Also, check with other parents. "I recommend that parents identify two or three therapists that they find acceptable, then let your kid pick from among them. That's so they have a voice in this," Weiss advises.

Eugenio Rothe, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami and director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic at Jackson Memorial Hospital, offered his insights.

Pediatricians and professional counselors should not be treating a child for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), he tells WebMD. "More than 75% of children with ADHD are treated by a pediatrician or primary care doctor. But studies show that 40% to 60% of those children have another psychiatric diagnosis. How can a pediatrician [or counselor] diagnose that?"

"Professional honesty is very important -- referring patients to other professionals when you're not trained to handle the problem," says Rothe. "Many psychologists feel very threatened by psychiatrists, that they will lose the patient if they make a referral. But they're doing a disservice by not getting patients get the help they need."

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