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Finding the Right Therapist

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My 13-year-old daughter and I have decided that she should see a therapist. Although we have a good relationship, there are times I can't "reach" her. This usually happens when we discuss her poor grades, her demanding attitude, or her desire for more freedom. Can you offer me some advice on how to find a nurturing therapist in my area?

A: You are very wise to consider family-centered therapy to improve your relationship with your daughter. Too often, parents wait to seek professional counseling until there is a crisis with their child. You are going to make a "good relationship" better at a time when you and your daughter are struggling a bit with staying connected and communicating about some emotionally charged areas--her disappointing grades, her attitude and her natural desire to become more independent. Her desire to use therapy is most encouraging and shows considerable maturity on her part. I would approach therapy as a chance for you both to be heard and respected. Therapy should not be presented to her or the therapist as a way to get her to be a better kid, to "cure" her difficult attitude, or to make her get better grades.

You and your daughter need to find a therapist who is a good fit for both of you. Many therapists will talk with you over the phone or encourage a complimentary or reduced rate first visit as you try to seek an appropriate match. Ask your regular medical care providers, your company's EAP program, and your HMO's mental health staff for referrals. Take care to explain the characteristics you want in a therapist and the problems you plan to address in therapy. Sometimes personal recommendations from family and friends who have had productive relationships with particular therapists prove to be good starting points. I am sure that you and your daughter will benefit from working with a talented therapist.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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