If you decide to seek help, it is especially important to be a careful and critical consumer. All sorts of information on the web of what is appropriate or effective is available but much of that information is inaccurate or out of date. There is a great deal of scientific research on effective treatments, whether some form of psychological treatment or medication, but it is extremely hard to tell what is known, what is opinion, and what is myth or disproven just by a web search to find information about clinical disorders or treatment.
Resources for Reliable Information about Mental Disorders and their Treatment
If you are trying to find therapist for children or families, you can try the websites of the National Register of Health Services Providers in Psychology or the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, or you can ask the psychological association in your state (for example, the California Psychological Association, New York Psychological Association, or Illinois Psychological Association). Type the state followed by “Psychological Association” in your favorite search engine and the site will come up.
Finding a person who might be able to help is one step. It is also important to find out if there’s good evidence for a treatment’s effectiveness. The Cochrane Library, which can be found online, provides rigorous reviews of evidence related to medical and psychological treatments. For example, on any of the usual search engines, one can type in “Cochrane review for hyperactivity in children” (depression, social anxiety, etc.) and see some of the treatments that have been studied. Similarly, another reliable outlet is the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Searching that source such as “NICE guidelines for treating childhood anxiety” would provide information based on scientific findings. Here is a list of sources to search either to understand the nature of disorders of children and adolescents or their treatment.
A Sample of Government Agencies
A Sample Non-government Professional Organizations
Key Questions to Ask Before You Begin Treatment
Let us say you have found a professional to help provide treatment for your child. Before you begin is important to meet the professional and have answers to your questions—you may have many. In addition, the following questions are critically important:
- What is the treatment you provide for my child’s problems?
- How long have you been providing this treatment?
- Has this particular treatment been studied, and does it have scientific evidence in its favor?
- What are treatment options other than the one you provide?
- Will there be any concrete ways to evaluate how well my child is progressing?
- About how long is treatment likely to last?
Seeking help for your child is a weighty decision. Professionals are trained and committed to helping. Seeking an opinion is the first step and the most critical. The guidelines may be of help.