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Find a Mental Health Provider in Your Area

How to find a local mental health provider

Good mental health is an important part of navigating a serious illness. At times, your child might need the help of a mental health provider to understand and process their feelings about their illness or treatment.

Here are some tips for finding the right provider in your area:

  • Ask your child’s doctor or primary care provider for a referral.
  • Call your health insurance company for a list of providers. The number is on the back of your insurance card.
  • Talk to your school counselor or another school staff member about counseling options at your child’s school or in your local area.
  • Check to see if your local college has a counseling or psychology clinic.
  • Ask your care team for information.

Visit these sites to search for a provider in your area:

Types of mental health providers

Some providers focus on family, couple, and personal counseling. These include:

  • Therapist or counselor (LPC, LMHC, or LMFT)
  • Clinical social worker (LCSW)
  • Psychologist (PhD or PsyD)

Some providers can prescribe medicines. These include:

  • Psychiatrist (MD or DO)
  • Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP)
  • Primary care provider

Types of therapy for mental health

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy – Helps people understand the relationship among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; teaches strategies to change thoughts and behaviors to improve wellbeing
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy – Helps people live a life consistent with their values through behavior change; helps people accept circumstances outside their control and be mindful of the present moment
  • Dialectical and behavior therapy – Helps people better understand and regulate their emotions, be mindful of the present moment, tolerate distress, and improve communication skills
  • Behavioral therapy – Helps people identify and change unhelpful behaviors 
  • Behavior management therapy – Helps parents learn strategies to increase their child’s positive behaviors and decrease negative behaviors

Some children may need a mental health specialist with extra training and experience. Examples include therapy for:

  • Infants and young children
  • Trauma
  • Substance abuse
  • Sleep disorders
  • Grief (bereavement)
Male teen patient wearing hoodie looks at his own reflection in glass

Children with cancer or other serious illness may feel sad or worried. Finding the right mental health provider can help your child cope with their diagnosis.

Questions to ask a mental health provider

It is important to ask questions to make sure you find a therapist that is a good fit for your child. Be honest about your needs and concerns. Some questions you might ask are:

  • Do you work with children, teens, or adults?
  • Do you work with people with medical conditions?
  • What types of therapy do you offer?
  • Do you have experience treating (your current concern)?
  • What are your hours? Do you offer evening or weekend appointments?
  • How long is your waiting list?
  • Do you accept insurance?
  • Do you offer telehealth?

It can feel uncomfortable to talk to a mental health provider for the first time. If you continue to feel uncomfortable after a few visits, you may want to try a different provider.

What to expect

The first visit with a new mental health provider helps them get to know your child and their needs. Expect them to ask you a lot of questions. You will also fill out paperwork.  

You can support your child by:

  • Meeting with the therapist as needed
  • Improving your own skills to support your child
  • Speaking up for your child and family
  • Taking care of yourself and finding the support you need
  • Asking the provider questions

How your care team can help

Your care team can help you understand your child's mental health needs. Speak with your care team to:

  • Learn about mental health resources 
  • Ask about what type of therapy may be best for your child
  • Have them speak with your mental health provider to coordinate care
  • Ask that your child’s medical record be shared with your mental health provider

Key points about finding a mental health provider

  • A local mental health provider can support your child and help them manage feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
  • Ask your child’s doctor or primary care provider for a referral to a therapist that can meet your needs.
  • Be honest with your mental health provider about your needs and concerns. 
  • Ask questions to make sure you find a provider that is a good fit for your child.

Reviewed: October 2022