Selecting a Pediatric Psychologist

Accessing the Best Services and Provider for Your Child

When trying to access the best services for your child, there are often a number of factors that are important to consider. A few of the most often asked questions include:

What is most important to look for when I am selecting a provider?

One main area to consider is the level of expertise that an individual has in working with a particular population. In general, it is important that providers have a strong background of experience and training with children. Although some practitioners are able to work effectively with children and adults, the unique, developmental issues that child may experience often require specialized care. It is also important that their facility is child friendly and that the staff are well trained in pediatrics. This can help children feel more relaxed and subsequently, make it more likely that they will participate in treatment in a beneficial way.

Are there certain warning signs that I should be aware of when selecting a provider for my child?

A provider should always be licensed in the state they are practicing. It is important that providers attended an accredited post-graduate program in receiving their training, which assures that they received a minimal level of training. Also, they should have prior experience in working with children in a specific area of concern. Although most practitioners will have some experience in working with common areas of concerns (e.g., anxiety, depression), not all providers have the training or experience to address more specific areas of concern.

How do I know if I will feel comfortable with the services provided by a specific provider?

It can be helpful for parents to learn more about a provider by talking to other parents and/or professionals in the field who may have knowledge of this person. It is recommended that parents compose a list of questions for the provider so that they can be discussed during the initial sessions. It is important that providers spend much time upfront getting information from parents and work to consistently involve them in treatment.

How do I know if a service will be covered by insurance?

Navigating insurance issues can be tricky for both parents and professionals alike. It is very important that parents take the time to contact their insurance company before the first appointment to understand what will be covered by their plan. Some practices, like the Center for Children, have insurance specialists that are available to help parents to better understand what, and how well, services may be covered by their plan. The following questions may be useful to ask when speaking with an insurance representative in regard to behavioral/mental health services.

  • Are there mental health codes that are not covered through my insurance plan?
  • Do I need to have prior authorization for testing?
  • What level of coverage do I have for mental health services? For example, is a copay required? Is there a deductible that I have to meet?
  • Are there any exclusionary diagnoses that will not be covered by my insurance? For example, will they cover services if ADHD is diagnosed?
  • Is any other paperwork needed in order to have services covered (prior to the first appointment or after it has been completed)?

Even if services are not covered at the Center for Children, we will work to establish families at an appropriate facility. We will also work to provide families with financial aid if it becomes difficult to pay for services.

Is it important for a particular provider to work with the child's pediatrician or other members of the team?

In general, children benefit from good, consistent communication between different providers of the child's treatment team. Without regular communication, it is difficult to know whether certain aspects of treatment with one provider may be affecting a child's functioning in another area. For example, many medications may have side effects such as decreased sleep, changes in appetite, and increased irritability. That is why many parents seek out facilities where primary care physicians and multiple specialists all work under the same roof. This provides all involved with an ease of communication that can provide the most holistic, comprehensive treatment possible.

Just Thinking...

Articles by Dr. Jim Schroeder, Pediatric Psychologist

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