How to Change Your Child’s Therapist

Six years old boy working with a psychologist at the psychotherapy session.

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As a parent, it can be challenging to find a therapist for your child. You might search various directories for someone with expertise in your child’s symptoms or diagnosis, contact your insurance provider to inquire about coverage, and ask friends and other people you trust for recommendations before starting services.

The first few therapy sessions can be awkward as your child gets to know their therapist. It is OK to spend a few sessions getting comfortable in the therapy setting before deciding if there is a good fit, or to try out a few therapists to see who your child clicks with.

But, even after all of that, you might realize that the therapist you selected is not the right fit and want to make a change. The idea of finding a new therapist after you have done all that work can seem daunting. But sometimes your child needs continued therapy, and their current therapist is no longer an option.

This article covers the reasons why you or your child may want a new therapist and how to go about changing your therapist.

Reasons Why Your Child May Want a New Therapist

Although your child’s therapist might give you feedback on parenting and communicating with your child, they are the client in this situation. As such, the therapist needs to be someone your child trusts and is comfortable with.

If your child asked you to find a therapist for them, let them know that it is OK if the first therapist they see is not the right fit. Ask them if there is anything specific that they do not feel is working (and remember that they might not be able to answer that question).

Your Child May Prefer Someone of Another Gender

If your child would feel more comfortable, for example, with a therapist of a different gender, you can use the same tools that you used to find their first therapist to find someone who meets their requested criteria.

Your Child May Feel That There Is a Personality Mismatch

If your child says that the therapist’s temperament or personality is not a good fit, you can ask the current therapist for a recommendation and referral. Therapeutic fit is an important component in treatment regardless of your child's presenting symptoms. Everyone has different needs and preferences, and no therapist is the right fit for every client.

For example, if the therapist has a serious presence, and your child would prefer someone who is more laid back, you can try to find someone whose personality is a better fit.

It can be uncomfortable to ask a current therapist for a referral to another provider, but the therapist wants your child to get the best possible care and should not take offense to this request.

Your Child May Prefer a Group Setting

If it was originally your idea to enroll your child in therapy, ask your child how they feel about meeting with a therapist. If they feel uncomfortable or put on the spot meeting with someone individually, they might prefer a therapy group. Again, their therapist might be able to provide recommendations for this. Group therapy can be an effective treatment option for children.

Your Child May Not Be Ready for Therapy

Sometimes, people are not ready to be in therapy. If your child is hesitant about therapy overall and are not experiencing suicidal ideation, it might help them to take a break from therapy all together until they are ready to engage.

Forcing them to go will not make therapy effective, and it could cause them to think of therapy as something terrible that they do not want to try in the future.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Reasons Why a Parent Might Want a Change in Therapist

If your child is in therapy, it is important that they have a therapist that they like and can connect with; however, you might still have reasons why you'd prefer a change in therapists.

You Have Questions About the Therapeutic Process

Therapy with children and teens looks different than therapy with adults. If you have questions about the process, ask your child’s therapist. If you have concerns about fit, but your child seems happy with their therapist, explore your reservations and communicate with the therapist about your concerns.

You Might Also Be Involved in the Therapy Process

When you and your child are meeting with the therapist together for family therapy or attachment work, it is important for both of you to have a good rapport with the therapist. In that case, again, it can help to talk to the therapist about your concerns and get a referral to someone who might be a better fit.

Talk to your child about making the change before changing therapists so that they can prepare for the adjustment and do any necessary termination work with the therapist first.

Your Insurance May Have Changed

Different therapists accept different forms of payment. Unfortunately, if your insurance carrier changes, your therapist might not be paneled with your new company. You might also lose health insurance and not be able to afford the out-of-pocket cost of therapy.

If this happens, your child’s therapist might be able to offer you a sliding scale rate that you can afford.

Your insurance company has information about providers who are in-network with them. They can give you the names of therapists who can accept your new plan. In addition, some therapist directories allow you to search based on who accepts your coverage.

Handling an Abrupt Insurance Change

Insurance coverage can change abruptly. If your child needs to change therapists because of this, see if you can arrange a final session so that your child can process the end of their therapeutic relationship with their current therapist. This can help create a smooth transition to the new therapist and allow your child to reflect on the progress they have made in therapy so far.

How to Change Your Child's Therapist

Therapy needs vary greatly. Some people come for a few sessions, and some seek ongoing therapy for several years.

Your child’s needs might change over time: something new might emerge that is outside their current therapist’s scope of practice, or they might prefer a therapist who specializes in their age group as they get older.

Tips for Getting a New Therapist

Whatever the reason, it is possible to reach a point in therapy where your child wants to continue treatment but would prefer to do so with a new therapist.

Here are some tips for finding a new therapist:

  • Ask for referrals from your current therapist: It's helpful to ask your therapist for recommendations. Let them know why you are making a change, and ask them for referrals.
  • Find a new therapist online: Research directories online and filter for your preferences.
  • Ask family and friends: You can reach out to your own personal network for a referral to a new therapist.

A Word From Verywell

Changing therapists can feel awkward, especially if you have a problem with the current therapist. It is OK to change providers if that is what is best for your child. Licensed therapists are professionals who understand not to take it personally if someone needs different care. The most important thing is that your child gets the treatment and support that they need.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Halfon S. Psychodynamic technique and therapeutic alliance in prediction of outcome in psychodynamic child psychotherapyJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2021;89(2):96-109.

  2. Cleodora C, Mustikasari, Gayatri D. Therapeutic group therapy improved self-efficacy of school age childrenEnfermería Clínica. 2018;28:112-115.

By Amy Marschall, PsyD
Dr. Amy Marschall is an autistic clinical psychologist with ADHD, working with children and adolescents who also identify with these neurotypes among others. She is certified in TF-CBT and telemental health.