Finding a great therapist for your child is sometimes hard work! Often there is a element of not having a choice.
Location, the therapist’s specialisations all play a part.
Our first experience
Our first community based therapist was assigned to us at random, due to our location. None of my interactions with her went well.
She immediately asked me when I was going to give up my business. She didn’t know anything about me, my family or my business. I brushed it off at our first meeting.
But when she said it again at our second meeting in as many weeks, it got me thinking. ‘How am I going to work with this person?’
How do I trust, communicate with and make plans with this person who has no interesting in working WITH our family and who we are?
This led to my first decision to change therapists. I sent an email to her supervisor, outlining the reasons behind my request to work with someone else.
First lesson: I have the right to ask for some else.
This first lesson – it happens to therapists from time to time. It’s not the end of the world, and most will handle it very professionally.
You are well within your rights to request to work with someone else. It’s worth some momentary discomfort to find a great therapist.
A mum contacted me recently to explain her own discomfort with a therapist she had and they way she worked. She wanted to try someone different. But felt weird saying to the current therapist:
‘I’m not happy, I’d like to try this other person.’
So I said to her what I say to you now:
‘If you don’t advocate for the best fit for your child, then who will?’
What makes a great therapist?
I want to share with you what made a great therapist. Things to consider and look for in your own therapists.
Our favourite therapist was again, assigned to us by our state Early Childhood Intervention Service. We are still so grateful that we found her.
A great therapist take into account the whole family.
Celeste takes in what is happening for the whole family. Her care and focus was obviously on Matthew, but she made sure she knew the whole picture.
Offering support and tailoring his therapy plan to what fit for our family.
Establishes and maintains communication with other teams.
She positioned herself to stay in contact with Matthew’s primary care providers. Celeste attended appointments with Matthew’s peadatrician whenever she could.
So she wasn’t setting a whole set of new and different goals to what the medical team were trying to achieve.
She wasn’t afraid to contact the team in the hospital. If she needed more information or if the plan coming out of the hospital wasn’t conducive to Matthew’s life outside the hospital.
Whether it was the nursing support or the speech therapist.
When she contacted the team, she would help provide different solutions and more workable or safe plan for what was really going on in Matthew’s life. She advocated heavily whenever there was opportunity for improvement.
She knew we could only see what was in right in front of us and having never done it before, we didn’t know what to prepare for next. Especially having a severely disabled child in the home and the community.
It was Celeste who pointed out the need for a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Who organised these fantastic ceiling hoists, and started gently nudging us in the direction of a proper wheelchair for Matthew.
She knew how much planning, preparation and time it would take to get the right wheelchair for a complex child.
The initial concept was a bit of a shock, but the way she dropped it as a something to think and about and followed it up over time was super helpful.
Knew what made a great report.
Her reports are spot on for the agency and requirements for funding. Celeste professionalism and years of experience give her an edge when applying for equipment and funding that I have not seen anywhere else.
Yet, she treated Matthew as a person, she got to know him and how he communicated.
Never limited his potential.
Celeste only focused on helping Matthew get the most out of his body and life. She never got lost on what she was ‘suppose to do’ or meeting any kind guidelines above taking care of his quality of life.
A couple of times she under-estimated what he was physically capable of – but she had never really said that out loud. She didn’t put those limitations on him or us, so there was space for him to say, ‘check out what I can do!’
I remember talking about helping him learn to sit. Celeste showed us a movement to help him sit up more naturally so he could participate as much as he could and I didn’t have to work against him or do all the work.
Then Matthew started to participate, as I rolled him onto his side, he helped. Then as I went to sit him up, he lifted his head!
She was so excited!
When I had talked about it, she was thinking to herself ‘Oh Matthew would never be able to do that.’
But Celeste – a great therapist – never let her ideas of his capacity dictate what he could do. She always opened up the options and gave him the space he needed to excel.
What do you think makes a great therapist?
This is my experience and my recommendations.
Let me know your thoughts and what you find helpful.
Or if you’ve got this down pat: What has your experience been? What tips do you offer another mum to help in know whether their therapist is the right fit?