When You Need a Child Therapist Who Accepts Medicaid

Is there a child in your care who is exhibiting signs of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or neuro-developmental challenges? Do you suspect that you and your child need help, but aren’t sure where it will come from?

If you suspect you may need a child therapist but are on limited income, this guide is for you.

The good news if you find yourself in this situation is that there are resources available. A good place to start is with a child therapist that accepts Medicaid. First, however, you must be sure that the child is covered by Medicaid.

If you’re sure your child qualifies, read on. In this guide, you’ll learn plenty of information about child therapy and finding a child therapist that is willing to accept Medicaid.

Why Mental Health Care Is So Important

Our guide is devoted to helping you find a child therapist that accepts Medicaid, which you can still take advantage of even with private insurance. However, some parents or caretakers may be on the fence about taking a child to therapy because money is tight, or they are concerned about the stigma, or they just may not be familiar with some of the reasons why mental health care is so important.

Unlike a scratch or injury, we cannot always see the manifestation of mental health issues. However, mental illnesses and psychological injuries are just as legitimate as any physical illness or injury. Just as an untreated scratch can fester and become much worse, an untreated mental illness may eventually dominate your child’s entire life.

If you suspect that the child in your care may be experiencing mental health issues, or if that child has undergone one or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the sooner you see a professional, the better. That is because treatment has the potential to seriously improve your child’s life — and maybe yours, too.

When To Consider Taking a Child to Therapy

Children’s emotions can often run hot and cold, and as any caretaker knows, behavior issues of various kinds are all part of the package. However, sometimes these issues are more than just “terrible twos” or a bad day at school.

If you notice a persistent change in mood such as sadness or anger, the child may need help. If a child prefers to spend all their time alone, has trouble concentrating, or is engaging in obsessive or compulsive behaviors (including social media addiction), these may be signs of internal struggles they may not have the developmental tools to express.

Some signs are a bit more obvious. Children may suffer panic attacks, engage in self-harm or unusually reckless behavior, or otherwise show evidence of turmoil within. Though growing up is never easy, if these behaviors become problematic, it may be time to seek expert support.

Even if a child doesn’t fit these exact descriptions, parents and caretakers should take note of any disruptive or unusual behaviors at school or at home. These may be signs that help is needed, especially if the child has recently received any shocking news, experienced traumatic events, or otherwise undergone a disruption in their lives.

Kids don’t always have the tools necessary to process difficult feelings, so they will often develop coping mechanisms that are not ultimately in their own best interest and may lead to much larger problems down the road.

The Effectiveness of Treatment

Remember when we compared mental illness to physical injuries? With most physical injuries, you can see how well they are recovering over time. Since mental illness and psychological injury are often invisible, the effectiveness of treatment may be similarly invisible or may take a long time to appear. That doesn’t mean it’s not working.

This, combined with the stigma of going to therapy, sometimes keeps families from seeking help for their children. The good news is that mental health treatment is very effective.

Studies found that 75% of those receiving mental health treatment continued to experience positive impact and/or a reduction in symptoms over time. Now, “reduction” is the keyword here: some mental illnesses cannot be completely cured and must be treated instead.

Such treatment can reduce the discomfort your child is feeling and help give them back control of their life as well as improve daily life for the rest of the household. Considering how much they may be suffering from a need for mental health treatment, this is one of the best things a caretaker can do for a child.

Mental Health and Medicaid

It’s one thing to know and understand that therapy for children can be very effective. It’s another thing, though, to afford that therapy. Because of that, and especially if you are considering the well-being of a child in your care, you may be curious about which mental health services Medicaid can cover.

Fortunately, Medicaid covers a very robust range of mental health services. This includes traditional therapy, counseling, social work, substance use disorder treatment, medication management, and more.

The exact range of mental health services that Medicaid will pay for may vary from state to state. It’s best to check what your own state’s Medicaid will cover before you seek out a child therapist that accepts Medicaid.

Role of the Child Therapist

Even if you have experienced therapy for yourself (and if so, good for you), it’s good to know that child therapy is a bit different. With that in mind, it’s important for you to understand the role of the child therapist.

One of the biggest hurdles for a child therapist is the simple fact that children don’t think the exact way that adults think. That is not a metaphor; our brains continue to develop until we are 25 years old, and functionality changes the entire time. The younger a child, the less like an adult they are thinking.

A child therapist, then, has received special training allowing them to understand a child’s changing emotions as well as their mental and emotional development. These therapists understand what is relatively normal for children of this age range, and this understanding can help the therapist identify and treat a mental illness or psychological injury that may be harming your child’s mental and emotional development.

The best child therapists understand how stressful this entire experience can be for parents and other family members as well. They can help the family or caretaking group learn how to manage the child’s needs while helping the child better integrate with society.

Now that you know a bit more about the role of the child therapist, let’s take a closer look at different forms of therapy for children.

How Family Therapy Works

In child psychology, family therapy is a very popular approach. It involves communicating with the therapist as part of a group instead of one-on-one. A common form of family therapy involves the child and multiple members of the family attending the session together.

Occasionally, this form of therapy may be difficult for children because it involves them sharing how they think and feel with their parents and their therapist. However, one of the biggest benefits of family therapy is that it can help families improve how they interact with each other and improve how well the parents understand the child.

This can help treat mental illness while also strengthening the bonds between the child and their caretakers.

How Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Play Therapy Work

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Behavior Play Therapy (CBPT) are something of a mouthful. These therapy approaches have been particularly effective for disruptive children.

Most families don’t notice a child’s need for mental health care until that child begins acting in a disruptive manner. However, this disruption is not a cry for attention; rather, it is a manifestation of how the child is now thinking thanks to what’s going on in their brain.

CBT is designed to help children learn how the way they think affects the way they act. The eventual goal is to help children re-order their thought patterns and create newer and better patterns of behavior.

Where does CBPT come in? This is a CBT approach that emphasizes play and interaction. It is particularly effective on younger patients.

How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Works

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is usually reserved for more extreme cases of mental illness in children. For example, a child in danger of committing suicide or engaging in other high-risk behavior would likely benefit from DBT.

DBT comes in many forms that range from group therapy, individual treatment, collaborative care, and crisis interventions. Regardless of the form, the goal of DBT is to help patients cope with and process extreme emotions in a healthier and less harmful way.

How Applied Behavior Analysis Works

Relative to other forms of therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is relatively new. The basic goal of this therapy is to help children learn how their environment impacts the way they think and how their words and behaviors in real-life settings affect the world around them.

While that may sound straightforward, many children don’t fully understand the social significance of what they are doing and saying. ABA helps them to understand this significance while also helping them to better integrate into school and into society.

How Interpersonal Psychotherapy Works

Interpersonal psychotherapy is a kind of therapy where the name tells you everything you need to know. If your child is struggling with conducting and maintaining interpersonal relationships, this form of therapy is intended to help them address this issue.

Because human beings are social creatures, the ability to maintain interpersonal relationships is very important. However, a child suffering from mental illness or injury will often experience maladaptive thoughts that interfere with these relationships.

As an added bonus, interpersonal therapy is often popular with children who otherwise don’t enjoy visiting the therapist. That is because much of this therapy revolves around sending clients specialized information they can study and practice at home to see results regarding their interpersonal relationships. 

Finding a Child Therapist That Accepts Medicaid

If you’ve decided your child needs therapy, that brings us to the big question: how can you find a child therapist that accepts Medicaid?

The simplest method is to research different child therapists in your area. Search “child therapists near me” and start investigating providers near you. Their websites should tell you whether they accept Medicaid or not. When in doubt, you can contact their offices by phone, email, or message and ask them.

If physically going to the therapist is difficult, you may also want to explore child therapists that both accept Medicaid and offer online services. This approach may be very helpful for withdrawn children or for families that cannot find a good therapist in their area.

Coming to terms with a tough situation is never easy, and it may be difficult to accept that a child in your care may need mental health services. However, it’s important to remember that when you follow through on mental health services for your child, you are doing something very important — you are taking care of their well-being in ways that may benefit your child for the rest of their life.

Research shows that earlier intervention leads to better outcomes, and better outcomes lead to brighter futures, so take a minute to give yourself credit for being your child’s advocate and protector.

Your Next Move

Now you know how to find a child therapist that accepts Medicaid and why treating mental illness is so important. However, it is equally important to make sure you are saving money each month whenever possible.

Check out our recommended resources today to learn about valuable discounts you may not be receiving.

Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service

If you qualify for Medicaid benefits, you also qualify for Lifeline service. Lifeline is a federal benefit program that makes it possible for low-income consumers to receive access to free or heavily discounted communication services. Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.