Children can often act out at one point or another, but when these issues become more prominent in their lives, it can signal more significant issues with their mental health. As a parent, if your child begins to have mood problems or other behavioral issues, it’s essential to feel confident enough to ask questions about your child’s health. However, where to go for your child’s treatment can be a confusing time, especially if you are a new parent who doesn’t have much experience in helping children with behavioral issues. When it comes to your child’s health, pediatricians and therapists often come to mind, but what these physicians offer in terms of services drastically differs. We’re here to help explain some of the differences between how pediatricians and therapists can help your child and where to go next.
Pediatrician vs. Therapist: What’s The Difference?
Expressing concerns about your child’s mental health is a normal and proactive thing to do as a parent. In fact, taking an active part in your child’s behavioral health means that you’re actively invested in their health long-term. But often, looking for resources for helping your child can be long and challenging, often due to how diverse the services you need are provided by your child’s healthcare team. Even while pediatricians can offer behavioral services, it doesn’t mean that those behavioral services are the same across the board. The same also applies to therapists, as they can only provide a specific set of services that meet certain requirements placed on them by healthcare organizations.
So, what’s the difference between a pediatrician and a therapist? Ultimately, it comes down to their education, their services, and what treatments they can provide. These differences include:
- Pediatrician: Pediatricians are medical doctors that work to manage physical, mental, and behavioral care for children under the age of 18. Trained to diagnose and treat childhood illnesses, but also help children reach milestones in their growth, behavior, and skills. They also help educate parents about raising children and advise in proper care. However, when it comes to behavioral services, most pediatricians don’t offer therapy services for these children because that often requires an extra three years of training in developmental and behavioral services to provide treatments such as therapy and medication. There are developmental and behavioral pediatricians, but most often, they’re only able to provide prescription medications for conditions such as ADHD and discipline strategies for parenting. Most often, pediatricians are used for recommendations for mental health providers, such as therapists.
- Therapist: Therapists, on the other hand, are unable to prescribe medications to children for mental health problems but rather provide therapy services such as cognitive behavioral therapy and child anger management therapy. Child therapists focus on treating behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders in children, receiving bachelor’s up to doctorate degrees in child psychology to help children learn better coping mechanisms and help parents better understand the factors that play into their child’s behavior, such as their environment, gender, and culture.
Finding The Right Practice For Your Children
It’s essential to understand these differences so you can make the decisions needed to help your child’s mental health. In many cases, visiting your pediatrician can be an excellent way to receive parental advice, prescribe medications, and find referrals for mental health professionals. If you believe that therapy can help, make sure to schedule an appointment for your child’s first appointment today.