Okay, you’ve decided it’s time to get your child some extra help, we’re so proud of you for taking that step! Now, the next step is choosing a clinic which might seem daunting!
Please know you have a choice! Often a doctor faxes a script to a clinic for you but you are allowed to go wherever you feel most comfortable. It is illegal for a physician to only give you one choice or not send your script to therapist of preference. When deciding what is best for your clinic try these interview questions to find the best for your child.
What do sessions look like? Are parents involved? Will I receive weekly homework?
Every therapist works a little different and this will vary based on your child. Some children do better with parents present and some do better with caregivers in the waiting room.
Your therapist should be giving you environmental changes in your daily routines and things to work on at home. Therapists facilitate change but if nothing is happening in between sessions you won’t see the results you want. If you are not getting any suggestions for home, it might be time to try out a different therapist or clinic.
How long are the sessions?
If every session for every child is 30 minutes then run. I have never worked in a setting when we were not allowed to perform longer sessions when indicated. There is no one size fits all approach, you need a clinic that looks at your child’s individual needs and determines the best course of action.
When Do I think 30 minute sessions are sometimes appropriate? If I suspect a mitochondrial genetic disorder or fatigue is a large concern, then I will do 30 minute sessions. Otherwise, all sessions are 45 minutes or an hour depending on the child. This includes parent education, home program review, and any therapy interventions I deem appropriate for that day.
Unfortunately, with insurance reimbursements changing, many businesses have decreased session time with no reason other than that is what insurance pays for, which may be a reason to consider out of network services.
Will I work with the same therapist every time?
In all areas of therapy, but especially pediatrics, consistency is important. Your child needs to trust who they are working with. Especially the little ones where stranger danger is factor.
Some clinics schedule evaluations without knowing there is room on the schedule for you to immediately start therapy. Or you alternate between a therapist and an assistant. When you schedule for an evaluation ask not only when can I get in for an evaluation but also when after my evaluation will we begin our initial therapy?
Scenario A: You get an immediate evaluation but then wait 3-4 weeks to get a treatment spot which may or may not be with the person who evaluated you
Scenario B: You have to wait 2 weeks for an evaluation but you know your treatment will begin immediately with the same therapist every session.
Scenario B will get your child actual treatment quicker! Consistency with the same therapist will get you better results and keep you moving forward.
What is the cost? Am I able to submit to my insurance?
Find out if a clinic is in network with your insurance or if you will be able to submit for reimbursement. Knowing your upfront costs will help in your planning. There are reasons to not always go with your insurance but surprise bills are never fun.
For example, our clinic offers 1 on 1 sessions, 45 minutes-60 minutes (with a few exceptions mentioned above,) and a consistent therapist but we don’t take every insurance.
You have to decide for yourself if insurance is a deal breaker or if you are willing to go out of network for longer sessions/things that might not be otherwise covered or available at a typical insurance based clinic.
Does the therapist I will be working with (Key the one you will be working with, not the one who owns the clinic/supervises etc.) have pediatric specific experience and experience with conditions similar to that of my child?
Historically, physical therapy programs do not spend a lot of time in pediatrics, so treating a pediatric patient once every now and then probably won’t be the best fit for a pediatric case. You can ask what percent of their caseload is pediatrics or where past school the therapist received additional pediatric training and mentorsip
Ultimately, it can be a gut feeling! Personality match is just as important. Ask for a meet and greet with your child’s potential therapist. Or schedule an evaluation and if you don’t think it is a fit don’t be scared to try another clinic! All pediatric clinics ultimately want what is best for your child and will understand and may even be able to provide other suggestions if they are not a fit.