Therapist working with a child

Understanding What Makes a Good Therapist for Children

According to CDC data and recent studies, around 5.8 million children between the ages of 3-17 experience anxiety. At the same time, 5.5 million kids have behavior problems. Some of these conditions can even occur together. 

Children in the foster care system often need assistance from a trained therapist to help them deal with the trauma they may have faced. As a foster parent, you're probably wondering, what makes a good therapist? 

You want to help the children in your care, but finding the right child therapist can feel overwhelming. We're here to make the process easier. Keep reading to learn more about what makes a great therapist for foster kids. 

Why Children in Foster Care Need Therapy

Over 7.4 million children are reported as potential neglect and child abuse victims yearly. Additionally, kids in foster care have a higher prevalence of childhood trauma. 

Abuse and separation from family members are traumatic experiences and can impact kids in various ways. Many become depressed or anxious, and some display behavioral issues. 

Children may come into foster care for different reasons. A therapist trained to help these children can make them feel more comfortable, less anxious, and more supported.

However, some specific qualifications and traits make an excellent child therapist, which we'll cover next. 

Specialized Knowledge

What makes a good therapist? For one, you want someone with specialized knowledge and experience working with kids in foster care. It's crucial to search for someone who has worked with these kids before and knows how to reach them. 

Children view the world differently, especially those victims of neglect or abuse. These children may communicate differently or act out. 

A foster care therapist should understand these kids' issues and know how to talk and listen to them. 

They should know the best methods to use to deal with the trauma. For example, a child anxiety therapist might use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They should be able to empathize with foster care youth and understand their feelings and choices. 

Excellent Communication

One of the essential qualities of an excellent therapist is the ability to communicate well with the child and the foster parents. 

A child's life is unique, especially children who are in the foster care and adoption process. The best therapists will know how to talk to these kids and, perhaps more importantly, how to listen to them. It's vital to have good communication and interpersonal skills if the child is uncomfortable opening up about their experiences. Additionally, the therapist should be able to communicate with the foster parents about the child's progress and the necessary steps parents can take to help. 

An effective therapist should be able to explain symptoms, circumstances, and reasons for recommending specific actions. For instance, they might suggest the child start keeping a diary or record their moods to look for patterns. 


It's vital that both you and the child can trust the therapist. Finding the best match for your child may take some time, and that's a normal part of the experience. Let your child find someone they feel comfortable opening up to and who seems to make a genuine difference. 

You can read reviews to learn more about a particular therapist. These reviews or testimonials can tell you more about the experience of past clients. You may not always find reviews, but there are other steps you can take to ensure a therapist is a good fit for the foster child in your care. 

Call the therapist and ask about their specialization and experience in similar situations. Ask about treatment methods and the science and effectiveness behind those methods. Scientifically backed treatments can put your mind at ease about the therapist's trustworthiness. 

Ask What to Expect

There are various treatment methods and types of therapy, so knowing what to expect can help you, and the foster child in your care get ready. 

There are short-term and long-term therapy options, different treatment methods, and so on. A behavioral therapist might use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), while another might specialize in and suggest psychoanalysis. 

What's important is finding someone your child feels comfortable with and can help them make progress. 

Not every treatment method might be the best solution for a foster care child, and it's okay to search for someone else if the first therapist isn't helping. Choosing a therapist is a personal matter, and someone that makes a good fit for one child may not be the best for another. 

They Take a Teamwork Approach

This ties into the excellent communicator trait, but successful treatment plans involve teamwork. Therapists should understand that you, as the foster parent, should be a crucial part of the team working toward helping your child feel better. Other members of the teamwork process could be the Virginia Department of Social Services. If Kinship care is the guardian or a potential adoptive family member may also be working in the best interest of the child's welfare.

You should all work together to help the child thrive. This might involve "homework" or steps you and your foster child need to take to make the treatment work. An excellent therapist guides through the entire process. 

The goal should be to create a safe and nurturing environment for the child. As a foster parent, you might also have homework, and it's essential to take any steps that the therapist recommends to help the kids in your care thrive. 

What Makes a Good Therapist? 

A child therapist should have experience working with kids in foster care, so they can empathize with the youth they talk to. They should also take a teamwork approach and work with you to help children discover their true potential and feel loved. In short, part of what makes a good therapist is the ability to connect with your child and truly listen to them. 

Now that you know more about therapy for kids in foster care, you understand the importance of getting help and treatment for trauma. The right therapist can help foster care kids overcome challenges and feel comfortable in their environment again. 

Are you interested in becoming a foster care parent here in Virginia? If so, fill out our inquiry form to start making a difference! 

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