As the summer comes to an end and children head back to school many parents are rolling up their sleeves and beginning the search for a behaviour consultant or other professional to work with their child. For many parents finding the right person for the job can seem like a daunting task. Here are a few suggestions to hopefully make the process a little easier:
1) Get some help. Looking at lists of names that mean nothing to you just increases the stress level for this process. Talk to people you know and trust in the field or other parents to get some ideas about agencies or individual practitioners. Having a place to start can make all the difference.
2) When you talk to a practitioner or agency don’t be afraid to ask about credentials and background. And feel free to ask for references. While all professionals in the field should safeguard their clients’ confidentiality, most consultants will provide the opportunity for you to connect with current or previous clients if you ask.
3) Ask for a meeting to connect in person with the professional prior to starting any work. They should be just as interested in ensuring their services are appropriate for your family and child as you are about ensuring you are comfortable with the professional’s philosophy and style or approach to programming for your child.
4) If you like the agency but the consultant assigned doesn’t work for you, ask for another consultant.
5) Be wary of “lock-in” contracts that obligate you to pay a large sum up-front and/or pay out the contract even if work is not completed. Of course it is expected that you will honour your side of the contract and pay for work completed, but you should also have the option of ending the contract early without penalty (other than paying for work completed) if you are dissatisfied with the work or if situations arise that make it difficulty for you to continue with the contract.
6) If at first you don’t find a professional that suits you and your family, don’t give up! All consultants and other professionals are not the same, and they don’t all work from the same perspective. There ARE agencies and consultants that will be a good match with your family and expectations.
7) If you have a bad experience with a consultant or other professional try not to let that colour your entire view of the field. Just like hiring a contractor to renovate your house and then having to fire him for shoddy work or lengthy delays you may hire a consultant who doesn’t meet your expectations. Rest assured, there are people out there who will “fit” your needs and provide the services your child and family require.