Testing Your Child’s Therapist

Testing Your Child's Therapist

When I was handed that diploma in my cap and gown I figured I was done with tests forever.

Boy was I was wrong.

All too often parents come to me under pretenses that I’m not aware of. Perhaps they are looking for a second opinion, or maybe they just didn’t get along with their previous therapist. They might have been scorned in the past and want to ensure that they get what they are looking for. I can’t blame them for wanting the best of the best, but sometimes I wish I could take a look at this secretive therapist rating score sheet that some people seem to have. Regardless of the reason, it seems like many parents are out to “test” their therapists, and I’ve noticed a few ways this happens…

Withholding Previous Evaluations:

I think some parents view this as the ultimate “test;” withholding another therapist’s previous evaluation as to “avoid clouding your judgment.” Or, to be completely blunt, one parent said that she just wanted to compare the quality of work between two different therapists. No pressure.

No, I don’t need another therapist’s evaluation in order to complete my own, but sometimes it helps to see where the child has come from. However, once I know the parent is intentionally looking to compare my work to someone else’s, I suddenly become ultra paranoid, double checking that my Peabody directions are spoken verbatim. “Build a bridge like mine!”

Does the parent gain anything from this? Well, it might weed out some really terrible therapist that can’t make any judgments on her own. However, I think that might be blatantly obvious in other ways as well.

However, from my perspective, I’ve got my own set of credentials that allow me to make clinical judgments based on what I see. So if someone else says that there are no sensory issues and I say that there are, am I right? Not necessarily, it’s just my opinion, but it’s the opinion that the parent is paying for.

Seeing Two Therapists at the Same Time:

When are we going to go steady already? Yes, seeing two different therapists at the same time can be a weird situation if the parent is trying to keep them a secret from one another, or if they are going between two different clinics.

One of my awesome co-workers related this situation to The Bachelor, asking, “Am I going to get the rose?” Although I’m not sure if you want to win that battle when you know the parent is going to continue to analyze you under a microscope. (Although, dang, it feels good to win sometimes, right?)

Does the parent gain anything from this? Perhaps initially, because they get to see two different styles of therapy and decide which one is the best fit for them. However, I wouldn’t do it for too long, because in my experience parents have a hard time completely following through on anything if they are too busy comparing and contrasting what they think is better about each session. I’d rather a parent goes all in with one therapist rather than secretly juggling two relationships.

The Question Ambush:

It can be rough to be put on the spot. Let’s be honest, we don’t all do our best thinking when the pressure is on. I find this especially true as an OT, because I am asked all sorts of bizarre questions that might require a bit of pondering. However, some parents choose to save a bombshell question for the last two minutes of the session, expecting a solution to what might be a very big issue.

Does the parent gain anything from this? No, not really. It’s perfectly fine if your therapist needs a minute to think, or even a day or two; we don’t have to have all the answers that second. Besides, the answer I come up with on the spot might not be nearly as good as what I come up with as soon as you walk out the door. (That always seems to happen to me…)

Yes, therapists are different people, and we are going to have differing opinions and different ways of doing things. Just because his previous therapist did the platform swing to start every session doesn’t mean that I have to as well. Just because one therapist presents her data in one form doesn’t mean that I have to do the same either.

We can be different without all being “wrong.” That might mean resolving to be comfortable with the therapist that you have, or finding someone that works for you. It is so important to feel at ease with your therapist, and the therapist needs to know that you are invested in their opinions.

Related Posts:

Therapist vs. Therapist

Therapist Vs. Therapist: Who Should a Parent Trust?

When Does an OT Have the Right Amount of Experience?

When Does an OT Have the “Right” Amount of Experience?


About TheAnonymousOT

Pediatric Occupational Therapist
This entry was posted in Insider Information, Lessons Learned, Occupational Therapy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Testing Your Child’s Therapist

  1. So true about not doing your best thinking when the pressure is on. I have found myself going over conversations in my head thinking why didn’t I say this…

    Not sure what comparing evaluations achieves. Standardized testing or not at the end of the day there is a large amount of subjectivity in pediatric therapy. We base our clinical opinions on our experiences.

  2. Ms. Eleanor says:

    Could not have done better myself! So many times I get caught in that second evaluator conflict. Almost always, they say how much better my report is than the first one, but that might not be true. The first therapist may know the child better than I, and may gloss over things that have already been written or stated [assumed knowledge]. I am just an anxiety-ridden OT who asks tons of questions and gives parents and teachers a detailed questionnaire to fill out which then becomes incorporated into a mega report. I like having forms completed by others when I evaluate a child. I also like to have forms for myself, just to make sure that I am not missing something. I also insist upon a detailed referral so that I make sure to incorporate all concerns in my evals.


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