When to See a Pediatric Psychologist

Below is an article written by Dr. Brian Mesinger, a Pediatric Psychologist at The Youth Clinic.

Anytime you have concerns about your child’s behavior, development, or adjustment, it is the right time to contact a psychologist. No parent hesitates to get an x-ray after their child is injured on the playground or in an activity, but some will certainly hesitate to consider possible treatment utility with a psychologist or counseling professional.

What is a Pediatric Psychologist?

Pediatric Psychology is a subspecialty within the field of Child Psychology and requires internships and training in medical settings (hospitals, outpatient clinics, etc.). Not all concerns that come to me will require that specialized care and knowledge, but it is good to know it is available when needed.

family sitting with a therapist

The First Step I Take With New Families

The first step in my work with a family is an initial consultation. I will see the child and parents together and then the parents separately towards the end of the session to review issues, thoughts, and concerns separate from your child. That consult will include a review of current concerns/behavior etc., taking a thorough family, developmental, and personality history, and reviewing of the child’s activities, school functioning, and other social/peer contacts.

It is most helpful when the parents are candid about current relationships, stressors, family style, climate, etc. Developing a thorough understanding of the purpose and function of a child’s behavior is much more useful than simply trying to find “the cause”.

What Happens After The Initial Consultation?

Typically, after we meet for the initial consultation, I will see the child one or two times to get further acquainted, assess individual factors (mood, anxiety, self-esteem/self-perception, coping skills, etc.), and then recommend appropriate methods for the direction of therapy.

This could certainly include individual work with the child, discussion with parents surrounding parenting issues, patterns of behavior management over time (with a particular focus on the phase of development the child may be in), and possible family therapy as needed.

How Long Does a Child Typically See a Pediatric Psychologist?

Most of my work with kids and families is short-term (6 to 8 sessions) and there are many families where I see them intermittently for a check-in/check-up over time.

There certainly are cases where I will see (most typically a teenager) for longer periods and in my experience, this is always very helpful in supporting more healthy growth and development (improving mood, resilience, and coping skills) and resolving current issues.

Should I Bring My Child to See a Therapist?

With over 35 years of clinical experience, there is no problem, citation, or experience your child or family may be facing that I have not worked with multiple times, and yet, I want to know about your child’s unique struggles/concerns and tailor time, contact and care for them as appropriate.

Sometimes parents simply need two or three questions answered in consultation with them alone and this can be incredibly useful and we can then consider follow-up options together. I do have a shortlist of Child Psychiatrists I work with and can refer/consult as needed. If I’m not the best fit for your child and family I can help with referrals to other professionals in the Northern Colorado community.

But a general rule of thumb is anytime you may be unsure about the utility/need for counseling is actually the right time to call.

Schedule an Appointment at The Youth Clinic Today

The Youth Clinic has three clinics conveniently located on the north and south sides of Fort Collins, in Timnath, and at the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland.

To schedule a psychology appointment or an appointment with one of our pediatric primary care providers, please call (970)267-9510.

About Brian Mesinger, Ph.D.

Pediatric Psychologist

dr. brian messinger

Dr. Mesinger has over 35 years of clinical experience in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of behavioral and mental health concerns (Anxiety, Depression, Developmental Disorders, anger, OCD, Substance abuse, family conflict etc.). Developing an accurate understanding of your concerns and your child’s current functioning is essential in utilizing ‘best care’ practices in an effective treatment plan. There is literally no problem that he has not seen and Brian will always work with other professionals or make referrals as needed. Dr. Mesinger is highly skilled in multiple treatment modalities including Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), family therapy, growth-oriented/decision-making work with adolescents and young adults, testing and assessment, parenting tips and advice etc. When you are struggling to understand your child or adolescent’s behavior, Brian is here to help.

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