Characteristics we're looking for in a therapist:
- Male (Bear seems to respond better to them)
- Specializing in adolescents
- Takes Medicaid
- Not too far from home (within a 15 minute drive preferred but we would have gone outside that if necessary)
- Experience with kids of trauma and having at least heard of RAD
- Experience with personality disorders preferred
- Willing to provide at least some support to parents
- Can get Bear to communicate (doesn't do all the talking or let him get away with "I don't know" or eating their plants)
- Won't let Bear avoid dealing with his issues
- Doesn't expect Bear to trust him, but does "click" to some extent
The first therapist we met with had all the experience we were looking for, and officed very close by (actually officed with one of Bear's old therapists), but he was a talk therapist.
We've tried talk therapy with Bear before. Bear enjoyed getting some attention and a chance to vent, but that was it. After about a year, the therapist said that was all he could do with Bear and maybe when Bear was older he'd want to address the past. I did not like Bear's last therapist's approach, but he did seem to have a proactive manner and didn't just let Bear vent.
This talk therapist was on the older side, and did about 85% of the talking. Bear zoned quite a bit (even I did a little), and the therapist said if Bear wanted to nap or just sit quietly and meditate that would be OK. He was a nice guy and I liked him, but Bear only has 1 1/2 years at most in therapy, before he can choose to no longer go.
One thing I did like about this guy was he made it very clear that Bear's issues were usually due to Bear's choices. He could choose the dark or light path. He also told Bear that while he did not have a choice in whether or not to go to therapy, Bear did have a choice of which therapist to choose.
The second therapist was a lot younger, which Bear wasn't sure he liked. This therapist has quite a bit of experience and even used to be a football coach. He has an eclectic approach, but it includes cognitive behavioral therapy (still need to research that). My favorite part was that with children and adolescents he requires at least 2 sessions of family therapy a month.
The therapist wrote out a behavioral plan right then, and asked Bear what Bear wanted to work on. When Bear said he didn't know, the therapist gently pulled an answer out of him (Bear chose - improve family relations and build his ability to trust). Pretty cool choices actually.
On the way home we discussed which therapist he wanted to go with. He chose the second, younger therapist, and I agree.