This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Confident but Stressed

We met Kitty's new therapist at the partial day hospitalization program (gosh that's long. I'm going to call it the PDH). He seems nice, but is not as experienced as we'd hoped and has almost no experience with RAD. He is a licensed professional counselor intern!

Family therapy was about 1/2 an hour of us summarizing Kitty and how she came to be at the PDH before Kitty came in the room. At one point the therapist commented that we weren't the typical parents he usually gets. While we did seem a little stressed we were also "confident."

I told him a little about my background: Bachelors in Psychology with a focus on child abuse and neglect, Masters in Social Work with a focus on Mental Health, worked in a residential treatment center, did homestudies for a foster care agency, worked with mentally ill adults - half of whom were homeless and "self-medicating" with illegal substances, taught behavior management to teachers of 0-5 year olds... none of it really helped a bit though. With the arrival of Bear and Kitty we got a crash course in RAD, PTSD, the juvenile justice system, IEPS and lived with it 24/7, plus, our experience with Bear and the trials of getting through his dealings with the police, school, aggression, intimidation and manipulation, cutting, running away and finally residential treatment.

He asked if Hubby had the same background as I do. Hubby laughed and said he was just an engineer, but I told him Hubby was not "just" an engineer. He's an incredibly empathetic, warm man.

Basically the therapist said that we should continue with Kitty's attachment therapist since we would only have family therapy once a week and that wouldn't be long enough to really address any issues.

Kitty spoke the whole time in a soft almost babyish voice. The therapist commented on it and asked us if that was typical because that wasn't the way she'd behaved in therapy with him. We assured him it was not, unless she'd just had a major meltdown or right before bedtime. Hubby and I think it was because she didn't want the therapist to know how she really talks to us. She's been reprimanded for it before by others (school administrators, therapists...). Doesn't make any change to her behavior unless she's still trying to charm the person (pretty much everybody but therapists and of course us).

He asked Kitty why she was there. She mentioned the suicidal threats. He asked her what she wanted from family therapy, she told him, "Nothing." She says she can take care of her issues by herself. She doesn't want a family, and therefore doesn't need family therapy.

Kitty had mentioned a skit she'd done with the other kids in group. The assignment was to act out how her family acts. She put "Bear" in the garage (he does spend a lot of time there or in his bedroom - he is RAD too), she put "Bob" in her room reading a book (pretty accurate, Bob is my sedentary child), "Ponito" was playing with a friend across the street (again pretty accurate), "Hubby" was upstairs on his computer (he does tend to hide when he's stressed and stare at his computer trying to figure out how we're going to survive), and "I" was in my cubby (this was the one I disagreed with, I haven't been in my cubby in months, but I do watch TV and work on my laptop when I'm not making dinner (that's how I hide).

So that evening I focused on interaction with the family, particularly with Kitty. She spent most of the evening in the back yard. When she came into the family room Bob and Ponito were playing a game and invited her to join in, but she refused. Within minutes she was headed back outside. Hubby told her she had to stay in the room with us for at least 10 minutes. I think it was the longest 10 minutes of her life. She sure made it the longest 10 hours of our lives.

Seriously. I feel guilty that we don't spend a lot of time together, but I also have to acknowledge that these guys are teenagers and they don't want to spend a lot of time with their parents. Even the healthy ones.

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