At home Bear has long since lost most freedoms and privileges. He needs, and feels safest when he has, lots of structure and supervision from someone he respects and that cares about him. Every time we "lighten up" he does things like - skipping school, doing drugs, having sex, smoking, lying, stealing, and hanging out with kids with major issues.
As Bear has moved to full-time regular high school I've been more and more involved at the school because I do not trust the public school to be able to take care of his special needs. They have been fairly cooperative.
I've been more and more upset with Bear's therapist because there is so little communication and I want/need specific advice and support on how to handle Bear and his issues. This is what I have come to expect after 3 years of attachment therapy with Kitty. Since we originally approached Bear's therapist as an attachment therapist (didn't work out - insurance problems), when we finally started seeing him about 6 months ago, I had certain expectations. I think Bear is too old for true attachment therapy, but I still expected the same relationship with his therapist.
The following is my last e-mail I sent to the therapist. He admitted at Bear's next appointment that he never even read it.
The more people I talk to at Bear’s school, the more worried I get.Monday I met with the Crisis Counselor and she called in the case manager. We talked about the issues with ISBP, and my concerns that because no one is keeping a close eye on Bear, he is manipulating the system and we may not be catching the fact that he might be getting worse. Also, he obviously feels unsafe and is probably not learning if he's under such stress. We decided that we needed to have one person gather information from all his teachers and the counselors on a regular basis. The case manager made the most sense, and she e-mailed all Bear's teachers asking for info on any time he left the classroom or was acting unusually.
His English teacher sees him as paranoid and feeling unsafe. She’s talking to Bear about Bear not getting along with Hubby and I, about his issues with the In School Behavior Program (ISBP) staff, about all sorts of personal stuff. He appears to be confiding in many people. Most of whom are not qualified to help him.
I just talked to the Crisis Counselor at the school as well. She doesn’t want to share too much about what Bear talks to her about, but she said he recently came in in crisis mode about his relationship with Hubby. Bear told me this morning that he talked to her about the staff at ISBP. He said one day he went into the ISBP room because he was upset about something, but an ISBP teacher started yelling at him about how he needed to be doing what he was supposed to be doing. Something about when he walked into the ISBP room (or maybe school in general) that he had "no rights" at all. That they could tell him what to do and he had no rights. (Obviously NOT something Bear likes to hear). Bear’s case manager, who works in the ISBP room, was according to Bear, “just standing there listening.” Since she works in the ISBP room and didn’t stand up for him, he refuses to deal with her anymore either. He said the male ISBP teacher was also spying on him and against him. Bear stated that if he sees anyone from ISBP in the hallway, he turns and walks away. These are supposed to be one of his main supports at school.
I have a meeting with the Crisis Counselor on Monday, who called because she wants to sign him up for something called LifeSteps - which is during class and is supposed to help kids with life and relationship skills (I’m going to talk to the person running it to see if it’s appropriate) and I just signed him up for something called New Horizons – which has after school field trips to help kids figure out career and school choices.
The Crisis Counselor is an experienced Social Worker who was a foster parent, but doesn’t really know a lot about Bear’s background. She is "backing us up” from what she said ("Parents give tough love and discipline because they care about you.").
I believe that Bear's C-PTSD is in crisis mode and getting worse. I know he has lots of reasons to be this upset and terrified (the girls getting cell phones and he didn’t, no longer having the support of the special school, the boy who threatened to beat him up last semester just got back to school, med changes, finding out the military is not
an option after graduation, school staff knowing about his stealing and lying, worried about having to move out this Summer – he didn’t have to of course, and now knows he can’t, but I know this still upset him…). There are probably other issues I’m just not aware of like talking to birth family or possibly drugs. I’m really afraid that this spiraling is going to force him to continue downward and pick up even more speed.
I don’t know what to do. Please return my call so we can meet. I don’t want to take up Bear’s therapy time if we don’t have to. I need some advice on how to handle this, and need your opinion on how Bear is doing in therapy. I need your honest opinion on whether or not he’s progressing or if this is part of the problem (maybe dredging up old issues he can’t handle). To me it sounds like he’s stuck and repeating the same concerns/issues over and over to different people. People who don’t know how to advise him. He has a psychiatrist appointment this evening (5:30pm) so if you have time to talk before that, that would be great. I know meds won’t help PTSD, but I think he’s refusing to tell anyone about issues that can be helped with meds if
necessary (like sleeping – I’m pretty sure he’s having nightmares/flashbacks,
although he’s said nothing about it).
Yesterday Hubby and I met with Bear's therapist without Bear (Bear was on a church retreat). Bear's therapist basically told me to back off. He said he had asked me at the beginning to "parent with hope," and that was my job.
The therapist also said he doesn't think we should be treating Bear for RAD. That Bear is a little attached to Hubby and I, but that what Bear needs most is a loving relationship with me if we ever expect him to have a relationship with a female in the future. That I need to "parent with hope" and talk to Bear about my feelings and values, but gently and not directly.
The therapist told me to let the school handle what happened at school because I was too involved. I tried to explain that I was trying to back off by having the case manager take over, but that it took some effort to get it set up. I also tried to explain why I felt I couldn't rely on the school to deal with Bear and catch him doing what he shouldn't be doing. That I felt that when Bear gets away with stuff it makes his issues worse. Hubby agreed with the therapist, but this is because Hubby is worried about me doing too much and being over stressed.
The therapist also said that he did not answer my e-mails or want to share anything that had happened in individual therapy because he knew I would ask more questions. After a lot of hemming and hawing he said he felt that by answering my questions he was being asked to "mentor or intern" me as a therapist! Totally not what I want from him!
I tried to explain that I just wanted advice on how to handle Bear and be a better parent. A therapeutic parent, not a therapist. Obviously feeling pushed, he grudgingly said he would schedule to see me on Mondays and gave me a "homework" assignment (called Making progress rather than pursuing perfection) and all the new patient paperwork! Somehow I went from strongly considering firing this guy to being his newest patient?!
The therapist then said that he felt Bear's biggest problem is personality disorders (Narcissitic, Borderline... and something else I can't remember). I get the feeling that he feels that my RAD parenting style (structure and responsibility) is all wrong or unnecessary or something. He wants to work with Bear to first, get Bear to acknowledge that he has a problem, and then try to help him develop things like empathy and compassion.
The therapist talked about key ages in kids' lives 5, 13(puberty) and 15. Bear of course is older than these. We got Bear at 13, but obviously didn't do what we should have done? The therapist never said this of course.
I left the session furious and feeling like I'd been told everything I was doing and believed about parenting Bear was wrong. That the therapist thought his job was to help Bear and my job was to just back off and love Bear and that nothing I do would make any difference.
I spoke to a friend at ACT while I was pretty upset. He pointed out that there are lots of parents of RAD kids and the way we parent is effective. There are few parents of kids with personality disorders because these are adult diagnoses - so there is no way to find out more or better ways to parent them, because technically they don't exist.
I think that the way I'm parenting is mostly right. I've tried to back off and be more of a coach since Bear's unable to reciprocate (as suggested by Katharine Leslie), and now I'm being accused of not being loving enough (by the therapist). I know Bear doesn't feel safe (Beyond Consequences) so I'm providing structure and supervision so he'll feel safe - and I'm being told that I'm too involved and too strict. Normally I'm ooth a nurturing and overly protective parent. It probably appears that I am too focused on discipline with Bear because he makes it so hard to get emotionally close to him, and I acknowledge that that is an area I need to work on.
Hubby doesn't want to change therapists and thinks he's seen some improvements in Bear (but he admits that could be from other things). I don't really trust this therapist and he's definitely not a good match for me, but maybe that doesn't matter if he's really helping Bear? Can I stand to trust my son to someone I dislike and distrust. Despite his appearance, Bear is still a child.
Hubby doesn't think Bear has RAD, but Hubby admits he doesn't really know that much about it. I do think that Bear has or will have a personality disorder (probably Borderline Personality Disorder. I don't know enough about Narcissistic.
I still don't know what the therapist means by parenting with hope. I think I do that.