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!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Applying Therapeutic Heat"

"Angry Teen"

Two days ago, Kitty seemed to have regressed to "Angry Teen," not letting me touch her, defiant, feeling that she's being mistreated... in a way that's completely illogical and dissociated from reality. I don't want to bring home "Angry Teen," but I have to remind myself that "Puddle" is equally draining. Very few people see Kitty in both modes. School sees mostly the child who internalizes everything and is quiet and helpful, or recently, "Puddle." Hubby and the rest of the family see mostly "Angry Teen." The therapists and I are pretty much it when it comes to seeing the many sides of Kitty.

After leaving the psych hospital that evening, I contacted Kitty's attachment therapist. I wanted to know why during Kitty's last therapy session she had pushed Kitty so hard to get back to school full-time. Kitty had raged at me for almost an hour before the therapy session, and when I finally talked Kitty into going into the session, she had thrown herself face down on the couch and started moaning. Within minutes she had shut down and become "Puddle," laying in my lap with the weighted blanket, refusing to sit up and participate.

The AT seemed to be pushing Kitty to "pull herself up by her bootstraps," telling Kitty she needed to get moving and start attending school for longer and longer every day. I wondered if she thought Kitty was faking it, turning into "Puddle" for attention or to get out of doing something. Because I don't think that's the case.

Turns out the therapist was actually trying to "turn up the therapeutic heat" (aka "Poke the Bear") to try to get Kitty to get Kitty out of the stuck place that she'd been in for the last few weeks. The therapist saw the session as a success, because toward the end, Kitty finally got enough energy to say, "No."

Kitty raged the whole way home, but the "therapeutic heat" apparently helped me to finally get her to admit that she had been lying about not being suicidal to keep out of the psych hosp. We talked about how miserable she's been the last few weeks, and that something has to change so she can feel better. When we got home, she slammed into the house and locked herself in the bathroom. I decided to try calling the Crisis Hotline. She freaked because she was afraid I was calling the police, but calmed down a little when she realized I wasn't.


Yesterday Kitty tried to call me, but I apparently had cell phone difficulties and didn't even know she called. About 15 minutes later I called her to see if she wanted me to come visit, even though it would only be for the last 15-20 minutes of visiting hours (we'd had trouble with traffic). She'd apparently been sobbing her eyes out for the last half hour, feeling unloved and abandoned, and guilty for the way she'd treated Hubby and I the night before. She begged me to come.

Kitty said she had a headache (from the crying) and wanted me to ask the nurse for a pain reliever. In talking to the nurse I found out she'd been "totally fine" all morning. I realized that Kitty was going to do what she always does when in treatment, internalize, shut down and hide all stress so she can get home sooner. I decided I need to apply therapeutic heat.

I had decided to take Bear with me to the psych hosp for several reasons. One, Hubby was working and I didn't want to leave him with Grandma while I went, since he does not do well with her. Two, he wanted to know that Kitty was OK, and this way I could show him. And three, I felt that bringing the family to Kitty would mean she would have to deal, at least a little, with family issues.

When we arrived, Kitty was in "Puddle" mode. She snuggled into my lap and cried and begged to go home. Once or twice she got a little defiant and tried to blame me for her being there or for treating her differently that the biokids, and Bear spoke up in my defense! It was very helpful, because she was hearing it from someone besides Hubby or I.

Honestly, I felt a little encouraged that she hadn't completely regressed to hating me again. It's hard to be hated.


This morning was "family therapy." Hubby had to teach though so it was just me, Kitty and a social worker. We were supposed to talk about what brought Kitty there, and what we needed to do to keep her from coming back. We'd done it before. Time to apply therapeutic heat.

Kitty came in neutral, but leaning toward "Angry Teen," because she knew I wasn't pushing to get her out of there immediately, but at the same time the social worker was a person she had to show that she was ready to leave.

And so it started.

The social worker brought up a few of Kitty's hot topics, and I decided to start each conversation with... "We've talked about this before..." or something similar. As we talked, I got Kitty to give the answers to her own arguments. It was obvious that she's heard this so many times that she can parrot it back. She's just not logical. This is about feelings, not facts.

The social worker reinforced that ALL teens hate chores. ALL teens would rather have privileges without responsibilities. And she reinforced that ALL teens need chores and parents making sure they have responsibilities. Kitty was surprised for some reason that the therapist felt she was doing what she was supposed to be doing, and I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and neither of us was wrong.

The best part?

After Kitty had left to go back to the day room, and I was signing out, the social worker told me that she really admired my parenting technique and that I was doing a good job. Then she shook my hand. She was a young social worker. Not an older person for whom hand shaking might be a normal way of saying goodbye.

I felt pretty good. Except for the fact that Kitty will probably be released tomorrow, and nothing has really changed.

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