First family therapy session a disaster!

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by CAmom, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Well, in preparation for our son's return home from his group home in about six weeks, his therapist called to do a telephone session, the first we've had. Unfortunately, things didn't go very well after just a few minutes into the call when the therapist brought up the fact that there had been a major breech of trust in our family that would have to be repaired.

    I agreed with him that our son would have to earn our trust back. I attempted to explain to him that, for example, regarding the stealing issue (something he did on a couple of occasions when he was heavily using pot), we certainly believe that, while he doesn't INTEND to steal from us, we would need some time to see whether he's going to walk the walk in addition to talking the talk--something that has always been a problem for him.

    I thought that this would be understood, but my son took the comment very badly and responded that he didn't even want to come home if he wasn't going to be trusted. At that point, the therapist commented that my son was approaching the issue with a "black-and-white" mentality, and that there were many variations of black and white in this and other issues.

    Instead of accepting that and leaving it there, my son made the comment that that was how he saw the issue and that it was "my way or the highway." Now, I know my son is the biggest blusterer in the world when upset, so I completely ignored that comment. However, the therapist didn't and told me that, based on my son's attitude, he felt we should seriously consider NOT allowing him to return home. (This has NEVER been our intention--we want our son home with us, and we'll work through whatever happens thereafter as a family until and if we are unable to continue doing so).

    Well, that comment did it for my son, and any possible chance of a productive session was gone. He said that his old therapist (unfortunately, he has had four different therapists in four months, and he was very attached to the previous one)would have NEVER made such a comment to me when he didn't know any of us and that he would have tried to help us all reach a mutually-satisfactory solution. He said that he'd talk to his dad and me in private, but he would not do so with this particular therapist.

    I'm feeling very upset and apprehensive about this session. I somewhat agree with my son that the therapist should not have made the comment he did based on one sentence from a frustrated kid, and it certainly didn't help any of us in terms of "therapy." As such, I can understand my son's refusal to attend more sessions.

    However, I understand that these sessions are one of the required steps in the program that precedes his release, and I'm very worried that what happened today and what might happen in the future with this particular therapist is going to negatively affect my son's release from the program and final release from custody when he goes before the judge.

    I'm not sure what to do about this, if anything, and/or whether we have any say-so to begin with.

     
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ok...sitting here trying to formulate a response...lol.

    I know how you feel. I know why you side with your son. I can also tell you EXACTLY why the therapist said what they said. I can also tell you why they are pushing buttons right now.

    See...I had this explained to me when my son was nearing the end of his placement in his Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and I couldnt figure out why they were being so irritating and mean and downright...instigating to Cory over what appeared to be the smallest little things. It was like they actually tried to provoke him! In reality they were doing just that but it really ticked me off! I was ready to go bust heads...lol.

    I didnt understand why they were doing this but when they explained it to me it made much more sense. They were attempting to see just what it would take to make him blow. Where was his fuse short? What triggers did he still have left? Would he blow up if a peer got in his face? If a staff member did? What if someone said something negative about his momma? His old triggers? What if someone got in his personal space?

    They do all these things in the safety of therapy and the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) because they can deal with the fallout there.
     
  3. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Okay, Janet, what you said makes sense. But, my son has a difficult enough time staying upbeat and positive about his situation to begin with without having his head messed with. I don't really need mine messed with either!

    So my next question would be, what are they going to do about it? Where does the information and opinions the therapist obtains go?
     
  4. SunnyFlorida

    SunnyFlorida Active Member

    My take on it (an I have not had my difficult child in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC), so please excuse if you think this is way off) is the therapist is tackling the huge issue of trust, which was broken via theft. One knows that trust in an adult does not return quite as easily as the trust of a teen. Therefore the counselor made the statement knowing full well what your response would be and knowing what difficult child's response would be. The comment for him not to return is the result of difficult child's "choice" to have control over his life without any parental intervention. This cannot happen if difficult child is to return to a family.

    While it sounds nice for one to have only one therapist....life has more than one situation that occurs. The goal was for difficult child to learn tools to handle all situations. The goal is for difficult child to return to your family, knowing that he is not in charge and will have to regain trust. If trust is regained then he becomes the recipient of the family benefits, if trust is not gained, difficult child does not get the family benefits.

    Since counseling is part of difficult child's Residential Treatment Center (RTC), don't you think these issues have been brought up before and will continue to be brought up? I'm wondering if difficult child has had his b/w attitude for a while and counselor is wanting to push difficult child into realizing that it's not about HIM and his wants, but what HE's supposed to and will do.
     
  5. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    CAMOM--I would much rather the trust issue be broached and solved now rather than waiting for the blow up to happen at home. Your son needs to know and accept that it will take a while before you trust him. in my opinion his inablity to deal with the reality of what he has done to your family has not hit home, yet. It sounds like he is still playing the "poor little mistreated boy" card. He has to come to terms with the fact that his actions affect his outcome.
     
  6. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Having had a child in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and having had her blow up because I acknowledged I did not trust her, I totally side with the therapist. Your son tried to manipulate the session. "My son took the comment very badly and responded that he didn't even want to come home if he wasn't going to be trusted." Well, trust is earned. You don't just get it because you want it.

    He then threatens to have it his way or the highway. He tried to box the you and the therapist into a corner. His therapist was not letting that happen, nor should he have. He didn't say your son wasn't coming home. He suggested that if this was your son's attitude, then he SHOULDN'T come home.

    If you let your son get away with no more therapy sessions, you will have lost. So will your son. His coming home will not be easy. You need to make sure your son understands that there will some very firm rules in place. That he will have to earn your trust, your respect. The one thing he will have free and clear is your love. The rest he will have to earn.

    Sorry, but I've been in your shoes except Residential Treatment Center (RTC) was not court-ordered for us. If you don't stand firm now and help him understand that coming home is a privilege and can be revoked, that he must work to get home and must work to stay home, the odds are he will go back to his old ways.
     
  7. kris

    kris New Member

    <span style='font-size: 11pt'> <span style='font-family: Georgia'> <span style="color: #3333FF"> from reading your post your son seem extremely adept at controlling your reactions through comments such as he made during the session.

    he's well aware that you guys want him home in the worst way. so he played on your fear that he might decide not to. so now he's got you right where he wants you....jumping to his defense & making excuses for his poor attitude. he is in my opinion bullying you into *his way or the highway*.

    i suspect the therapist knows your son far better than you are giving him credit for. i wouldn't write off difficult child's attitude as bluster at all. he'll talk to you privately? sure he will because he knows he can manipulate you both. difficult child meant it when he said it would be his way or no way.

    i'd be questioning the program about whether or not he's really ready to come home. he seems to have difficulty internalizing things appropriately.

    kris
    </span> </span> </span>
     
  8. tracy551

    tracy551 New Member

    It's so odd I could have written this about my own son. He is in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and I can see him saying the same thing when it's time to come home. He's very manipulative as well. I really have no advise but if you get some please clue me in because I know I will be going thru the same thing in a few months.
    Hang in there.
     
  9. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    CAmom - another mom who thinks therapist was appropriately pushing buttons.

    I think what disturbs me most is that after all this time, it seems to me that your son *still* is not accepting the real consequences (loss of trust) of his choices. He has absolutely no right to get upset with- that. He's not going to come home if he's not trusted? Um... ok. His way or the highway? At what point did he earn the right to dictate the circumstances under which he will come home? As I've told thank you for years, trust is freely given the first time around. Violate the trust and it's ten times harder to *earn* it back. Fact of life. Sorry it bites but... we're not talking minor violations of trust here.

    While it may not feel therapeutic, my take on this is that therapist was feeling out how difficult child is going to react to confrontrations. From your description, and I may be reading it wrong, it feels to me like difficult child thinks he's coming home, things will be as they were before, and this will all just be a memory. in my humble opinion, that's a recipe for disaster. Therapist pushed uncomfortable issues and correctly pointed out to difficult child that going home is *not* a given, or at least shouldn't be. So difficult child's solution is that he's only going to discuss with- you and husband, not with- therapist's involvement... you guys are known, he's been able to manipulate you in the past... therapist isn't going to let things slide, which is a very *good* thing. Therapist may not "know" your son and your family terribly well, but it does sound like therapist has experience with- difficult children. I really don't think it was out of line to call difficult child on his bluster at all. He is too old and you guys have been at this far too long to have him deflect and redirect conversations this way (just my opinion).

    I know it's been a long road and I know how desperately you want him home. But I have to tell you, if you think first out of home placement was hard, it's nothing compared to a second or third. You may think his comments are bluster and bravado, and having the King of Bluster for a son, I don't doubt you. But at the same time, that bluster does convey an underlying mindset or at the very least, an impulsiveness that I really think doesn't bode well. He has apologies to make, trust to rebuild, and reparations to make to the entire family - not for the family, but for *himself*; I think it's an indication of acceptance of responsibility for his poor choices and with responsibility hopefully will come the willingness to make better choices. It doesn't sound like he's ready to even acknowledge that.

    Given his response to the family therapy session, and his overall performance at the group home, what specifically do you think will be different when he comes home?
     
  10. KFld

    KFld New Member

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: meowbunny</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Having had a child in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and having had her blow up because I acknowledged I did not trust her, I totally side with the therapist. Your son tried to manipulate the session. "My son took the comment very badly and responded that he didn't even want to come home if he wasn't going to be trusted." Well, trust is earned. You don't just get it because you want it.

    He then threatens to have it his way or the highway. He tried to box the you and the therapist into a corner. His therapist was not letting that happen, nor should he have. He didn't say your son wasn't coming home. He suggested that if this was your son's attitude, then he SHOULDN'T come home.

    If you let your son get away with no more therapy sessions, you will have lost. So will your son. His coming home will not be easy. You need to make sure your son understands that there will some very firm rules in place. That he will have to earn your trust, your respect. The one thing he will have free and clear is your love. The rest he will have to earn.

    Sorry, but I've been in your shoes except Residential Treatment Center (RTC) was not court-ordered for us. If you don't stand firm now and help him understand that coming home is a privilege and can be revoked, that he must work to get home and must work to stay home, the odds are he will go back to his old ways. </div></div>

    I was thinking the exact same things!! I remember many conversations with difficult child while in rehab in regards to trust and for some reason he just thought it was a given that we should just trust him, without him having to prove it. I don't think so!! he's been clean for 8 months now, doesn't live home and the trust is still a huge issue.

    These things have to be dealt with before he comes home and he is trying to manipulate the situation. He needs to know it is your way or the highway! He is where he is for a reason and he needs to be able to prove that he has learned from this and is ready to follow the rules and earn your trust back.

    I don't think the therapist did anything wrong. I think she just said things your son didn't want to hear, he got mad, which pushed your mommy heart buttons and pushed you to his side, just like he thought it would.

    Be very careful. You have come a long long way and need to practice up on these responses and how you react to him when he gets upset.

    Take a step back and think about what upset him and if these are things you want to deal with once he walks in the door.
     
  11. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Hi,
    I am in total agreement with everyone here--I think the therapist did a great job! Your son is once again manipulating you. Since when is he the one who gets to call the shots?

    My dtr did the same thing--when she came home from her Residential Treatment Center (RTC) she began to backslide in little ways. She also was demanding trust right off the bat. I didn't trust her and I told her so. Well, she claimed she started backsliding because we didn't trust her so she might as well just give up. Unfortunately, I bought into that at the time--I felt that she messed up because we were "micromanaging" instead of acknowledging how much she had changed and giving her a chance to prove it. What a bunch of BS! I can now see that she had not internalized those changes and she was going to backslide because of that--it wouldn't have mattered what we did. I do wish I hadn't been so stressed and worried about her backsliding and hadn't been micromanaging, trying so hard to keep her from relapsing. It would have been much better for her and for us to let her cook her own goose without the added anxiety and guilt on my part.

    It is easy for me to see all this in hindsight--I am sure I would be feeling just as you are now if I were you! Hope though that you will consider what all of us are saying and maybe be able to see it from another point of view. So glad you came to us!

    Hugs,
    Jane
     
  12. TYLERFAN

    TYLERFAN New Member

    Hi CAMom:

    I also agree with everyone here. I may have even called the therapist to try and get a handle on what the therapists' goals are....if that's allowed.
    I know my difficult child also expected trust and complete trust of her by me, even when she constantly betrayed that trust. It took me a few years to let me let difficult child near my car without me being there....she used to steal my cars :nonono:
    Anyway, it was in a recent conversation with my difficult child, now 21, in which she stated that she fully understood I wouldn't be able to trust her for a long time. But, it is getting better.
    Good Luck.

    Blessings,
    Melissa :angel:
     
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm sending you a hug because I know how difficult this is for you. If I could make a case for agreeing with you, I promise I
    would. You want and need support, my friend. Sadly the support
    that you will receive around here is to reread your Detachment textbook, shine up your armour but most of all make sure that your backbone is as stiff as your upper lip has to be.

    He's messing with you head. Don't let him get away with it for
    his sake. DDD
     
  14. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    I am sorry too for your hurt. I have to say when I first went to counseling with ant and his dad, it opened up pandora's box. it caused more troubles initially. in the end it opened up old scabs that hurt and bled.

    but that ending opened the door to a new beginning. I saw my ex for the manipulative, lying, deceptive person he was, I learned to let go of him and ant. I learned that I would set new boundaries. at first no one liked those boundaries, but it was the strength I needed.

    let the therapist do his job. even if your son doesnt like it. it will get the basket off the light and illuminate things better.
     
  15. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Grandpa

    I also tend to think that the therapist was bringing up a legitimate concern. difficult child trying to dictate "trust me or else" terms is familiar behavior to me and does not, in my experience, bode well for the future.

    Just my opinion, of course, but we've been there done that. In our case, I set a condition on her coming home in between detox and securing a bed in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) that she would not call or meet any of her street "friends", except under supervision to recover her belongings. She called a man she'd stayed with about getting her stuff, then in the car said she wanted to be dropped off for 30 minutes. I refused. She threw a fit and said if I didn't trust her enough to leave her alone for 30 minutes then she wasn't coming home. I said, "In that case, you can get out of the car right now. Your mom and I will be sad that you chose to go back on the street, but you have not earned back our trust." She raged and cried and sulked for the rest of the day but she did not get out of the car.

    Later she admitted that she wanted to score a hit. "One last time, just to take the edge off," was how she justified it to herself, in classic difficult child fashion.

    In other words, she tried to make us demonstrating to her that we trusted her the issue, even while she was planning to violate that very trust. I think she honestly did not even understand the paradox at the time. She regarded "trust" as an entitlement independent of any action of hers. The therapist may be trying to get your son to make the connection. Trust, once squandered, is not easily restored and it is incumbent on the one who violated it to earn it back, not be given it when not ready. Understanding that is the first step in earning it back.
     
  16. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Thanks, everyone.

    I tend to agree, now that I've thought about it and spoken one-on-one with the therapist this morning, that he had his reasons for bringing up such a touchy issue.

    He told me that my son tends to not want to discuss anything that makes him feel uncomfortable but that he's trying to help him to do this.

    Interestingly, he also said that he feels that most of my son's issues are in the "normal range" of 17-year-old teenage behavior, i.e., in his opinion (although he pointed out that he's not a psychiatrist...) he sees no particular bipolar, ODD, or even ADD behavior.

    My son called last night, as I expected he would, to apologize for his behavior and said that he would agree with and do whatever we asked of him.

    The biggest relief for us is that our son has agreed that it would be better to complete high school and graduate where he is which involves him staying in the program two additional weeks to complete the summer semester at which time he'll receive his diploma. His original plan (which his program coordinator and PO reluctantly approved) was to return home and complete the fall semester here. I was VERY happy to hear that he had made that decision.

    By the way, as an aside, when I was talking to the therapist, he mentioned a ten-year study which has just been completed regarding resilience in children. I can't remember the exact details, but the gist was that children/adolescents who had had four or less major bouts with adversity in their lives (abuse, trauma, divorce, etc.) still had an extremely good chance of going on to become productive, law-abiding adults in their 20's and early 30's, and the MAJOR positive factor was having a loving, supporting parent there for them through it all. This gives me GREAT hope...

     
  17. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm so very, very glad that you are feeling better about the conversation. I think it is terrific that he has decided to complete school before coming home...that's a biggie!

    Interestingly, the inability to deal with stressful situations
    is a compounded problem for our substance abusing teens. The
    "retardation" of social growth is such a major factor in facing the future.

    It's nice to hear some optimistic input from the counselor. Way To Go!
    DDD
     
  18. KFld

    KFld New Member

    I think it's great that he's going to stay 2 extra weeks to graduate. Why return for an entire semester in the fall when he can be done with it in a few weeks. That will be one thing behind him that you will no longer have to worry about. Now there will be no excuse for him not to get a full time job for the summer :smile:
     
  19. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    ...coming into this too late to add my 2 cents to the discussion (besides I agree with every word above) but I wanted to post a <span style="color: #FF0000">MEGA-WAHOOOOOOOOOO</span> about his decision to finish school there and not have that obstacle to face in the fall.

    :whew: :whew: :whew:

    ...which leads me to my next questions.....what are your expectations of his next step.......and what are HIS expectations of his next step....and are they the same?

    Suz
     
  20. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Next step...a good question.

    I guess we all feel that we'd like some down time (but not too much...) to reconnect as a family and maybe take a short vacation together first.

    As well as having a diploma when he comes home, he'll also have his driver's license as his program coordinator okay-ed driving school where he is. (Thank God, because I was dreading having to take him out as we're both anxious types in the car).

    So, he'll have the tools he needs to continue in a forward direction. Initially, he thinks he'd like to work for his dad a few days a week while he decides what he wants to do in terms of getting full-time work or attending trade school.

    We'd prefer he attend at least our community college so as to keep more doors open. However, although he's a bright kid, he's no scholar, and that probably isn't going to happen.

    I guess we'll play it one day at a time and see how things go. Hopefully, as we have more sessions with his therapist, things will become clearer. I understand that is supposed to be the point of the family therapy.
     
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