Does counseling ever help any of these kids?

Well, I took another day off work yesterday to get younger difficult child started with yet another counselor. Older difficult child will see him in a week and a half so that means another day off work and another 150 miles as this time, because of scheduling, he will see him at his office instead of a difficult child's home town. This is at least the 8th or 9th counselor we've had. They've all been perfectly lovely people and probably good at what they do but I have a feeling that trying to counsel somebody who doesn't want to change is like trying to put out a forest fire with a teacup. The counseling is court ordered; it is paid for by, first, my insurance and then, state funding, so it's not hurting me to have them go and I'm willing to try anything but somehow I feel that it is just another exercise in futility. Younger difficult child has big problems and knows it but has no desire to change; older difficult child thinks he is perfect as he is so also has no desire to change. Sometimes I think the only counseling they would understand would be done by a two by four (just kidding).


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Counseling has never helped my difficult child, Nan. He's had over 14 years of it non-stop and gets it daily (group) and twice a week (individual) at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC). A fat lot it's done for him....after 7 months he is still at Level 1. ARGGHHH

My difficult child doesn't think there is anything wrong with him. He knows all of the right things to say but doesn't follow through on any of it.

I wish you good luck but it's been my experience that you can't help someone who refuses the help. It did help husband and me iron out some parenting issues, tho.



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In my opinion and experience, therapists often make things worse, not better. They are into the blame game and can seriously cause family friction. I don't think they are worth two cents, let alone the money they charge. I call them "the family destroyers." Seriously disturbed kids who are not stable are not going to respond to even good therapy.

laura mz

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i think, in all honesty, that the first basic componet to successful counseling is the client's desire to change. seems rather futile otherwise. then again, sometimes a really gifted therapist can make a huge difference. once again, no clear answers ~~ sigh!



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I think it depends on the child. I know Nancy had a lot of success with hers. But I have never seen it make a blind bit of difference. I do recommend it for the parent to help them deal with the child. But the child usually seems to tune it out, if it's one on one with them. Family stuff can help each person to understand each other better, and to cope. But I am not overly enthusiastic. Only because I have never seen any results first hand.
In fact, unless the therapist is very good, I have found they can enable the kid - the kid will triangulate. I have seen that too often .... I get a call from the therapist making suggestions as to how I handle the kid based on spurious info from the kid .... then you have to get involved to set the record straight.

But if it's free and no bother, I would certainly go ahead, taking into account the enabling that could follow. Also the kid seeming to get the message it's not his fault he is the way he is - which may well be true - but sometimes I find they blame whatever it is and use it as an excuse.



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I'll forego the advice on Residential Treatment Center (RTC), therapists, psychiatric. doctor's, counselors, psychologists and the like.....but I WILL go get a 2'x4' for you!!!!!! Makes you wonder don't it??

My son told me today, at breakfast, he's so tired of answering questions. (I snickered) Then he said "Does anyone ever consider the fact that I might just be angry because I'm trying to forget bad stuff and all these counselors are dragging it up? Mom, honest I'm so tired of being questioned on everything! Like, "Gee, why did you throw you floss in the wastebasket like that? Are you mad? - I mean can't a guy even throw his floss away without being analyzed?? I'm tired of answering questions"

With this I have decided that when he's ready to talk he will, therapists do their best to unravel the mystery that is my child and 5 years later? Still have the same answers!! - Yes, Star.....he's angry. Well DUH.......and this is news to them?? Or when you get a new therapist and they come to you and say "Well, Star, he's an angry young man....I want to show them what angry is" I could just spit......

It's like trying to build a house over a river. YOu can change the course of a river, and make a dam to hold the water, but when that dam blows? The river will go back where it was to begin with.....Maybe we don't need to build better houses, Muttmeister, maybe we need to learn how to build better dams? sigh.....wish I had a better idea today.....


I think unless the therapist can see the keid on a regular basis it does no good- they have to really know the child otherwise they play games and talk - many time the kid is great oneon one - they dont see them in action
Maybe if they could work an ongoing program with kid and folow up weekly or even call tthem every day

In my humble opinion, there are very few decent therapists out there. BUT!!!, I have come across a couple over the years. It is important to search for someone who is not only intelligent and honest but also insightful.

The only thing counseling has done for us is to
1. establish diagnosises
2. Give me some tips to DEAL with child
3. Satisfy the insurance company that my children aren't getting medications without the all powerful counseling

Actually, right now the counseling that my daughter is in seems to be making it worst. She is supposed to be working on rage reduction, and I think the therapist may be giving her ideas :eek: because she is coming home and testing boundaries. I bet she is just sitting there in the office and the counselor is asking things like, 'so do you stomp your feet?' and Alicia thinks, hmm, maybe I will try that...


my girl

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All we have used so far have either enabled difficult child or have been completely useless in getting difficult child to address her behavior past the rudimentary acknowledgment stage.


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Personally I am getting real close to also thinking as far as Nate is concerned, it is 'almost' a total waste of time. I say almost cause the therapist and I are figuring some little things out about having her enables Nate to have the psychiatrist and go to social groups there and have a case worker. As far as actually doing Nate any good? Not much...he won't open up to her any more then he did with the other therapist...but does talk to me about his dad. So actually I feel like at times I am Nate's therapist...though probably not a very good one...but at least he talks to me.

Now as far as therapy for myself...I think it has helped me...depends on who I had though. Some were a waste of time for sure...others good. But I am also wanting to change, to feel better about things too and I am sure that makes a huge difference.


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Gee it makes me sad that therapy has been such a bad experience for so many of you. As Addie said, I have had very good experience with therapy. My difficult child is probably one of the few here that has only true ODD with no other identifyable disorders, and perhaps that is why we have had success. I am not saying she is cured by a long shot but I am saying that her therapist did more to help her understand how her behavior impacts other people and how she can use different techniques to manage it.

Perhaps we had success because we began taking her to therapists at the young age of 7 and she willingly participated(I think she enjoyed the attention), or perhaps we have just been very lucky in that the ones we took her to were very conservative and did not recommend medications immediately and were willing to work with her to change her behavior not change us.

We did take her regularly, once a week, and she worked hard, had assignments to do, was made to look at her behavior. Our therapist came from years of experience working with chldren in a residential treatment center that actually tried to help kids instead of just house them. My difficult child relatd to her very well and we were very sorry when she left the field just a few months ago.

I think we have been spoiled. If were to look for another therapist now, I am sure I would not find one that was so easy to work with and so committed to helping families.

I have had my share of experiences with therapists who were of no help, but I am so grateful that we did not stop looking.

The fact that so few of you have had good experiences with therapists does not give us much hope. If we are to find some way to help these kids manage their behavior so that they are successful members of society, society sure needs to find a way to do that.



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As Moonglow said, it helped me more than my child. It helped me realize that I wasn't a raving lunatic.


I think its really important to realize that there are different types of therapy: (1) talking (2) play and (3) behavioral are just three examples, and that some are better for some things/people. Also, a lot depends on the psychologist -- just like any other profession, there are bad ones and good ones.

I think you are all correct when you say that for talking to work, the patient has to want to change. I would never take a child to that kind of therapist.

difficult child #1 has had success with play therapy. The theory is that children often express themselves more freely in play, and the therapist can get to the bottom of the problem that way. The therapist can also help the child work out the difficulty through play.

For difficult child #2, husband and I went through behavioral modification training so that we could learn how to cope with and change behaviors resulting from ADHD. That helped somewhat.
I had a horrible experience in marriage counseling (made the problems worse), and I also tried a social worker who I thought was a waste of money, but other than that my experience has been good. Not that anyone around here is "cured" ...


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Count me as one who doesn't think therapy is helpful, although I am speaking from a former PhD student in psychology, not from experience with my son. I quit the program bec I realized what a crock it was. They looked for diagnosis's that weren't there - for insurance reasons, money reasons, wanting to keep a patient reasons, whatever. The goal for therapists is to be out of work isn't it, or is it? Everything was over-analyzed and any situation could be twisted to be dysfunctional. I do think some (not all) patients liked the attention and having someone to listen to them. Against the will therapy though? What's the point of that? What I have found really helps people with their problems is doing volunteer work.

I think therapy can be very effective with adults, and families, but I have my doubts about young children. This is from a social worker's perspective.


I have been reading all these replies and I want to know-- if therapy and counseling DOESN"T work, WHAT DOES?!?!
We have been to many of these too, with no good results. Now our pediatrician wants us to start at square one again and get testing done from a child psychologist 50 miles away, since I have been to EVERYONE around here and they are no good. The pediatrician doctor agreed to this and that's why she suggested getting a 'right' diagnosis. So we are starting over 'AGAIN'!!!!


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Therapy never helped my son, It was a huge waste of time. I would now be extremely cautious of what ideas a counselor was placing in my child's head.