Interesting Family Therapy

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by JJJ, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Today was our first family therapy session with new therapist.

    Kanga had been looking forward to going to the MLB game and just found out (this morning) that she is not being allowed to go due to her recent planning of mis-behavior on a community outing (caught before she could put the plan into action). Staff was willing to take her. I was blunt and told them I think they are out of their minds to take her. The decision was made to not allow her to go.

    So, she started the session in a bad mood (she was not told that it was my decision, staff took the heat). She stated she was ready to come home. (Typical when things aren't going her way.)

    She had many complaints and demands for more vists - with sibs, off campus, set-in-stone schedule, etc.

    Her therapist did a good job in responding -- she told Kanga that since Kanga herself was not predictable and her visits and outings are based in a large part on her behavior, that it would not be possible to set a schedule in stone and that goals would have to be set and met before any of the other stuff could happen. Kanga didn't want to hear any of it.

    She also claimed that she spent "the whole year stuck in her room" before the first Residential Treatment Center (RTC) because we are "way too strict". When I listed all of the activities she was in during that last year -- which was ALOT in a desperate attempt to keep her occupied (5 different sports teams, 5-6 weeks of residential summer camp, weekly therapy, church youth group, park district day care), she agreed she was in all of those but when she was home she had to be in her room 'for safety'(said in the snottiest tone she could muster).

    Tons of jealousy about the younger 3 having "perfect lives". She kept calling them "your kids". She is upset that she lives in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and they only go to weekly therapy and 'they must not be working too hard if they still don't want to see her'. They aren't in weekly therapy -- and when they were, the therapist's were more concerned about teaching them to protect themselves from her than in any reunification.

    She kept saying all of the things she wants to do. I acknowledged the things that she has learned in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) but when I tried to talk about the bad things she has done that have lost her many chances to get more visits, home passes, more community outings -- she demanded that we stop talking about the past (i.e. last Wednesday).

    Overall, it was sad. It was clear to me that she still doesn't get the relationship between her choices and attitudes and her lack of a relationship with all of us. She still sees herself as 'better' than the other girls at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC). She isn't too motivated to work on her issues because she can point to issues that those girls have that she doesn't and put herself on a pedastal. She doesn't see that those girls likely think of themselves as better than her because THEY aren't the ones getting down and dirty with a boy on the floor of their work place.

    therapist is suppose to call me in an hour for a recap and to set the goals for the next family session.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    This is a good sign that you have a good therapist on board, in my humble opinion. I wish we could have found one who was taking this approach instead of just choosing which person to claim victim and which to place blame on.

    I know you had been a little concerned about what to cover in these upcoming sessions but it sounds like a good start was made....I hope it continues down this path, whether or not Kanga ever gets it is another story but you're doing all you can.
  3. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I'm so sorry, JJJ. Again, you have done so much for her...I wish the future looked a little brighter for her.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am so sorry. It sounds like a rough session, esp since she is so out of touch with reality concerning her behaviors. I hope the therapist is not snowed by her at any time. That is the last thing she needs!
  5. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    therapist is great. She seemed to really get Kanga's attempted manipulations. It seems like we remain on the same page :)

    On a related note, she said after they spoke with me about the MLB game, the unit director made a comment that caused them to realize that he had not been told about Kanga's plans to make-out with the other girl on the community outing. He was the one that was pushing for her to go and once he found out about her plan, he said "We shouldn't have bothered Mom, there is no way she can go."

    So another step forward in the same direction with staff....I am relieved.
  6. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Jealousy? Check. I have no problems but everyone else does (especially in my family)? Un-hunh. I am above social norms and you should know that? Yep. It's someone else's fault? Absolutely. That behavior is in the past? Okaaaaay (until you do it again next week).

    Sounds so familiar.

    This is why family therapy eventually drove me nuts. I felt like every time we had to address the diversions/excuses/smoke screens that thank you threw up, it only reinforced them and drove us further away from dealing with- his issues. in my humble opinion, it's pointless to deal with- "family" issues when you still have a kiddo who just so doesn't get it. Her choices, her actions, her consequences - all of it is hers. None of it has to do with you, staff, sibs, etc. It's just so hard to get that connection made. To be honest, thank you still doesn't have it.

    I'm really glad that therapist is getting it, and staff too. Also *really* nice that they took the rap for not letting her go to the game!! And that when communication got squared away, that is the decision they would have made without your input. Sounds positive!
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It is a wonderful sign that the Director immediately said Mom should not have been bothered when he learned about her plans!!! Maybe the staff at this place really will be able to cope with Kanga instead of being snowed by her over and over. She sure does seem to have classic signs of gfgdom.

    I am so sorry that she never seems to make progress. It must be terribly discouraging for all who attempt to treat her, and for the family, of course.
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    How frustrating! It's terrible to put in so much effort...not only you but the whole family....and then see that Kanga is unwilling to cooperate with anything - no matter how small.

    If the family could have "fixed" Kanga's issues...they would have done it a looooong time ago - and in a heartbeat! At some point, I think the therapist is going to have to admit that this is not anything the family can really influence or control...they can only learn how to "deal". It's going to have to be up to Kanga to improve herself.

    So sorry...
  9. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    At last Residential Treatment Center (RTC), family therapy was mostly used to try and teach Kanga how to be polite to us and to minimize manipulations (therapist and I in our talks would discover two different stories being told and we'd confront her about it with both of us there).

    It sounds like this Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s family therapy is going to be alot about getting Kanga to take responsibility for her actions and continued actions that have caused her to be separated from her family.

    We have 26 months until she is 18. Such a long time to worry about funding, but such a short time to reach her.
  10. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member


    JJJ - and such a short time to reach her - in my humble opinion a ' personal coaching ' approach would be better than a system that works on gaining visits or loosing trips because of behavior. Consequences in my humble opinion just reinforce and confirm a kid's perceptions that parents or caregivers are unfair, encourage kids to make comparisions and focus on the consequence and not on the behavior. Most people and especially kids go forward when they are inspired by adults , have positive experiences and learn skills. A coaching approach is solution focused - taking responsibility is more about dealing with the future and coming up with a better plan than saying I deserved the imposed consequence. I don't know adults who readily internalize consequences as their own doing. Even when we take responsibility and accept the consequences , it may even prevent coming up with a better plan. Some kids want punishment, they want to pay a price and get over it without needing to change themselves from the inside. I hope you can reach her or find someone who can connect and inspire her . Not easy

  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    she demanded that we stop talking about the past (i.e. last Wednesday).

    Boy, that sounds familiar. My difficult child is just starting to "get it" when we talk about patterns, which includes the past--Wednesday, yesterday, or 10 min ago.

    Allan-Mattem, I beg to differ, because consquences are real life. You can coach and have consequences. If I smash my car, I'm stuck dealing with-the insurance company and figuring out transportation while the repairs are made. How is that any different than teaching our children consquences, as long as they match the transgression? Consquences ARE coaching.
    My son can create his own consquences now, and it saves us from being the bad guy. He is learning responsiblitiy.

    Kids who just undergo the punishment to get it overwith are not yet at the developmental stage to understand conscience, but it is a first step. The other will come with-time.
  12. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    in my humble opinion, yyou can do both- consequences AND coaching. My son brought up at our last visit that people had always told him what not to do or what he should do, but he didn't always know HOW to deal wwith everything. That might sound like an excuse, but I can remember thinking the same thing as a teen regarding some difficult issues I was trying to deal with. It did take a specially trained therapist to help me work thru those things and most difficult children probably need that too. But until the difficult child is ready (and I'm not sure Kanga is) and the knowledgable therapist is there, I'm not sure how much can be done. Either way, it's my opinion that the consequences still have to be there. As Terry says, they are a part of life and unless the kid is bound to live his/her entire life in an institution, the world just isn't going to change for him/her.
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    the world just isn't going to change for him/her.

    I agree. It's just an uphill battle and constant struggle for them if they don't get it.
  14. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Thanks all -- she's called once since then and was polite on the phone. She's upset that she's not popular but looking forward to seeing husband.
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I'm glad she called and that she was polite. I hope she can learn ... it's not easy. {{hugs}}
  16. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    JJJ, I'm relieved for you that therapist seems to truly understand Kanga. by the way, wm feels that kt is living the easy life ~ getting all sorts of things that he can't have. All the outings & such. It's a major PITA to hear him complain as I watch kt struggle to grasp reality one day & the next be the most mature young lady you've ever met.

    The ball is in Kanga's court. Hopefully she'll be able to play again.