Small Complaint About "Family" Therapy...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DaisyFace, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I don't mean to complain...after all, there have been many positive strides made in the past few weeks...

    However, I am leary at the thought of starting "Family Therapy" sessions.

    As you all know, difficult child has a history of lying about her horrible, abusive family. Previous psychiatrists have fallen for the stories and have no doubt noted in their files about how this sweet little girl is being victimized by her families overly strict, or overly lenient ways. So it does not surprise me one bit that our new psychiatrist recommends some family counseling...

    I have already participated in Mother-Daughter counseling (which was recommended after difficult child blamed all kinds of things on me. as in: I wouldn't be so depressed if my Mom ____________.") As a result of Mother-Daughter counseling, it became clear to the therapist that difficult child's Mom is a pretty OK Mom and that difficult child needed to start treating her Mom with some respect and stop some of her lying and dishonest behaviors.

    So what will be different about Family Therapy? What more can we POSSIBLY do in order to make difficult child's life all better? I feel as if we have been pushed to our limits as it is, trying to accomodate her. In many ways, the whole family revolves around difficult child and her emotional turmoil. I really don't want to hear that she needs more of anything (more love, more priviledges, more freedom--whatever).

    on the other hand--maybe we should do family therapy as a way of again saying "OK--we tried that. difficult child is still having issues. Now what?"


    Sorry for the mini rant...I guess I would just like to hear about some things that difficult child needs to do in order to be more considerate of her family for a change...instead of always the other way around.

  2. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    All I can say is, it really depends on the therapist. If you find the one you see is "taking sides," find another one. I also found it helpful to get my own individual therapy at the same time as family therapy.
  3. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I have done therapy with a therapist and one or both girls at times. We have all seen the same therapist individually also.

    Even if difficult child 1 went in and told her story first, when I went in, I felt free to tell the therapist my version of the story. The therapist would then look for difficult child's response to that. I never felt that the therapist believed difficult child over me and she spent the most time with difficult child.

    Maybe I am overly optimistic, but it is possible that family therapy will allow all of you to let the therapist know what it is like with difficult child, give you ways to cope with difficult child and the turmoil from her behaviour, and let difficult child know that most of the problem is her responsibility.

    CBT/ERP did help my daughter's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) but we never had much change with regular therapy sessions. It did give me some relief to go and vent to someone who understood. Our therapist had her own difficult child's so she really got it.

    I believe brain biochemistry is to blame and talking about it maybe won't help much. But since psychiatrist is the one who wants it, sometimes you have to go along to get what you need.
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I have mixed emotions about family therapy as well. Current therapist (Kanga's) is very good and we needed family therapy so therapist could see how Kanga treats me (poorly at best). This therapist is mostly just summarizes what she's worked on with Kanga is the last month and has me tell her how Kanga has been treating us on the phone and on-campus visits.

    Previous therapist's did the "if you only tried this", etc game. Yep, waste of time.

    Current therapist wants to start family with everyone. Nope, I see no point in forcing my littles to deal with Kanga's issues. Even if we are forced to bring her home at some point, our lives will be designed to minimize their contact with her. We have 2 years and 9 months until she is 18, the clock keeps ticking...
  5. agee

    agee Guest

    Granted, I haven't been at this as long as you all have, but we tried family therapy with-difficult child was 6 and for the first 3 sessions we basically watched difficult child play cards with the therapist (they were making friends) and the last 2 sessions, when husband and I came alone, he told us we needed to do a sticker chart and take difficult child on lots of walks.
    We are game for another round but we'll be looking a little harder for someone who deals with-families with-a kid like ours.
  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Oh I understand so much I probably could have written this post! One thing they can try is the behavior contract, but honestly, that is useless with my son and I hear it's not so effective with many difficult child's. If your psychiatrist is with a public agency he might be recommending it because of the efforts you are making to get more intense help. I say that because in our state at least, you have to "prove" that outpatient therapy has not been effective before getting inhome therapy (usually a behavior contract), then they look at a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) placement. But that's just here- it might not be the case where you are.

    As far as any therapy, in my humble opinion it all boils down to how good the therapist is, if they "get" the type of issues you/your family is having, and if you have a good rapport with them. It took several tries to find that when I was looking for myself as a young adult. I have tried all over this town with difficult child and still have never found a good fit- either for him individually or for family therapy. They had good ones in his psychiatric hospital but he couldn't stay in there long. And I got a little validation on this opinion when I had his MDE done and the lead person- a specialized psychiatrist- said the problem is not that complicated but the problem will be finding a therapist who can and will do it with a child this age and who can be effective. I never knew how "right" that would turn out to be.

    A couple of family tdocs actually made things MUCH worse between difficult child and me. They would pride themselves on being able to "get to the problem" by hitting our rawest nerves/emotions in the typical 50 min session, then send us home like we were supposed to be fine until a week or so later when we'd have another session. That never worked with us. It lead to physical aggression from difficult child, or a psychiatric hospital stay, or him cutting himself, or another arrest for him. You'd think they'd have enough sense to know that when it's a difficult child this just isn't something to pride yourself on- it's what I'm trying to stay away from, not instigate.

    All I can say is that I feel for you- I have flat out refused to go thru it again.
  7. Robinboots

    Robinboots New Member

    Here is my therapy story:

    Sent GFG17 to a counselor who *I* had seen at his age for 3-4 sessions because my mom (who is nuts) thought *I* was nuts. As an adult, now that I think about it, not really sure WHY she sent me - oh yeah, I started having panic attacks and really I was a bit older, 20, but since I still have them, I guess he wasn't very effective.

    But I digress.

    I figured better the devil I DO know, etc., so off he went. This guy fell for GFG17's cr*p hook, line, and sinker. It was ALL my fault, he'd be better off NEVER going home, etc. The guy did talk to me once - and get this: told me he'd also counseled my mom and my dad! Weird, huh? husband took difficult child once, and the guy barely acknowledged him, let alone spoke to him or introduced himself. So that ended. Oh, yeah, the counselor also called MY MOM, who also believed all of difficult child's cr*p so they had themselves a nice gripe session about me.

    difficult child saw a psychologist in detention, the one who told me there was "nothing" wrong with him, but her report mysteriously, 8 months later, indicated "evidence of CD and Auditory Processing Disorders (APD)". Nice, huh?

    The court ordered family therapy. After about 4 sessions, glory be, she saw through difficult child!! However, she still continued to suggest everything under the sun - more freedom, more love, more, more, more. Finally the light finished dawning, about the time I said: you know what? This is doing NOTHING - we've tried it all, doesn't work, and I'm tired of bowing to difficult child's wishes. Besides that, he continues to lie and won't admit anything or apologize. The end.

    Now, in spite of the judge's order, the therapist calls me once a month and asks how things are going; she talks to difficult child, same questions. She writes her report.

    But wait - it's FAMILY therapy right? Wrong. Apparently, even tho husband was the one difficult child accused of abuse and the reason therapy was ordered, *I* am the mom, therefore it's all MY FAULT.

    You know you're in for a ride when the caseworker starts every flippin meeting "no shaming, no blaming". Esp. when you, I mean *I*, respond with: BULL. It IS him, he IS the one at fault, he DID it!

    Sigh. Sorry to hijack, but unless you get a good therapist, and sometimes even if you do, it's a waste. And I'm one who always thought therapy could "help."
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    That's why I thiink most tdocs out there these days are not any good- espeically the ones doing therapy where kids are involved. They aren't being taught well, in my humble opinion. They get the point about dysfunctional families but apparently aren't taught anything about them, much less what to do to help them. So all they do is blame the parenting- which bascily means the mother. It has to be what is being taught to them because they all do it- and since I'm not the only one being told this but most parents on this board have had that experience and many, more than once, it only points to that the tdocs are being taught to blame the parent, in my humble opinion.

    I try to keep this thought in the back of my mind during any therapy that I see going awry: If the therapist knew what to say that would really help, he/she would say it, so if he/she is either not helping or making things worse or just getting a ego-boost out of being able to open up a can of worms but then sending us out the door, it's because he/she doesn't have a clue how to deal with this problem. And I actually had one who threw his arms up in the air after I had taken difficult child and we'd met with him for months with him assuring us he could help but when I took difficult child to his office unexpectedly because difficult child was having a meltdown- he said he didn't know what to do so he tdo'd him. OK, if they end up saying "take difficult child to psychiatric hospital" or "call police" (I had one tell me that, too), then exactly how are they helping? I can do that much on my own. What are they advising that I'm not already doing? Do they know how to fix the problem?
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  9. Robinboots

    Robinboots New Member

    in my humble opinion, it's the liberal, save the child garbage that's being taught these days. And/or the older ones - for whom this is often a second career - are following right along.

    I was written up during the first FST meeting, because of what I said - it's HIS fault. They interpreted that to mean "it's his fault his dad abused him" which was not the case AT ALL. I even clarified - it's HIS fault that HE behaves like this, HE is the one doing it - and they still didn't quite get it.

    His caseworker is the hearts and rainbows and teddy bears type, the why-oh-why can't we all get along kind. She's learning. My difficult child is an education until himself!
  10. Robinboots

    Robinboots New Member

    Oh, and forgot to add this: throughout all the therapy, etc., after the initial fiascos, they kept saying, "You aren't doing anything wrong, you're good parents, but you have to do things differently."

    And we say, "Okay, what?"


    They had absolutely no answer. They never did answer that!
  11. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have mixed feelings about family therapy. We've never done the full out family with easy child included which could be helpful but we are always with difficult child for his therapy (or at least one of us-usually me due to our schedules).

    Some of the therapy for difficult child has been helpful to him because there are times (few and far between) when I see him using one of the strategies he learned there to calm himself down. Much of it hasn't been too helpful because difficult child just isn't in a place a lot of the time where he is available for the therapy.

    As for us being there; we've been lucky that the tdocs over the years have never thought it was our parenting. That doesn't mean we were perfect parents and they didn't show us some things we could try to do to help better parent difficult child. They did (and do), however, realize how difficult difficult child is.

    With that being said there are times I resent going to therapy with him because I don't see the kinds of strides and growth I would like to see and I get tired of playing the games and giving up my time when there are so many times he just isn't available for the therapy.
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I must be in the rare minority who has had fairly good therapists for my son. Now I have seen some idiots for myself but that is another story. I do have a good therapist for myself now.

    My son has been in therapy of some kind since he was 4 until he was 17. I dont know if we would call all of it family therapy but we were always involved in his therapy. Obviously we had to be because we had to take

    When he was really young he was in a childrens day treatment program where he went every day for about 3 hours a day. They met with me for a little while each week, as I recall, to talk about what they were working on each week and I could watch him through a two way mirror to see how he was doing in the classroom. There was a large component of behavior mod to that therapy but also some play therapy. At 4-6 we were using sticker charts and rewards. Thats when we found out they didnt work

    After he aged out of day treatment, he went on to an individual therapist and I would go in for half the appointment with him and we would talk about how things were going and then he would be in there alone. If the therapist had any lingering concerns after meeting with him alone, she would send him into the playroom and meet with me alone.

    We loved this therapist. Problem was, Cory could tell her exactly what he was supposed to do but couldnt do it outside of therapy and she recognized this.

    When he was in wilderness camp for 16 months, his dad and I did parents therapy at the camp. The kids werent involved but all the parents from his group met once a month to work on parenting skills. Now this really was not extremely useful but, it did help to a degree. Everyone can gain some better parenting skills. Plus we met some nice people.

    When Cory came home, we put him back into mental health and he started back with therapy. He got another therapist that we liked. Again she would meet with him alone and I would meet with her alone. He also had a case manager that we both met with. His life was micro-managed. We all talked well. We all got along very well.

    When he went to his Residential Treatment Center (RTC), he had individual therapy and family therapy that was done both in person and over the phone because he was almost two hours away. I went twice a month in person and they called the other two times a month to make it easier on me. They were very good.

    I never got the "Its all the parents fault" deal. Ok...maybe once I did, when I first went to someone when he was 2 and a half some idiot psychiatrist told me he did what he did because I had been sexually abused. I left that office so fast I think I left skid marks. LOL. He was 2 for gosh sakes. He didnt know I had been abused!

    Other than that, I never got the idea from anyone we worked with that they thought that we were the sole reason for my kids issues. Sure maybe we could change some things to make things better, who couldnt learn new skills? We worked as a team with a ton of people to raise Cory and Jamie to a lesser degree.
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    We've tried it, and it gave my easy child a chance to air her griefs/beefs*, which she hadn't been able to do before. She honestly and openly talked about how she hated the fighting and tension around the house.
    difficult child needed to hear that someone else was being affected.
    What about your 11-yr-old? How about if the therapist focuses on him, and let's him say whatever he wants to in front of everyone? It can really put a spin on things, different from the Mom and Dad VS difficult child routine.

    *Don't know where those words came from. Do those give away my age or what?
  14. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I'm glad to hear that I am not alone with my mis-givings...

    KLMNO made a good point about this being one more thing to "check" off the list to demonstrate that we really have exhausted every possiblilty. And that's kind of what we were thinking ourselves.

    So we will attend family therapy. It might help, but I am not going to have high hopes or unrealistic expectations....nor will I allow the therapist to "blame the parents" for any of difficult child's choices.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences!

  15. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    DF, we would have some of the same issues with therapist's who didn't have a clue about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) & how charming & manipulative these kids can be. One therapist insisted on one on one therapy with kt - he was later investigated because kt accused him of touching her.

    After that husband & I or myself alone was always in the room with the tweedles. Attachment therapy is a bit different in that the parents are always in the room & a good attachment therapist knows what is behind the accusations & such thrown about during therapy.

    Saying all that, now when we are in family therapy I let kt (or wm) hang themselves with their lies & such. I share my honest emotions & feelings over the antics of the previous week. I don't flip & I'm never defensive. Personally I don't care what the tdocs think of me. AND if they want to have CPS come in & investigate me go for it.

    Our little wonders can make all the accusations, cause all the CPS visits they want but at some point that will come to bite them in the butt. At some point CPS will pull difficult child for their own safety & then who knows. The more difficult child snows a therapist the more a parent pulls back to protect themselves.

    DF, I hope if you decide to do Family therapy insist on an "intake" appointment. Explain the years of what's gone on in the home. Ask therapist if they can see past the manipulation to the emotional disorder.

    It may be worth it.