‘Get that child a therapist!’ Mental health services recap

keep talking about mental health Get that child a therapist! Mental health services recap

First off, my blog wasn’t hacked with the post about medical practices. I got paid an amount that I felt was worth it to post a paid ad. This will allow me to spend today with my girls (BFF and Princess) without worrying about the money I’m not making.  I will make sure this type of post has #paid or #spon in the title, so you know to skip it if they bother you (or just aren’t interested). Now on to today’s topic….

I’ve explained many times that good mental health services for trauma and attachment simply aren’t available in our area.  Well, that take Medicaid.  There’s one person I’ve heard good things about that does EMDR, but not many could afford the 150 bucks for 45 minutes she charges (with 2 sessions a week suggested).

Someone implied it was my duty as a parent to move to somewhere that does have therapists for Princess.  Wouldn’t it be nice if life were that easy?  Moving would also certainly open up more opportunities for Hubster as far as work goes.

However, Princess is in a community and home where she feels stability for the first time in her life.  She has a couple of really strong friendships.  This is her home.  Her grandma (my mom) and aunt (my sister) are here.

Ripping her from that would cause a whole new set of issues.

Plus, moving is complicated and expensive.

Here’s something people seem to forget.  Princess does receive professional mental health services.  She’s had the same psychiatrist for going on three years.

And we tried three therapists the first year she was with us.  THREE!  Two of them were horrible – they were creating more trauma instead of helping.  She was with the other one for six months and while she wasn’t harmful, Princess wasn’t wiling or able to make any progress at that time.  At the end of six months, the therapist still couldn’t get her favorite color out of her.

Two of these three therapists, including the one she was with for six months,  told us that it wasn’t the right time for Princess for therapy.  She shut down.  She wasn’t able to carry on conversations.  She’d get physically ill before appointments.  She simply wasn’t able to let them in.  She was already struggling to form relationships with Hubster and I.  Therapy was too much, said the professionals.

And Dr. Zombie totally agreed when we started seeing her.   Princess spent the first year of appointments hiding under Dr. Zombie’s desk.  Now she sits in a chair and initiates small talk.  She still can’t/won’t answer questions about her feelings or struggles, but any conversation is a huge improvement.

I never gave up  looking for a therapist that might be a good fit, accepted her insurance and was within a reasonable driving distance.  I amped up the efforts when the hormones hit and wonkiness level exploded.  There’s a new mental health clinic.  The woman who taught our adoption classes (who became my friend) recommends one of the therapists.  Dr. Zombie knows her and thinks it might be a good fit.

She has her intake appointment today.  She’s extremely nervous about it.

We’ll see how it goes.

I doubt Princess will talk about her past or her feelings, but I do hope she’ll be able to work on figuring out how to use the tools I’ve worked so hard at introducing for her anxiety.

So that’s the story on that.

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  1. Erin says

    If you don’t mind me asking, does it impact the amount you get paid if readers click on the paid posts to read through them, or if we click on the links in the posts, etc.? If I knew it made a difference, I would likely click on some of the links!

  2. says

    Please stop giving these know-it-alls your energy. They are so not worth it! No one, not a doctor, therapist or some random troll on the internet knows Princess like you do. You are the #1 Princess expert in the world. They can go jump off a bridge.

    I wonder if trying a different therapy approach may be helpful. We are having some issues with my son and I called our new therapist and instead of telling me to bring him in and they’ll talk it out or whatever, he said “we need to give this boy some skills”. It really caught me off guard but he was right. My son doesn’t talk much, forget talking about emotions. So then what? Pay $100 to have my kid sit in the office and play? Been there done that. Instead, he’s not going to try to get him to talk about his feelings but just help him learn how to handle what is going on in his world right now (trauma) and hopefully, that will eventually help him to learn to talk about it. I wonder if that would work with Princess. You’ve given her some amazing skills to work on her “hurt parts” (I love this)… maybe this new therapist can expand on that?? Just a thought.

    • Last Mom says

      You are right, you are right….I just wanted any new readers to know I am not neglecting my child’s mental health… but yeah, I know you’re right. It’s hard to get out of defensive mode.

      That is exactly what I’m going to tell this therapist I would like to see. Focus on skills and the ability to try new tools or access the ones she already has.

      • says

        Ohhh, I like that last part… “access the ones she already has”. I’m going to mention this to our therapist tonight. Thanks! Wishing you all the best of luck with this new therapist. I hope it works out well.

        • Last Mom says

          She has tools, she just can’t or won’t use them right now. Maybe if the therapist introduces them she’ll be more likely to use them. She’s trying so hard to prove she’s growing up and have separation from me, so maybe she’s reluctant to try the tools I’ve introduced.

    • Rylee says

      Princess seems to be having a really hard time with life in general, of late. She doesn’t seem to be able to access the “tools” for calming herself Last Mom and Hubster have tried to teach her. It really does sound like Princess genuinely needs a professional therapist to help her — and cannot possibly hurt.

      Julie – Declaring that your kid cannot benefit from therapy and therefore you’ll be saving yourself $100/session by “treating” him yourself is fine when a kid is reasonably stable, not so much when a kid is falling to pieces like Princess has been for a while. No professional therapists, homeschooling (to avoid those pesky mandated reporters) is the sort of thing that leads to tortured (Emmanuel Williams), murdered (Hana Williams) and discarded for the “crime” of throwing tantrums and pinching younger siblings as a newly-adopted five year old (who might not even be fluent in English yet):

      If you want to depress yourself, read the comments in that Goid Housekeeping article — justifications for discarding children adopted from institutions for displaying institutional behaviors!

      • says

        WHOA THERE RYLEE!!! You need to work on your reading comprehension. What I said was I wasn’t willing to spend $100 a session for my kid to sit in a therapists office and play with toys. Been there, done that and it did nothing but drain our wallets. You know nothing of me or my child or his stability but to equate a lack of therapy to murder and torture is an enormous stretch.

        I don’t need to “depress myself” but if that is what you are into, have at it. However, Good Housekeeping is not exactly where I go running for parenting advice. I’ll stick with the numerous professionals we are fortunate to have working with us.

      • Serena says

        Rylee, what are you saying? That you know this child better than her parents? That they are going to end up like those drama stories you read about in Good Housekeeping? Really??

        To quote Princess, “Adoption is complicated”. You are not the expert in these people’s complicated family–nor am I. But I do know a thing or two about therapeutic interventions in older child adoptions. My go-to guy is psychologist Dan Hughes, developer of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy. I also get a lot from Daniel Siegal and from Gordon Neufeld, both experts on attachment and brain development. Try Mary Pipher, too, especially her books “The Shelter of Each Other,’ about family, and “Reviving Ophelia,” about teen girls. Better, and way more helpful than Good Housekeeping.

        Keep these adoptive parents as healthy as possible; support them but do not put them on pedestals, send them encouragement and couch any suggestions in kindness, please. If you have not parented a traumatized child, or if you have only parenting one and it has gone very well, then you don’t know what I’m talking about. Would you really stand by and give critical running commentary to an Emergency Med Tech, or a Fire Fighter? I have yet to see the research (I am looking for it; it hasn’t been done) on health risks to the parents in older child adoption. But I see it first hand at every gathering of adoptive parents that I go to, in my private practice, and in my own body (which certainly has changed in five years! whew! ) There is nothing more emotionally stressful–nothing, not bomb threats or running through fire or heading a 4000 employee company–that compares to the daily experience of unrequitted love toward children who you have promised to love, protect, guide and care for to adulthood. Stronger folks than I have cracked. But it can take years, even decades, for a child who was abandoned, hurt or betrayed in their very first love relationship to be able to love back. In the meantime, what do we do? Reach out for love and compassion all around us, and channel it to the child as what my hero Dan Hughes calls PLACE–Playful, Loving, Accepting, Curious and Empathic care.

        If Last Mom and Hubster are anything like their column; even if they only hit that note half the time, or 10% of the time, then they really are P’s therapists. the $100.00 an hour might, however, be well spent now and then on an adult or couple therapist, or a workshop for parents on parenting high needs kids.

        • Last Mom says

          The emotional stress….so true. It’s exhausting. But I always think, if it makes me feel this bad, imagine what it’s doing to her?!

  3. Serena says

    You and Hubster are P’s therapists.
    I’m a psychologist–and I specialize in kids and families, quirky learning styles, and challenges to attachment (trauma, older child adoption, step-parenting, FASD and other things that affect the brain, etc.)
    My order of working is usually parent, then child with parent. With teens I may do some individual work, but I state up front that my goal is to help the parent-child relationship to be as strong as it can be, because that is where healing comes from.
    I actually have a concern about therapists who have not trained specifically in the field of older and traumatized adopted children doing child therapy. The “get that child to a therapist” phrase is like, “get it fixed,” and that is NOT a caring or informed place to start. You can’t “fix” a traumatized child in drop-off therapy.
    So, hold tight to your instincts here, Last Mom–you are absolutely right.

    The best individual therapist in the world, if they only work with the individual child, still runs the risk of being competition to the parents. Recall your guest columnist Bessie the other day (great column, BTW–a keeper). How do you think a child who gets nurturance most easily with relative strangers reacts to a therapist of their very own? It can be very dangerous to a developing attachment to have a professional therapist tri-angle in on behalf of a distressed child who is externalizing that distress on to the new parents that she can’t yet trust.

    The people most in need, and most open to good quality therapy are often the parents of adopted kids. Giving unconditional, open-hearted, attuned and empathy love every day to the back of a child’s head, or to their little cold shoulder, does awful things to the parent brain. Really, we are talking brain circuitry! If a parent with an unresponsive child starts to feel cold in return, it’s because the nurturance circuits in the brain are being, if you pardon the oversimplification, scrambled. Parent is not a failure, or mean–parent is human and hurting deeply. What Dan Hughes calls “blocked care” is, I think, an adoption emergency–and signals time for a good therapist for the parent. One can’t keep pouring out when those circuits are closed; not without being in a world of pain.

    We also live in a place with no appropriate services–not for love nor money can we get a therapist who is trained in older child adoption and fetal alcohol exposure. What we’ve done is travel to where the training is happening. As therapists, we go to the workshops that nurture and inform our parenting. Then we try to give other families the support that we needed. The bonus is that when we go away for training, we leave G with her former foster parents and take a break together–a learning holiday. We come back well-nurtured, newly inspired, and with a pile of books.

    Sorry-long comment. But really, don’t listen to the “get that child fixed” crowd. She’s fine. You are fine. But do reach out (I know that you do–you have some brilliant supports in the form of your mother group) for what you need to stay well-nurtured. This kind of parenting is super high risk for all kinds of stress-related health problems and depression; and yet we will still, no matter how bad of shape we get into, be our children’s safe harbor. Their everything, really–at least for the time we have them. So we have to reach for the care we need (I hate the term self-care–it reminds me of “take care of it yourself–nobody else is going to”) and gather in all the love that surrounds us and holds us in the endeavor.

  4. says

    Suggesting that you move so you have better access to mental health services is ridiculous. Plain and simple. When it comes to the Medicaid card, mental health services are few and far between no matter where you are! I live just outside of Chicago and we’ve been struggling for 3 months now to find a psychiatrist to do a routine evaluation on Miss. M. Our caseworker can’t find anyone, we can’t find anyone. It’s frustrating! She’s not on any medications. We just want her tested for ADHD. Living near Chicago, we should, in theory, have TONS of access to mental health services. Yet we can’t find anyone to do a simple evaluation.

    Stay where you are. Do what you’re doing. You know what’s best for Princess. You’ll know when the right time for therapy is. Like you said, if you put her in therapy at the wrong time it won’t do anything positive for her. There’s no “rule” that says every child who has experienced trauma needs to be in therapy. Besides, uprooting your lives just to find a therapist is beyond stupid. What about all of the guilt and shame that’ll go along with that? You know your child better than anyone. You know what’s best for her and you’re doing it.

    • Last Mom says

      I’m hopeful this is the right time and right therapist, but we’ll see……. That is horrible you live in such a huge area and can’t get services.

  5. Linda says

    I’m sorry that you should ever feel the need to justify your parenting when it is obvious you do everything to make things work for your child and family. Our first counselor spent our first appointment talking about food when my daughter said the hardest part about her school day was lunch time. I felt she missed the boat entirely and my daughter didn’t see the need to go back. The 2nd counselor spent an hour and a half with our little family. When the time was up he abruptly ended the session with my daughter angry as a bees nest. When we went to the desk to schedule our next appointment, he did not have room . Are you kidding?? The 3rd counselor I think would have been great, but by then my daughter was immersed in so much anger and destruction, we had to move closer to support systems. there is nothing easy about moving. It has been hard hard hard . . . . and expensive! We actually had a home and family to move to so that’s what prompted us. My daughter wants nothing to do with counseling, but we will try it again. When people think it is the answer for all the behavior, they are not being realistic. There are great therapists and not so good ones for the kids we are dealing with. Good luck to you with the new person!!

    • Last Mom says

      Your story is very similar to ours! I’m giving this therapist a go (today was the intake, but they said it would be a few more weeks before we get to meet the therapist), but I won’t hesitate to pull her if I think it’s causing more stress than good.

  6. Jen says

    Well, I am one of the folks who posted about my concern for good mental health services and I did it in a very non-judgmental spirit because I’ve been learning from and admiring lastmom’s family from the beginning. LastMom, you will have trolls and just bitchy people in general but some of us regular readers may just want to express concern or give insight. That’s all I was trying to do in my comment the other day.If that kind of thing truly distresses you, why not disable or delete those comments?

    • Last Mom says

      Hey Jen! Your comment didn’t bother me at all. I WISH we had access to great therapists and other resources. Trust me, it’s frustrating. But I do believe we’ve been doing our best. I wasn’t bothered by any of the therapy comments – just wanted to clarify for anyone who didn’t know the full story.

  7. Anonymous says

    I get you on the difficulty. It felt like we’d never find Char a good therapist so I can imagine how you feel. Oh, and I wouldn’t move for that either. That’s extreme and can cause more problems than it’d fix.

  8. Laura says

    It’s insane how hard it is to find “good” mental health workers… I have had life changing experiences with EMDR, and my favorite part is you aren’t required to speak to the administrator of it. Even a single session can be transformative in processing trauma in my experience.

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