Four years ago, Genea was placed in our home. At the time she was seeing a therapist, and we continued with the same person when she moved in. I think, I don't know, but I think that overlap was too much for Genea to handle. She had a visceral reaction to being in the building where her previous family had taken her for counseling. I am sure she had a clear association in her mind of being with them and coming to us, the terror of the transition striking fear of it happening again. At any rate, she refused to cooperate with the therapist. She refused to go in without me (which was fine) but then she would not talk. Or make eye contact. Or sit on a chair. One memorable session she crawled under the table and would not come out. Eventually she fell asleep under there. It seemed like a good idea at the time, to carry on as much consistency as possible. I guess it wasn't.
Well anyway, put it on the list of things we did wrong.
We stopped going after several months. At various times I would get desperate and start calling around trying to find a new therapist for Genea which was a total bust. I started out with my list of questions, as recommended in the fancy adoption books. Are you experienced with children? Are you familiar with adoption? Are you experienced with older child adoption? How would you describe your treatment style?
Waste. It was always a big fat waste. Rarely did I get past the "do you see children" question. I discovered it was much quicker to start with this question.... "do you take our insurance". Then, "do you see children", then "do you have any openings". For three years I have not been able to get through those questions to ask anything further.
Finally I got a lead on a newly licenced psychologist about 25 miles south of here, who happened to see children AND take our insurance. You better believe after the winter of discontent and hell we had circling Dante's drain I was on the phone making an appointment!
She was on leave. For a month. FINE, I said, I'LL TAKE the first appointment she has.
I was hopeful, but a little pessimistic. A therapist who does not understand Reactive Attachment Disorder can cause devastating and long reaching damage to a child. But, the woman had come well recommended so I gave it a shot.
Our appointment came and she seemed nice. She ran through a lengthy list of possible issues and I was not happy to say, yes, we experience most of the list. Then, she asked me if I would be interested in taking a parenting class.
A parenting class?
I have spent the past 4 years beating my head against every book I could find. Watching every documentary, digging through obscure research looking for links, causes and treatments for my daughters lengthy list of problems. I have flown across the country -twice- to attend specialized training and to become a certified instructor for a parenting model for traumatized children. Sure, I think I can always use tips and suggestions. But, can we get going here first? Because I can pretty much tell you anything you want to know about the 77 things Genea has been diagnosed with and how to approach parenting her. We're not talking about a child here who won't go to time out.
Next appointment and our psychologist is unable to be there. I had pulled Genea out of school and disrupted her routine already. We had driven for a half hour to get there. When the other therapist in the office said she could see us instead I basically said, my child is going to see someone right here today and I don't care who even if it's that man changing the lightbulbs so that's fine. Let's go.
Omg. She is a student. An owner of the clinic and will have her licence in a few months, but not right now. Sigh. Whatever. Lets go do play doh for an hour since we drove all the way here. At least there are no puppets in this office. She and Genea talk and chit chat and then get to some tools to use when she gets angry. Such as, pretend you are a balloon and blow your air and it will help you calm down.
Then she turns to me and says, Mom, can you help Genea with this and remind her to be a balloon?
Sure. When she goes 0 to 60 in the time it takes to clap my hands together and I have to peel her shrieking hitting kicking throwing self off the ceiling, I will most definitely remind her to "be a balloon". I have taught Genea how to regulate her own heartbeat by using what I call "biofeedback for the poor". We will try the balloon though.
The balloon fails. This is not a shock.
Next session, I talk fast for a few minutes while Genea goes to the bathroom. We've been passed off to the student therapist permanently. I describe our days. She looks unnerved. I tell her a small bit of things we have tried.
Fourth session, and we are off balloons. She recommends a two week intensive program in Colorado for Genea. It is several hours a day. And in Colorado. And, it costs upwards of $15,000. She tells me that she believes she can help Genea on a weekly basis but what she really needs is this full time treatment program with the whole family. Oh my.
Then to today. Believe it or not, I think this therapist is going to work out. She is definitely willing to learn. Genea likes her and loves to have the one on one adult attention. She saw the RAD pretty quick, which is good, and got off the "why don't you try a sticker chart" approach. Today was a good session and she interacts well with Genea.
Did I mention there is a masseuse who has an office down the hall? I have never had a massage, but they sound heavenly.
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