Monday, July 4, 2011

Rationally irritated or illogically sensitive?

So a few months ago I finally found a therapist for Genea. She is about 25 miles away, and takes our insurance. I have been a little apprehensive about her and her lack of experience but willing to give her a shot, since it took us 3 years to find her. Genea loves to go there and do whatever she wants, make a huge mess, and have someones undivided attention for an hour.

This past week when we arrived, she wanted to speak with me privately at first. This is never a good sign. It never occurs that a person is requesting your attention privately to say "wow, you are the greatest parent ever!". Right. So she tells me that Genea see's being sent to her room as a punishment. That I am using a "fear based, punitive, punishment" with her, and that if I continue to do it, we are going to "clash".

Um, okaaaaaaaaay.

I always thought of fear based, punitive, punishments more like if I broke Genea's arm. Or locked her in a closet for 6 hours. Not sending her to her soft cushy room with her toys and stuffed animals. But sure.

I told her that our main purpose of sending Genea to her room is so that she cannot take our entire household hostage with her screaming. The level of sound this child is capable of would shock you. It is actually physically painful to be around, and I refuse to allow her to force us all to sit and listen to it, unable to do anything else because of the volume. Think I am exaggerating? You are welcome to come over. Any time. I was unsure as to where this was coming from, and I realized that the previous week Genea came home from school having pea'd herself just prior to our appointment and I told the therapist that's what I did about it. Sent her to her room (more on that later).

Therapist launches into her favorite topic, "Conscious Discipline". Reminds me again she is certified to teach it, does home visits etc. This is the parenting class they recommended to me during the intake. I let her know I would be happy to do something different with Genea. Sending her to her room does not stop her from doing whatever it is again. She will still pea herself, throw things, hit, have raging tantrums and all of it again the next day, or hour or whatever. It helps her calm down and it makes her world smaller and more contained, but it does not prevent another occurrence. While I believe it does not hurt her, it also does not help her really. If she had any suggestions that would allow the rest of us to function and help Genea at the same time, well, bring it on and what are you waiting for! She tells me she is going to lend me the book about this Conscious Discipline and so I go into the waiting room and start to read it.

Your mileage may vary. This is my opinion. Whoa crap, the author is condescending. One of those that is like, my way is the only way and you are so dumb to be doing all that stuff like a regular inferior parent. Just do as I say and your children will glow from the halos that emerge. She proceeds to tell various stories about herself coming upon unsuspecting parents in public and sorting out their children right! then! and! there! She is a hero! Thank God for her and her fairy magic wand of words! Now the parents of the world can finish their errands with all problems solved! Okay, I am really sensitive to this kind of crap. Arrogant, child-free, and with a Messiah complex.  Anyone who starts off having elevated themselves over me, without their own children, pisses me off. But I proceed, determined to give this (shit) a fair shake.

After a few chapters I pull out the Ulta flyer that came in my mail and read about pretty make up and hair stuff instead.

On our way home, I am thinking this all through and trying to figure out where it came from. I realized that when I told her that Genea was sent to her room after peaing, that was all I said. Because I did not want to stand in front of Genea and nit pick the crap out of her running down the long list of things she had done. After discovering the pea, she came in the house and started licking syrup off her breakfast plate, which was still sitting there from the morning. She was high strung, hyper and argumentative, trying her best to instigate with me. I was trying to make her lunch and realized it was a time when she needed 100% line of sight supervision and I could not give that and get us ready too. She would next start bumping into things by accident, stepping on the cat by accident, kicking her sister by accident and sneezing huge gobs of snot and forgetting to use a tissue. By accident. Trying to be proactive, I sent her to her room to keep her world small and keep her away from hurting people, things and pets. And still get her lunch done so we could go.

There are a few other things about This Therapist that have bugged me. She wants to see Genea on her own, which would be fine except how are we going to work on attachment and her history if I am not there? I have always read no matter what you are working on, the child with Reactive Attachment Disorder should never be seen alone. They lie and they manipulate. Genea has a memory like swiss cheese and thinks nothing of filling in the blanks with whatever her imagination conjures up. She lets Genea hug her over and over- again, if we are addressing her attachment to me, should she be letting Genea do that? I don't mind once, but not repeatedly. 

At the end of our last session, This Therapist wanted Genea to tell me something and Genea said no, she didn't want to. Therapist said.... oh no, not that, tell her what you are worried about at school, and  Genea did. But what the hell was it that she didn't want to say? Ugh, I can just see through to some massive triangulation coming up.

Then to top it all off, when I got home I read through some more of that book. Halfway through the book the author recommends sending a child to their room if they are hitting or doing whatever and will not stop, to keep everyone safe. Wtf?

I'm wondering if This Therapist is too inexperienced to help us. She has older kids of her own but they are "regular" and we all know how dramatically different things have to be with Attachment Disordered children. Genea has never successfully triangulated me against anyone. (Yes, I am on that child like corn on a cob). She keeps trying though, and I am worried with this woman she might be able to force the wedge. I could insist on being in the room I suppose.  I can just ask her to quit allowing Genea to hug her more than once, and I can let her know that "telling" me to stop sending Genea to her room was overstepping, especially in light of her own book suggestion. Genea likes her, and is in fact doing well these days. Whether the positive change is due to the therapy I don't know. It might be a small part, and Lord knows, we need every part we can get! My concern is though, that with that list of errors having already occurred, maybe this is just not going to work. Genea and I need to be led through our issues by someone who knows what they are doing without me having to point out significant process errors. . Not forcing us into this boxed up theory because it's the one she knows.

Ah well, I think I am answering my own questions here, but what do you all think?


  1. Run. As. Fast. As. You. Can.

  2. Definitely 'rationally irritated' (and you're allowed to be sensitive about it, you're her mother!). You seem to already know this but getting out now and finding someone with actual experience is most likely the best thing to do. I'm no expert but surely any professional in her life (therapist or not) should be a secondary attachment, not a primary one.

    P.S. I stumbled across your Blog because Google Reader recommended it to me - just in case you're wondering who the heck I am!

  3. I don't know how I stumbled across your blog, but your instincts sound right to me. She doesn't know what she's doing .. sigh.

  4. I TOLD YOU SO.... Oh, maybe I didn't, but I thought I did. I think I said, drive to Chicago to House Calls, it is WORTH it!!!! (And, I kid you not - at House Calls - you can call them ANY time!) That is the feature I most miss with my Grand Rapids man, who is, however, really good.

    This is so funny/ironic. I JUST signed up for a two-day Conscious Discipline course. I'd never HEARD of it until a couple of weeks ago. Now, I'm really happy because it will either be useful, OR I'll have a lot of fun dissing it with you.

  5. BTW - Get OUT of there, before your little sweetie tries to get the nice lady's sympathy by saying how you beat her or lock her in the basement. I wouldn't have believed this stuff could happen until it happened to me.

    And what the heck was she doing making you explain yourself in front of your daughter?

  6. Kelly stole my comment. :)

    Bad therapy IS worse than NO therapy. Seeing her alone.....obviously she has no idea what is going on and hasn't done any work on attachment and trauma. Letting her hug her???? AAAAHHHAAAAAAA!!!!! We've been seeing Kristy for 3 hours once a week for almost 5 years and she still won't allow J to hug her. Hellooooo!!!
    But...You have just given ME another reason to go hug Kristy today. Wish I send Kristy to you.

  7. What I think:

    This therapist has nothing to offer either of you. She clearly has no working knowledge of RAD (sessions without you, allowing indiscriminate affection, participating in triangulation), and I know from Princess that Genea is unlikely to benefit from self-directed "therapy." But more importantly than that, I think this woman is not only NOT going to be a support to you, she may likely be an actual danger to your family. Get out. Don't go back.

  8. Your daughter's therapist would make me very nervous.

    We tried therapy with Katya once and it was a disaster. Also, in addition to being a disaster, in which it seemed we were completely incompetent as a parents, I didn't learn anything I hadn't already read nor did it help us in any way, sadly. I'm sure there are good therapists out there, but the triangulation thing is such an issue with our attachment challenged kids, that it makes it really challenging to make therapy work.

  9. Essie, my daughter doesn't have RAD so I am out of my league commenting on the therapy but I feel like I know you well enough from following you for a while. Trust your gut. You are a smart cookie. You know your daughter better than anyone. You know what to do. Trust your instincts.

  10. Hoo boy! I think the multiple hugs would have me running for the hills. That's just creepy. Maybe you should move onto someone else, (if possible) but I would tell this therapist why it's not working.

  11. PS. Seeing my kid alone? NO WAY, NO HOW. Just my gentle opinion. :)

  12. **sigh**

    You are rationally irritated.

    And oh so right on with your perspective.

    Trust your judgment.

    I'm sorry (((hug))).

  13. What everyone else said. End it now.

    My guess for the leading reason Genea is doing better these days is that school is out. She has way fewer stressors. (At least that's what it's like with P -- life is easier on him in summer, even with the structure and expectations we impose. It is not the same as having to go into the minefield of social incompetence on a daily basis, so he is more relaxed (and so are we, which I'm sure feeds back to him).)

  14. Essie, are you talking about Becky Bailey's Conscious Discipline? I am usre you are. I'm in early childhood education and promote it like crazy for use in classrooms. I teach trainings on it and have seen Becky Bailey in person many times. (Though, I've got to admit you got way further in the book than me! I found it so dry and hard to read. I do my trainings based on in info from seeing her in person and her DVD training series!) Sounds to me like your therapist doesn't get Conscious Discipline at all. I think Conscious Discipline and therapeutic parenting share a lot and work well together. It's all about creating feelings of safeness, empowering chldren to be in control of thier emotions and building connection - all way staying calm. Sounds like therapeutic parenting to me! As far as sending her to her room, you are doing exactly what Conscious Discipline calls a "safe space". Safe space is an area where children go until they can regulate their emotions and safely rejoin the family (actual family or "school family"). Email me if you want any more info on Conscious Discipline. Your therapist is wrong on so many levels. We are in the same boat as you with the inability to find a good therapist. It just shouldn't be so hard. There just aren't enough Kristy's in the world!

  15. I say get out.

    I've decided that really the only person I trust to help L through everything is *ME*. That might be unwise or unhealthy...but that's what I'm feeling.

  16. Run, run, far, far away! Therapy needs to be about your relationship, and right now, all she's doing is aligning with your child against you. Obviously, she hasn't spent time with you to even understand what the issues and problems really are. You need to be as comfortable with the therapist as the child (if not more so in some ways). I fear it could get VERY ugly.

  17. This therapist scares me for several reasons. However, I think you are on the right track to doing the right thing and that is trusting your motherly instincts and running away from this therapist as fast as you can.

  18. If you have to take a laundry list of instruction to your child's therapist, what's the point of continuing therapy? This woman sounds like she doesn't have a clue. If you aren't able to find another therapist, and Genea's progress stays the same, wouldn't that be better than the possibility of regression due to an incompetent therapist?

    If it were me, I would run like the wind from this woman to protect my daughter from a potentially harmful situation.

    I think you should trust your gut on this one.

  19. sounds to me like you have thought it through carefully. I would walk away -- fast.

  20. Hi. I am a friend of LMGNYC's and have started following your blog. My son was adopted from Russia. I am still (4 1/2 years later) working at ensuring that my husband and I exclusively provide for Ben's emotional well-being. I would not want to encourage hugging near-strangers or a formal professional service provider. We've had the same OT for 3 years and he's just started hugging her (she does not encourage it). Good luck.

  21. GAH. Get out of there before the therapist makes this WORSE with your daughter! Our BABYSITTER (who is a college student) knows better than to let my attachment disordered child hug her constantly and repeatedly.

    I often send DD to her room as well. It's a place where she can calm down, be in her own space, fuss and rage and cry if she needs to and it doesn't make me angrier, it doesn't hold our household hostage for the (sometimes) hours it can take her to calm down. And she is NOT traumatized by it.

    If you want to stay with the therapist because of the good 1:1 attention she pays to Genea, then do. BUT set clear guidelines about what the therapist can do. Or get a babysitter that knows better than this "therapist".

  22. if she doesn't get the "make her world smaller" or the "she can't hold our family hostage that way" then she doesn't understand what you're going through at all.

    time to exit.

    sorry about the wasted time.

    sorry about the insurance suckage.

    sorry that you now belong to this particular club.

    leave--but you might want to take Genea's next appointment alone to tell her why!

  23. In case you didn't get your own message or hear it otherwise, head for the hills as fast as you can! Do not pass go. Do not spend $200. Do not return for any future visits. Just send the book back in the mail. There's WAY too many cardinal no-nos here. You are SOOO much better off with no therapist than you are with the wrong one.

  24. peace the eff out lady! This therapist is making me nervous. She seems like she is getting suckered in by Genea, which is exactly what you DONT want. And now she and Genea have secrets together, and she's basically saying "it's ok to hide things from mommy." She doesn't sound like she gets RAD.

  25. This seems like one of those times where life ahead splits into distinct paths--each choice making life quite different. I agree with the other comments. Get out now. Things could either get way worse with the therapist or not worse on your own.

    And Molly--100% agree that it's not okay to hide things from Mommy. What possible thing could a child need to keep a secret.

  26. Hmmm, so what are you all saying? LOL! Wow!

    You're right of course, and I cancelled our next appointment. Damn, I just so wanted this to work.

    I am going to mail her that book back, with a post it stuck to the page about room time, with a letter. These comments are exactly the traction I needed to be specific and WHY. Thanks!

  27. Girl, you know what you need to do.. RUN RUN RUN! How in the hell can she do any help whatsoever when dealing with a RAD child who she demands to see alone..

    Find someone else.. Mail the book back.. Just get away from the crazy lady before she causes more damage..

    Just my humble opinion.. lol

  28. Admittedly, I know nothing about reactive attachment disorder and my children have never needed or been in therapy. So my thoughts are based solely on my Mama Bear instinct, but if I were you, I'd be running in the other direction.

    I'm with the other commentators who say you are rationally irritated. You feel that way for a reason. Your misgivings are not unfounded. Trust your instincts.

    It's my first time here; I found you through BlogHer. Best wishes.

  29. I'm not parenting RAD,however I am parenting trauma. My boys have seen their therapist exactly once without me in the room (not the waiting room)in the therapy sessions. That was almost 9 months after we began weekly therapy sessions and for MY convenience as I had to be somewhere else and a friend took them to the session for me. Every other session I have been in the room for. My boys are 7 and 8.

    Glad you cancelled the next appointment. Clearly this woman has no idea how to effectively treat children and to help them depend on their parents as their primary support network.

  30. As a therapist myself who works with RAD kids, this lady is a quack. Individual therapy rarely works with any child (be it school age, pre-teen, or teen). Parental involvement is the first key to success in any therapeutic relationship. I allow my children to give a hello and goodbye hug (which can help promote healthy social skills). But I don't allow excessive affection, kissing (yes, I've had kids try this), or lap sitting (unless it therapeutically makes sense).

    My pre-adoptive son was RAD (we did some amazing trauma work when he was 2, and 18 months later his attachments looks completely different, so much that at the moment he doesn't look like a RAD kid- he still has attachment issues, but not as severe) and we used CPP (child parent psychotherapy) to address his attachment and trauma. It was me, JJ, his baby brother C who lived with us at the time, and the therapist in a room observing, modeling, changing, and experimenting to enable change. She always supported the decisions I made (we swaddled JJ, put him in his crib to make his world smaller, and removed all stimuli- his room is currently bare for the same reason). I really hope you can find a great therapist. If you live close enough to access Chicago, you should be able to utilize one of the college therapy programs. Young doesn't always mean inexperienced, I'm only 29! But I've been there and I know what it's like. Experience is still the key.

  31. Essie:
    I have lurked for quite a while here and I have always been impressed with (your ability to creatively swear!!LOL) your instincts for your kids.

    As an adoptive mom of a son with RAD (and adhd, PTSD, history of crazy wild abuse and neglect, depression the whole nine yards...) I started shaking my head pretty early on in your entry.

    One thing necessary is a therapist who knows how these kids work. They have elevated "manipulation" to a fine and subtle art form. Our son's behavior had my husband's entire family fooled (he is the youngest of 8...his family is MASSIVE) for years about what was going on in our house and how we parented him. It wasn't until much, much later that they started comparing notes (actually there was a family meeting to discuss how they could 'help' us be better parents...yeah. i know! the resentment i still hold over that is worthy of an entire blog of its own!) that they realized the load of horse manure our son had been peddling. Anyway he is now in the Army--doing well and thriving in the extreme structure. I miss him lots but our relationship is much better long distance (same for him and my husband). I love him as if I gave birth to him but I will never trust him.

    All that to say that you need to trust your own instincts. Never should your daughter be alone with the therapist. Attachment therapy means attachment to YOU and your husband...not the therapist. It seems that the therapist is fostering attachment for some odd reason. Her role should be one of facilitation not one of taking over your role. A handshake greeting to say hello, start the session, etc. would be appropriate and would set boundries for your daughter. Hugs, should not my opinion.

    You are a fantastic mom. You have good instincts and you know your daughter better than anyone this side of heaven. Don't let someone with a degree tell you differently or try (either thru ignorance, some unfulfilled need or poor practice habits) to usurp you as the parent to whom the child should be attached.

    I love your blog and reading it has helped me immensely.

    Keeping you and yours in prayer. :-)


  32. Thanks kim for the later comment- I see it! I always like to hear about other people who have raised "these" kids and the kids who are now making it. It's encouraging to know it can happen!

  33. Oops, I meant to add My Mommy Journey to the above comment, and everyone else that chimed in too.

    We did quit the therapist. I am still waffling as to whether I should tell her why we quit or just leave it go. I think she needs to know what she did wrong but I'm just tired of the whole thing. If I procrastinate it anymore she probably won't even remember us, lol.


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