CAMHS Part 3 – Session 4 – The Black Cloud

Published May 8, 2013 by thefamilyof5

A few weeks ago the girls met the new psychotherapist for the first time, you can read about it here.

On Tuesday afternoon they had their 2nd session with him and also the family therapist. I felt a little more prepared this time, or at least I felt I knew what to expect, I didn’t/couldn’t tell the girls about the appointment until  I collected them from school, if I’d told them any sooner their anxiety levels would have hit the roof. So once I rounded them up and got them in the car I dropped the bomb shell that we were going to see the nice man and lady at CAMHS again. Baby girl seemed excited, middle girl didn’t comment or react and big girl simply replied with ‘oh yes he did say we’d go again soon didn’t he mummy’.

Knowing how much they’d struggled with the last appointment I wanted the girls to also be prepared and hopefully less anxious. I had no intention of allowing them to unravel again regardless of whether that was what I was supposed to do or not, I still have no clue how they expect me to ‘be’ during these sessions. So in the car on the way there I talked to them about how they’d been a little worried and unsure last time and how they didn’t need to worry because I was there to keep them safe and we go to the session together as a family and we would come home together afterwards as a family. I also reminded them that if someone was talking to them it was generally polite to listen and not talk over them like they did last time. I reminded them that there was a box of activities that had been put together especially for them and that was what they should play with and that the rest of the toys in the cupboards around the room were not for playing with today. I assured them that they didn’t have to do anything they didn’t want too and if they wanted to just sit down and do nothing then that was fine or if they wanted to come and stand by me, hold my hand or sit on my lap then that was also fine. I reminded them that the nice man and lady at camhs were there to help us all with our feelings. I emphasised a lot on the words ‘help’ ‘safe’ ‘family’ ‘mommy will take care of you’, I didn’t want them to feel like they were alone, which is how I think they felt last time due to me ‘sitting back and letting them unravel’. I really wish I hadn’t done that now but I didn’t know what was expected of me. This time I was prepared, we all talked about it together. Big girl talked about being polite and remembering to use manners, middle girl echo’d big girls comments and baby girl commented on how climbing all over me wasn’t a sensible choice. We all appeared quite calm, I felt confident the session would go more smoothly.

The minute we walked in to the room big girls anxious voice reappeared, baby girl became fidgety and wriggly, middle girl just smiled, widely.

After a brief ‘hello again’ introduction the girls busied themselves with the box of activities, well all except baby girl, she chose to climb all over me whining , hugging me so tight she almost choked me and constantly asking for the toys in the cupboard around the room, you know, all the things I told her not to do. The psychotherapist did his usual trick of making me feel utterly incompetent by commenting/wondering out loud, how big girl and middle girl must feel they need to look after themselves whilst mommy is so busy taking care of baby girl.  At one point big girl was making something with paper and glue and the psychotherapist commented how it looked like she wanted my help but wasn’t sure how to ask for it, like that was MY fault!? Was I supposed to offer, wait for her to ask, wait for her response, it was all too much to think about, I offered to help her, she declined it, just like she always does. Big girl likes me to help her only when she asks for it, she sometimes likes to notify me that she needs help by standing nearby and showing me her struggle, but if I offer help, she rarely accepts it, instead she’ll wait a while and then ask me to help, which was exactly what happened here.

The whole time this ‘mommy slating’ was taking place baby girl is emotionally sucking the life from me by squirming and wriggling all over my lap with her arms tight around my neck whining down my ear and whimpering like a baby, which incidentally also gave the psychotherapist something to comment on, so all the while I’m trying to soothe her without neglecting her sisters needs and missing something the psychotherapist could ‘wonder out loud’ about. I made a huge point of ‘wowing’ middle girls pictures that she was contently sat on the floor with and tried my best to keep up with big girl flitting back and forth in an attempt to spot her next need before the psychotherapist, all the while my hand is still stroking baby girls back in a pointless attempt to calm her, I say pointless because actually I think she was playing me, She was only interested in doing the things I’d asked her not to and she is clever enough to know that the chances of getting away with it in front of people, was high. I’m confident if I’d told her not to sit on the chairs and pick her nose then that would have been exactly what she would have done. Why? who knows?  No really, I haven’t a clue why she does this.

The session ended, we left. We came straight home and I followed the girls to the garden and sent them to bounce it off on the trampoline whilst I stared in to space like a zombie listening to their constant demands of ‘mommy watch me’ ‘mommy look at this’ ‘mommy did you see’. They were anxious, they were struggling, but I could barely keep my eyes open let alone construct a sentence. The life had literally been sucked out of me, chewed up, minced, chucked about a bit and made in to a great big fat black cloud of self pity above my head. I wallowed, they bounced.

Next week the appointment is just for me. Joy!

11 comments on “CAMHS Part 3 – Session 4 – The Black Cloud

  • Oh my gosh, that sounds horrendous! I bet they do this on purpose to gauge your reactions before they meet with you alone. The jerks! Anyways, I’ve been searching for blogs like yours to follow as I’m just beginning the process to adopt an older sibling group. I look forward to reading more!!

    • It is possible they’re ‘watching’ me, it certainly feels as though they are anyway 🙂

      Good luck to you as you begin your journey, do come back and share your own experiences with us.

  • Oh sweetie *hugs* therapy is so hard, especially psychoanalytical psychotherapy. I wonder if their ‘wondering out loud’ though was more for the children? You cannot be everything for all three.

    Little needs to learn to self sooth and Big needs to learn to accept soothing/help from others. What would happen if you did put a time limit on soothing Little, if it wasn’t changing her behaviour? I honestly don’t know and either do the psychotherapists, which is why they wonder. They simply want to help you all break the patterns in hopes of creating new, more healthy and sustainable ones.

    You are doing very well. Please do nice things for yourself. Therapy breaks things down and so you must make time to build yourself back up. You deserve to feel nice about yourself!

    • Thank you!

      I’m fairly sure the wondering out loud is for the girls and I totally get why he’s doing it, doesn’t stop me ‘hearing’ what he’s saying though 😦

      I’m hanging in there though, I have chocolate to see me through!! 🙂

      • Often parents have feelings that don’t really belong to them, because they are trying to hard to empathise and take on their children’s feelings. It’s really important that you are still able to hold on to other feelings you have. I’m glad that you have ways of feeling good about yourself, because you have a lot to feel good about!

        Psychoanalytical psychotherapy can feel very lonely sometimes, with someone reflecting you so much. Reflections feel very different from traditional acceptance aka sympathy or soothing. It really is so important to seek that latter out after therapy. I stress that mostly for anyone reading who has never experienced therapy. 🙂

        Will the girls have individual sessions? Seems like a lot of people in one room; even I would be anxious about that.

    • I’m really not sure what the entire plan is to be honest, I ‘think’ the psychotherapist plans to work with the girls, and the family therapist with me, but I’m not sure what this will ‘look’ like really. Hopefully I’ll find out more next week when its just me 🙂

  • What would happen if you told the psychologists all these things at the time? And about the problems with the teacher and the EP – if you said up front “she’s told me she’s NOT managing, that she’s at her wits end”?

    I know that some of the time you have the girls with you but it does sound like you’re listening to the psychologists and hearing them say really unhelpful things but not telling them how unhelpful they are! Shouldn’t they know that they are being unhelpful, or misinterpreting the things the teacher is saying? Or that the problem is showing up at school too even if the teacher tells the EP it isn’t?

    • I have told the EP, Senco and Camhs what the teacher is saying to me, is different to what she’s telling them, the general reply is ‘oh, ok’.
      I have also told camhs in the past about how some of the sessions have made me feel, but the last 2 have been particularly difficult and I plan to mention it at mondays session as I won’t have the girls with me 🙂

  • My husband and I adopted 2 older siblings and we are having Camhs sessions as a family too – we are having art therapy – but the way the children react sounds very similar – they go into major hyper distraction mode – anything except what they are meant to be doing… talking to them about it during the session to try and get them to focus doesn’t seem to work – they have gone into the unreachable zone – and talking about it at another time doesn’t seem to help either…

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