CAMHS – Is this the end?

Published June 28, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Today was session 8 of the 3rd phase of our CAMHS appointments. In total I’ve blogged about 26 sessions.  A few more took place before I started blogging so I’d say we’ve attended around 30 in total.

Phase 1 began February 2012 and we had 10 sessions with a family therapist, then he left.

Phase 2 began August 2012 and we had 8 sessions with a replacement family therapist.

Phase 3 began January 2013 and today was our 8th session with the replacement family therapist and also a psychotherapist.

Those of you that follow my blog will know that since the psychotherapist joined our sessions I’ve been feeling more and more unsure about the direction we’ve been moving in, quite often leaving sessions feeling confused and upset.

Today was no exception, in fact Im really not sure what happened today or where it came from. The psychotherapist appeared to have an agenda  for the session that I wasn’t privy to. The session started with them remarking how they felt I’d reached breaking point with the sleep issues we’re having with middle girl. I explained that it had been a bad day when they saw me last but that things had gotten slightly better. Early on in the session he said ‘I think we have some difficult things that need to be said’ and then he waffled on some more, all the time I was still waiting to hear these difficult things. Then he talked about middle girl and her sleeping arrangement’s. He clearly wasn’t happy with the arrangements, but neither am I. He said middle girl seemed to be lost and not knowing where her place within the family was and he knew I’d disagree. He was right, I disagreed and said that the only one of our daughters that may feel that way was baby girl.

He then became very confrontational, he said middle girl was clearly terrified to be sleeping in the same room as these two adults that she had no relationship with. Yes, those two adults he was referring to, are me and my husband! So now she has no relationship with us and is scared of us for some reason. I pointed out that whilst I agree’d it wasn’t an ideal situation, when we’d taken the very difficult decision to move middle girl to our room we had never envisaged it being for more than a few weeks, however 8 months later she’s still there. And there she will remain until our extension is built. I was then grilled, and yes I really felt like I was being grilled, about why the extension was taking so long. I explained that I wasn’t in the driving seat and that legal agreements were being drawn up and understandably legal clauses were being put in place by the Placing authority to protect their finances in the event of various circumstances such a marriage breakdown, house sale etc, all of which was taking time. I was further grilled about my feelings about the clauses.

He suggested we’re finding it hard to love middle girl. He said he felt I really didn’t understand middle girls struggles and he felt she was very switched on and understood everything. He’s met her 5 times perhaps, and he knows her better than me apparently. I explained that I understood she was struggling and how right from the beginning when we first asked for help from CAMHS I’d expressed my concern over her compliance. I explained that loving her wasn’t an issue, but perhaps ‘understanding’ her was because she is a very closed book. I also explained that I understood that middle having her own bedroom wasn’t going to fix things but it would get us in to a situation where we would be better able to support her. I also pointed out that I felt school played a part in middle girls anxiety’s and that her compliance in school, whilst a convenience for her teachers, wasn’t being seen for what it really was, fear. I then went on to explain how we’d taken the decision to move the girls to a different school. I didn’t get a chance to explain anything else before he abruptly interrupted me. ‘I’m not happy with how quickly you make these big decisions’ he said and followed up with a barrage of abruptly put questions ‘How have you prepared the girls, do they know, when will you tell them, where is the school, there is only 2 weeks left of term when exactly do you plan on telling them, why haven’t you mentioned this before.’ Feeling attacked I defended myself by informing him firstly that I don’t tell him everything, and in fact wasn’t sure when he’d have liked me to have told him given that the girls are usually present. ‘You could ring’ he said. Still unsure why he even felt I should be running my decisions past him, I told him that this wasn’t a decision we’d taken lightly, it had been on the cards for some time, over a year in fact, there were many factors involved (which I explained to him) but the biggest being that we didn’t feel the girls felt safe in such a big and busy school and more recently over the last month or so we’d decided that if we were to move them, now was the right time and we’d actually chosen a school today, that was a third of the size and offered a very nurturing environment.

He didn’t like my response. There was an awkward silence.

We’d been talking for only 45 minutes but he said time was up. The family therapist suggested a new appointment date and he objected stating he’d like to put things on hold for now and instead would be writing to the placing authority and us with a summary of his findings!?

I left.

I was furious, what had just happened. I felt like I was being accused of something but I really wasn’t sure what. I felt like I’d been attacked. I don’t like confrontation, its scary. And what on earth did he need to write to us about, never mind the placing authority?

I fought back my tears and not knowing where else to turn for advice on what I should do, I rang the placing authority. The social worker listened as I rambled on and empathised about how difficult it all sounded. I told her I wanted to withdraw from the service and she rightly suggested it was better to make such big decisions when I was feeling less angry and upset. We chatted for some time, well I chatted/ranted she listened. I told her about his plans to write to her, she was equally as perplexed about what. She gave me some advice on what my options were and what to do next and assured me she was always happy to help where she could.

My anger subsided and the tears flowed.

What sort of therapy, requires therapy afterwards!? I’m not sure if we’ll continue with this service the way things are or if we’ll ask for a change of therapist or even withdraw from the service altogether, but what I do know is, its not supposed to feel like this, is it?!


15 comments on “CAMHS – Is this the end?

  • It’s not. I don’t know what kind of psychotherapist he is, but the kind I know would never, ever, say things like “I’m not happy with how you have done ___” in therapy and then grill their client about it. That’s almost the opposite of what psychotherapy is about.

    If I were in your position, I would put a formal complaint with whomever manages him or his professional regulator. You could also speak with a local ombudsman, if you fund privately, or through the LA if they fund it.

    I’ve left a therapist because she said some highly inappropriate things at the end of a session, and I felt the same way as I’m guessing you feel: confused, unsupported, insecure, humiliated, vulnerable, stressed… the list goes on. Traumatised is at the top. With time (and good therapy) I was able see just how bad it was. And I am so grateful I had the guts to get out. It took me a while to recover, though.

    The irony is that most of her analysis wasn’t that far wrong. But it was biased to her experience of me. I wasn’t able to trust her and I wasn’t anywhere near ready to see things from her perspective. I was defensive and closed. She was frustrated with me and my decisions. She reacted inappropriately to her feelings. It’s human. But because she was in a position of power and I was highly vulnerable, what she said was incredibly damaging.

    Change (Therapy) doesn’t have to be that hard. Even if some of what he has said in therapy turns out to be true, your disagreeing with it and/or doing something different will never justify threatening or humiliating you.

    • I feel all of those things yes, I also feel anxious and untrusting. It still feels too raw at the moment for me to make decisions, but I really can’t see me wanting to be in a room with him again, I don’t trust him. The family therapist, whilst she said very little, she gave me the impression that she also felt uncomfortable with his attitude so perhaps I will call her next week.

      • I can understand your reticence. I think that all you need to say to them is what you have just said here: “I don’t trust him.” Even if he were the kindest person in the world, if you don’t trust him, therapy won’t work. I’m ashamed on his behalf, as a professional should really know better. We all make mistakes. I hope he acknowledges and learns from his, but that is not your responsibility.

        If you do explain to the service manager or PALS or the ombudsman or the family therapist… They should arrange a meeting with you and an independent person (normally a manager) to review your concerns. This will then be reviewed by them with their tam or manager in supervision (group or 1:1). They will probably find out what your therapist thinks abut therapy with you. And what happens after that is, in part, up to you.

        I think it is a good idea to talk to the family therapist. But no matter what, keep in mind how important it is to have trust in your therapist. You deserve a therapist who you can trust.

  • I would definitely call camhs back and ask to see them again – either just the family therapist – or both if you dare – and you can ask for a mediator to be there too – and ask for a debrief of the session – regardless of whether this is the end or not – fater all – you are the parent – and you cant parent efficiently whilst you seem to have had some of your parenting tools taken away from you and have left you disempowered. No CAMHS team can refuse you that session, at least – and they will send you a copy of the reports too. After all, you have had so many sessions with them – I now realise – haha – I am just playing catch up!

  • Follow your instincts. We were under our local cahms for 3 years, & we finally left due to our frustrations. The lead in our sessions had only met our son once(for 15 mins in the comfort/safety of our home). The only positive reaction we had was from the ‘art therapy’ that he had with a different practitioner. He has grown to enjoy colouring now,rather than just one big mess due to the ‘confusion’ that he felt (their words) at the start. I too felt that I was not learning anything or doing the ‘right’ thing. They said no to ADHD, but he is now in a new, very good school & they are questioning it again. So now we start another referral process( which, as you may guess) seems to take forever. I believe that we (as adoptive parents) develop a special empathy with our children & we do ‘feel’ their emotions & thoughts more than they can sometimes. Stay positive & remember to care for yourselves too x.

  • PS We had also filed a complaint about them, but all that happened was that they had to send a copy of every letter/ consultation etc to the head of the service.

    • So many adopters i know have had issues with CAMHS which makes me sad as they’re a service thats supposed to support us, not alienate us further! :/
      Good luck with your new referrals, hope you get a team that listen 🙂

  • It makes me very upset to read all you have had to go through, I don’t usually comment but I really feel that you were out into a very confrontational situation for no reason. I cannot beleive the way the psychotherapist has treated your family. It is appalling and uncalled for. You are trying to help your family by reaching out to professionals who should be there to support you. I would try to talk to the family therapist for a debriefing but I would honestly not want to be near the psychotherapist ever again. Honestly how dare he treat you like that? I am hoping this situation resolves quickly and that you can get proper and respectful support.

    • Thank you for your comments, it was a very confrontational situation and I still see no reason for it. Im calling CAMHS today to express my concerns and let them know how they’ve made me feel!

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