After the years of therapy, I wonder if I should have even bothered with them at all. After all these years of me asking for help. After all these years of me going from appointment to appointment. After all these years of having therapists in and out of my home. After all that, the therapists ruined my life.
Let me back up. Let me start at the beginning. …..
When my daughter was six we started to have problems with her talking back, being disrespectful and just being…difficult. We weren’t sure what to do, but we thought it could be, in part, due to a separation between me and her dad. I decided to look into counseling. I thought that maybe with someone to talk to, things could get better. Maybe they could help us.
The first (couple) therapists we saw was through an organization called Team Builders.
We saw a few therapists that we didn’t like…at all. There were many different people there, so we were able to change until we found a good fit. We had one that was..different. She wanted to use crystals and I was supposed to imagine colors sprinkling down on my daughter.
We didn’t last long with her.
We were given so many things to try with my daughter.
Highly structured. As if our home wasn’t structure enough…we got up at the same time, got ready, ate breakfast, went to school, came home, homework, dinner together as a family. I mean, it was pretty much set.
Incentives for good behavior. Nope, that didn’t work. It never lasted more than a day, regardless of what the incentive was.
Sticker charts. Nope, another dud because if I didn’t feel she earned a sticker, she would try to get a sticker and put it on herself. There were several times I had to almost tackle her to get the stickers out of her hands.
Time outs. Yet another dud. She wouldn’t go to time out. She would’t stay in her room. So then we were told to put her in her room and hold the door closed, if need be. Well, look what that resulted in:
Yes, that’s a hole in her door. In a rental house. She also punched my husband in the nose and broke it the day before Thanksgiving. She was nine years old at that time.
We went through several “levels” of therapy with Team Builders. We went from a therapist, then added psychiatrist then Family Services Support and eventually Multi Systemic Therapy (MST). We got several diagnosis from Intermittent Explosive Disorder to Oppositional Defiant Disorder to ADHD.
Our time with Team Builders, which changed names to Agave Health, ended with the MST when they had us put my daughter in a psychiatric hospital. I did NOT want to send her, but she was SO violent. She was hitting, kicking, biting, spitting. We tried everything they told us to do and nothing was working. Even when the therapists were there she would throw fits and they couldn’t calm her down.
While she was at the UNM Pediatric Psychiatric Center, we decided to switch to a UNM based therapy team. We were transferred to a team that included a therapist, Behavior Management Specialist (BMS) and a case manager. I thought this was fantastic. They were coming to our home, working with us directly and would be there to help every step.
I was wrong. They were the biggest mistake of my entire life.
They were supposed to keep my daughter from going back to the hospital. They didn’t. They recommended her going back.
While we worked with them, they wanted to remove her from our home and have her put in a Treatment Foster Care home. I refused. This was MY daughter. Why can’t they help her in our home? Why can’t they help us figure out why we have these issues?
Because I refused, they decided we needed a “highly structured” home, as if she was in a treatment foster care. Again, with the structure. Okay, whatever. I’ll play your game. We removed everything from her room and she had to earn everything. She earned half hour increments of playing or anything at all. It didn’t help.
They also introduced the “safety hold” for when she threw her violent fits. They taught us how to hold her and when we should use it. They even had to use it on her once while they were in our home. She hated these holds. But who could blame her?
I think these holds made things worse, but we were just doing what they told us.
Then they said…..you’re taking what we tell you to do too literally.
Uuummm….we’re following your recommendations and you’re telling me I shouldn’t. If we didn’t follow them, then you’d tell us we aren’t following what you say.
We can’t win.
We listened to them and did what we could. At this point I felt totally broken. I spent at least an hour a day on the phone with the therapist. I was always in tears. I felt like a failure.
Why is my daughter like to this to us? Why is she hitting and kicking me? Why is she biting me?
I felt like I was in an abusive relationship that I couldn’t get away from.
Eventually they said that the next major violent outburst would mean she HAD to go back to the hospital or they couldn’t work with us anymore. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to send her back, but I also couldn’t go on with her violence.
When she got excessively violent one day, we had to call the police who came and an ambulance took her to the hospital. I followed behind in my car and spent most of the night there having her admitted for the second time. I was a wreck.
When she was released they had increased her medication and started her on Lithium. I was hoping this would help.
It didn’t. She was worse than ever.
We were told to send her to the paternal grandmother’s house. I refused. This was MY child. I don’t want her out of my house again. But I was told either send her or your own your own. I was promised they would be in the home daily and would have her back to me in a week or two.
This was all a lie.
That was in October. She hasn’t been back to my house. They didn’t even go to see her for over a month. They would tell me not to go pick her up to spend time with her without them there to help us work on our relationship, but every time we had a day scheduled, they would cancel and it would make my daughter mad and crush me. It put a much bigger strain on the relationship we had. My daughter went from calling and texting me daily to not wanting to talk to me and never wanting to come over.
She is still there, but she is doing better. She isn’t violent like she was here…which I’m very happy about. My issue is, these therapists lied to me. They promised me so much, they put a strain on an already weak relationship and have caused permanent damage.
I will never go back to UNMH. I will never trust them. My daughter is still seeing these therapists (with her dad), who now say that they do not believe either of the kids should be in my home. They say that we are the issue. I went to them for help. I went to them because I didn’t know how to handle her. They didn’t help me, they took my daughter away then told me I couldn’t try to repair the relationship.
The first couple weeks my daughter was gone, I didn’t eat. I didn’t sleep. My life had revolved around her and her appointments, her therapists. I did all I could for her and then I was told that I was the problem.
To this day, I don’t have much of a relationship with my 10 year old daughter. She doesn’t want anything to do with me. She came to our house one day since Christmas. She’s told me she hates me, she would scratch my eyes out if she had to come see me, etc. etc. etc.
I don’t know what more I could have done. I don’t know if my issue all along with looking for help with these “professionals”. What we were doing wasn’t working, so we thought the “professionals” would help. We were wrong. Instead of helping, they ruined our family. My youngest son went from being in a house full of kids to now being an only child. He doesn’t get to see or talk to his siblings very often…the siblings that he had seen every day of his life up until October. That’s what hurts the most. I see him suffer and this had nothing to do with him.
I don’t know what will happen if I run into any of these therapists that have ruined our lives. I’ve run into them at the store in the past. I think if I see them, I may walk the other way….but if they happen to say hi, my only response could be summed up in two letters…F U. They ruined my family. They lied to me. They said they were helping me, but all along were working against me. They took everything I said and did and turned into something it wasn’t. I just wanted to have my sweet little girl back, and they stole her from me.
I hope one day, when she gets a little older, she can look back and see all I tried to do. I did everything I thought was right. I was trying to help her. I did my best.