Christmas is upon us. This is one of my favorite times of year but also the most stressful time of year for Mary. We don’t really know why. It is some history of trauma and all we know is that this time of year is HARD for her. Therefore, one of my favorite holidays has become hard for all of us.
Unsurprisingly, Mary has been having tantrums. For the most part she only destroys the things in her room. She isn’t violent towards us right now and I am grateful for that. However, it is still a struggle to maintain a cheerful outlook amid all the screaming.
A lot of Mary’s anger is directed at Carl. She can be incredibly cruel to him. That normal sibling stuff turns into something darker here. For the most part, Marcus and Carl spend lots of time in the teen basement lair, avoiding her. Since she is terrified of the basement it works out. Unfortunately, this has the unintended side effect of separating Luke and I from our boys.
A large part of parenting Mary involves therapy. We have an in-home program now for 8 hours per week of in-home support. There is a therapeutic mentor who takes Mary into the community. They work on social skills, independence, and regulation. This component of the program is worth it’s weight in gold. Therapeutic Mentor is a young intern working on her Master’s degree. She has great ideas and insight when it comes to complex trauma.
Then there is In-Home Therapist. She comes out once a week for individual session with Mary and once for family session. She is quiet, unobtrusive and about as effective as old dishwater. Through a series of long pauses, meandering half-finished metaphors and general silence we usually complete some kind of art project.
None of us is particularly clear on what we are working on or how it pertains to family life. We never EVER discuss how we can all function or work better together as a family. We never bring up any unpleasantness that has happened. In-Home Therapist cuts that talk off immediately with phrases like, “Mary, no one is mad at you. We are here to support you.”
In short, In-Home Therapist is useless. Luke and I are struggling with the idea of remaining in this program. Should we try to ask for a different family therapist? Is there one available at all? That’s actually unlikely as the program is spread thin around the state. If we leave this program we could get in-home services from a smaller program with fewer hours and no in-community mentoring. Should we?
The other night Mary screamed in her room for close to an hour. We called the on-call emergency line for her therapy program. Oddly enough, that turned out to be just an answering machine. It took close to an hour for them to call us back. By that point Mary had screamed herself to sleep. The on-call provider gave us the sage advice to let her sleep.
I am questioning if this program is even helping. At one time I thought intensive in-home services could divert Mary out of residential. Now I realize they never would have been able to help with Mary in an unstable psychological state. At least I know we did the right thing at the time.
Now, I have no idea what to do. They are here for a few more months. In-Home Therapist isn’t the worst clinician we ever encountered. She isn’t doing any harm. She also isn’t helping. I’m not sure how we will handle things.
All I really want is a cup of hot cocoa and some time with my boys. I may just venture into the basement today.
**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.