I think we’re at our end with the current behavioral/mental health situation.
Anne goes to her “intensive” therapy three days a week. She gets picked up from school at 2:30 and either hubby or I pick her up from the counseling office at 6:00. They cover a breadth of therapy approaches, including individual and group therapy. I’m not sure what certifications the counselors have but there are two “mental health professionals” that she sees on occasion (seems like every other week or so). She’s been there almost four months and they have worked mainly on coping skills, including getting through the adoption and the holidays. They have yet to really delve into issues with her birth parents/birth family. I have not noticed a huge difference in behavior but it is always nice to have her counselor reinforce what we go over at home. She has told me on occasion that she used one of her coping skills before “hitting” one of her siblings but in general I don’t think her aggression, resentment or sibling rivalry has really been addressed. I have talked with her to see what she thinks will help her the most. She said that the one on one time with her counselor helps much more than being in group with the other kids, and that she’d rather go one day a week than three. I realize the importance of the counseling, especially at the age of 10. I’m concerned at the actual amount of counseling she receives in ratio to the number of hours a week she is away from home. I think we feel her absence a lot and she misses being at home and seeing her siblings. Anne has her 6 month evaluation at the end of January to determine whether she continues in the program (a formality for insurance) and I’m thinking of using that time to discuss our options. I know that she needs counseling and neutral sources for information and encouragement. I’m just not sure how much she is getting out of this intensive program versus the number of hours per week that she is there. I also think that being at home more often would keep her from being so overwhelmed at school and feel more attached to myself and hubby.
Huck is still in the Family Based Behavioral Health program. Our “team” comes twice a week for 45 minutes to an hour. When just June comes, we stick to the schedule and she has a clear cut idea of what to go over. We’ve done things like talk about emotions and what happens when we bottle them up. We’ve read books regarding parents loving their kids no matter what their behavior is. She’s a very calm presence which works well in our home, but just her visit causes a ruckus every time. Her team partner, we’ll call him Ed, does not come with a concise picture of what needs to go on. He derails the visit every time, as if he doesn’t understand the agenda or doesn’t care. He actually has gone against June and given an opposite opinion on a matter of things. I don’t particularly care for his personality or his methods, but I’m also partial to June because we’ve been with her since the start of the program. I have actually told the program supervisor that I would prefer if only June comes, but it is a team based approach so that was denied. We are at the point that we feel a more individualized approach for Huck will work better. He likes having attention all to himself (what kids doesn’t, especially what sibling of four kids doesn’t!) which we learned over the Christmas break when we had no issues, either behaviorally or physically. The Family Based approach is a wonderful concept. This program usually helps natural parents who are working towards regaining (or keeping) their children from foster care. In fact our children and their parents were under this program before when the children were at home. Technically, my husband and I have been at discharge level since the start of the program. The only reason they can continue is because our son, who the program is billed under, is not at discharge level. But I’m not sure how much more my husband and I can learn to help. We’ve gone over a lot of parental philosophies and behavior charts and June keeps telling us that we’re teaching her more than she’s teaching us. So if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do and not seeing huge changes, maybe it’s time to try something different? I hate to switch already after I fought so hard for this but I hate to waste another month of aggravation if we could see big results after chasing another avenue.
I realize that this will be ongoing. We will ebb and flow with counseling and therapy. I thought you all might like an update on the mental health front because it seems so elusive when you start out with fostering!