It’s funny how the universe works. Sometimes the more you try to avoid doing or dealing with something, the more you end up on a collision course to face it head on. That’s how I feel right now. I’ve been working in the field of counseling and psychology since 2006 and started off working with adults. In 2010 I started working with teenagers in an inner-city high school and absolutely loved it.
Around the same time I was offered an opportunity to work with younger kids, but cringed at the idea of doing therapy with kids who had trouble verbalizing and processing. Things such as play therapy were very foreign to me and when I started doing some in-home counseling I started seeing a few kids that were between the ages of 10 and 12. I quickly referred them out feeling both uncomfortable and unprepared to work with kids that young.
Well recently I changed jobs. I was looking to work more with clients and wanted to work with adults, but ended up landing a job as a childrens therapist within the last two weeks. I already have 10 clients, ranging from the ages of 4 to 14. A four year old! Supposedly he has ADHD, and that may be the case, but I’ve met his parents and I am sure that their parenting skills aren’t the best so maybe with some parent training they’ll learn hoow to deal with him better and help shape him so that he doesn’t get stuck with the diagnosis of ADHD if it isn’t really appropriate.
I’m also being used in the capacity of a licensed evaluator to evaluate and diagnose kids who aren’t on my case load and have been giving the responsibilty of working with all the kids that are referred to the program through the department of juvenile justice.
It’s a bit overwhelming, challenging and exciting because there is so much I have to learn so that I can help these kids and their parents, especially the younger ones that traditional talk therapy doesn’t work with.
Earlier this week I was sitting with a 10 year old girl and we were doing pretty good. We were doing traditional talk therapy and she seemed to be doing fine with it and I remember thinking, “this isn’t so bad”, but about halfway through it she asked “can we color”. I was thrown off for a second, but then laughed to myself as I remembered she was a kid and told her “yes we can color”. And so we colored, and talked and it was pretty cool!
I have my first child who just turned 6 months over the weekend and here I am being thrown into the role of a childrens therapist. It’s like the universe had this whole thing set up and sometimes that’s just the way I think life works. At the same time, it’s forcing me to get out of my comfort zone, something I am always telling clients to do and I have so much I have to learn that I feel like a student again.
I have read this great book I have talked about before called The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog: And Other Stories From a Child Psychiatrists’ Note Book by Bruce Perry. It is a book that talks about the horrific effects of childhood trauma, some intentional, and some unintentional in the form of neglect and ignorance.
As I revisit that book, it helps me put into focus the importance of the work I can do with these children. Yes, many of them have genetic predispositions to things like ADHD and mood disorders, but a lot of them are being raised by people and in environments that are causing them to respond a certain way.
It is my job if I can, to help correct this through therapy and parent education so that these kids have the best opportunity possible to turn into healthy children and eventually successful adults.
In the book, there is one story about a boy who was being raised mostly by a mother who had some type of mental disorder so while she took care of the child, he basically stayed alone in his crib without any interaction for 6 to 8 hours a day. He learned not to cry because no one was coming to help him. He grew up with unable to have feelings for other people and as an older teen, eventually murder two girls, raped their dead bodies and then stomped on them. Even in prison he showed no remorse and blamed the girls for not allowing him to do whatever he wanted to do. He didn’t even have any regrets other than getting caught.
Some of the kids I’ve seen, the parents have already written them off as bad apples and just want them put on medication so that they don’t have to deal with them. I can see that if these kids aren’t shown love, support, guidance and limitations, they will grow up to be criminals or in the very less, incapable of having healthy relationships with anyone.
Also, they have already gave me some great blog ideas. I’ve already unfortunately diagnosed some of them with ADHD, mood disorder, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and pervasive developmental disorder.
These may just be another stop on my journey to become the best overall therapist I can be, but I am going to cherish and learn from every moment and experience and do the absolute best I can to make a difference in each childs life. I’ll keep you guys posted along the way.