When therapy goes wrong

I would like to think I have good instincts. I read people well. I listen to instincts. Occasionally, I try to ignore these instincts. That’s never a good idea. I went into our last therapy session with the trained professionals ignoring my gut. I told Stampy on the way there that I believed this would a good thing, I wanted to go in with a positive attitude, I wanted the psychologist to surprise us, I wanted him to be someone he wasn’t. This is our story of an unsuccessful therapy venture.


Going to therapy is a sacrifice. It takes work, it takes effort, it takes maneuvering schedules and having flexible child care for Charlie and flexible bosses that allow us to change our schedules quickly. Our latest bout was probably one of the stressful schedule maneuvers and commutes we’ve had to handle. The therapist was only there while we were at work, our appointments always seemed to be at meal times, we had a 45 minute commute one way. After three weeks, the schedule was noticeably wearing on both Stampy and I and my inner instincts were screaming “RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!”. 

We went into our third and final session hoping for the best. That this guy was going to have a plan that we could get on board with. What we were given was a sticker chart. You read that right. I said “sticker chart”. After 40 minutes of this guy explaining and over explaining everything we had learned in previous therapies, he had decided that he would send us home with a sticker chart for drinking water and going to the bathroom. 


I’m not against sticker charts, but I certainly didn’t need to drive 45 minutes to get one. Plus, this wasn’t our first rodeo. We’ve done sticker charts. We’ve done schedules. We’ve done rewards. We’ve done it all. That’s why we were there. We wanted the one thing that no other therapist could offer us, because we’ve tried the conventional. 

In the first visit, he did no interacting with Molly. Sure she was there but she played in the room while we talked. The second visit, he observed her interacting with us, under scripted circumstances. In which our child, who we say has temper tantrums and defiance problems, was a perfect compliant angel and he would ask “is this a typical behavior?”. I understand he wanted feedback, but I got the impression that he really didn’t know the answer to that. I wanted to be like “yup, aren’t the tantrums awful???” but I did my best to keep my sarcasm to myself. So, at the third visit I brought up again the fact that I would like further diagnostic testing for ASD and he seemed shocked saying what he saw didn’t indicate the need and the fact that the school psychologist didn’t recommend it. However, the school psychologist actually had in the report that she had strong suspicions of ASD and further evaluations would be needed as Molly aged. Obviously reading is not one of his strong points.

During the 45 minute drive home, we had a good laugh. When the laughing was over, we came up with a plan. Next up to meet with back with our social worker for a refresher and to call one of the local names that she gave us. This was my original instinct. I went against it to go to the hospital with the reputation. After all, on paper, it was the best option with the best resources. Today, I called the local name. She talked to me for 20 minutes and gave me a clear plan of what our next steps would be, will be giving us names of developmental pediatricians, explained why a diagnosis should be our first step before therapy and even though she doesn’t accept our insurance, she would be happy to offer advice where she could and direct us on this new path. I felt less stressed when I got off the phone with her. I should listen to my instincts more often.


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