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Getting Professional help - questions to ask

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I've determined that our family (DH, me and almost 5 yo) could benefit from some professional help. Transitions are an absolutely nightmare. I can't get her to or from pre-school without a tantrum. She's VERY difficult to put to sleep at night - 1.5-2 hours and exhausted in the morning. I've got some referrals from our EAP program, but I'd like to screen them first. Does anyone have advice on what kinds of questions to ask?

About me: I'm kind of an unconditional-parenting, continuum concept, Alfie Kohn, Gorden Neufeld (Hold on to Your kids) kind of parent. I'm afraid they'll tell me to spank (scary, but not unheard of in my state - even with professional counselors) or start some sticker chart or leave her to cry on her own for bed. Does anyone have any advice on how to screen these people? I've got a list of 5 potential counselors.

thank you. (It's really, really hard for me to ask for help). I'm sitting here at work crying.
post #2 of 18
When I go into something like this (usually during apartment hunting or interviews ), I take a moment to clear my head and let go of any preconceived notions. I try to keep my outlook optimistic, but realistic. During the situation, I'll get some kind of gut reaction. I go with it every time. I always get "great find" apartments and jobs.

I would recommend doing something like that. I believe that intuitions are seriously undervalued tools for decision-making.

Good luck and may you find the help/advice your family is looking for.
post #3 of 18
I had an interesting experience with a ped I was interviewing last week that seems related to your fear of being told to CIO or spank.

While discussing my DD's sleep, the ped said it was "okay" to let her cry for a few minutes. I'm usually pretty guarded in situations like these, but I had just promised DH that I would NOT lie to doctors anymore, and that I would NOT hide our choies. So I said, "Oh, DH and I are philosophically opposed to sleep training of any kind. We would never ALLOW DD to cry unless we had tried everything and she was inconsolable in our arms." The ped looked at me quietly for a minute, and then she said, "Yes, I feel that way too. In fact, I never let my own children cry. I don't know why I suggested that..."

It reminded me that "professionals" of all kinds are people too, who occasionally misspeak and don't necessarily stand behind everything they say. Don't rule someone out because they suggest a sticker chart. (I would, however, rule out someone who supported spanking or CIO.)
post #4 of 18
When I was thinking about starting therapy, these exact issues were what was stopping me from seeking help. I was certain that any therapist would tell me that all the issues in my marriage would be resolved by putting my children in their own bedrooms.

Once I held my breath and jumped in, though, I realized that the therapist was much more interested in helping me look at myself than in changing something that DH and I both agreed on.

I remember once I was talking about a difficult situation with DS, and my therapist suggested something along the lines of a reward/punishment system. But when I told him that we don't use that sort of discipline method, he didn't insist. Instead, he asked what we do use, and then had an awesome suggestion that was in line with what I was comfortable with.

Now, though, I'm thinking of taking DS in to see a child psychologist b/c he's really not taking the new baby's birth very well, and I find myself fretting about sticker charts and punishing sorts of "solutions" being offered.

The only advice I have as far as questions go is what Dr. Sears suggests when interviewing pediatricians: rather than asking straight out whether they support breastfeeding or believe in CIO, it works better to ask hypotheticals. For instance, "If a child was resisting potty training, what sort of techniques might you suggest?" If the answer is "sticker charts" you could either move on to the next person, or engage the psychologist in a dialogue about why that wouldn't work for you, and see if they're amenable to looking at things differently.
post #5 of 18
I would ask them what philosophies/schools of thought they follow, and for the names of some of the authors/books that they might recommend to you. That would give you a good sense of where they're coming from and what they're likely to recommend.

I'm having a brain freeze, but there are some "names" (maybe other people can fill in) of respected researchers/approaches in the field that are more compatible with AP/UP kinds of approaches.

Personally, I'm fan of Stanley Greenspan's work because it focuses on connection and underlying relationship skills. However, he does talk about consequences/punishment at times. I'm able to overlook those/adapt those to our situation, so I'm OK with reading his stuff. ('The Challenging Child' is a good one to start with, IMO). You might find it off-putting.
post #6 of 18
You might contact Jan Hunt or API for referrals in your area.

You can also do phone sessions with some AP folks. (Jan Hunt is the only one coming to mind right now, but I know there are others.)

And asking the person what book recommendations they have is what I would suggest--let's you know right where they are.
post #7 of 18
Some questions:
What is your theoretical orientation?
How long have you been in practice? Where did you go to school?
explain some of what you are struggling with in a few sentences and ask: what kinds of experiences do you have working on this problem? What are some approaches you would typically try?
What parenting books do you recommend most often?
What role do you see parents playing in therapy?
How do you decide what to work on in therapy?

Are you seeing a psychologist or social worker?

The main thing I'd suggest is to treat it as a job interview and you are the employer. Feel free to ask anything and see how they respond. This will give you a good idea if the person is easy to talk to. You may not like the first person you talk to or even the second, but there is every reason to believe that you will find someone you like who can be respectful of your family's belief system. I don't think it is necessarily a requirement that the therapist identify themselves with attachment parenting, what is most important is that you can find someone you feel comfortable talking to and who will be respectful of your family and your goals.
post #8 of 18
Ellien, the PPs offered good thoughts/suggestions. So I just wanted to give you a
post #9 of 18
Have you considered doing a phone consult with Scott Noelle, Jan Hunt or Naomi Aldort?

Scott: http://www.scottnoelle.com/
Jan: http://www.naturalchild.org/counseling/
Naomi: http://www.authenticparent.com/

My friend, Tracy Liebmann, provides phone consultation from a mindful parenting/consensual living paradigm also.

You also might check the AP Doctor Referral yahoogroup: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AP_Doc...guid=287472904

Or ask in Finding Your Tribe, or the Personal Growth forums.

Also, I highly recommend the book The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children. The book helps families to create solutions and prevent problems, and to avoid many struggles. I highly recommend it! http://www.amazon.com/Explosive-Chil.../dp/0060931027

Try the local LLL or AP International for recommendations also. Also, inquire if they studied under the Gestalt approach. According to a psychologist on the Always Unschooled list "The Gestalt approach dovetails nicely with child-led living."

Personally, I have found counseling a resource for myself. But, I'd seek someone who may not *have* children of their own. My counselor didn't; and she was very open to hearing about alternative parenting, without "defending/imposing" her own beliefs. Since she didn't have any parenting practice in conflict with my own, it was easier for her to "allow" consensual parenting.

My impression is that parenting creates a lot of personal defensiveness, even among professionals. So, someone who understands the theory of respecting children without the "reality" of the challenges of doing so 24/7, may be more of a unconditional resource. In other words, they don't bring their own parenting paradigm and baggage to the table. We all have our philosophical filters, and those who learned the theory of validating and reflective listening without dismissing the child's experience and trying to manipulate *her* to change, may be more effective at meeting your child where she is and allowing her to voice any wounds and fears openly.

How does your daughter feel about visiting a counselor? I really love the NVC tools of communication. This article about "Compassionate Connection: attachment parenting and non-violent communication" is a favorite of mine: http://www.cnvc.org/motherin.htm

You might consider printing off some articles from Jan Hunt's site at "The Natural Child Project", and sharing those with a potential counselor. And see what their reaction is. But, if you enumerate that you AP, coslept, CLW, non-punishment oriented (or whatever) and they were like, "Boy, I can help you fix that!", you'd know you were on different planets.

You are also welcome to bring specific concerns, challenges, or issues here or to the Consensual Living yahoogroup for brainstroming.

post #10 of 18
Originally Posted by TinyMama View Post
I had an interesting experience with a ped I was interviewing last week that seems related to your fear of being told to CIO or spank.

While discussing my DD's sleep, the ped said it was "okay" to let her cry for a few minutes. I'm usually pretty guarded in situations like these, but I had just promised DH that I would NOT lie to doctors anymore, and that I would NOT hide our choies. So I said, "Oh, DH and I are philosophically opposed to sleep training of any kind. We would never ALLOW DD to cry unless we had tried everything and she was inconsolable in our arms." The ped looked at me quietly for a minute, and then she said, "Yes, I feel that way too. In fact, I never let my own children cry. I don't know why I suggested that..."

It reminded me that "professionals" of all kinds are people too, who occasionally misspeak and don't necessarily stand behind everything they say. Don't rule someone out because they suggest a sticker chart. (I would, however, rule out someone who supported spanking or CIO.)
what an awesome experience.
post #11 of 18
I was / am looking into a therpist / counslor for ME for anxity and depression ...... buttttttttttttttttt I am very wary of the same issues as the OP .... I am a SAHM to two young boys, adn that is pretty much my life. I do not want to be told "parenting to sleep is wearing you out, CIO" and so on ......


I asked my my local API group and my local LLL for suggestions and refereals.

so you might ask your local API group -- you can ask the leader and she can ask around without useing your name, or LLL -- same deal. OP I know you DD is likely not nurseing any more but the LLL moms still might know someone they have had a pso expereince with.

Or any other AP/NFL group you knwo of locally or might know memebers of .....

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by WuWei View Post
Have you considered doing a phone consult with Scott Noelle, Jan Hunt or Naomi Aldort?

Thanks, Pat. Let me go through the list here:
I actually had a coaching session with Scott Noelle - did not go well for me at all. (PM me if anyone wants details). Not the right person for me, probably related to my sig.

Naomi Aldort - Whenever i read her stuff, she just rubs me the wrong way. While I agree with her approaches philosophically, something about her writing just irritates me. I actually unsubscribed from her mailing list. Is it pretentiousness? I just don't know.

Jan Hunt - I would consider. But at this point I feel beyond coaching and like we need to move into family therapy. If I don't find a local therapist, I will see about setting up some sessions with her or perhaps your friend.

Local API chapter had no resources to give me. It's just getting started. I've met the organizer - very nice woman. She works, too and her DH stays home with the children, so it was REALLY nice to connect with another employed attachment kind of mom.

Marshall Rosenberg and NVC - I've been to some classes and done some work with that. My church uses NVC approach. I've got Inbal Kashton's pamphlet. The generic NVC practice group was somewhat helpful, but they don't necessarily have a model for respectful communication with children. It was more like people getting over the spanking paradigm. I'm well-beyond that and trying to move to the next leve in a power-with rather than power-over approach. But I kept getting generic parenting advice - the BEST of which recommended Faber and Maslich - but again, I need more help.

Do I sound whiny here? I really feel like I've tried everything and I/we need something more.

It's interesting that you bring up finding a therapist without children. I thought I wanted a woman counselor, but when my friend told me she loved her shrink (male) it really hit me that I didn't want someone who would impose their own views about child-rearing and I thought that would be even MORE likely with a woman.

Daughter would probably be find seeing a counselor as is DH. I'm billing this as help for the family. It's not her, it's not, me it's not DH. It's our whole dynamic together.

This morning:

Daughte had ANOTHER tantrum as we tried to go to school this morning. I was AGAIN late to work and then she had these sensory issues - all of the socks hurt and all of the pants were too tight, including everything we had picked out the night before DH was running around trying to be "efficient" when I asked for help with DD. He said someone needed to help her and someone needed to "do things" around the house. I remarked that he needed to be the helper right now because I was OUT of patience. He agreed, but then wanted to know what I would be doing with the time as we was going to unload the dishwasher. Now, I'm triggered and annoyed. I need to grab a banana for breakfast and take my vitamins.

I come upstairs and there are 4 pairs of discarded socks and DH is telling her that she's tried the last pair and now she needs to pick from among the choices she has.

I go back downstairs, and now she decides the pants aren't right and DH remarks nastily that he could use some help finding the pink shoes. This is the first I've heard of the pink shoes, I thought we were wearing the black shoes. I get the pink shoes and now I start crying because I REALLY want to go to work.

DH always tells me that if I could give her one more minute of patience everything would be fine. But I feel like I do that 39x in the morning and now I'm 40 minutes late for work. DH finally tells me that I can go and they'll be OK. Thank GOD ONE of us can go to work and not be an hour late. Daughter is now crying.

Now I have to scrape ice off the car. Now I'm pissed and scraping for all I'm worth. DD is in the house crying because mommy has left and we haven't done our usual ritual which is for us to leave together and for her to blow me a kiss from Daddy's car.

DH comes to tell me to stop broadcasting my pissed all over the neighborhood. All I was DOING was scraping vigorously, but now I'm pissed at him and now it IS all over the neighborhood. He doesn't want to discuss this outside, he just wants to tell me I'm wrong. I tell him, you walked into this - you came outside and brought it up.

I get ready to get in the car and DH brings DD out to car - she is crying and she tells me "It's all my fault mommy. It's all my fault. I'm sorry."

AND - the worst-mother-of-the-year award goes to ME!!!

Now I feel like shit. I cry all the way to work. I call the pediatrician for help with sensory issues on our regular insurance. I go into the conference room to call the EAP for the family issues and I posted here.

I feel like this happens 3x a week.
post #13 of 18
For referrals to practitioners who work with kids on learning skills and avoid using reward/punishment, you can try http://www.thinkkids.org/parents/questions.aspx --at the bottom of the page is an email address for requesting referrals to clinicians who use the collaborative problem solving approach (the approach from the book The Explosive Child). That same site (www.thinkkids.org) has a brief overview of the philosophy behind the collaborative problem solving approach. Basically, the idea is to help kids learn skills rather than punish or reward them into doing better, assuming that kids do well if they can (as opposed to "want to"). This is an approach that has helped our family a lot. I am waiting for referrals to clinicians in our area who use this approach (our latest psychologist isn't working out too well), because it fits our philosophy/beliefs and is what has most helped our family so far (we just need a little help with it).

Definitely take the time to get to both ask the questions Roar recommended so you can sort of understand where the practitioner is coming from, and communicate your philosophy and goals. We have made the mistake of not clearly communicating both our general beliefs/philosophy/comfort zone and our goals for therapy (our goals were to better understand our child's skills and what's getting in her way-and how to help her learn skills/coping mechanisms, rather than learn about more behavior management tools). It has been a very expensive and time-consuming mistake.
post #14 of 18
I like the questions you've been given by the previous posters.

And do pursue some OT for your daughter. It sounds like her sensory issues are really starting to interfere with your daily life, and that's hard. We've seen enormous progress in our son's sensory issues.

Given your later message I would highly recommend at least reading Greenspan's stuff (The Challenging Child, Great Kids). Greenspan has worked with kids with 'regulatory disorders' (e.g., autism spectrum and sensory stuff). His books were recommended by our OT who is working with our son on sensory issues. Greenspan really recommends connection above all else, though he does talk about limit setting with kids (but not until the connection is firmly established), and as I said in my earlier post, you can probably implement that in a very GD way/change it to fit how you live.

IMHO, you also need to work on the sensory stuff along with family communication. The sensory stuff makes your child completely irrational -- thus unable to reason, choose or talk about what she needs/wants. (And since dh and I also have sensory stuff, we too sometimes get irrational - it's hell when we all get that way together!) I went to an interesting talk recently by a guy talking about emotional regulation and one thing he said that really resonated with me is: once they are disregulated, there's not much you can do except try to do whatever you need to do to get them back into regulation. He also talked about the importance of co-regulation with your child to keep them from exploding, and how kids can really learn to regulate with you. But it's hard to keep the calm when you've been doing it over and over again. What I don't know is whether a family counselor can help you with this.

It does sound like there are other family patterns that could be worked on (your morning scenario sounds like one that dh and I could have had, only it's always in the evening, and it's always about cleaning (or not cleaning) the house), and I'm seriously considering talking to someone too. Not because I think our relationship is in trouble, but because it could be a lot better than where it is now.

P.S. If it helps, Naomi Aldort rubs me the wrong way too. I just finished reading Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves and was very, very disappointed. Yes, she has good things to say, but I can't get past.... well, I don't know, I left that book feeling very patronized and like I would never measure up.
post #15 of 18
Oh, mama.

In the situation you described, it seems like the family is using you as the scapegoat-- YOU are late for very work, you sincerely tried, yet in the eyes of DD and DH, you still didn't do enough. Not only are you late and frustrated, but it sounds like (according to your DH's comment), that you are not allowed to be upset. All that and you haven't even left for work. What a way to start the day!

I'm going out on a limb here, but I just don't think this scenario would have happened with the genders reversed (you staying home while DH left). I don't think you would have pulled that with him-- not expected him to be involved to the extent that he expects from you. Is he a WOHD? How does your family (particularly your DH) feel about you being a WOHM? If HE could pick (and no way, I'm not saying he gets to decide!) would it be his choice?

Only from your one scenario, I am thinking you might want to explore marriage counseling and leave the issue of your DD to come with time. I'd suggest a counselor that would give you each individual sessions and work jointly as well.

I apologize if I've overstepped my bounds and read way too much into what you described, but it raised some red flags for me.

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for your timely and thoughtful replies. It really means a lot to me that you read all of my long posts and wrote back. I'm crying again. It was such a stressful day, just thinking about my poor DD.

I don't think I'm the scapegoat, but I do feel like maybe DD receives too much blame from me for not being able to get to work on-time.

Miz, I appreciate your comments. I believe DH and I could benefit from counseling and he is amenable to going. We've been together for a long time and went once years ago. He works outside the home, too, but I'm the main bread winner and we're pretty happy with that situation. I never had aspirations to stay home with children and DH knew that when we married. He said he was willing to be a househusband, which was A-OK with me. In the end he's decided not to do that but I'm very supportive of him staying home. And I feel like if I really wanted to, we could live on his salary, but I really don't want to. He does day care drop off and I do pick-up. It's more time sensitive for me to be at my job early (8-5) and he works the later shift (9-6). We split cooking dinner and a lot of housework. He does grocery shopping on Saturday. He's very rigid and NEEDS routines to be the same. I'm much more flexible. DH is pretty sensitive to discussing things in public, raising voices outside the house, loud cell phone talkers, etc. This concerns me MUCH LESS than him, in general. So, I think that was the issue when I was vigorously scraping.

The sensory issues do seem to have gotten worse with the cold weather and the expectation of wearing more clothes (which isn't my expectation per se). In the summer she could wear sleeveless dresses and sandals. Now she really needs pants or tights (no go) and socks. And the sensory issues seem worse when she is tired. I really feel like she's not getting enough sleep, but starting any routine earlier just makes it take longer. DH is reading to her now - 1/2 hour earlier. It was her idea, but she was pretty mad when the time actually came.
post #17 of 18
I had a rough day with my kiddo today and am poking around here for wisdom, but I just wanted to give you a !!! Difficult kids are a real strain on a relationship, and the two of you need to try your best to support each other.

You're taking steps, it will all get better, just try to breathe and love each other in the meantime...
post #18 of 18
While I totally understand fears of "professionals" and their advice clashing with your own as an attached parent, I wanted to say that I"m pretty crunchy and extremely into attachment parenting/attachment living and I am a family therapist.

I'd ask if the Therapist's orientation is behavioral based.. if so then you are likely to get sticker charts and CIO. If the therapist is seeking to strengthen the relationship and to teach the family as a whole, you are much more likely to benefit and to mesh with attachment style. I am an emotion focused therapist and have an extremely strong base in Attachment research

I also recommend picking up a copy of "Raising an Emotionally intelligent Child" and learning Emotion Coaching for help with these tantrums

Remember that the therapist should be working with the family as a whole, not throwing techniques for the parent to "try", or just focusing on behavior (most often "bad"), or just your "discipline".

I find that parents and families often WANT me to give them a list of techniques or things to try instead of discussing relationship and how to nurture emotions as a way to combat tantrums or problems. They want an easy list of things to try instead of some harder work (you know like the work of PARENTING) so its nice to see a parent that wants these things.

Professionals, like has been said above, are people too. The trend today for most mental health practictioners is leaning more and more towards a holisitic spiritual attached approach and I find that very exciting
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