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Family Therapy
  • Hi, I'm a family counsellor and wondered if any parents have found Family counselling with their children to have been helpful?
    I feel it can make the child with PDA feel more anxious if behavioural approaches are tried and my tendency to allow the sessions to be child-led may just reinforce their feeling of control. Any feedback?
  • RhanHRhanH
    Posts: 1,151
    Welcome to the Forum.

    I'm afraid I've not experienced this personally, however from the support group I run I am aware of several families being offered Family Therapy with mixed results.

    One counsellor made the effort to understand PDA, spoke to the parents first about suitable strategies for engagement and then met with them altogther as a family in their home. They were led by the PDAer in playing games that the family had agreed to join in and then after a few weeks, as the trust began to form, they slowly started to introduce some of the ideas/suggestions they wanted to share with the family... this was fairly successful but it required additional commitment and time than was usually permitted. It was important to the family and counsellor that the child did retain some control each week in order that their anxiety could be kept as low as possible.

    However I know another family who was told they had to attend a certain place on a specified date and time, there was no flexibility and apparently no understanding of the PDAers needs and the sessions just didn't take off!

    There are a few families on the Forum who have been invited to Family Therapy recently and hopefully they may be able to share some more insights in due course.

    I hope this is of help to you.
  • June67
    Posts: 812
    Hi salamander35, we have just been offered family therapy after a fairly ineffective set of 1:1 cbt sessions where my child refused to speak and did not let me leave the room. These sessions seemed heavily target focussed with the therapist insisting on his setting his goals and marking off each week how far he had progressed. No goals were set and no progress was made as he refused to speak or write during the sessions as these were demands which he was not able to address. I was able to get him to the sessions but this involved taking him out of school for a whole afternoon per week and his choice of small reward for attending. We are now reaping the 'rewards' as he is in a very highly stressed state having to complete assessments on work done when he was not there; meltdown central here at present.
    We had our first family therapy session recently and the therapist was in control but did try to put all of us at our ease and explained about the other team members observing in the other room and showed us this so both our sons were relatively comfortable, we had visited the room once before so the venue was a little more familiar for them.
    We have one child with Asperger's and one with PDA and are going with the hope that we can explore how to understand each other better and make life more manageable. Currently the PDA child needs to control absolutely everything and the Asperger's child is becoming increasingly stressed and frustrated by being unable to have a fair say, dad works long hours (possibly his coping strategy) and I am trying to meet everyone's needs and am therefore exhausted. In the first session I saw successes in the fact that we were all there at the same time and the counsellor helped some of us (mainly the adults) hear each other and that some actions are needed. I'll feedback more if anything is useful to us or vice versa.
  • June67
    Posts: 812
    Slightly more 'success' this time, I sat away from the PDA child but made it his choice by asking him who he wanted sitting next to him, his sibling. He then had to interact a bit more or walk over to talk through me. Eventually he managed to accept writing some ideas/answers on paper and had 'control' of the choice of family fun activities we are now supposed to try together at the weekends. Not very successful so far as other family members have been a bit resistant to what was agreed and PDA child is trying to add to it also...I'm hoping to persevere under trying circumstances where three people appear to be so stressed out by these ideas and the hard work or give and take needed to make it work. Not sure everyone is committed to make small changes in their own behaviour to help us all, maybe it's not right for us after all but we will keep trying until the wheels come off fully. Early days what we need is more balance and participation but it's going to take time.
  • MarSet
    Posts: 38
    Hi Salamander35,
    We were offered family therapy with Camhs, I told the therapist it wouldn't work as my son won't take any responsibility for his anything he does. We took the offer though as its the first time in 7-5 years we've actually been offered any assistance at all, so there was a couple of one to ones for me and my son the the sessions started. In the first one my son spoke first then my wife and then me. As soon as I spoke my son raged up and the therapist said his face just filled with anger. He refused to take any further part in the session, he's mainly been 1 to 1 since with a few with me in the room but its always very awkward and he refuses to engage with me.
    So in my personal experience it didn't work for us although the therapist has fast racked him down the diagnosis route so at least something positive has come out of it.
  • SGCmum
    Posts: 84
    Hi Salamander35. I have had a family therapy session and I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts. The therapist made some useful points about my anxiety, and my responses to my daughter's anxiety not helping. There were some ither interesting areas to explore. However, she doesn't believe in PDA and feels it is just kids with ASD getting away with bad behaviour. I'm not sure there is middle ground for us to work with, but she believes her techniques will work whether I believe my daughter has PDA or not. She also feels we just haven't found the right consequences yet, but that they wii work. What are your thoughts on this? And anyone else's.
  • June67
    Posts: 812
    SGC we have had similar feedback from the therapist who has also referred to my child's meltdowns as tantrums akin to a 4year old although my child has held it in as much as he could and masked until we got home so he hasn't seen the full monty meltdown in action. Lots of hints that as his issues are all around my inability to hold boundaries and give sanctions....hurumph
  • SGCmum
    Posts: 84
    I hear your frustration! I don't know if our kids can be helped by people with such a closed view or not. Have you found it helpful at all? Our family therapist is certain she can stop my 2 controlling me, but if she doesn't get pda is this possible?
  • June67
    Posts: 812
    I know 'boundaries' is part of the issue perhaps, but if you are (as I am) so shattered from lack of sleep and living on edge all the time not knowing when the next bomb is going to go off it is understandable that we lack the emotional, physical and mental strength to always hold those 'boundaries' that would be so much easier with standard kids. I'm not saying we shouldn't have them just that sometimes in life to move on with our day we have to find a compromise or way round things. Professionals that deny PDA make us feel doubted, judged, inadequate and unsupported; not a good basis for a trusting therapeutic partnership.
  • June67
    Posts: 812
    Our family therapy is currently at a stand still, husband didn't make the last session as above so therapist asked that he book the next session when he has got a time slot. Unfortunately the modern world of work doesn't seem to work that way so nothing is booked and I expect camhs will write us off as not taking part, although I wonder why we bother the only thing that has happened so far is that the PDAer is now adamant that we play aboard game together every weekend morning which is just another ridiculous source of stress, anger and frustration for all involved. Absolutely no help whatsoever in practical terms has been offered.

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