ADCAMHS - is it me?

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Had a meeting with our SW and a lady from ADCAMHS the other day. I contact SS 9 months ago when we took Ewok out of school (in Y8). I said that we were obviously entering a new phase in his life - the dreaded teenage years - and as parents we would like to have some support/guidance etc., and to be more prepared for the types of things that were likely to crop up and have some understanding and possibly even some strategies.

So 9 months later we have our meeting with ADCAMHS to offer advice and support.

Ewok has been seeing a counsellor from an organisation called Dialogue. Dialogue are a well respected organisation and amongst other things they work within schools in our surrounding area. Ewok originally saw a Dialogue counsellor in primary school and I was interested in what they did. I thought that at some point in the dim and distant future (probably his teenage years) he might need additional support from a counsellor and it might be a good idea to put the wheels in motion at that time, so that should the need arise he would be familiar with the prospect of going to counselling and ideally he would have built up a positive relationship with a specific counsellor. I chose a Dialogue counsellor as they would be used to working with children with his types of feelings and behaviours.

Roll forward to now. Ewok has seen the same counsellor on and off for about 6 years now. He doesn't see her on a regular basis, but when his anxiety levels have got very high, if he has been particularly angry, when he was getting worried about moving up to secondary school etc., then we book a block of sessions. Sometimes I have suggested it and sometimes he has said he is starting to feel "funny" inside and we wants to see "his lady". There have been periods over this time where he hasn't seen her for 18 months or so.

ADCAMHS main nugget of advice and support was to say that we are wonderful parents (how do they know? They had never met us before and have never seen Ewok or read his history) and should have the confidence to deal with Ewok's issues ourselves rather than "relying" on outside support and said we should stop seeing the counsellor.

ADCAMHS had also never heard of Dialogue - which completely surprised me. How could they not be aware of this organisation. Even the SW looked a bit surprised when the ADCAMHS lady asked who they were.

I don't feel that we "rely" on this support. I think we do deal with Ewok's issues, but this is another string to our bow, another means of support and is also making him aware that going to someone for additional support when its needed is "normal" and not a sign of failure or something to be ashamed about.

The other thing that concerned me was that she kept saying "at his age he should be......" . Apparently because he still likes to "play" and that as we use the word "play" then we are keeping him young with our use of language. At his age he should have moved away from playing, apparently. (He was 13 in the summer holidays).

I was always under the impression that the chronological age was good to bear in mind, but we parent and deal with him according to his emotional age. We encourage him to do age related stuff but we allow him to do younger stuff if he wants. On Sunday evening we were building lego boats whilst watching Shaun of the Dead on DVD. That is a typical scenario for us. He can be age appropriate and quite young all at the same time.

So our nine month wait for support resulted in being told not to use the counsellor, to stop using the word "play" and to remember how old he is. Nothing about the types of issues we are likely to run into (drugs, alcohol, sex, social media etc.) and no offer of any further constructive support.

So is it me?? Or was that a complete waste of time?

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No. it's not you. Sounds like a complete waste of time to me too.

Would be interesting to get your SW's take on it.

I'd ignore the stupid person and carry on with the counselling.

Good to speak to you again, DCO. Long time.

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Is ADCAMHS the same as CAMHS? Is it an adoption specific part of CAMHS? Sorry, i've never heard of this name before. We have found that different professionals give conflicting advice and don't generally work together very well. We waited a very long time for CAMHS to offer us something and when they did it was inappropriate, not adoption specific and they wanted to do it with dd on her own. We said no thanks which they didn't like but they were very scathing about some of the things that school had tried to offer us while we were waiting for them to get their act together.

If the 'dialogue' councillor is helping then I think you need to go with your gut and make that decision for yourself. Sometimes the professionals are wrong or are working to a different agenda which doesn't always have our kids at the heart of it. You could try asking post adoption support for an assessment of needs and apply to the Adoption Support Fund for a specific therapy like DDP. I know that this is not always as straight forward as it sounds.

In short, no it's not you and yes much of CAMHS is a waste of time. We will be looking for help and support from anywhere but CAMHS in the future. We wasted three years waiting for them to stop talking about what they were going to do for dd and actually do something. Many of the people that we have seen have no real idea of the issues that our children are dealing with. For example, we were told that our then 5 year old dd was biting because she'd never been breast fed. No, she's just terrified and has massive sensory processing issues!!

Have you got a post adoption social worker?

A xx

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Some sorts of 'help' create more problems than solutions, run a mile.

Do not believe phrases as 'it first needs to get worse before it get better', because if you follow up on what they want things will get worse and their better never comes, you'll loose the child.

'Building' lego can be done by adults, it is not that you let your thirteen year old play with duplo.

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There is nothing wrong with play at any age - it is a beneficial developmental skill / experience - why do some people feel the need to rush children through their development to grow up quickly - what makes this person think that playing Call of Duty (or similar) is better for a 13 year old than playing! (I say Call of Duty not because its age appropriate but because most "normal" 13 year olds play it btw) Stay with the support you know is working and maybe add to this through seeking something for the teenage years through PASW (if appropriate) - they often run courses for parents on the adolescent years. Its so de-skilling when you meet people like this and can really set you back - try to ignore it - you know your son and you know what is best for him

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I agree with the others - clearly this meeting was not in the least helpful!! As a therapist myself I feel that any parent (or individual in general) who seeks outside help when needed is doing absolutely the right thing. If your child is finding this helpful in ANY way then it is worth continuing, unless you ever felt that it was having adverse effects. It is in no way a sign that you are not 'good enough' as parents, quite the opposite in fact.

It is demoralising to hear that there are professionals out there making these sort of statements and suggestions.

Best wishes to you.

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Ignore this person - you know your child best and what he needs. You can't force maturity on a child and what could be more damaging than telling him he can't play or see his counsellor etc.

Obviously there is a concern that our children have delays in their development and that they need therapeutic support - it's not want we want for them but we do know what they need.

This person obviously has no idea about developmental trauma. The section of CAMHS we went to when living at our previous house were actually the adoption specialists; however there was not a great deal of expertise even with them although they did understand that adopted children had different needs. Quite frankly I'd would have thought any mental health professional could understand the need for support for a child with emotional difficulties, adopted or not!

Are you able to access the ASF?

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Many thanks for your comments. Hello Madrid - lovely to link up with you again.

ADCAMHS is the adoption bit of CAMHS in our area. Milly - I was hoping to access the ASF to maybe help with the cost of counselling but, unless I have got this wrong, the SW implied that we would have to see ADCAMHS to access the ASF.

My feelings at the moment now are that I wish I had never contacted SS in the first place. Ewok calmed down once he was removed from school and isn't currently displaying any behaviours that are out of the ordinary for him. I did reiterate that the reason we contact them 9 months ago was to acknowledge that we would probably need support over the coming months/years as he goes through the teenage years and would be very interested in a group aimed at parents of teenagers, rather than any specific problem at the moment. Our SW has come back to us following the meeting to say that ADCAMHS are running just this type of group - but its the lady who came to our house who will be running it and neither hubby or I are keen. Plus its an hour's drive away and I am not sure I want to drive an hour every week to listen to fluffy tosh.

I dragged the poor boy to see Jimmy Osmond in Portsmouth last night. He will need counselling just to get over that!! (But I enjoyed it).

Thank you for your uplifting comments - I was beginning to wonder if I had missed the point somewhere along the way.

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Back out slowly xplaining that that you do not feel this is the right thing for ewok, but assuring them that you will contact sw again if that changes ( don't ! )

Then just do what you feel is right ( sounds like you have got it right with the hom schooling, letting him play when he needs to, and making a counsellor available to him when needed. I think you are right that this would be the wrong group for him, given who is leading it, and the complications that might ensue.

We too got our fingers burnt, realising that ds2 was using the therapist as a moan session when he wanted to grumble about us, rather than as a way of making sense of his feelings etc about the past and why he felt and behaved the way he did. It was not helpful for our child at that time, though initially it was as it helped him tackle his anger, but they changed therapists and the emphasis and approach changed. Lovely lady but just not helpful.

Go with your gut feelings.

If you know any other adopters and can meet up from time to time, we found that helped as our and their children felt a link and it helped them feel better about being adopted. Maybe AUk might have an adopters group in your area.

If not, clubs where they do something to help others brings a sense of proportion ( scouts, young volunteers at a country park, whatever) helps keep their head straight as well.

Best Wishes


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