Helen’s Fostering Blog
When professional help is needed.
Right from the beginning of our placement it was a known fact that Beth would need counselling for the trauma she was suffering, what I wasn’t aware of was just how difficult and how long it was going to be for her to be able to access this much needed help.
When Beth first came to live with us we were already aware that she understandably required some professional help due to the circumstances surrounding the reasons that she came into care in the first place.
It was also apparent by the many the signs of trauma she was displaying. Beth had severe anxiety about sleeping, the need to control everything, she was unable to self-regulate, she was excessively clingy, an inability to pay attention, angry outbursts, feelings of guilt, low-self-esteem, she was emotionally numb, mood swings and she had a form of self-harm in that she would bite herself.
Obviously, these many different emotions meant that Beth’s day to day life was a constant battle, on top of which she was completely unable to express her feelings verbally. Again, for us we understood the main thing that was going to help her was time in a safe and caring environment.
We are constantly working with Beth to help her heal and “Worry Time” really helped. We are so pleased that over the last 15 months she has been living with us she has come on so far and at times it can feel like we are living with a completely different child. Still we are aware her past is deep rooted and there is still so much more than can be done to help her understand and deal with the things that have happened to her.
What we needed was a Professional Counsellor for us to work along side with.
This was agreed by her Social Worker and at the many LAC Review’s we’ve attended. Beth was even asked if she would like to speak to someone and when she responded positively to this, they told her this would be organised for her.
She was ready and willing to open up to someone, our thoughts were, great let’s do this. So, a referral was sent to CHUMS and CAMHS.
CHUMS came back quickly enough, stating that would be in touch for an initial assessment, I never heard back from them for many months and in the end, they were unable to offer Beth any relevant services.
After many months we received a phone call from CAMHS who offered us an initial assessment with Beth, I was so pleased! Unfortunately, this wasn’t a particularly good experience for Beth. It was clear from the get-go that they were talking to Beth as if she was much older than her 10 years. I had to constantly explain to Beth what the counsellor was asking her.
The room itself was not child friendly, it was completely stark and all painted white, with just one small table, 3 chairs and a few colouring pens. I felt terrible, I’d been telling Beth it was going to fine and I watched her shut down more as every minute ticked by.
To make matters worse whilst CAMHS acknowledged that Beth was undoubtably suffering from trauma she wasn’t showing sufficient signs that it was affecting her life at the present time, she was able to function and was being well supported by ourselves.
So, the plan was to wait until she was completely falling to pieces before they could justify helping her! I was so annoyed.
So back to the drawing board, Beth’s Social Worker was as equally annoyed as us and was trying to overturn the decision. As you can imagine this went on for many more months! In the end with the help from our agency we found a private counsellor which together with our agency we were going to pay for ourselves, as at the time the Local Authority were stating they could not fund a private counsellor if CAMHS were reporting she didn’t need help right now.
I am pleased to say that at the beginning of this year Beth finally started her counselling sessions and they are now being paid for by the Local Authority and our agency. Its early days yet but after the first initial appointment whereby
Beth was clearly anxious prior to going in, she now skips out each week, chatting away about the two dogs and cat that live at the house.
We are hopeful that Beth can finally after 3 years in care start to get the help she desperately needs.
Helen – A Blogging Professional Foster Carer.