Last week I called our therapist to cancel our routine Friday appointment because we felt that we needed a little distance after her threats to send our son to a group home. And more importantly, our son was doing so good now that he was back in school and we didn’t want to do anything to disturb that.
When I spoke with our therapist I expressed how upset we were after the last appointment. I explained that my husband and I were very angry with her bringing up a group home for the first time in front of our son and other children without first discussing the idea with us. I let her know that she scared our son with her threats and that he no longer trusted her, in fact he no longer wanted to talk to her again. I also explained that my middle son was in tears and terrified because he thought that she wanted to take his big brother away from us.
As I downloaded our feelings, I was surprised by her reaction. She was sincerely sorry. She immediately admitted that she had made a terrible mistake, in fact she described it as a “major bomb!” She explained that just like medications, in therapy you try different things to see what will work and sometimes it works and sometimes it fails miserably. She said that she never intend to cause the disruption that occurred and never did she want to harm our family. In fact, she said that she really cared for our family and feels sick to her stomach to think about how our son was dealing with what happened. She explained that she already recognized that he was dealing with some deep issues over being rejected by a childhood friend and now she was worried that she would be perceived as another rejection in his life. She then explained that once the trust is broken, it would need to be repaired immediately because time won’t heal it, only solidify it. Instead, she was desperately asking me to allow her to see my son one more time to repair the damage she had done and apologize to him and explain that even therapists make mistakes. She wanted to tell him how much she cared for him and that she would not give up on him. Then if we decided to end the relationship, she would accept that.
I was moved by her sincere apology. After all these years and all our doctors, we’ve come across a lot of bad decisions by those in charge of his treatment, and never have we received an apology, that is until now. I think that shows a lot of character and responsibility. I also recognize that this process has no road map, what works for one kid doesn’t work for another and sometimes we can make a wrong turn. Until now, she has made a lot of good decisions. But more than anything I agreed with her prediction that if we didn’t allow her to apologize, this experience could do more damage in the long run by discouraging him to ever trust another therapist or even worse, feel rejected by another person he thought he could trust with his illness.
So I agreed we would meet with her.
In order to make this as easy as possible for our son, she suggested that we meet at a local donut shop near her office where she could treat the boys to a donut while keeping them away from her office where they may feel uncomfortable. My son agreed to go after I explained that he didn’t have to talk to her and that we could leave after only five minutes if he wanted to.
The meeting went better than I expected. As our therapist took the kids to the counter to pick out their donuts she immediately pulled my son aside and began apologizing in depth. As she spoke I saw his defensive stance melt away and before I knew it, she was hugging him and he was laughing. After that, she spent most of the time visiting with him like an old friend, I could tell that my son had forgiven her as he shared all about his day and first week of school. At one point, she even turned to my other kids and acknowledged that she had scared them too and that she was so sorry for doing that, asking for their forgiveness. Towards the end of the meeting she pulled the three boys together and told them that she learned something special about our family. She said, “I learned that no matter what happens, your family will always stick together, I really admire that!
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In case you missed my weekend post, Starting Middle School, check it out here: