There may not be a more humbling admission of parenting futility than that which comes from a parent/psychologist. Her son, The Teflon Kid, shed every attempt at help – until mom realized that therapeutic boarding school was the once-and-future option. Read her story.
Many a parent comes face to face with the terrifying realization that her child needs to be plucked from his cozy, albeit crisis-ridden home, and placed in a therapeutic boarding school. Finding an ally to objectively support her may seem a bit like looking for a life raft to cling to as the ship sinks at breakneck speed. That’s where a Therapeutic Educational Consultant – the life raft – comes into the picture.
Coddled by my own, relentlessly hopeful convictions that a decade of outpatient therapy would "eventually" kick in for my son, and that long awaited changes in personality would reward my patience, I hung in year after year, wondering who would outlast the other, my teen or I, before our circling dance would end in collapse and despair.
He outlasted me. Surprised? I bet not. Call him The Teflon Kid, as he became endearingly known to me (and to a long string of therapists). Any parent of an especially treatment-resistant teen knows what it's like to love one of these slippery characters: treatment slides off; nothing sticks. A therapist can direct, suggest, guide, create, enlighten, educate, model, or do an amazing rendition of a Jay Z rap, all to no avail. It's Ground Hog Day, week after week, and the faster the therapist and parent spin their wheels praying for change, the slower the teen’s forward momentum.
So what's a parent to do, one who also happens to hang on her door the shingle of a Clinical Social Worker? The ultimate answer is to become an ally for other parents who waging a war on their own terror. But before that could come to pass, my Teflon Kid and I had to walk through the gates of the Therapeutic Boarding School World four years ago, and each day he was there I listened to a voice telling me that some day when he wasn't quite as slippery, I would become a purposeful, experienced resource for parents. The financial and emotional sacrifice in all this is akin to giving your child one of your organs without knowing his chance of survival: a true leap of faith.
Today, the gift I offer parents who walk through our doors has its roots in humility. Finding the very best therapeutic program for a child is our mission, along with providing constant support to sustain parents through the long journey of placement and rehabilitation. As consultants, we can't prevent a child from developing a teflon coating, but we can place parents and their teen in positions where interventions finally stick.
About the Author:
Marcy Dorfman, LCSW, is an Educational Consultant/Therapeutic Placement Specialist on our staff. She can be reached via email or 561-241-161.