Manipulated photo of my son at the beach. Made to look like a painting.

So, I decided to change psychotherapists. Not an easy decision for me to make. Except during the nine months we lived in Eugene and the two years we lived in the Mojave Desert, I’ve seen the same psychologist since my son was four. As my son turns fifteen next week, that’s a pretty long-term therapeutic relationship for me. I’ve seen psychotherapists since I was an eighteen-year-old freshman at UCLA, and in August I turn fifty-two. You do the math. Obviously, I’m pretty well therapized.

Why did I decide to change therapists? Because I need to see someone who loves working with and understands today’s adolescent – my adolescent in particular (that’s a manipulated photo of him up top from our vacation last week).

This morning I spoke to my previous therapist, thanking her for her help over the years. She asked the name of my new therapist, for in her own words, she was “too old” to work with adolescents and appreciated having an excellent young therapist for adolescent referrals.

Adolescents require a certain youthful optimism and tons of energy. (Please do not attack me for ageism. The truth is sometimes wisdom is in order, sometimes youthful energy.) When I was in my twenties, I worked with adolescents as a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor. Back then, I had the required vim and vigor. Now, I’m comparatively world-weary. Actually, I’m downright exhausted.


Here I summarize three relevant articles Blahpolar Diaries recently shared in her post pour me a link. Please read the articles for more details.

  • Parenting Insights for Those Who Have Bipolar Disorder (Part 1 of 2) by Brad Hoefs
    1. Children easily trigger the best of parents
    2. Never go without your medicine
    3. When you are upset with your kids and they need to be disciplined “dial-down” your reaction, until you have settled down emotionally — you are likely overacting out of the agitation and irritation of your mood.
  • 10 Tips for Supporting Children Through a Spouse’s Mental Illness by Dr. Leslie Capehart
    1. Acknowledge the Mental Illness By Giving It a Name
    2. Provide Open Communication
    3. Let Your Kids Know It’s Not Their Fault (Or Responsibility)
    4. Let Your Kids Be Kids
    5. Let Your Kids Express Their Emotions About the Challenges They Face
    6. Talk Openly as a Family
    7. Let Your Kids Know They Can Still Rely on You
    8. Create Time and Space for Your Kids
    9. Reassure Your Kids that They Are Loved
    10. Don’t Let the Mental Illness Dictate the Family Mood
  • 10 Brutal Truths About Being Married to a Bipolar Person by Maggie Ethridge
    1. When your partner is diagnosed, you won’t know what’s coming.
    2. Part of not knowing what the person’s bipolar disorder is going to look like is not knowing what they are going to be willing to do.
    3. Your partner may not have the same ideas about what it means to treat their bipolar disorder that you do.
    4. You will struggle with letting go.
    5. You will feel guilty.
    6. The medication they take might not work.
    7. …You have to throw ‘should’ out the door when having a relationship with bipolar.
    8. You will need to re-learn that taking care of yourself is important.
    9. Your relationship could become all about bipolar.
    10. Bipolar is a disease that shows up on MRIs.


18 responses to “Parenting My Teen”

  1. Do hope your teen gets the help she needs. Hard when access to care is difficult, but I bet her pediatrician would do the referral. Best of luck.

  2. I don’t think you’re ageist at all– I think you’ve made a very practical decision. It speaks well of your previous therapist that she agreed; Bobbi and Athena have told us that good therapists should be willing and ready to give referrals.

    I had to jump through crazy hoops just to get mine– I can’t remember if I blogged about that, or not. Cliff’s Notes version: referral from dietician/nutritionist to mental health ombuds office, first counselor didn’t work out, was referred from SARC to a therapist that is the director of counseling at my MH agency– THEN I got my current DBT-focused therapist.

    34 years of therapizing? That means I’ve got just four more years to catch up to you, even though I’m barely middle-aged! That I am sure I’ve mentioned before; so yes, I can fully empathize with the sentiment that it’s totally worth it to get the right “fit” for therapy.

    Oh, my daughter turned 13 in May. She probably should see a therapist for reasons you’ve read about, but, y’know, Medicaid, access to care standards, pediatrician would have to refer, blah blah blah.

  3. I actually like a therapist who knows us both b/c she knows both perspectives.

  4. That all sounds perfect (in an imperfect situation). I think it would help the therapist, too, in helping you both. I hope she’s everything you need.

  5. Actually, excellent questions. If my son wanted her all to himself, I would not see her. We have discussed the issue. He is not currently in therapy, just sees both a psychiatrist and neurologist. He wants the option to go see her when he wants. He wants to be in control of whether and when he goes to therapy. I first took him to a child psychologist when he was four, he turns 15 Thursday, so I want him to exercise some choice in the matter. We have done family therapy with high priced out-of-network psychiatrists in the past when he was very young.

    I am seeing the therapist as an individual wanting support for parenting an adolescent while coping with my own mental illness. I like the fact that he saw her in the past to cope with a phobia, so she knows him.

  6. Yep. My husband lost his job in the recession. Barstow had a position open. Barstow is in the Mojave Desert. We lived in a small unincorporated community called Helendale halfway between Barstow and Victorville. Had to drive 20 miles to Victorville to do any major shopping. Remote, hot, and dry. High desert, so cold in winter. Even snowed if there was any precipitation.

  7. Thank you, Diane!

  8. Living and raising teens is a challenge at the best of times… so hang in there. Hope this new therapist is helpful ! Diane

  9. So, you and your son will see the same therapist? Separately and together? As a family? Sorry for all the questions, but I’m really interested in how this works. My therapist works with children and families, too, and I admire her so much.

    And, oh, those lists! I wish I’d been able to give my ex that last list before we got married (or divorced).

  10. Learn so much from you. Beautiful photo and had no idea you’d lived on a desert for a bit!

  11. I’m not always able to keep up with so many fabulous blogs.

  12. Exactly. Thank you so much!

  13. Excellent advice, Kitt!

  14. Hi Kitt, it’s been a long time… adolescents also require someone who knows what it is like to be in ‘their world’. It’s nothing like the world that you or I grew up in. We are of similar ages, so grew up around the same times… I hope it all works out well for you.

  15. Welcome. I had the links lined up from Blahpolar’s post on Sunday and took this long to get to it.

  16. Reblogged this on Just Plain Ol' Vic and commented:

    Some excellent links/resources for those that suffer from or have loved ones that suffer from bi-polar disorder.

  17. I’m glad you decided to go with another psychotherapist. Yes, t’s a tremendous change but it sounds like it was definitely the best way to go..

    Yet another amazing goldmine of resources on youur blog.
    Thanks so much for compiling this, Kitt!!!!

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