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AIBU to be pissed off that my dd has to suffer emotionally after her friend committed suicide cos I can't afford private therapy?

139 replies

borninastorm · 20/04/2013 23:45

Last year my dd's friend took her own life. My dd was just 13 at the time and her friend 14.

Because they weren't at the same school dd's school didn't offer a counselling response. They did provide her with a counsellor but unfortunately this woman isn't trained in dealing with bereavement by suicide which I have since learned is a very specific type of counselling and it's even more specialised when it's for a teenager.

So, since then I've tried Winstons Wish - they only provide help for children directly related to the person who has died; Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide who don't provide counselling help and Cruse who have nothing and nobody in our area that could fulfil my poor dd's very specific therapy needs. ANd there's a waiting time of 6 months+ for counselling via our GP and no guarantee that she'll get the specialist help she needs.

I've looked into private therapy but it's too expensive for me right now. So the only thing I've been able to provide my dd with is some highly recommended books and a listening ear, but she needs so much more than that.

AIBU to be pissed that my teenager has to emotionally suffer because I can't afford to pay for private therapy for her?

And does anybody have any advice on how best to help her and/or get her the help she needs?

OP posts:
springyhappychick · 21/04/2013 11:48

You could contact the therapists you have researched and ask if they offer concessions. The answer is yes or no, they won't be offended to be asked.

I agree that a counsellor who is trained in working with young people is the most important criteria.

I had an extremely bad experience with CAMHS - and I'm not the only one by far, apparently - and would not recommend you involve them when your child is so vulnerable. (I wouldn't recommend you involve them at all but I'm sure some people have had positive experiences...)

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe2726 · 21/04/2013 12:17

What SGB said - and Maryz too. I don't think counselling is necessary in every life event and I think that you're providing excellent care for your daughter in helping her to come to terms with this, OP.

StepAwayFromTheEcclesCakes · 21/04/2013 12:44

its a very hard thing to go through but she has to go through it and with your support allowing her to grieve she will get through it. I did a Cahms training course last week and was interested in their view that we try to protect our children too much these days, that good mental health is enhanced by allowing them to experience stuff whilst being there for them rather than trying to protect them from the pains of everyday life experience. Having said that this experience is extreme for her so seek help from the experts on how to support her through it. Cahms did say they will take phone calls and offer advice so maybe worth a try in your area. they will also know of where support may be found locally too.

TheRealFellatio · 21/04/2013 12:58

I am sorry about what your DD has gone through but I think you are BU. You say she has a 'very specific' therapeutic need - well doesn't everybody? Money is thin on the ground right now and we cannot shell out for every niche requirement under the sun. There is no real evidence that your daughter would even necessarily benefit from it that much, and if her MH became severely affected (for any reason at all) then her GP would refer her to CAMHS.

I know it's hard to believe sometimes in this mollycoddled, touchy-feely nation of ours, but kids can be pretty resilient and pragmatic, and capable of getting through things with the help of their supportive families, friends and mentors alone. Counselling is not always the answer everything. But since it became fashionable to wheel out the school 'grief counsellor' every time something traumatic happens we have conditioned ourselves to think that our kids are so emotionally delicate that they could not possibly cope without it.

MinnieBar · 21/04/2013 13:13

'It's become fashionable to wheel out the school grief counsellor'

I don't know what part of the country you live in, but the school I'm in we see less than 10% of the pupils - if we're running at full capacity. My colleague works in a different school where it's 5% - hardly blanket coverage.

Plus no one is ever forced to see a counsellor - therapy simply won't work if the client doesn't want to come.

Finally, I'd say the suicide of a friend could potentially be very traumatic. I also see adult clients and you'd be surprised at the stuff from years and years ago that comes up.

squeakytoy · 21/04/2013 13:16

counselling is not a "cure all" that will magically make grief go away.. time is the only thing that really works..

I doubt there is anything a counsellor can do that a loving mum and family cant.

scottishmummy · 21/04/2013 13:35

I'm not sure private,pricy "therapy" is necessarily solution.you can support
Sorry your dd is suffering,go see gp ask what support can She access
Talking,listening,normalizing daily activities will be huge support and you can do that

UrbaneLandlord · 21/04/2013 14:06

Sad as this story is, I'm bound to ask "What did we do before Counselling", and in much harsher times?

How did survivors of the Holocaust get by?

How did the survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia get by?

I'm sure we can all think of many more tragic mass events throughout history, the survivors of which somehow managed to get on with their lives afterwards without counselling, despite having witnessed far worse atrocities than the suicide of a close friend (as bad as that is).

I'm sure that there are a few cases where counselling is effective and I'm glad that we live in a civilised society where that can be provided.

However, I'd suggest that counselling is rarely effective at diminishing grief in most cases. I'd suggest it might even extend & worsen grief by establishing as a bigger issue in the mind of the griever.

I'd go further and say that, in many cases, the recipients of counselling are just attention seekers who are projecting pre-existing anxiety onto the particular event in question.

Speaking personally, I was recently involved in a near-fatal traffic incident (in Kenya) when somebody stepped out in front of the car I was driving and I hit them, causing them severe injuries. It wasn't my fault, but I still felt terrible about (and still do). I dealt with this by mentioning it to a few friends & colleagues and saying how awful I felt about it. Some were dismissive, some sympathetic, some made some very flippant jokes (like I was at some racist sporting event(!)). I still feel bad about it but I no longer have intrusive or overwhelming thoughts.

AnyoneforTurps · 21/04/2013 14:17

Also, go back to GP and push for a quicker referral. It always pays to hassle.

Oh yes, perfect answer - hassle for a faster referral Hmm. CAMHS services are enormously over-subscribed. Urgent referrals have to be reserved for genuinely urgent cases which includes children with schizophrenia, other psychoses and suicidal depression. Do you really want one of those kids to be bumped down the priority list for a child who is suffering a natural grief reaction? How would you feel if one of those children seriously harmed him/herself?

CloudsAndTrees · 21/04/2013 14:23

YABU. We are lucky that we have access to free counselling at all in this country, the fact that you have to wait for it doesn't change that.

Plenty of people have survived worse without counselling, I was the sane age as your dd when my dad died and I was offered fuck all. Same goes for a friend who lost one of her parents to suicide.

scottishmummy · 21/04/2013 14:55

Turps,no your completely wrong.urgent referral won't be overlooked as you describe
Referrals are discussed in team,the presentation,urgency and impact
No referral with high need will be given less priority if op is pushing for help

Trazzletoes · 21/04/2013 15:01

UrbaneLandlord I'm very pleased for you that you have such a "strong" mind that you can cope by yourself with whatever life throws at you.

For a lot of that, it's not always so easy. But still it's nice to know we are just attention-seeking. Thanks. Really. Thanks so bloody much for that.

I'm currently considering counselling to help me deal with the fact that my DS is terminally ill. It's taken a lot for me to get over my assumption that people will think I am weak for doing so.

But you've actually just confirmed that for me. Thanks.

I guess I should just toddle off and pull myself together, eh?

Trazzletoes · 21/04/2013 15:02

For a lot of us

Trazzletoes · 21/04/2013 15:07

And while I'm at it: just because counselling hasn't been around forever doesn't actually make it a bad thing.

Or should we all stop using flushing toilets, despite proven health benefits, simply because we haven't always used them?

And just because survivors of the Holocaust managed ok - not counting the ones who did actually kill themselves afterwards or have to deal with significant mental health problems, eh?

AnyoneforTurps · 21/04/2013 15:11


I know that that is how the system works in theory. But, as a GP, I also know that the information in a GP referral to CAMHS is usually only as good as the information the parent has given the GP (unless the child's mental illness is so severe that it is manifest in the GP consultation). If the OP exaggerates her DD's symptoms to "push for a quicker referral", priorities may be distorted.

And I'm unclear why the OP's DD actually needs counselling. The OP seems to have become fixated on it but doesn't say anything about her DD's symptoms. As others have said, counselling will not magically erase emotional suffering and there is limited evidence that it makes any difference to outcomes after trauma (except where there is an associated mental illness).

scottishmummy · 21/04/2013 15:17

Of course the referral is based on information of presentation,that's a given
a grief reaction isnt a psychosis or sh.so the receiving team will respond based on info
I font think private,costly therapy is necessarily answer,a grief reaction can be managed by family

DoctorAnge · 21/04/2013 15:29

Counselling can be helpful but honestly is not a cure. Sometimes it may be ineffectual and can even make things worse for a time. It usually works when in conjunction with medication and Other kinds of support.
Be prepared for this.
SGB gave a fantastic post.

ilovesooty · 21/04/2013 15:42

I'm a counsellor involved with a bereavement charity, trained in grief and loss and also experienced with young people. I think some of the responses have been pretty harsh. If your daughter wants to access counselling I hope you find something suitable.

And Trazzletoes you have a pm.

insancerre · 21/04/2013 15:46

I'd go further and say that, in many cases, the recipients of counselling are just attention seekers who are projecting pre-existing anxiety onto the particular event in question.

wow, just wow

JustinBsMum · 21/04/2013 15:51

Coming from a family where nothing was ever talked about, including when there was a family suicide, I feel that having the opportunity to honestly discuss your feelings would be a great help in dealing with the turmoil of emotions, though, obviously, I am surmising this because that is definitely not what happened when I was young but feel convinced it would have helped us to move on, instead it taught us to bottle things up.
But I don't know if the talking has to be with a counsellor.
Talking to you OP could be enough.
Are there books she can read with advice, or messageboards? Though it might be an idea to check these out yourself first OP.
Also writing everything down, a diary or similar, helps to get things off your mind. Perhaps DD could do this.

UrbaneLandlord · 21/04/2013 16:07

In response to ilovesooty: I am sure that the distress of your clients is real and that your work is well-intentioned. However, I would also suggest that work is mostly ineffective and counter-productive. Please could you cite some objective evidence about the efficacy of counselling?

cory · 21/04/2013 16:12

I have already posted to say it is not a given thing that the OPs dd either needs or would benefit from counselling.

Now I will put the other side.

Ime there are situations where a counsellor can definitely offer something that a loving family can't.

A kind and loving child who feels herself loved may well be reluctant to reveal the dark thoughts she is having to somebody who cares more about her than about anything and who could be very upset. There is also the consideration that once you have said something to somebody you are going to have to live with, they may remember it for ever afterwards and interpret everything you say and do in that light. If the depth of your unhappiness makes them feel inadequate they may resent it.

A counsellor is someone who will listen but cannot be hurt.

When my friend had terminal cancer she arranged for her children to have counselling at school, because she understood that it would be extremely difficult for them to talk either to her or to their grieving father about how badly they were suffering.

When dd had attempted suicide she felt so guilty about it that it was hard for her to talk to me or her dad about it.

How do you talk to the person who loves you most about the fact that you wanted to die? How do you talk to your mother who is dying about the fact that you feel her illness is ruining your life and that you are angry with her because she is not going to be there for you?

For those wondering what people did in the past, there is plenty of evidence that societies have always had somebody whose job it was to deal with grief or stress that was beyond what the individual family could cope with. That is what your father confessor did in Medieval times (if you trusted him): you told him things in the deepest confidence that were too difficult or too hurtful to tell your parents or husband. Later on, the vicar and the vicar's wife often filled a similar function. I imagine in primitive societies that the local schaman might have filled a similar function.

There is also plenty of historical evidence of people being so traumatised by horrible events that they took a long time and lots of support to get functioning again. In the Middle Ages, this kind of treatment was often supplied partly by confession, but partly by pilgrimages- if your friend had died horribly you could make a pilgrimage for his soul and get support from the appropriate saint (and presumably from his priests).

Some Holocaust survivors had counselling. And not all of them were able to get on with their lives: some suffered trauma and flashbacks for the rest of their lives.

Not saying that the OPs dd is necessarily in a place where any of this is necessary. Just that some people are. And that people do not really change much from time to time.

ilovesooty · 21/04/2013 16:14

Please could you cite some objective evidence about the efficacy of counselling?

The evaluation forms from clients are considered sufficient evidence of effective practice for the local PCT to continue to fund the charity. Local GPs consider us sufficiently effective to refer to us in large numbers. In private practice I have had enquiries from people who've had me recommended by other people.

I'm sure you wouldn't expect me to cite individual caes - it would be unethical.

ilovesooty · 21/04/2013 16:15

Great post, cory

MinnieBar · 21/04/2013 16:29

CORE questionnaires are used regularly to measure outcomes. And the BACP regularly publishes research results. Finally, NICE guidelines recommend counselling for a lot of situations over medication.

I'd suggest you walk a mile in some of my clients' shoes before you suggest they're largely 'attention seekers' again. Hmm

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