"Family" Counseling

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Whiteheron

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"Family" Counseling
« on: December 19, 2020, 04:33:04 PM »
As some of you may have read, xuPDH had me served with papers (an affidavit) almost two months ago, demanding a return to the old custody schedule for DD. We (L and I) responded, then he had a chance to respond to our response before the L's went in front of the judge. His response to my response was...shocking. I guess that's the best way to describe it. Twenty pages of how awful I am and how terrible a parent I am, etc, etc. It was a smear campaign on steroids. It was horrifying to read. My L said that he threw so much sh!t at the wall, that something was bound to stick, even if it wasn't true. I was (am) devastated. I feel completely helpless.

When the L's went in front of the judge for the conference, it turned out the judge had refused to read any of these affidavits because they all had to do with DS17, and the issue xH wanted to address had to do with DD13. So his attempt to manipulate the court through DS seems to have backfired on him. However, the judge is of the opinion that "if any family is in need of family counseling, it's this one." And so she ordered we attend therapy. As a "family". I am required to do this, but my L argued that I was not comfortable being in the same room as him, so I have permission to attend separately. Supposedly, it's supposed to be xH and I first, then if it's recommended, to bring the kids into the mix. My L said it was very unclear.

Let me back up a bit and mention that xH has been trying force DD to do "family therapy" for quite some time now. He desperately needs to control her, and this is his way of trying to do just that. Now I'm being thrown into the mix. I've done joint therapy with him before - he used it to try to control me, but it didn't work and I was eventually not invited to come back (it was with his T).

xH claims he needs to have therapy with DD to "repair their relationship" which apparently, I've destroyed, according to him.

So I'm torn - I don't want to be in the same room (or zoom call) as him, I don't want to hear his voice. But I can't let him "attend" with DD without my being there. I can't throw her to the wolves like that. I'm probably getting ahead of myself, because I don't even know what this type of therapy is or how it works. All I can figure is that the judge believes this is a way to avoid further court appearances? If so, she's never dealt with a personality like xH before.

Has anyone out there been through family therapy with a PD? How does it work? What happened?
I've contacted the T and left a message, as required, but not sure I'll hear back before the holidays.
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Stepping lightly

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Re: "Family" Counseling
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2020, 03:21:07 PM »
Hi Whiteheron,

Oh boy, I am so sorry you are dealing with this situation.  The idea of family therapy actually creates a knot in my stomach.  BM tried to force it on DH and I for a long time, and our response was always "when BM starts showing civil behavior towards us, we will consider it"- we knew she couldn't.  She couldn't even write a civil email with  a parent coordinator cc'd, the PC had to review all emails before they were sent they were so bad.  But...said PC demanded meetings with all parents.  I refused, I was doing in vitro at the time and there was no way I was going to endure that level of stress.  Which sucked- because I felt the same...I was leaving DH to the wolves.  The PC couldn't handle BM- she absolutely lost control in one of the meetings and ended up standing in the middle of the PCs lobby screaming at everyone.  The meetings were stopped and the PC eventually admitted she couldn't handle our case and handed it back to the court (after she did a boat load of damage).

Anyway- that's all to say- any joint effort with a PD can be really hard to control.  Who picks the therapist?  I think that is going to be a huge criteria.  Once the therapist is chosen, I would have a 1:1 with the therapist to lay out your concerns and try to gauge how they will manage this type of therapy.  Don't sugar coat it, let them know this is not going to be just some disgruntled divorced parents, we started using "extremely high conflict" to describe it.  If you say that, and they don't flinch, they have no idea what is in store for them.  How  will they ensure that DD doesn't have consequences for the discussions with the T?  Ask a LOT of questions. 


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sevenyears

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Re: "Family" Counseling
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2020, 05:01:17 AM »
WH - I am sooooo sorry that you have to go through this, and that your kids do too.  :bighug:

I think it's important to find a good therapist, who can see through the BS and challenge the PD. Maybe there can be a silver lining in this very dark cloud? Can you pick the therapist?

When uPD ExH and I had to go to mediation on custody, I made a list of three mediator teams and he chose won. Win-Win. He felt in control because he got to decide which mediator we went to, while making me do all the work. I researched a developed a list of people that I was comfortable with and who would see through his BS.  Normally, cooperation on choosing doctors, schools, etc for our children is hugely frustrating because I do a lot of research and then he rejects my selection. But, in this instance, this pattern worked in my favor.

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Penny Lane

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Re: "Family" Counseling
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2020, 03:20:29 PM »
DH has been through a few rounds of counseling for the kids, where both parents are expected to attend.

It is ... not great. BM takes every single thing she says as a challenge to her parenting skills. She also shares her not so great parenting actions and when the counselor very gently redirects her, she goes into a rage. So it's about what you would expect.

It sounds like you're going to have to walk a line between being honest with the counselor about the situation but also not make them think you're trying to turn them against your ex. That is so hard! I suggest an attitude of "here is what I have dealt with, I want ex and kids to have a good relationship, what can you do to help me with that?" So you're not saying "ex is impossible to work with and he is manipulating the kids," it's "I'm not sure how to handle his behaviors in the best way for the kids."

I hope that you ultimately don't have to be in a room with him and that your DD never ever does.

I'm sorry! This sucks. He sucks, and you're doing such a good job.

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Whiteheron

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Re: "Family" Counseling
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2020, 04:32:04 PM »
Thanks everyone. My L actually recommended a therapist and surprisingly everyone agreed. In front of the judge.  :blink: Which makes me instantly suspicious...

This therapist was recommended by another of my L's clients, who she respects. I have an appt scheduled for about 2-3 weeks from today. I just want to lay it all out there, I don't want to hold back. I am so sick and tired of tiptoeing around xH, when all he does is throw grenades my way. I have had enough, yet I am well aware how this attitude may come across to someone new to our situation.

I don't even know why I'm being forced to do this - xH and I communicate just fine - in writing. Of course, I never respond promptly enough, but that was a complaint common in our marriage (which his T called controlling). This has everything to do with control. He needs to control me, he needs to control DD. Even then, it wouldn't be enough to fill the insatiable void inside him.

stepping - I will definitely use your "extremely high-conflict" description. I was the one who spoke with this new T first (a quick phone call to schedule my first appt and to give very broad picture of why I was contacting her), and I made it all about co-parenting...and potentially bringing in the kids later on if she feels it's warranted. I also let her know that both kids had their own Ts. My way of hinting that the kids don't need to be brought into this mess. I'm sure he will have a different story, but that will be no surprise. My xH doesn't appear to be as (outwardly) unhinged as the BM you have to deal with.

seven-I'm glad giving your x choices make him feel more in control. I've been lucky so far in that all the professionals were already in place before I filed, so I didn't have to broach the subject with him - although DD is asking for a new T. She doesn't believe her current T is helping her any - she has no idea that her current T isn't one to be easily charmed or swayed by her dad and that a new one might be.

Penny - I only briefly spoke to the therapist - she said the way she works the co-parenting sessions is by speaking with the two of us separately at first, then together. I did not yet bring up the issue I have of speaking in front of xH, our connection was really bad and it was late at night, I was driving. So I will approach this topic with her during our first tele-session. I like the idea of saying "I'm not sure how to handle his behaviors in the best way for the kids." I do need to make it about how his behaviors affect the kids without badmouthing of demeaning him. I was able to do this before, I can do it again. (deep breath)
I am not sure what I can bring up...what he said in his latest affidavit? How he's using DS to spy on me? How I refuse to speak with him, unless it's in writing, because every time I do, he chews it up, and spits it back out all distorted to be used in an affidavit against me? I believe I can say he's litigious, and that's why the judge has mandated this therapy...I will try to come up with a list of things, post it, and get everyone's opinion.

I really don't want to do this.
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

Being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok.

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Whiteheron

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Re: "Family" Counseling
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2021, 08:48:24 PM »
So the therapist called me tonight - right after speaking with uPDxh (he just had to schedule his session with her before mine!)...turns out he's pushing hard for family therapy involving the kids, and she's not equipped to do that with the way her phone sessions are set up. I was under the impression that it was initially supposed to be co-parenting therapy so that the judge didn't have to deal with our nonsense anymore, which I told her. I went back and checked the email from my lawyer, and the email says the therapy is supposed to be between the two of us for a while before potentially involving the kids, if involving the kids is even recommended.

I told the therapist I'd still like to have a session with her, since I do need some guidance on how to effectively communicate with uPDxh. I did tell her that I was often sending an email to my lawyer asking how to respond to one of his texts and that it was quite costly. I mentioned something about how I need to be careful with my wording as every single word I type is scrutinized for hidden meanings. I also told her that had been a very high-conflict divorce. 

I almost feel like I said too much. I don't want her to get the wrong impression of me, yet I don't want to sugar coat anything.

I feel like he's playing a game of chess and getting his pieces all lined up to strike - forcing "family therapy", then DD wants a new therapist...so getting rid of her current one (who doesn't allow him to control her) is yet another strategic move...he's up to something and I feel like all I can do is sit back and watch it happen.

I will still be careful what I say to the co-parenting therapist, only facts, things I can back up...high conflict, need help communicating with him, not sure how to handle his behaviors/actions in a way that is best for the kids. Ugh. I wish I could just lay it all out there and say "how do I deal with this??" :blink:
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

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athene1399

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Re: "Family" Counseling
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2021, 09:13:21 PM »
I think that if you focus on “learning to coparent” and how to communicate with you ex, that the T will eventually start to get an idea of what the relationship dynamics are. I also would wait until you feel like you trust the T more before you open up about more. Not that you shouldn’t open up to the T, but until you feel you can trust her you may always wonder and worry over if you have said too much(like it sounds like you are doing now). With that being said, I think you have a great idea to stick to talking about what you can you can prove or back up. I hope things go well with this and they decide family T isn’t needed.

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sevenyears

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Re: "Family" Counseling
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2021, 10:57:08 AM »
I agree with Athene. Focus on learning to coparent, help/support in communicating with your ex in order to help the children, help/support in communicating with the children (when it comes to problems instigated by your Ex), and always that you are solely interested in what's best for the children. In my case, the social worker assigned to us "gets it" kindof. She sees the dynamics caused by his belligerence and absolute inability to cooperate/co-parent. She doesn't see some of the dynamics the impact of his craziness on our family system (just that it is broken). Recently, she even raised the idea of seeking again sole custody. I won't go down that path yet, but it is good knowing that someone understands the problems, is trying to help us/the kids and that I'm not the crazy one. She gives me a lot of positive reenforcement that I'm doing and saying the right things with the children (maybe ExH gets that too - we meet her separately), and she knows that I am trying my very best to make a bad situation work for the children.

While I know that family therapy with a PD on the scene is can be pure hell, I hope in your case you can also make it work for you and the kids, at least to limit the severe craziness.

By the way, someone on another chain recommended the book "Raising Resilient Children with a Borderline or Narcissistic Parent." I've just started it and it seems like one of the best books out there so far. I'm not far enough along to say whether it deals with family therapy or not, but at least it might be able to give you a good basis for everything else.   

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Whiteheron

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Re: "Family" Counseling
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2021, 09:31:06 PM »
So I had my session with the counselor today. It was mostly me providing background and her asking a few questions. I stuck to my experiences (prompted by her questions), and the facts. As I was describing the facts - mental illness diagnosis, joint therapy disaster, excessive litigation, his loss of custody, the law guardian stating she will never work with uPDh's L again, she asked if I was in therapy, I told her I stopped going after he subpoenaed my therapy records (she was beyond shocked), etc, etc. It hit me that he has made himself look bad all on his own. The facts speak for themselves. They are irrefutable.

She asked me what his behaviors were. I said when I was living with him, he was extremely controlling, had anger issues, and severe paranoia. I also stated that he came from an abusive alcoholic household (it was relevant to the loss of custody background story). I told her he was getting worse with age.

She asked about the last communication that had occurred before the judge ordered co-parenting therapy...which just so happened to be when he had me served with the papers. The counselor asked me what the judge's reaction was to this, and I told her the judge deemed the papers irrelevant to what he was asking for and didn't even read them (her clerk did).

I was honest and described how I react to certain texts he sends, how I react/feel when he demands to meet me in person to "chat." I described the BIFF method I use, which she was unfamiliar with. She had one pointer for me so far, which I will implement. She also recommended OFW, but I told her we used that initially and that he didn't want to continue using it once it had expired.

She ended the session by saying that sometimes co-parenting therapy didn't work...scheduled me for another appointment and told me to "hang in there."

So I think I did ok.
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

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Penny Lane

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Re: "Family" Counseling
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2021, 03:15:46 PM »
I think you did AMAZING.

This is so true:
It hit me that he has made himself look bad all on his own. The facts speak for themselves. They are irrefutable.

The reality is that his behavior has objectively been so bad, that just relaying facts makes him look bad. The only way to not look bad would be to hide stuff from the counselor.

I hope she can be an advocate for your kids. A good advocate is worth their weight in gold. It sounds very promising.

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Whiteheron

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Re: "Family" Counseling
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2021, 10:30:18 AM »
Thanks Penny!

This counselor will not be advocating for the kids - the kids will not be involved unless both of their therapists agree it's in their best interest. This actually puts me in a little bit of a bind, because DD wants to change therapists...and of course uPDxh is all over that, since he can't manipulate the current one. So...I may drop the frequency of her appts with her current T before adding someone new into this mess.

My L made it clear to uPDxh's L that this was to be co-parenting counseling only, and that his client should be thrilled he finally got what he wanted. I'm sure this will be brought up in front of the judge at the next conference. At least I'm doing my part and making an effort.
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

Being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok.

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athene1399

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Re: "Family" Counseling
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2021, 02:04:29 PM »
I think you did great, WH! And you even got a pointer out of it. And it shows you are willing to do what the court asks. I hope they see this and it benefits your case.