I have a 12 year old client and her mom is also a client of mine. Mom and child have a very dysfunctional / conflictual relationship. Mom yells at her all the time and hits herself when she gets angry in front of the child also staples her leg and this child knows about that too. The child voiced her thoughts about it that she hates when her mom does this and her mom yelled at her about hating that she (the child) cries all the time. I realize this conflictual relationship is even worse than I thought. In individual sessions I need to address mom to not hit herself or staple her leg in front of this child. The relationship will take a lot of work.
The child is so irritable, my first session with her and mom was child ended up punching the chair .. I told her to scream and let it out, she wouldn't scream knowing she was allowed to. Mom has been coming to me for awhile, this is the first time I met the child she has been talking about and I realized how depressed this child is, she calls herself names, hates herself and cries a lot. We came up with every time she says something negative about herself she has to stop and say something positive about herself. This child could not come up with one positive thing to say about herself!!!!!!!! A child that was portrayed as a defiant , angry, and oppositional child by her mom in sessions, appeared to me as a severely depressed little girl with very poor coping skills and low self-esteem. She is sickly, has an immune deficiency disease where she gets infusions and hates that.
I think its important that if we are counseling parents and they are having trouble with their children, and portray them as oppositional etc. It is really important to have a session and meet that child. Now that both mom and child are my client maybe we can work through these frustrating issues they are having and work on their own issues as well as issues interacting with each other.
Kimberly Beck is a counselor and a doctoral candidate with a special interest in Self-injury. Other interests are PTSD, trauma, and Borderline personality disorder