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Child Welfare and Mental Health: Cross-training and team process

CHILD WELFARE AND MENTAL HEALTH: Cross-training and team process

Day 3

December 3, 2003

Green Lake, Wisconsin

SECRET DIARIES

Jon S. Matthew

 

This is an imaginal exercise. Imagine two people, one a mental health professional and the other a child welfare worker, each keeping a personal diary. In their diaries they would describe events and their feelings about what happened. Since work is an important part of their daily life, these two people would make some entries that related to their work, including some statements about their frustrations. These imaginary diaries would also contain references to each other; that is, the child welfare worker would comment on an interaction with the mental health professional, and vice versa. Some of these would be in the form of complaints. We will extract some excerpts.

Child worker talking about the mental health professional:

"He is so impractical . . . . beside the point . . . . focused on feelings . . . . it has nothing to do with keeping a child in the community safe . . . . I need to make a decision . . . . . I don’t have the luxury of waiting a week, or a month . . . . . . I need to make sure this kid is safe . . . . . and the next appointment is ten days from now . . . . . even then I’m not sure anything will come out of this . . . . I want to return this boy home . . . . the therapist hasn’t even talked to the parents yet . . . . ."

"Sometimes I can’t tell who is the patient, the therapist or the boy’s mother . . . . his sense of humor is strange . . . . he laughed when I told him that the boy hit his foster father . . . . mom said that the foster father should have known her son would be upset because they had just told him he couldn’t come home next weekend . . . . they shouldn’t have pushed him . . . . these foster parents are really ticked off at this mother . . . . they think she’s the problem . . . . the therapist agrees with mom . . . ."

"Today the therapist had another meeting with the14 y/o boy who molested his 6 y/o sister . . . . this is the 10th meeting I was told . . . . . yesterday the principal called me because he was absent from school . . . . . last week he got into a fight . . . . mother said that he won’t listen to her . . . . . he hangs with the wrong crowd . . . . . he didn’t come home Friday night . . . . mother thinks he was at another boy’s house, but she’s not sure . . . . . . the therapist told me that he is talking to the boy about controlling his anger . . . . . I don’t think it is working . . . . the therapist kind of blew me off . . . . ."

"Today I went to a team meeting and got the wish list again . . . . the teacher and the therapist want me to take this girl out of the home because she fights with her father . . . . . mother just sits there . . . . . dad wants someone to punish his daughter . . . . . how do they think that placing her out of the home will improve her relationship with her father . . . . . . and they want me to confront the father . . . . . I don’t know . . . . . where are we going . . . . . I’ve said this before . . . . ."

"I asked another stupid question today . . . . . I asked the therapist what we should do about Billy . . . . boy did I get an earful . . . . a long lecture on what I should do . . . . I would like to know what he’s going to do . . . . . I didn’t want to know about how the grandparents moved around and how grandfather was wounded in Vietnam . . . . come on . . . . . can’t we get to the point . . . . . who does he think he is anyway . . . . . I don’t need to know about all this stuff . . . . ."

"I called the mental health clinic . . . . . I wanted this boy to be seen for counseling . . . . . I thought the parents should be included . . . . . they told me that they knew this family and that the dad was an alcoholic and that they couldn’t do anything until the dad went to AODA treatment . . . . . besides the parents weren’t likely to be cooperative . . . . seeing the psychiatrist was out of the question . . . . . the parents have to be involved and they miss too many appointments . . . . . how can these therapists pick and choose their clients like this . . . . . I got nowhere . . . . ."

 

A mental health professional talking about a child welfare worker:

"I met with Billy’s mother today. She was upset because the social worker cancelled Billy’s home visit. The foster parents were taking him shopping. Mom says that the social worker doesn’t like her . . . . . she feels that she is being punished because Billy got in with the wrong crowd . . . . . Billy is just like his father . . . . . sometimes he is very hard to like . . . . . when she asks the social worker for help she is told that it is her responsibility . . . . . can’t they see that mom needs to make a living and that the other kids are starting to cause problems . . . . the social worker has no empathy for this single mom . . . . ."

"The social worker was upset again today. . . . . she says Billy is making homicidal statements . . . . . like he is ready to murder someone . . . . . get off it . . . . . kids say things they don’t mean all the time. . . . . she wants him evaluated . . . . . what the heck does she think I’ve been doing . . . . . he’s already been evaluated by three psychiatrists and two therapists . . . . . . how naieve . . . . . ."

"I asked the social worker today if he could get some supervision into the home . . . . . you know, somebody from the outside to look into things there . . . . . before I had finished the sentence I was told that that service wasn’t available. . . . . . he explained that if they gave that service to one kid everybody would ask for it . . . . . .then the social worker wanted to know what I was doing in therapy . . . . . it was kind of a way to turn the screw . . . . . these social workers are unrealistic . . . . . they are looking for the quick fix . . . . . . as long as somebody else does it . . . . . ."

"These court orders drive me nuts . . . . who makes up these lists anyway . . . . the judge says this kid has to be in therapy . . . . . but the judge can’t order me to be in therapy with the kid . . . . . I’m not doing it . . . . . it is stupid . . . . . some social worker told the judge this . . . . how creative . . . . I think the social worker says the same thing about every kid . . . . . ."

"Those social workers at the county sure know how to blame parents . . . . . or they do the opposite, saying there are no problems at all . . . . . what is this all or nothing crap . . . . . . punish or ignore . . . . . what a deal . . . . . ."



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