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DuddyH
DuddyH, BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 154
Experience:  Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
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my healthy, handsome 18yo son was asked to withdraw from his

Resolved Question:

my healthy, handsome 18yo son was asked to withdraw from his freshman year at university twice, once this fall, they let him in again, and again in the spring. He lied to everyone, his teachers, counselors and us about how much class he was missing. He's smart and can do the work but in his mind he gets overwhelmed even BEFORE he gets started! He freezes mentally. It's like he's afraid of success. He's home now, but he's still lying about what he is really doing with his time until he gets caught. He claims he's addicted to gaming, but who knows. He has a restaurant job right now and we're going to start charging him rent, but other than that, I don't know what else to do for him! It's like he's afraid of REAL life. He's also a VERY advanced violinist and has performed with various orchestras across the country, but even that has gone downhill. He hardly practices now. Please help me find help for him. He's VERY down on himself, feels he's loser and I think is depressed.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  DuddyH replied 3 years ago.

Duddy :

Welcome, I am a professional counselor, Behavioral-Consultant and relationship expert. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions to better understand your situation and problem?

Customer:

not at all

Customer:

i don't mind

Duddy :

Thank you...

Duddy :

Was or is there any formal medical or psychological diagnosis that may be contributing to your son's behaviors of concern?

Customer:

none. And I don't think gaming is the problem. He's always avoided things he has to do. He can't even write a thank you note without procrastinating. I think his problem is perfectionism. If it can't be perfect, he won't present it, or hand it in, or show it, etc. He's seen two counselors and one said "anxiety" and the other he didn't give him time to diagnose - he only went once!

Duddy :

Thank you. It's great to see you are really loving and proactive parent for your son. I'm going to ask a few more questions that may seem disjointed but their purpose is to give me a brief clinical picture to work with from many different perspectives....

Customer:

Everyone just thinks he is a "wonderful, friendly, and charming young man" and I think he is very sensitive, kind and compassionate, but he just can't get himself together!

Customer:

oh, ok

Duddy :

How has he done academically over the years?

Customer:

I think that might be the problem. We homeschooled and in a very disorganized manner because he was VERY into his music. But, he did attend the local public school in his SR year to 'try out' school and did very well on paper - graduated top 10% - but in reality we had to always be on him to get things done. When he would get things done, they were SO good! Teachers loved him but couldn't understand why he always left things 'til the end. BUT, in all honesty, and for the sake of my son, he learned it from me. I have FOREVER procrastinated. For God's sake, I don't even have furniture in my newly built house (4 YEARS!!) because I can't get it just right. know in my heart this is my fault and that what he has a learned behavior from me, but he can't be like me!! He has to do better! I want that for him.

Customer:

he's a bit slow on the uptake, like everyday jokes and some reading comprehension, but with a 2nd and 3rd going-over, he gets things. This makes him feel dumb, he says, but I just tell him that some people require more time. But when he does the work, things gel in his brain and he can apply the information

Duddy :

Thank you very detailed description. What are the top 2 or 3 behavior changes you'd like to see for him in concrete terms and what are his feelings and motivation levels for these changes?

Customer:

I was also a very impatient, yelling mom, and depressed at times, I'm sure. Sometimes I think my son is just like me...:(

Duddy :

Thank you. I'm not sure if you saw the question I asked earlier:

Duddy :

Thank you very detailed description. What are the top 2 or 3 behavior changes you'd like to see for him in concrete terms and what are his feelings and motivation levels for these changes?

Customer:

oops, sorry, missed it.

Duddy :

I'll wait for your response.

Customer:

I would say the top 2-3 behavior changes I would like to see for him would be

Customer:

1) no more lying

Customer:

2) stop procrastinating

Customer:

3) get out of himself

Duddy :

Those are great goals. Anything else you'd like to add before I go and type out an answer and research some supportive resources for you?

Customer:

his feelings and motivation levels for these changes I would have to discuss with him because of our situation. He is back home in TX while I am living in Chicago with my younger daughter who studying with a wonderful teacher here. I can only phone/skype my son and get reports from my husband. But I would guess that he doesn't truly want to lie to us or procrastinate or be all about himself and his feelings. I would guess that he really does want to be a productive member of our family and the community. I don't know about his motivation, though. How would I go about finding that out? What would be the questions to ask him?

Duddy :

I'm going to address a specific strategy for assessing motivation very effectively in my answer for your question. Does that make sense?

Customer:

Yes, thank you

Duddy :

Great. I'll have a detailed answer posted for you by the fist thing tomorrow morning but probably earlier. I want to make sure to find strong supportive resources and links for you to explore as well. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat and to provide such detailed and thoughtful responses. I really appreciate that. I'll be back in while with your answer.....

Customer:

Thank you. I will check back later for your answer

Duddy :

I’d like to start my formal answer by commending you for being such a caring and proactive parent. I think it’s very important to help your son work on making the changes you listed:


1) no more lying


2) stop procrastinating


3) get out of himself


Your son’s good academic performance and his brilliance you describe as a violinist tell me that there are no problems with teaching and learning new knowledge, skills and abilities when he’s well motivated to change or to learn. It sounds to me like his “lying” most often serves the basic purpose of avoiding the immediate negative consequences for his poor choices when you as his parents discover that he hasn’t followed through with commitments.


His procrastination could come from many sources ranging from areas as diverse as not having a specific strategy for acting in spite of him-self when motivation is low all the way to the possibility of having some challenge with attention. In ADD (they call it a subtype of ADHD these days) for example, which can be very mild in some cases, there are tested strategies for compensating for intentional and motivational lags that come with the diagnosis. Many kids with ADD are just literally brilliant in those areas for which they have a natural passion and one strategy often recommended is that kids really look for work and areas of study for which they are really passionate. I’m not saying that ADHD/ADD is the case here but here’s an example of the type of strategies indicated if it were:


http://helpguide.org/mental/adhd_add_adult_strategies.htm


 


You mentioned your son’s suggestion that he is addicted to gaming. I’m not sure if addiction is the correct word, either. As with the possibility of ADD type symptoms, I’m not there working with him face to face to really interview to explore and to do basic screening. I can say that gaming can be very addicting and often serves as the perfect procrastination tool or event. Gaming is designed to be so stimulating and rewarding that many people can really get “stuck” in gaming particularly when required tasks and responsibilities are less intrinsically motivating, at least in the short term. I think that intervening with your son in his behavioral choices in keeping with the 3 target behaviors you outlined in our chat, should take the gaming issues seriously, just in case.


Now you mentioned counseling. I think that real goal focused counseling is indicated here rather than counseling based on just talking about issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a strong behavioral focus would be very good here for your son and would likely get some pretty good results for him, in terms of his learning long term life-enhancing strategies. I think finding him a CBT therapist with a strong “behavioral activation” (BAT) and perhaps practical familiarity with Motivational Interviewing (MI) would be very helpful, within 10 sessions or less.


Motivational interviewing is a very well researched processes for helping a client develop and sustain motivation for change, and to clarify goals like the ones we discussed earlier. BAT is the best available counseling method for really learning how to overcome procrastination and to work with sources of motivation that may currently be holding your son in the behavior patterns and poor choice tendencies you described. He sounds like such a bright person. I think he’d really buy into CBT with just a session or 2.


This what I mean by CBT:


http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/MY00194


This is what I mean by BAT which is really the “B” in CBT. Some therapists leave this out or minimize it so it’s important to make sure that a CBT therapist you work with is committed to the behavioral component. Here’s why:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_activation


http://www.christophermartell.com/ba.php


Now, most behaviorally oriented CBT therapists or counselors will use principals from “MI”:


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1308798/pdf/15239293.pdf


Once you’ve read about these CBT approach I’m advocating here you may want to have a talk with your son about what he feels are the top 3 changes in behavior he would like to make for himself, and to ask about what how these would benefit him, and to get some examples from him. You can also ask him about what he feels is really getting in the way.


Many young adults or older teens have difficulty with motivation, so it may require you setting some limits if you see that the behavioral choices he’s making are really interfering in the quality of his life. For example, you may want to make access to privileges in your home (gaming, computer, TV, contingent upon his attending counseling. You may want to approach a CBT therapist asking for “family counseling” so that you and/or your husband can be involved in the process with the therapist, to see that your son is making progress (and attending regularly) and to learn how to best help him make changes in his routine and home life that will be most supportive to the changes he wants to make behaviorally, and that you want him to make (since your supporting him financially and you’re his loving parents). A licensed CBT therapist will also be skilled in identifying areas that may require supports or strategies for example, if there is in fact some ADD involved in your son’s case.


Here is a good resources for finding a therapist in your son’s area:


http://www.abct.org/Members/?m=FindTherapist&fa=FT_Form&nolm=1


 


If you find value in this answer, please don’t forget to press the “Accept” button, so that I am recognized and paid for the work I’ve done for you.


If you feel I’ve missed something, please let me know what it is so that I can improve my answer. Your positive feedback is valuable to me. I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX and your son the very best!


- Duddy.

Customer:

Dear Duddy,

Customer:

Thank you for all your information. I haven't had a chance to sit down and read, but It sounds like precisely the type of information i was looking for!

DuddyH, BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 154
Experience: Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
DuddyH and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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