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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience:  Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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My 20 year old daughter was an exceptional high school student

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My 20 year old daughter was an exceptional high school student with straight A grades. She went off to college on a huge scholarship at 18 and had a horrible year. During her first semester she stopped going to classes. We got involved with academic advisors and counselors and she insisted on going back her second semester. This one was even worse and she again never went to classes. She told us she was and also insisted she was seeing the counselors as promised. None of this happened. At this point, we had her withdraw and all agreed that it would be best for her to take classes at a local college and live at home. She enrolled and drove to school each day...fast forward another semester and we find out she drove to the campus every day but never attended a class. When asked we heard about her classes and classmates and assumed she was on track as her stories had us believing that. She also promised she was seeing her counselor. When we again discovered that she had not attended and lied to us, we took her to a counselor who recommended she be admitted to the psych unit at our local hospital for a few days for counseling. My daughter being over 18 admitted herself and promised upon discharge to see counselors. She is living at home, working full time but continues to lie. My husband and I are at wits end. She is very smart and very capable but the lies are just getting to be too much. She cancels her counseling sessions constantly. We have been to the restaurant she works at just to make sure she did not make that job up. Her boss complimented us on what a great employee she is. I just don't understand it and feel that maybe it is time to have her move out and make it on her own. My fear is that her lies will get her in serious trouble and that in many ways she is just too immature to handle living on her own. At the same time, we have given her every opportunity to succeed and her choices continue to be to sabotage her own moving forward. We can not force her into counseling and we have provided every opportunity for her to get help...I no longer know what to do. Please advise.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. L replied 1 year ago.

Dr. L : Hello,
Dr. L : I would like to help you with your question.
Dr. L : This is a very baffling situation and I can understand how dismayed and even worried you are.
Dr. L : Can you tell me what diagnosis was given at the hospital? Was you put on medication?
Dr. L : The fact that she is doing well at her job tells me that she has the ability to handle the routine and pressures of work. On the other hand, her poor actions at college suggest that this was not something she could handle. Why she doesn't stick with the counseling is baffling...but it may be a matter of not feeling like she can work with this therapist, not trusting the therapist,not feeling that this therapist can help her...and so forth.
Dr. L : I would not be in favor of having her leave your home quite yet. It does not appear that she is stable enough to handle all the responsibilities that come with living on her own. That did not work while she was away at college...so I don't think it will work now. Maybe she is immature? Maybe she needs more time to figure out what she wants out of life. The fact that she is bright, did well in high school, earned a scholarship...all indicate that she has potential. What seems to be the issue is her being ready for the next chapter in her life.
Dr. L : I can understand your frustration with all of this...how could a bright, accomplished girl go off to a great college and not make it? The honest answer is that this situation occurs with frequency across college campuses. The schools don't want you to know this. Parents are ashamed and don't talk about it. But...it happens.
Dr. L : Getting your daughter in therapy would be key to getting over this hump in life. No..you can't force her. But...you can ask her to explain what the issue is and offer your help to solve it. Perhaps she didn't like the therapist. Perhaps she doesn't feel like she has any issues that a therapist can help her with. Sit down with her and see if you can't have a friendly conversation about it. Offer to go to therapy with her if that would help motivate her.
Dr. L : I do wonder about depression here and what diagnosis she was given at the hospital.
Dr. L : If she was seeing counselors through the school...they were likely to be Master's level students and that means they only had minimal skills...and the therapy was likely to have been sub-par.
Dr. L : Please let me know your thoughts.
Dr. L : Thank you.
Customer: Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX diagnosed with depression and put on Paxal. However, she refuses to go to her therapist, tells us she is going and we are often billed for missed appointments. This has been going on for three years now and I don't know what it will take. We originally said going to therapy would be a condition of living here...that's not happening. I agree, I am afraid to let her move out...but I am not sure how to get her to move forward if she keeps lying to herself and to us. The fact she is doing well in her job is what gives me hope that she can get it together.
Dr. L : Do you know if she is taking the Paxil? She would need to be seeing the prescribing physician or psychiatrist on a regular basis in order to keep getting refills.
Dr. L : I think you made a good decision by saying that therapy was a condition on living with you...unfortunately that has not worked. I would revisit this condition by sitting down with her and saying that you want to review her living arrangements. Tell her point blank that therapy was a condition and still is and ask her if she is ready to fulfill that obligation. If she says Yes...then insist that there be accountability. That is, that you accompany her - even if that means you sit in the waiting room - or that she signs a Release of Information Form that allows the therapist to talk directly to you or send you a schedule indicating that she has shown up for appointments. If she says No she doesn't want to go to therapy...then set a time schedule on when she was move out. Offer to pay for the first month or so of rent, give her some old furniture and things to set up housekeeping, but be firm in saying that it's therapy or moving out. And..you absolutely should not be paying for missed appointments. That responsibility is hers!
Dr. L : It is hard to "lay down the law" with our children when they have mental health issues. But...as she is doing so well on the job, then she is not as fragile and vulnerable as you thought. I would suggest you continue to check into her job situation just to ensure that things are going as well as her boss indicated. And absolutely...I would take her performance on the job as a clear sign of hope.
Customer: Thank you! We will sit down with her tonight and discuss counseling prior to the moving out reaction we had earlier today.
Customer: As for the Paxel, I think she stopped taking that once she started feeling better she stopped the therapy and medication.
Dr. L : yes...sitting down with her and having a rational discussion is what is needed.
Dr. L : Stopping the medication on her own was not wise. She should have done that with the supervision of the prescribing physician. It might be good to bring that point up as well.
Dr. L : There does not seem to be any reason for her to lie to you and that behavior needs to stop. Part of your discussion might be about the necessity of having an open and honest relationship so that the broken trust is healed and that you can move into an adult to adult relationship with her. As long as she lies, it is impossible for you to truly trust her and that keeps her in the position of being a "kid". If she wants to be treated like an adult, have adult responsibilities, and so forth, then she must work to be 100% honest with you. I would also praise her for working, for being responsible to her boss, for winning the admiration of her employer...and point out how proud you are of her work ethic. She needs to hear the good things she is doing to become a responsible adult...as well as pointing out where she is falling short.
Dr. L : One of the things I would suggest for your daughter is that she do some reading on "fear of failure"...what we often find in very bright children is that they worry about that they can never live up to the expectations of others. This might be a clue as to why she sabotages her own success.
Customer: thank you, XXXXX XXXXX has been extremely helpful.
Dr. L : You are very welcome!
Dr. L : Please let me know if I can be of further service.
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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