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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5808
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I have a 9 year old son who has suffered from encopresis for 5 years with no real suc

Resolved Question:

I have a 9 year old son who has suffered from encopresis for 5 years with no real success at getting to the emotional root of the problem. He sees a therapist who is an 'expert' in the field yet he continues to soil himself.

I've been divorced for nearly 6 years and there is very bad blood between their Dad and I as a result of his remarriage to a women who dislikes the kids. We share custody but I shoulder the bulk of the responsibility of the children. I also have a 15 year old daughter. They see their Dad only on alternating weekend as they cannot stand to be around his wife. I'm certain that the anxiety associated with seeing their Dad has a lot to do with my son's encopresis.

I need help getting to the bottom of my son's problem. My Ex refuses to allow me to get a second medical opinion for our son and I've been forced to go to court to get a court order.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Teri Robbins
XXX-XXX-XXXX [email protected]
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your problem.


You said that your son has had encopresis for about 5 years. I am assuming that any medical reasons for his problem has already been explored. Therefore, you are left to conclude that his issues are psychological in nature.


The first thing I noticed was that your son's encopresis started within a year after your divorce. Since I don't know what your son's therapists have worked on with him, I am going to say my feeling is that your son is reacting to the stress he feels as a result of the divorce and the conflict with his father's new wife. Psychologically, it appears that your son may be trying to exert control over his bowels because he cannot control the situation going on around him. Being a male is also a factor. It occurs more often in males than females.


I highly recommend working with your son's doctor, if you have not already, and make sure all of his physical treatments, such as a high fiber diet and an increase in liquids are being utilized.


Once he is attended to physically, the psychological aspects of what he is going through need addressed. You said that he is seeing a therapist right now and that is great. But has the original problem that caused the encopresis been addressed? You and your ex husband must find a way, for the sake of your son (and daughter too) to get along or at least be civil enough to one another to help your son feel safer and less stressed. I know it's easier said than done, particularly if the other parent is difficult and refuses to help. But if you approach him in a manner that is totally focused on helping your son, he may consider it.


See if you both would be able to meet with a therapist and have the reason and subsequent meetings be totally about your son and his issue. No accusing, no discussing any other issues. The goal here is to make your son feel better and recover. It takes a lot of strength to put aside your differences but if it's for the sake of your child, it is well worth it. Your children must come first and with help and practice, I believe this can be accomplished and your son will recover.


I hope this helped you,


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I have tried everything I could possibly try and my Ex wants to exert as much control as he can. I'm completely helpless, in fact, I lost my job over the sommertime because he refuses to help with the kids.

This is why I'm forced to use a lawyer. We cannot agree on anything and I'm exhausted. I, too, have been in therapy this whole time and I'm the only one who sees the children as coming first.

I was hoping you might have a fresh approach to dealing with encopresis. He's on supplements and behavior modification but unltimately he needs to make the right decidsion when he needs to toilet. Thanks so much for your time.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

It sounds like you are doing all the right things. Have you already spoke with your son as well about his situation and tried opening up the communication between you both? If he knows he can come to you with any issue, he may feel better and be able to make some progress towards ending his encopresis.


Again the main focus seems to be, for you, on your son. Your best option at this point may be to follow through with the legal path and try to find a way to gain more control over the situation for your son.


Sometimes you can do all the right things and it's just a matter of continuing what you are doing and letting the situation work itself out.


Although you are in therapy, you still need support and time to care for yourself. Is there anyone who can help you, maybe give you a much needed break or at least a shoulder to lean on? This may be a small thing, but sometimes it gives you time to clear your head and see things in a different light.


I wish you the best,


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