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Dr. Autumn
Dr. Autumn, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 43
Experience:  Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years of experience working with children and teens.
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I am extremely worried about my 15 year old son. Although

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I am extremely worried about my 15 year old son. Although he's a straight A student, not confrontational and not acting out, he does not socialize with friends, he's on his computer all day, does not communicate with us at all regarding his personal life and emotional state. he's recently been writing very disturbing poems, and when confronted, responds that it's just a joke. I feel as if he's holding back so much and it hurts me that he will not allow us to ease and support him with his struggles. He did not yet hit puberty and therefore he is still phisically small in comparesent to his peers. His father and I were divorced when he was 6 years old. I have remarried shortly after, and my ex-husband and myself and my HUD band enjoy a very friendly and close relationship. His father who is a physician is not concerned at all, while my motherly gut instincts are telling me that something is seriously wrong. I am afraid that having him see a psychiatrist will endure a stigma especially with the way he sees himself and that it will only increase his insecurities. When I suggested therapy to him he immediately refused. I am devastated and confused, and I feel completely helpless. What do I do?
Dr. Autumn :


Dr. Autumn :

I'm happy to help you with your concerns about your son.

Customer: Thank you
Dr. Autumn :

You mentioned that he has been writing disturbing poems...what have the poems been about?

Customer: Recent one was about little children being killed
Customer: He read it to me yesterday
Dr. Autumn :

Who was doing the killing, or who's perspective was the poem from?

Customer: He had NEVER displayed a violent side or aggressiveness of any kind. He is always sensitive and wonderful with his younger siblings and everything that's happening in the world
Customer: I'm not sure.. I think his... I was so shocked and mortified that it was all a blur to me
Dr. Autumn :

I'm going to take just a minute to type out a longer response, and then let me know what you think.

Dr. Autumn :

I completely understand you being worried about your son. It sounds like you care about him very much, and you should always trust your instincts.

Dr. Autumn :

There are a few things that are very positive about your son. The fact that he gets good grades, he is very loving towards his siblings, and that he is not demonstrating any behavioral problems. Additionally, it is very normal for someone his age to stay on the computer all day, and to not communicate with you or other adults in his life. I think it is a very positive sign that he was actually willing to read the poem to you, despite how disturbing it was. Sometimes kids write things that are shocking to see how we are going to respond to it. I obviously didn't read the poem, so I don't know exactly what it said. But, I wonder if part of it could be him trying to understand and process his feelings related to the recent school shootings.

Dr. Autumn :

It could also be his way of trying to reach out to you to express his feelings.

Customer: I asked him about it.. I told him that I need to understand what prompted him to write such a thing... He said that it was a joke, that he thought it was funny by the fact it is so inappropriate and he did mention a shocking aspect that he wanted to achieve
Customer: I did have a long conversation with him last night, I told him that his family is there for him through everything and that we will always support him and help him if he'll only open up to us... He did not respond. When I asked him if he's happy he said yes... I guess you are right about him reading it to us and not hiding it... I really want to hope that it was indeed to provoke attention
Dr. Autumn :

It does sound very confusing that the teen you first described in your question is the same one who finds it funny that children were dying, and that he would joke about it. So, it sounds like he is really struggling with some feelings. But, it's really hard to know if it's just normal teenage worries (especially with all of the things happening in the world today), or if it is something that we should be more concerned about it.

Customer: Do you think I should insist of having him evaluated or could I be over sensitive and paranoid
Dr. Autumn :

That's great that you were able to have that conversation with him last night. I do think that he probably needs someone else to talk to as well. I know you said that you mentioned therapy to him, and he refused. But, there are a few options to try.

Dr. Autumn :

I think that you should have him see someone. I don't think that a psychiatrist is the answer at this point, but I think that he should see a psychologist or a therapist in your area who specializes in working with teens.

Customer: I have called the therapist who helped us and the kids get through the divorce. How do I get him to go see her if he's not willing?
Dr. Autumn :

However, one very important key to therapy actually working is to have some kind of agreement from your son that he will go. Sometimes, you just have to get them to the session, and then the therapist can help work to make a connection. You might start by talking to your son again about some of your concerns. You could tell him that it seems like he is struggling with some thoughts or feelings that he is unable to express, and that you think that it might be helpful if he just had someone to talk to. Teens often associate a stigma with seeing a therapist (as you mentioned). So, you can tell him that if he is uncomfortable with going to see someone, you can keep it quiet, and only you and his father (and step father) will know about it.

Dr. Autumn :

How did he do with the therapist during the divorce? Did they have a good connection?

Customer: Again, I would like to emphasize that he is a good kid! He's extremely successful and in honors roll at his private school, he's sweet and sensitive, loves animals and LOVES his young sister and baby brother. Always so kind and willing to help.... I don't get it!
Dr. Autumn :

Those are all of the reasons why I feel like he just needs someone else to talk to. Even great kids have things come up for them that they just feel like their parents will never understand.

Dr. Autumn :

A good therapist will make a connection with him, assure him that it is a safe place to talk, and explore what might be going on for him.

Dr. Autumn :

It needs to be clear to your son that this is not punishment, but that it might help him with whatever he is struggling with.

Customer: It is funny you're asking about his connection to the therapist during the divorce.. While I was concerned with his younger brother who cried a lot, was angry and acted out, my son never reacted. The therapist then said she is more concerned with his reaction, keeping it all in, while it was healthy and normal for his younger brother to express his feelings, eve though they were negative, at least they were out
Dr. Autumn :

That really makes sense. It sounds like he's not going to be one of those kids who easily expresses his feelings, so it's going to be important for him to find some way that works for him to express whatever is going on.

Customer: What we always perceived as mature behavior and mature understanding now makes me worry that it was all a front and that he struggled with everything by himself all along...
Dr. Autumn :

It sounds like it's probably a mix of both. He does sound like he is mature, and that he is keeping things inside.

Dr. Autumn :

You might want to consider finding a different therapist for him. Sometimes teens worry that the therapist will share information with their parents. But, in order for therapy to be most beneficial, he needs to feel like he has a relationship with the therapist where he can share what he is thinking and feeling without worrying that everything will go directly back to you. The therapist is required to share with you if your son shares something to indicate that he might hurt himself or someone else. Otherwise, he should be able to share what is going on in therapy. You might even want to let him help in the search for finding a therapist. There are so many ways to find information about therapists online. He could look at descriptions of the therapists, and see if one sounds like it might be a good fit for him. The more he can be a part of the process, the better.

Customer: All this, in addition to making me worry and sad, makes me have tremendous feelings of guilt. I'm sure every mother experiences these feelings from time to time, however, I really need to do right by him and do the right thing and help him. I thank you for your advise, it was extremely helpful! I was going to drag him to a psychiatrist as soon as possible. Your suggestions are making comp,ete sense and gave me some hope that it might not be a major problem, instead something that a good therapist will be able to help with
Dr. Autumn :

I completely understand you having feelings of guilt. I think it just comes with giving birth and raising a child! But, don't spend time focusing on things that you wish you had done. All that does is wear you out.

Dr. Autumn :

It sounds like you are on the right track for finding help for him. Please feel free to come back if you have any additional questions that I can help with. I'm glad that the advice was helpful.

Customer: You are wonderful and brought tears to my eyes! I am grateful for your help!!! Thank you for at least making me feel a little better. Have a wonderful day!
Dr. Autumn :

I do want to add, I would try to get him to a therapist as soon as possible, so that he is not struggling with these issues. And, they will evaluate him to help be sure that it is not a major problem. It's not something that I can do online. But, based on what you have said, I think you are on the right track. Thank you for your kind words. You have a wonderful day too.

Dr. Autumn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
I just wanted to check in with you and see how things are going with your son. We're you able to schedule an appointment for him?
Dr. Autumn