John,( names changed )  aged 15 has now been with us in placement for just over two weeks.  We attended a meeting with his Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service ( CAMHS ) Worker yesterday. After last week , when the transport had failed to arrive I decided to transport him there myself.

He has been placed out of his local area – as it was felt this was more appropriate at this stage and has made several serious allegations in relation to the adults in his ( historic ) life in the two weeks since he arrived .

We arrived at the CAMHS appointment late ( as it was much  further than I had anticipated – over 75 miles each way ) and as per other occasions when John spends over an hour in the car – he was far from willing to settle never mind to  engage. This was partly due to the fact that I won’t allow him to have a cigarette in the car.

Already  I had decided that prior to his next appointment  I will take him for lunch in the locality first. Later the CAMHS  worker explained that we need to give some thought as to whether him coming to the house would be better.

My husband, Peter and I have thought about this and we feel that John needs to be able to come back to a secure home where he can relax – there needs to be a safe space here and this would not be helped by filling it with memories of disclosing traumatic memories to a counsellor. I will make sure that our Supervising Social Worker and the CAMHS worker know what we feel in relation to this.

At an early point in the CAMHS appointment John left the room to “have a ciggie”  having given me permission to tell the CAMHS worker  “everything” On his return to the room I informed John that I had shared information about  his disclosures, including what he had told me about his mam and that I had mentioned the conversation we had in Asda car park about an older man – who he had named ( and that he had previously mentioned this to his dad and grandma ).

Although John didn’t use the session at CAMHS himself, he certainly used the journey back.

He spoke without even pausing for breath of the levels of violence within his family home giving particular detail in respect of his earliest memory of mam using the smacky spoon on his leg. This had been in response to him not being able to get the letter sounds  right when she was testing him in his reading book.  He explained how when he was older, his mum told him that his dad beat her up ( until he left and how bad this was ) then he explained that his dad gave an account where Mum had beaten him – so he felt it necessary to leave. John described that these discussions with his parents left him really mixed up.

I thought to myself how I could tell that  even talking this through with me was therapeutic for John – as I could see that he was in the process of making sense of his feelings and emotions towards his parents.

John went on to explain that when he moved out of his mam’s home he had told his dad ” two or three times in the cab” about his mums violence towards him. His dad had said he should sue her – but John explained to him that she was his mam and he couldn’t upset her any more than he already had by leaving.

This led John to explain that he hated her beating him especially in Y8 when she did it  because she had thought he had stolen sweets.  He had actually been given the sweets as part of a grooming process.

He went on to add  lots of further detail to accounts of significant abuse that he had experienced.

I was careful not to question John – just to paraphrase throughout. Whilst paraphrasing back to him his last account  John asked, “You have to tell them about this, don’t you. ” I responded that John knew there were no secrets in our house except for the gifts that you have for Christmas and Birthday – I had made that very clear from the start.

John stated ” OK, Well I’m safe now – that’s what matters –   I’d better not tell you the rest . I don’t want to have to go through all of this again like I did with that PC Spackaman.

” I responded by saying that he may be safe but that I thought he was talking about all of this to  try to make sense of anything that  happens for himself and deal with it – which would be helpful to him in the long term, so I was here to listen. I thought to myself that  John  may be safe, but we need to think of other children too. I decided that this was better not mentioned at this stage.

John moved to a different topic – clearly trying to change the subject – but I referred him back explaining and giving reassurance that I will be available for any further 1:1 discussion.

I explained that should he need to speak further it might be good if we could include a professional, someone of his choice, perhaps his Social Worker or his CAMHS worker so that together we were in a stronger position to make sure that this was dealt with as well as possible and that he was fully involved with the decision making without having to repeat accounts and I wondered if it was very tiring for him to remember these memories .

Jayne Robbins – Foster Carer.

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