We are always pleased to share the successes of our previous clients. We do so to help others  understand there is hope — and that we at Evergreen Psychotherapy Center stand ready to help.

This is what one parent, whose family underwent  intensive therapy here at Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, recounted about the experience:

OK, let’s see … “List five adjectives that best describe your family.” (Adjectives are very important at Evergreen Psychotherapy Center).

“Sad, demoralized, frustrated, confused,” I wrote. Defeated? No. Desperate, but not defeated. Not yet. But we all had the sense that if this didn’t work, we would be defeated. This was truly our last hope.

Our 19-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with a learning disorder, idiopathic hypersomnia, depression and a variety of anxiety disorders, including obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and social phobia. She has received special services at school and has had individual therapy intermittently since the 4th grade.

We also have experienced family therapy a number of times, including five years ago, immediately after my daughter’s hospitalization for a suicide attempt. We have read every book that seemed to faintly relate to our situation, tried every possible discipline approach in a frantic attempt to impose order on our chaotic family, and, in short, tried every resource we thought was available.

In retrospect, we realize we made many mistakes, but we also did a lot of things right — the most important being that we never gave up on our daughter. Ultimately, however, it was the final diagnosis, made this summer by our current family therapist, that finally served the purpose that a diagnosis is intended to: explain the nature of her self-destructive behaviors, and prescribe the corrective treatment. That diagnosis was simple and comprehensive at the same time: attachment disorder.

Neither my husband nor I were comfortable with the diagnosis. We didn’t want to admit that the young woman we had loved so much since we had adopted her at three years of age could have failed to feel even a little of what we had so freely offered, and had furthermore never been able to love us back. But when confronted with the symptoms of attachment disorder, the diagnosis seemed indisputable.

When our daughter was hospitalized in early fall with alcohol poisoning, with a potentially fatal blood alcohol content, we once again explored our options. Perhaps a residential treatment center for addictions could heal her. No, insisted our family therapist. Thankfully, he was persistent. Our daughter’s primary issue was not addiction, but attachment disorder, he said. To treat the secondary problem would not solve anything. He had some knowledge of Evergreen Psychotherapy Center and encouraged us to pursue this avenue. So we explored on the Internet, and things began to fall into place. I spoke with the Center, and after I described our daughter’s history and symptoms, I heard for the first time someone assert with confidence that, “We can help your daughter.” The relief was so overwhelming that we immediately completed the necessary paperwork and returned it through overnight mail.

We were able to set up a two-week intensive treatment program. The treatment program has been emotionally taxing and exhausting. It has also brought about the only major therapeutic success our daughter has ever had. The bonus for the family is that my husband and I have also grown immensely. We didn’t come here expecting our own involvement to be either so difficult or so fulfilling, and we finally have the hope of a healthy family.

The therapy has not been comfortable or easy. We have been stretched beyond anything we could have imagined. And we are thrilled with the results. We have a new daughter with confidence in herself, her family, and her life. She is willing to trust us, be truthful — and to finally love us. She goes out of her way to demonstrate love and concern. The change is palpable. She is relaxed, and her features have softened.

I know that only time can prove that these weeks were truly successful. But my heart feels the change, and my mind tells me that she will not return to her old ways because people who display such self-assurance have no need to destroy themselves. Besides, she will be too busy pursuing new dreams.

Our work is not done, and we readily acknowledge this. We will continue to do therapy at home. We expect to continue to make great strides. What happened here to make this therapy work when nothing else has? Obviously this is a question we have thought about a lot, but I’m sure many of the answers are yet to come, as we return home and continue to process our experiences here. Some things we can be pretty sure about now. For example:

  1. The number of hours per week spent in therapy would take months to do in a conventional one-hour per week format. Our focus day-in and day-out is on the therapy and on processing our experiences. Questions, problems, concerns are dealt with immediately.
  2. We have a team of professionals working with us all the time. The coordination is always smooth. There are different ideas, but never dissension.
  3. The therapists are personally warm and approachable. They laugh with each other and with you. There is none of the aloofness many therapists seem to feel is necessary to set appropriate boundaries. And yet boundaries are in fact clear and comfortable at all times. This combination of professionalism and personal approachability makes it possible to trust these people deeply. This may be the most important element in the success of the therapy.
  4. The therapists succeed in fostering total confidence in their knowledge and skill without appearing pedantic or academic.
  5. There is no time wasted. When they are ready to cut to the core of an issue, it is like a hot knife through butter… smooth and clean. Gently delivered but unrelenting statements leave no room for back peddling. Other therapies have allowed us to avoid discomfort to the detriment of the therapeutic results. Here, having gotten you to the core issues and shown you your own blocks, they invite you to act, to correct the problem, with their help, then and there, before your fear can change your mind! And yet there is no feeling of coercion, but rather support and concern. There is always a choice. This was very successful with our family.
  6. Our desperation, our knowledge that if this didn’t work, we might actually be defeated, made our commitment total. We came determined that it would work.

We went home a stronger family. Perhaps the greatest difference is that we are able to ask more of each other from love and demand less of each other from need. As for our daughter, she seems powerful rather than manipulative, ready to be a part of this new, strong family.

So now, how would I list five adjectives that describe how my family is feeling? “Resilient, renewed, hopeful, confident — and supremely grateful.”