Our 17 year old son needs help and our three other children desperately need relief.

Question: I am hoping you may be able to guide me to where I can find some sort of residential programme to help my 17 year old son who has had psychological counselling since the age of 11. There appears to be very little "assisted help" for those who do not have a specific tag such as aspergers but who are psychologically disturbed or have a "personality disorder". We are talking about a near legal adult who takes large doses of drugs a day and a family with 3 other children who desperately need relief. Unfortunately we appear not to be able to influence the behaviours of our son but he needs help in developing living skills and assistance in socializing.

Can you please forward any relevant information which may direct us to help? We are currently residing in Central Queensland but are financially capable of assisting our son should we find suitable programs for him. Thanks, Anna

Answer: Dear Anna, This is such a difficult situation for your family and will need a multi-pronged response. I'm sure you've done a lot of research and reading over the years so to some degree this may be covering old ground. With regard to your son's drug dependency this is almost certainly a way he has discovered to suppress pain in his life. If he is willing and able to get into a live-in detox facility, the benefits would include being exposed to gentle exploration of his lack of living skills and how this relates to the pain he is trying to press down. The Salvation Army have detox facilities, perhaps a call to their Queensland head office might bring some benefit. In NSW I know they had a very successful program in the Newcastle area. Distance is always a major issue in our land.

Concerning the wider family dynamics it is important for you as parents to work towards establishing and enforcing boundaries within the family that enable the siblings to see themselves as achieving positive ways of protecting themseves emotionally without the need to be negative towards their brother. I would suggest seeing a practitioner trained in family therapy who can help explore these boundary issues with the whole family.

Answer provided by Stephen McElwee, Counsellor

The Ted Noffs Association may also be able to help.

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