12 year old with PTSD



My 12 year old granddaughter’s father died by suicide nearly 4 years ago. That was end stage of mental illness that had intensified over the years, and the family disease of alcoholism/addiction/mental illness. She (“betty”) her older sister (“Brenda”), and their Mom (my daughter “Belinda”) have survived financial, mental, emotional and physical abuse in this situation. Betty understandably began acting out violently in early childhood. She is not so violent towards others as when in the midst of the chaos, but she isolates and withdraws. She and her sister are visiting me for winter break, And I am so grateful that their mom arranges and pays for their air travel to come and visit. The older sister told me that that Betty had to be hospitalized for cutting, and is asking for therapy. their mom is having a really hard time finding a therapist. Part of her concern is that Betty has fixated on gender change and that in California therapists will somehow force treatment of hormones and ultimately surgery. I am very concerned that Betty won’t get help with what I assume is PTSD if priority is given to gender reassignment, and that their Mom is daunted by short supply of therapists, being forced to do gender reassignment, cost and the difficulty of finding a good therapeutic match. There has been talk of sending this poor kid to boarding school. So could it be true therapists would focus on gender reassignment of a minor rather than the underlying trauma that would be there regardless of any gender issues? As an adult child, I am a grateful member of Alanon and would love for them to find this program also, but their Mom has been dismissive of the value of that program. That’s my brief summary of the situation. How can I help this family? Thank you


Dear @Frida
I cannot answer your question but I can tell you that I am sorry you and your family are struggling. Your care and concern will open a path for your granddaughter. Maybe someone within SAMHA can give you counsel. At any rate, i hope you can take care of yourself and continue to convey your love to your daughter and granddaughters. :four_leaf_clover:


Hi @Frida, I’m a coach, and I’ve reached out to my network of coaches who are also therapists to ask them about this. I’ll let you know what I hear back.

I have a hard time believing a therapist could force hormones, etc. but you’d probably want to ask any potential therapist this question up front, and be clear about the concerns. The mom gets to decide who she lets work with her child, and she will need to find someone who is a good fit. Someone who works with children suffering from trauma.

If she can’t find a therapist, I would be happy to send over some referrals of trauma informed coaches who work with children and families. It would be an out of pocket expense, but probably cheaper than boarding school, and absolutely worth helping a child heal from trauma.


@Frida So far the answers I’m getting are that no ethical therapist would ever force hormones or reassignment surgery. I don’t think it’s a valid possibility, but even so I would discuss any and all concerns with the therapist BEFORE hiring them so you’re on the same page about goals for therapy.


Thank you so much for the responses. I too, found it hard to believe that a therapist, or any healthcare provider, could have more authority than the parent when it comes to treatment decisions. I am following up on the older (by 1 1/2 years) sister’s story, so there is some room for skepticism there. Not surprisingly, my family is a bit tricky, so I need to get all my ducks in a row before engaging. I do appreciate info on referrals and resources and I do believe that the more family members get on board with supporting each other the better. Again, thank you so much for the feedback.