How Can I Help My Troubled Cousin?
May 22, 2009 8:11 PM   Subscribe

How can I support my troubled cousin who suffers from attachment disorder?

Fifteen years ago my evangelical aunt and uncle adopted a child with a traumatic history including physical and sexual abuse. They tried to raise her faithfully, sending her to Christian school, homeschooling her when problems arose, doing 'holding therapy,' and layering on the structure and limitations. When she graduated high school she soon ran away, finding work eventually as an exotic dancer. Hitting bottom, she returned home and her parents offered to enroll her in a faith-based rehab program, which she agreed to, then ran away from. Now she lives five hundred miles away, unemployed, and - having just been evicted - in a servile relationship with an older man, just one of a bunch of demeaning, unsupportive relationships.

She's unhappy; her parents are upset, but they can't agree on a solution.

My cousin and I have a casual, friendly relationship. I like her and want to see her do well, but I'm not prepared to ask her to move in with me. What I'd like to find is some kind of program or set of programs/support groups/case-workers that could substitute for the restrictive, dogmatic faith-based program she's understandably averse to. Cost is an issue; I guess one of the advantages of the religious-based programs is they're often free.

Any recs for resources, medical, governmental or politely religious? She's in North Carolina now, though I don't know if she has official residency.
posted by harnharn to Human Relations (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Therapy, ASAP.
posted by so_gracefully at 10:55 PM on May 22, 2009

Start from the other direction. What help is she willing to accept?

If you start from what she wants, you'll have a much tighter focus on what you're looking to find. The other advantage is you're putting her in control of her own situation. Does she want housing, in-patient help, job counseling? You've got to start with her.
posted by 26.2 at 12:11 AM on May 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

Do you know where she is in NC? There are a number of us in the state who might know resources within our areas.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:58 AM on May 23, 2009

Response by poster: Her town is Burlington; I'm in Philadelphia. I really appreciate it!

Regarding 'the other direction' - what I've articulated is what she wants: a program or set of them that addresses her range of issues while allowing her a degree of freedom (imo especially freedom of thought, the one area dogmatic religious programs are most insistent on restricting) .
posted by harnharn at 1:51 PM on May 23, 2009

Here's the website for the Alamance County mental health agency who are more likely to know specific programs. I'm in Durham which is a little too far to overlap much in services.

I don't know the extent of her disability, but she might be a good candidate for a Clubhouse--a psycho-social rehabilitation center designed to help people with serious mental illness develop life skills. Together House is in Burlington and Sanctuary House is in Greensboro (which is very close). I don't know much about these particular programs (a relative has been a clubhouse worker for most of her career and has interviewed at both of them), but in general clubhouses are operated as non-profits with little or no financial contributions required from members.

In either case, if something like that is appropriate for her, she would probably need a referral from a mental healthcare provider, so the county agency is probably where to start.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:06 PM on May 23, 2009

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