We have a spare bed again.
Our latest has left. The gentle, frightened, musically talented, passive, compliant, nearly-adult young man with what everyone continues to call 'mental health issues'. He was so vulnerable, you just wanted to wrap him in cotton wool.
He was small for his age, smaller for trying to shrink himself invisible. He was of the opinion he didn't amount to much, found small talk impossible, and one thing that struck me was that the reason he didn't take any interest in other people was down to the fact that he thought he mattered so little it wouldn't make any difference if he did take an interest.
Actually, not so long ago, his internal problems would probably have gone undetected, and only the chaos of his home and the other external negative influences on him would have been under the microscope.
I'm starting to wonder how much bigger the mental and emotional issues affecting children to come into care are starting to appear and are going to play a bigger and bigger part in fostering, which is good news because we can get to grips even better.
He's not gone home, which is what he's dead certain he wants, but to a sort of halfway house; a rented room is a house-share not far from his real home.
Going home wouldn't be good for him because the place is shot through with triggers which have built up down the years. The look of his front door and what lies behind it, counting the boots in the hallway to see who's inside and lurking, the kitchen where there was that screaming match, the back room where the police officer took him to find out what happened while the other family members discussed with the other officer in the front room. Etc etc etc.
You always miss things about them when they go, this time I miss opportunities. I could have done more in the short time he was here.
So I've been reading up on courses in counselling. I'm motivated at the moment because all the time I remember not knowing what to do to help him; what to say, how to behave.
'Mental health issues'. The phrase covers such a huge range of things, and though I respect psychology as a practice I'm frustrated that there's so much more to discover about our minds, and especially how we can repair things that have gone wrong.
Take the boy/man who has just left. What was wrong with him? We heard terms like Aspergers in mosaic form, Narcissistic personality disorder, transference, attachment disorders... the list could have gone on for eternity.
The only solutions yet known to man are medication and counselling. Well I can't administer anything better than tea and sympathy, but it's the sympathy I'm thinking about doing better which is why I'm thinking about doing a counselling course. Blimey it's a year long and there's paperwork and it's not cheap.
But one thing I notice that the course notes talk about is that counselling can be a useful tool in the workplace.
Well that goes for fostering with knobs on.