Children and their parents come to us seeking help for a wide range of problems. Often, these problems are complex and require a lot of time, patience and perseverance for progress to be made. Some things, though, can be treated effectively in a relatively brief amount of time if the proper intervention is applied. Below is an example of providing a little assistance to gain a big impact on the quality of life in one family.
Raised by her grandparents because of her mother’s mental illness, Jordan experienced some unexpected obstacles when her mother left the state of Florida while Jordan was still in elementary school. Because of these circumstances, Jordan has struggled with depression throughout her life. Over time, Jordan’s depression affected her quality of life and made the transition from elementary to middle school an especially difficult one.
With the support of a Full Service Schools therapist, Jordan found that recovery from depression was possible, and that she could achieve her goals.
Jordan worked with several therapists before she met her Full Service Schools therapist, Alison, at Sandalwood Family Resource Center. They had an instant connection. With Alison’s help and support, Jordan was able to improve her focus in school. She brought up her grades and is passing all of her classes. Jordan plans on attending a local college and becoming a psychologist, a dream she has had since she was a child.
Jordan’s story is made possible by donors, like you, who support initiatives such as the neighborhood-based collaborative, Full Service Schools. This initiative provides free health and human services, including therapeutic services for students, ensuring that our community’s children can focus on reaching their goals and being successful in school.
15 year old female who began therapy in July. Within a few visits she was able to discuss a date rape incident with me that had occurred in May. She hadn’t talked about it with any adult. We were able to process the events to bring her to a comfort level to share with her mother. She feared that her mother would be disappointed in her. Her mother responded exactly opposite and was very supportive. We were able to make the report together for her healing process to begin. The client was also able to start medication to help with her anxiety level and is doing better at home and school.
Four old Alex was brought to Child Guidance Center by his mother. He had witnessed domestic violence between his parents, who are now separated. The father was in jail. Upon admission, Alex was very aggressive toward his mother, hitting her, yelling, throwing tantrums, calling her names like “stupid”. Mother admitted she was afraid of him. Alex was also defiant at school and constantly getting into fights with peers. His therapists worked with him through Play Therapy. He was able to express through play, the domestic violence he had witnessed. The therapists also worked with the mother by providing supportive therapy. This therapy helped her to set firm boundaries and consequences with Alex. As Alex worked through much of his anger, he then presented with excessive worrying about his mother. He wanted to leave sessions to check on her. He got the afterschool worker to call his mother to make sure she was okay. This was indicative of his fear of abandonment as he had lost his father to jail and later a move to another state. After a year, Alex’s behavior improved significantly. He was no longer aggressive toward his mother or others. He was able to stay in sessions without having to check on his mother. He was also compliant with his mother’s and teacher’s directions.
Thomas, an 8 year-old Caucasian male was admitted to Child Guidance Center (“CGC”) on April 19, 2011, with serious behavioral problems including daily calls from school about disruptive behavior, poor attention, inappropriate social interactions with peers, physically aggressive, uncooperative, and defiant. In addition, he had poor manual dexterity, and did not dress or feed himself. His PCP diagnosed him 4 years prior to this time with ADHD. Before coming to CGC, he was kicked out of gymnastics, computer and Karate classes because he was too disruptive and inappropriate. He improved so much by the summer that he was able to complete a gymnastics class. Thomas attended weekly therapy, and had an evaluation with our Medical Director who suggested he may have Autism Spectrum Disorder. The therapist referred mom to CARD, for Case Management and Occupational Therapy, in addition to weekly therapy. The therapist worked with the mom as well. Thomas attends therapy regularly and continues to make very good progress. Today Thomas’ behavior in school is nearly perfect every day with huge smiles and A’s on his daily agenda. And his report card was very good. He now dresses, feeds, and bathes himself, is loved by his peers and teachers, pays attention and works hard at perfecting his social skills relating to feelings. Mom is over-the-moon happy about his amazing progress in such a short time. She can’t believe he’s the same child.
Eddie (name changed) came to Child Guidance Center at the tender age of five because his grandparents were seeking help for his hyperactive behavior. His parents lived a chaotic life and Eddie was exposed to violence from a very young age. His mother died of AIDS and his father was in and out jail, so his grandmother became his legal guardian.
Despite her lack of means, Eddie’s grandmother has been his hero by making sure Eddie never slips through the cracks. She was able to secure case management services, in-home and in-school therapy, and psychiatric services through CGC, and placement in ESE Pre-Kindergarten through the school system. Because of these interventions, Eddie will be attending Kindergarten in the Fall in a regular classroom.
Eddie’s grandmother has a learner’s heart and has been very eager to put into practice all of the behavior modification and parenting techniques that her in-home therapist has shown her through role-playing, modeling, and psycho-education.
Through play therapy and therapeutic games, Eddie has been able to learn to sit still and focus on completing tasks. Because he is in therapy, he was able to be correctly diagnosed with ADHD and receive the necessary medication to treat the disorder by a psychiatrist. The right medication has allowed Eddie to not only sit still and not distract others, but to thrive in the classroom. His teachers report that Eddie is one of their best students.
Kenny’s (name changed) parents sought in-home and in-school therapy for their adolescent son because of his anger and defiance at home and school. Kenny lived with his mother, step-father, older brother, and younger brother. Although his family was loving and supportive, Kenny’s parents felt they could not control his angry outbursts and poor school performance without family therapy and therapy for their son. Kenny was on the verge of being expelled from the private school he was attending because of his aggressive behavior.
Through individual therapy, Kenny was able to explore the roots of his anger and learn to take responsibility for his emotions and his actions. Kenny learned coping skills that he now uses whenever he feels himself losing control. Also, through therapy, he has been able to let go of a lot of the negative emotions affecting his poor choices and behavior.
During treatment, Kenny’s parents decided to enroll him in his local public school with his brothers since Kenny said he was not happy at his old school. This change in environment, along with therapy for Kenny and his family, was enough to change the course of Kenny’s academic career and perhaps his future. Kenny’s grades and FCATS improved, and more importantly, Kenny no longer has any symptoms of his original diagnosis, Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
Through family therapy, the entire family was able to engage in healthy communication and take the skills they learned and use them in weekly family meetings where they discuss issues and feelings with each other. The fact that this family is so close, loving, and eager to make positive changes has made all the difference in Kenny’s success and positive changes in his life.
Annie’s (name changed) birth parents were both drug addicts so her grandmother officially adopted her and her brother, making grandmother, “mom.” Annie’s mother sought in-home and in-school therapy for her daughter because she felt that now that Annie was a teenager, her mother could no longer control her irresponsible behavior and poor choices.
Annie was immediately eager to talk to a therapist and quickly changed from immature, depressed, and defiant to poised, insightful, and full of hope. Through cognitive therapy, Annie has been able to get in touch with the roots of her depression and reframe her negative thoughts into more realistic ones.
Annie has gone from having no plans for her life despite graduating from high school this year, to learning how to drive, filling out college applications and financial aid forms on her own, making her own plans to visit out-of-town family over the summer, and having a lead role in the school musical.
Annie is now excited about her future and is working with her therapist to narrow down her interests in order to choose a college major. Annie is interested in studying psychology and possibly becoming a therapist some day because she believes that the reason she had to go through being abandoned by her birth parents was so that she could help other people who are in emotional pain.
Maddie (name changed) is a 3 1/2 year old little girl who could throw gigantic tantrums! Bedtime was a nightmare for her young parents who both worked during the day and even were attending college classes. Needless to say, nobody was getting very much sleep. And the struggle continued for much of the night as Maddie would climb into their bed long after they assumed she was finally asleep.
After just one session, her parents came back to report her tantrums had stopped and everybody was happier.
During the third session, Maddie’s behavior chart was proudly presented with several stars and stickers prominently displayed. The therapist happily opened the treat drawer to offer Maddie additional rewards.
The last session focused on reviewing Maddie’s progress and answering the final questions of the parents.
After four sessions the parents reported uninterrupted sleep which resulted in being well rested and having a higher level of energy to apply toward the employment and parenting responsibility.
Submitted by Stephanie Rose, LMHC and CGC Outpatient Therapist
When Tommy (name changed) came to Child Guidance Center, his young life had been filled with chaos and loss. Being the oldest of four siblings, he was often responsible for their care due to his parents’ drug addiction and depression. His family life was filled with exposure to domestic violence. When his parents separated, Tommy volunteered to be the sole sibling to live with his father. He felt responsible for keeping his father from making any new suicidal attempts.
Soon after, Tommy experienced the unexpected deaths of his grandparents in a tragic house fire. This further diminished the stability of the family and they moved into a homeless shelter.
Eventually, Tommy and his sibling were placed in foster care. Later, they were adopted. Tommy and a brother were adopted by one family and his other two siblings were adopted by another family. Once more, everything familiar to Tommy had drastically changed.
Tommy was aggressive and oppositional when he came to Child Guidance Center for help. He had frequent outbursts of anger. His behavior reflected the extreme stressors he had experienced during the first twelve years of his young life. Counseling focused on helping him cope with his multiple losses so he could begin planning for his future.
Today, Tommy is more than surviving; he is thriving. He has strong academics and plays on a community sports team. He has learned to express his feelings rather than act them out. For the first time in his life, Tommy has begun developing plans for his future. He hopes to be accepted into a magnet school where he can pursue his interest in aeronautics and space exploration.