To demonstrate the power of counseling, we share the story of Carlos. We have changed the name and identifying details to preserve privacy.
“Sometimes it feels like my life is a roller coaster and counseling is my seat belt.” ~ Carlos
Carlos has experienced great hardship in his young life. He came to the United States five years ago at age three. He came with his mother, who migrated from Mexico to search for a job and security. But it hasn’t been easy for Carlos or his mother. Sadly, there has been much heartbreak. Carlos experienced abuse by another adult, and he witnessed violence upon his mother. Trauma has long-lasting effects on people, especially when it happens in childhood.
Carlos’ mother did not know where to turn for help. She works the nightshift at a low-wage job and has very little household resources, yet she found her way to a bilingual children’s counselor, Alicia Krpan, at the Center’s through it’s specialized services for children and adolescents, C.O.O.L. (Children Overcoming the Obstacles in Life). COOL is an experienctial approach to therapy, integrating art, play, food, sports, nature and music into the counseling process. Alicia provides services at the Center’s home facility and also at a satellite center in the Drake neighborhood. Both locations provide the a safe, welcoming place for children like Carlos to find hope and healing.
“It has been such a privilege to help Carlos to know that the trauma he and his mother experienced was not his fault,” said his counselor Alicia. “He now knows that he did nothing wrong. In his counseling sessions I can remind him he is brave and beautiful and awesome.”
Alicia employed the use of a therapeutic sand table (more info here) to help Carlos communicate his concerns, and to help Carlos to understand that he can heal and become whole again.
Carlos and his counselor Alicia communicate in English, but his mother only speaks Spanish. It is scary for a parent to sign up their child for a service in a language they don’t understand. It could put the child in an awkward position of translating their own counseling sessions for their parents. However, counselor Alicia is able to speak with Carlos’ mother in Spanish and help her to understand the process. Carlos only needs to think about his own healing, and not how to explain it to his mother. Carlos can stay focused on being a child.