Jana came to the Center at age 8 because she was experiencing very serious verbalization issues. Her parents were divorced. Her father had been arrested for physically abusing her. Jana had learned over her short life that her feelings didn’t matter and her voice wasn’t heard. Without counseling, Jana would have been silent for a long, long time, possibly finding extremely maladaptive ways to express herself. Instead, she is beginning to heal.
Charly came to the Center’s C.O.O.L. (Children Overcoming the Obstacles of Life) program at age six because he was struggling with the cancer treatments he had been receiving for 2½ years. He had become increasingly noncompliant and combative. Therapy has been about helping Charly find his voice to speak his experience without fear in order to assimilate this very grown-up, life-death situation into his very young life.
Charlotte is a 4-year-old girl who was in a serious car accident that killed her brother and seriously debilitated her father. The trauma that Charlotte experienced with the accident, ambulance ride, hospital stay, death of her brother, and significant changes in her father was very difficult for Charlotte. She was confused and overwhelmed with emotions. In coming to the Center’s C.O.O.L. counselors, Charlotte was able to use play therapy techniques to express her feelings and thoughts. Charlotte gradually was able to reprocess the trauma and resolve her grief, anger, confusion, and hurt. Now Charlotte is freer to be a happy child and accept the changes in her family.
Claudia is a young single mother working in the educational field. When she came for counseling, she was depressed and had a great deal of anxiety about most things in life. This anxiety revealed itself as significant fear stemming from life experiences where she had not been safe. Over time, she did establish trust in her therapist and the therapy process. She worked through family issues, her grief over her only child’s leaving home, and made some career decisions. Today Claudia is much happier, far less fearful, less depressed, and can enjoy life for the first time.
Susan is a single young adult. She comes from an alcoholic family where her father was affectionate, paid attention to her, and came to her sports activities when he was sober. He was also angry, demeaning, and violent when drunk. Susan learned to deny her negative feelings about him in order to maintain the positive relationship with him. She came to therapy feeling depressed. She explained she had thought about breaking up with her boyfriend of three years for a long time, but she couldn’t seem to do it. She reported serious incidents of emotional and verbal abuse from him, and violation of her personal space and belongings. In therapy, we worked to help her see how the pattern of relationship she learned with her father was being repeated in her relationship with her boyfriend, i.e., putting up with and minimizing abuse in order to maintain the positive aspects of the relationship and the hope that things would get better. Once she understood this cognitively and continued to receive support and objective feedback in therapy, her self esteem and self confidence grew, and she realized she was worth being treated better in a relationship.