More Client Vignettes
All clients have been de-identified
A young girl emerges from grief and a father is amazed
“Vanessa” was depressed. She lived with her dad who was worried about her ever since her mom died. He wanted her to have a better life than he did and wasn’t sure if that was possible. She was now in middle school and had no friends, got into arguments and fights daily and walked around with her hoodie up, face covered and eyes down. This is how she started therapy at Family Paths – barely a nod from her slumped position in a chair. Behind the posture though, her therapist saw stress and sorrow, and over the course of a year, she gave a voice to the fears and worries that kept Vanessa alone and isolated. Together they began creating strategies for facing her fears in small ways every day and learning new skills to manage her anxiety. Vanessa joined a club at school and began trying to find a friend. This was scary stuff, but the therapist cheered her attempts and watched as her confidence slowly built and her hoodie came off, her posture straightened and a smile emerged. Now Vanessa has a group of friends, and is seen as a leader in her school. Her dad was amazed and proud, and expressed hope for Vanessa’s future that he didn’t know was possible.
Preventing child abuse is a phone call away.
Recently, “Thomas” called and told us he was in therapy here as a foster child and he found it helped him to have someone to talk with to sort out his feelings. Now he is a dad and could see negative behaviors in himself that he recognized in his parents. He knew that if he didn’t get help soon, things could get worse for his own kids. He remembered Family Paths and looked us up. Since our 24-hour Parent Support hotline is available day and night, he just made a call and got the help he needed. Stopping child abuse before it happens is the core of our mission, and having immediate support for stressed parents can changes lives – now and in the future.
Severely neglected 4 year old “becomes a different child” after 6 months of our early childhood mental health specialized services.
“Brianna,” is a 4 year old foster child, who was removed from her mother’s care due to severe neglect, while her father was in jail. She was referred to our early childhood mental health specialized services within our Families in Transition (FIT) program as a result of displaying symptoms that limited her engagement with others and impacted her social-emotional development.
After 6 months of receiving dyadic therapy, where the therapist works with the child and caregiver together, her foster mother reported that “she is a different kid.” Brianna is more engaged, more expressive, playful and has been doing much better in pre-school. The therapist has also been meeting with Brianna’s biological mother mom to support the reunification process. The philosophy we work from encourages collaboration with all providers in this little girl’s life and has engaged all available family members – biological and foster family to create a supportive community of care to put Brianna’s development back on track.
Trauma repair work and skill building practices helped this mother of three.
“Diane” is a former client who called to express her appreciation for all that she learned in therapy and how she continues to benefit from and use the skills she gained years later. Diane had a very abusive and neglectful childhood. When she first came to therapy, she had three young children, and was living in a domestic violence shelter, having left an abusive relationship. Diane had very little confidence and was fearful of her abusive husband. In therapy, the focus was on trauma repair work using different skill building and mindfulness practice. When Diane ended treatment, she had enrolled in school to get new job skills, and 3 years later she is now working and in a stable relationship. Diane stated that the skills she learned in therapy she continues to use today. She said that while she initially thought these skills were “silly”, she discovered that they really changed how she was able to live her life and engage with the world. Diane said, “I discovered I really am a good mom. There are things I want to accomplish in my life and I know I can.”
Immigrant father struggled to relate to the children he had to leave behind.
Like many immigrant parents, “Jose” wasn’t able to come to this country with all of his children at once. His older children were left behind in the care of a relative until he was able to have them join him. He felt guilty about this gap in his relationship with his children and found himself struggling with how to relate to them since they were now teenagers. He often found himself yelling and there was a lot of tension for everyone. However, during the class Jose started to learn important information on child development that started to impact how he related to them. As the class progressed, he learned how to listen better and be patient, which was hard at first. When the class ended, he was proud to announce that his children have noticed the difference too, and they started giving him hugs more often. The home is now a more peaceful place for everyone and he expressed gratitude to the teacher for providing a safe and non-judgmental space where he could learn and grow.
Youth client “Carla” witnessed domestic violence in her family and a relative’s suicide attempt.
“Carla” started seeing a Family Paths’ Families in Transition therapist at her elementary school after she was referred for services because she was having emotional outbursts in class, getting into physical fights with classmates, hiding under her desk with the slightest provocation, and missing school regularly. During the assessment process with her and her parents, it was revealed that Carla witnessed significant domestic violence in her family, as well as a suicide attempt by a relative. She was experiencing separation anxiety disorder out of fear for her mother’s safety and wet the bed nightly. Our FIT therapist worked with Carla using play and art therapy interventions to learn new ways to express her feelings and helped her parents understand the impact of the traumatic events she witnessed. As a result of treatment, Carla’s parents have worked to create a safer, more consistent environment in the home and Carla is noticeably more stable in the classroom (with no more explosive outbursts), and her attendance and performance is significantly improved. Carla is now on track to successfully move forward academically and socially and the family as a whole has been strengthened.
“Gloria” feels empowered to take care of her son, and calmer, safer, and more able to be “out in the world.”
“Gloria” was in numerous domestic violent relationships before she began attending Family Paths’ trauma support group. She would come and be withdrawn and quiet. She told the other mothers that she has a hard time reaching out for help and setting boundaries, which sometimes put her children at risk. Over time, her participation in group gradually increased and she especially seemed to enjoy exercises that focused on practicing saying “no” in words and with her body. At one group session, Gloria entered the group agitated, saying that she had just learned that her son was physically harmed while he was visiting with a relative. She reported standing up for her son, saying to the other family members “This is not ok. This is child abuse!” Gloria said she wanted to make a child abuse report and asked the group leaders for help. As a result of the group support, Gloria reported feeling more empowered and proud of herself for really protecting and taking care of her son. She also reported feeling calmer and safer in her own body and more able to be “out in the world.”