My previous experience has been extremely varied, however my speciality is working with young people and their families. Previous clients I have helped include:
12 week intervention: 15 year old with severe anxiety in crowds and large spaces. Was unable to function independently at times.
Other people and crowds in general scared this client. We began by explore her fears and addressing what elements scared her. To understand her emotions and physicalise her fear we used Inside Out, and the Boggart from Harry Potter.
Over the weeks she developed techniques to:
- refocus her emotions
- gain control over her thoughts
- feel protected from the outside world.
- physically creating her personal space,
- manifesting her fears (like a boggart) and finding ways to laugh at them
- recognising all of her emotions separately
- choosing which emotion to put in charge at any given time.
She now presents with a higher degree of self-confidence and self-esteem. As a result she had developed ways to focus on herself. This allows her to engage in activities she previously excluded herself from.
She quoted: “Working on my anxiety using my imagination and characters that make me feel safe, has given me the power to overcome my fear. I can now remind myself that I am in charge of my emotions and that I can control how I choose to feel.”
12 week intervention: 5 year old and 8 year old girls referred due to exposure to domestic violence between parents. Subsequent parental separation. Both siblings were seen on a one-to-one basis due to their different needs.
5 Year Old
The client used story and metaphor. She was unable to speak about her emotions or difficulties. However, her feelings came out through the characters and situations she created.
She appeared to need security and support. She was often unable to ask for help. Her self-reliance and inability to be vulnerable made it harder to see what her main concerns were.
In her outcome assessments she expressed herself. By the end it showed improvement in all areas apart from “safety”. This was expected due to the family situation at the time.
Overall she became more self-assured and through play dealt with a number of her insecurities. She used art materials to create objects that give her strength whenever she needs it.
8 Year Old
The therapy gave her a space to honestly explore how she felt about home. She was able to state that she preferred dad’s home to mum’s home. Her wish was to see dad more often.
Over the weeks, we established that mum showed she cared differently to dad.
She highlighted her own strengths and wishes for the future. Her outcome measures showed positive progress in all areas.
Individual in early twenties with severe anxiety. Dealt with recent family trauma, and had low self-esteem from childhood family dynamics
In order to support the client, we used a variety of techniques. These included a lot of talk therapy. Alongside this, we explored family dynamics, her strengths, and introduced coping mechanisms for her create greater awareness of her anxiety. Over time the client was even able to discuss some of her issues with her family members, putting past fears to rest.
Through the intervention she:
- Rebuilt relationships with family members
- Let go of her guilt
- Found passion in her work
- Appreciated herself
She now presents with a higher degree of self-confidence and self-esteem. She no longer feels responsible for the behaviour of other family members. As a result she is happier and able to engage in positive family interactions, without feelings of anxiety.
12 session intervention: 6 year old struggling with anger management. Family stress resulting from his sister’s poor health.
He appeared to rely on the consistency and routine nature of the sessions. Particularly when there was a lot of change occurring at home in relation to his sister’s health. He showed that these changes were affecting him through the characters and role–play that he engaged in. The cathartic release in one of the sessions appeared to allow him to move past the initial difficulties. This led to him finding other ways to discuss and engage with these changes.
He grew in confidence through the intervention. Now he is able to verbally communicate and express things that are of importance to him. He had developed ways to safely share his feelings. His change of interests in stories and characters suggested that he found optimism, positivity and developed resilience.
There was an increase in all areas of his outcome measures; the highest results were in the areas of relationships, confidence and self-esteem, friends and education. These results are reflective of his increased ability to communicate and rely on the support of others. His teacher’s commented that he is now: making general chit chat, having a go at tasks and asking for help when needed.
I am afraid that if had not had this intervention his behaviour would have become more and more extreme. This intervention provided him with space to process his large emotions. As a result he is positively integrating back into school and beginning to manage his behaviour.
12 session intervention: 9 year old child who would not try new foods, and had a history of OCD related behaviours.
We explored her perception of food and the expectations her parents have for her. After we established that her taste in food was different to her parents, we brought mum into the sessions to compare their expectations and desires when it came to the child’s food.
Mum began to bring food in for the child to try. These were items that the child refused to eat at home. Even when blindfolded, it took many sessions for child to try anything new. She was still resistant towards the end of the intervention. We changed her home routine and suggested she begin preparing her own dinners. This was occurring daily by the time the intervention ended.
The client was not ready or open to changing her behaviour. She claimed that she was scared of certain foods. However, she was able to negotiate eating them as long as there were other treats that she wanted to eat. As a result, the therapy did gave her mum the space and opportunity to share her thoughts about food. She was able to tell her daughter what she wanted for her.
There was an emotional reaction that came from the child’s change in dinner routine. It is possible that this change may make an impact on her long term behaviour. The intervention provided mum the space and support to recognise that part of this behaviour resulted from the family routine. Mum was open to trying new interventions and dealing with the difficult, often stubborn result from her child during this process.
A school audit was conducted and showed how we could improve concentration, greater attendance and class engagement.
We implemented the following to achieve this:
- One-to-one and group initiatives were provided to the students that needed it most
- Workshops and awareness talks were given on mental health conditions and self-care, as well as other issues that emerged
- Optional drop-in sessions were offered to the whole school community (students, parents, teachers and support staff) on a daily basis, to manage low-level emotional issues and offer short-term support
- Training was provided to staff and parents on common child development theories and identification
- Teachers were able to obtain advice and support to deal with challenging conversations and situations, as well as support understanding the psychological state of the students involved
- Regular reviews of the overall health of the school were conducted in order to identify how to continue improvement
- Ensured that outcomes were measured at the start and end of each intervention to effectively monitor success and improvement
- Literature on mental health awareness and emotional communication techniques were provided to the entire school community and posted around the school
All of these combined interventions made conversations about mental health easier to begin. Therefore issues were easier and quicker to address and resolve.
The confidential nature of each intervention meant that each individual felt safe to share their honest thoughts and feelings. Students were more punctual, attendance improved and classroom disruption reduced.
As a result the overall emotional and psychological health of the organisation improved.
14 year old foster child with severe learning disabilities. Displayed a need for anger management and issues with his sexual awareness and identity.
He had difficulty talking or engaging in the therapeutic relationship. His attention span was short and he could be stubborn. This made it difficult to help him open up about anything.
The one occasion when he did open up resulted in him attempting an inappropriate form of contact with me. The situation was dealt with swiftly and appropriately. We discussed his behaviour and the boundaries related to it.
Since the establishment of these firm boundaries, he did not revisit the situation. He was avoidant and required competitive activities to be kept engaged within sessions.
Due to his history of movement as a foster child, forming any trust within the therapeutic relationship required much time and patience. Within our intervention he was becoming more open and trusting.