Staci has a lot on her plate. A single mother, she is the primary caregiver for her two children with special needs and her elderly parents who live with them. When Staci sought services at HopeSprings Counseling Services for her son, Jacob,* she did not realize how much her own life would change. Once skeptical for hope, she now sees there is light in the darkness.
"I was on the precipice of explosion," Staci said, "but Jennifer showed me the light switch and now I can turn it on."
Jennifer, a HopeSprings therapist, began working with Jacob in November 2018. Jacob has autism spectrum disorder (ASD)—a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. He was suffering from severe depression and social anxiety which caused him to have emotional outbursts and shut down when he was approached with certain issues.
When Jennifer did her initial assessment of Jacob, she found him to have what she calls the "super power," meaning very intelligent with an incredibly advanced vocabulary for a 13-year-old. However, despite this "super power" and his high functioning ability, Jacob was having a difficult time at school and in his daily activities.
Jennifer began helping Jacob learn to better cope with his negative feelings and control his emotional outbursts during counseling sessions and at home. She worked with him on self care and taught him techniques and provided tools for calming down when he was feeling strong emotions. Over time, Jacob has learned to use these tools to control himself and has become more independent.
Staci was so pleased with how Jennifer was able to connect with her son, she sought help for herself. Counseling was not new to Staci but sessions with Jennifer were and she experienced progress she hadn’t had in her previous 20+ years of treatment.
"Never, not even once, were any of my other therapists able to get me to open up like Jennifer has," Staci said.
Jennifer helped Staci understand how the trauma she experienced in her youth and from past relationships affected her stress levels and interaction with her family. Jennifer was able to further help Staci by connecting her with a behavioral therapy group and a Wellness Coach to help with parenting skills and the connection between physical and mental health.
A common source of pain for both Jacob and Staci was their experience with Jacob’s father, who was constantly in and out of their life. It was evident to Jennifer that they both needed closure from that relationship. Jennifer was able to connect the three of them and the meeting was a real turning point for the family, especially Jacob, who saw much of his depression and anxiety fade afterward.
"I cannot imagine what Jacob would be like if not for Jennifer and HopeSprings," Staci said.
Jacob completed therapy in May but Staci continues to work on her complex trauma with Jennifer, whose therapeutic services has led to a lot of hope and healing for this family. Staci even gave Jennifer a red Superman cape and told her she was somebody’s hero. Maybe Jennifer has a "super power" of her own.
*name has been changed to protect the privacy of our youth
Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels
Experiencing a difficult life situation? HopeSprings Counseling Services can help. A program of Cunningham Children's Home, HopeSprings offers counseling expertise to youth, adults and families in our community. Learn more here.