Finding a Way In

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Teenage Girl with Her Head Down Looking Desponding in Parking Lot

Twelve-year-old Amber was referred to our Day Treatment Program because of her depression, impulsivity, and attention difficulties. She exhibited a number of self-destructive behaviors, poor hygiene, and school refusal. Her angry outbursts prevented her from attending public school.

During her year in Day Treatment, she made significant improvements, but her therapist, Andrew, felt he had not really gotten through to her. After completing the Day Treatment Program, Amber continued to receive therapy from Andrew as well as skills training from Family Solutions staff.

One day, Amber came to a session with Andrew, an earbud still dangling from her ear while she listened to her iPod. Normally such devices are discouraged during school or therapy sessions, but Andrew noticed Amber was singing to herself, and she looked happier than he had ever seen her. She was radiant. Andrew quietly waited until the song was over and she had placed the iPod in her backpack.

“What are you listening to, Amber?” he asked. Amber had been singing along to “This Is Me,” which is about a young girl allowing others to see the greatness in her. Amber shared that she had a deep love for music and singing, saying she felt very connected with the message of the song.

A music-lover himself, Andrew got an idea. He suggested that together they rewrite the lyrics of the song to focus on Amber’s strengths. They made a list of all of the things she does well, like singing, memorizing lyrics, creating art, and learning quickly. Together, they sang “This Is Me,” tailor-made for Amber.

Andrew had found a positive way of connecting with Amber, helping her shift from self-defeating behaviors to a deeper form of self-confidence. She began paying attention to her hygiene and dress, and she stopped her self-mutilating behaviors. Amber blossomed. She graduated from the ICTS Program and returned to public school this past fall.

Photo by Rory N. Finney and used for illustration purposes only. Client and counselor names have been changed to protect the subject’s anonymity.
 
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