A 6 year old named Lucy was seen for counseling due to high level of change and stress in her young life. Lucy showed a high level of mood symptoms. There were patterns of yelling, arguing, lying and tantrum like behaviors.
Lucy was involved in treatment for years and appeared to plateau in progress. Lucy sometimes struggled to be verbal in session and guardian involvement was often needed. Art interventions were often utilized. She struggled to utilize positive coping skills in between sessions. Guardians needed sessions as well to increase their awareness of trauma and how it impacts child development.
Lucy finally found the strength and courage to disclose significant memories related to violence that she had been exposed to. The therapist supported Lucy and her family through necessary police and legal involvement. Around this time, mood symptoms increased dramatically and the therapist had contact with the primary care physician regarding possible need for medication. Through this collaboration with the medical provider, Lucy benefited from medication which decreased symptoms and helped Lucy in treatment.
Unfortunately around the time Lucy processed traumatic memories, there were additional stressors that she endured related to conflict between guardians and stressful placement changes; which led to Lucy, at times, being located outside of Marshfield. Telehealth options allowed the therapist to continue to support Lucy and her family through this stressful time.
Lucy returned to the area and completed Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, an evidenced based approach to help children heal from trauma. As she completed this treatment, she was finally able to sleep better, had less mood issues, had less behavioral issues at school and home, increased her awareness of strengths and increased her self-esteem. She completely transformed into a happy, confident young woman.
Lucy recently successfully graduated from counseling after 5 years! Her last session was a celebration because of the hard work and positive changes she made. It involved doing an art activity and talking about all of the progress that she made. Her therapist was so very proud of the young woman Lucy had become and all of the positive changes she made. The strength and courage she showed during treatment was incredible!
Lucy was lucky to have positive guardians passionate and committed to helping her to heal and get to a place of thriving. This case shows how much impact trauma can have on incredible children. It shows the challenges of building positive safe relationships with children who have been hurt and have such significant trust issues. It shows that long term treatment is sometimes needed. And it is a reminder of how much United Way support helps meet the mental health needs in our community.