With civic unrest, a presidential election, and a pandemic, the past few months have been enough to make us want to pull out hair and scream. However, we as adults have the ability to identify our emotions and calm ourselves down when anger arises.
For some of our clients, anger is an overwhelming emotion that they don’t know how to manage and it ends up bursting out of them. It affects their school time, home, and friendships. It is out of one of these situations that we have a Victor Success Story.
Big Emotions, Little Person
Things became very serious for 8 year old John* when he was facing expulsion at his elementary school in 2018. He was in crisis, exhibiting severe aggressive and destructive behaviors in school and at home. He was the type of kid that threw chairs in class, got into fights at school, and was aggressive towards teachers.
No one wanted to see John in this much emotional turmoil. He had a good support system at home and at school. With his siblings also at school, his mom a volunteer and active in the PTA, and his teachers and the administrative staff knowing him since he was in kindergarten, he had a team rooting for him to gain better control over his emotions. We wish all our kids could be so lucky.
John showed improvements but also backslid and there weren't any consistent changes sticking. After a serious aggressive episode, it was explained to him that he may have to change schools. It was at this point that our Victor team was introduced.
We went to work, focusing on helping John to regulate his emotions so he could stay at the school and with the community that cares so much about him. He was also really determined to do better and was receptive to the interventions and skills being presented to him.
Similar to other successful cases, consistency was a key factor in helping John. His single mother of six, who is also a grandmother of one, utilized the skills and interventions we suggested to her. His clinician and behavior specialist were in the home two days a week and at the school another two days a week (face to face services before COVID).
With consistency, support, and a non-judgmental environment, Victor staff and his family were able to help John turn around his behavior. They created incentives for John to strive for and week by week were able to help him overcome the hurdles that popped up.
Knowing John is an athlete and loves Spider-Man and The Flash, his clinician incorporated them into his services. By using his favorite super heroes as examples, they could talk about feelings and making choices in response to those feelings. By asking questions like, “What would Spider-Man do if he faced this same conflict?” John stayed more engaged. Because what child doesn’t want to make their hero proud?
We are lucky at Victor to have clinicians that care so much for their clients. By spending time really getting to know John and what he is interested in, they were able to craft sessions to motivate and inspire him. He could learn about controlling his emotions and behavior through identification with one of his heroes, The Flash. For John, relating to his hero particularly assisted in the face of using digital counseling after COVID restraints were imposed.
John is now graduating the program - he's not only graduating, but he can recite his skills. He is able to identify specific scenarios and discuss what he should do. He is now able to recognize his feelings and remember what tools he has to manage them.
His family is optimistic as well. His mother said she is very happy and excited that he is graduating and feels like she can manage his behavior with the skills and interventions that the clinician and behavior specialist have taught her over the past couple years.
It has taken a couple years to get here, including time in a pandemic. It’s the moments of success when John would demonstrate his understanding and ability to use a new tool that served as inspiration and motivation over the years. Moments where the client succeeds are huge and what it’s all about. It’s not just teaching a kid how to stay in school, but it is also about setting them up for a healthier and happier life.
His clinician said that she believes it is Victor’s responsibility to teach and help these families improve their lives. That looks like developing better cognitive and emotional skills to help reduce the symptoms of whatever is going on in their family’s life and help them cope with various challenges. That belief is what gets her through the ups and downs of being a therapist in the midst of so many societal stresses.
If you have similar hopes and ideas about how to improve families’ lives and their children’s emotional well-being, maybe Victor is the place for you. Follow the link below to see what job openings are available that you would be a good fit for!