Here at CPLA we encourage our counselors to write Stories of Hope at the end of each school year. These stories consist of a positive experience that a counselor has had with a student client. The counselors change the name of the student to ensure confidentiality. Below we share a few of our most recent moving Stories of Hope. We hope they will provide insight into the impact that CPLA has on our students.
I was referred to this student after her grandfather passed away. Her mother was concerned that she was not expressing her emotions or was bottling them up. The student expressed the same concern, stating that she has trouble expressing and feeling emotions. She was also open about her past experiences in therapy with multiple therapists that she didn’t like very much. We spent time processing how she felt emotionally and physically in time of distress. My student was very able to identify her physical and emotional sensations.
I was lucky enough to continue seeing this student via telehealth after Covid-19. We were able to continue her work and process her emotions during the stay at home order. By the end of our time together, she was able to identify specific areas of growth in her life. I validated her on the great work she did with me. She expressed that she had never had a therapist like me before and she hopes she can find one again. One of her biggest issues in the past was therapists minimizing her emotions by stating they understood what she was going through, and she said I never made her feel that way. I am so proud of her and everything she has accomplished while I was seeing her and I know she is destined for great things.
Helping Antonio Say Goodbye
Antonio, a five year old, was referred to counseling because of the unexpected and tragic death of his grandfather. My grieving student had become a frightened little boy, feeling the loss of his grandfather, experiencing tantrums at home and in class. This student was having difficulty understanding his pain of grief; he became furious and was not sleeping well, a common fear that many bereaved children experience. The student was fearful of his death and had thoughts that his parents were dying too.
For several weeks, the student and I had our sessions through play and art. One day the student set out a pretend funeral and put a monkey in a box and called it a coffin, telling me the monkey was dead. I invited him to tell me what he would like to say to the monkey; he shared with me how special the monkey was to him and how much he loved him, and wished he were not dead. The following week he colored a picture, and under the picture, I offered to write his eulogy as he recited it to me. I pulled out some plastic flowers to add to our play. His eyes filled with sadness and joy of seeing how our play was his reality. There were moments of intense love, happiness, unexpected kindness, and even laughter. When the student said his eulogy and goodbyes, he turned and said, I miss my grandfather, but I am going to be OK. I thank him for sharing his plays with me, together we both found hope of life and love.
Compassion Despite Adversity
Maria was 12 and in 6th grade when we first started counseling. She was self-referred and said she just wanted to talk to someone. As she began opening up, I learned that Maria had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and this has greatly impacted her life. She was forced to switch schools because school nurses were not on top of giving Maria her insulin, often leading her to feel sick. After complications put her in the hospital for a week, she was behind on much of her assignments. While her teachers were understanding and eased her workload, her peers could not understand why she didn’t have to do the same amount of work as they did. The other student’s began bullying Maria, leaving her feeling very alone. As our sessions went on, the amount of empathy I saw in Maria was astounding.
Though she had so much she could complain about, she still found empathy for those peers who could not understand, and tried to understand their struggles. The pandemic and racial rioting that has arisen over the past months has brought up questions on how to address this with children. As Maria and I talked about what was happening in the world, she spoke so thoughtfully and compassionately about others struggles and how to help. She felt moved to write prayers for the victims of crime and the virus within our session, as religion brings her a great sense of peace and hope. As I reflect on my time with Maria, I can’t help but be excited to see how this child changes the world, as she has surely changed mine.