The death of a loved one is a traumatic experience and grief manifests in a myriad of ways. Some people revert into themselves, withdrawing from the world at large; some people express their grief by further exploring their spirituality and some lash out at the world.
Thirteen-year-old Deena and her sister were raised by their grandfather and when he died of natural causes, Deena’s world fell apart. She was taken in by her uncle but removed from the home due to allegations of abuse. Her father gained custody but due to financial insecurity, the family moved around a lot and lacked a strong sense of stability.
She was referred to Community Partners by her probation officer after being caught for a string of offenses ranging from burglary to misdemeanor battery.
Diagnosed with adjustment disorder, Deena worked with CP therapist Desmond to address the trauma she had faced in her life as well as how to deal with her anger in a healthy way – identifying her triggers and understanding that when triggered, she can respond with breathing techniques and using conflict resolution instead of resorting to aggression and violence.
Deena has also opened up emotionally during family therapy sessions, speaking at length about the loss of her grandfather, domestic abuse and being separated from her family while in foster care. To achieve this, Desmond recommended that Deena read literature relating to similar circumstances and reflecting on her life as well as the lives of the characters. This technique not only assists in her therapy but also fosters a love of reading that Deena will surely carry through her life.
The therapy sessions have forged a fragile yet strong bond of trust between Deena and Desmond and now, she is working on her self-esteem and reaching out to her support system when she needs help, thus strengthening the connection between herself and her family.
Deena is now thriving – she’s starting high school next year, she’s a star athlete and valued member of the track team and plans to go to college and become a doctor.
“She is determined and very optimistic about her future,” said Desmond.
And from the sound of it, so is he.