She shuts the door and pads softly to her bed – a soft mass of wrinkled sheets twisted around a fading comforter.
Samantha hasn’t left her room in a few days. She’s not sure if she can leave it again.
A senior in high school, 17-year-old Samantha was suffering from generalized anxiety and depression which had gotten so bad that she no longer wanted to engage socially or leave her house.
“She was very uncertain about obtaining services,” said therapist Marina. “From us or from other agencies. So, I advocated for her. I told her that it’s her choice but that entering into a therapeutic relationship would be beneficial to her.”
Initially, Samantha was reluctant to engage and would cancel sessions frequently but Marina kept at it.
“She started to open up when I shared my own experiences with anxiety and depression,” Marina said.
Wary of taking prescription medicine to help abate her depression and anxiety, Samantha was eager to find out what her other options were.
“Before I became a therapist, I trained as a health coach. I studied nutrition and holistic therapies, so I’m familiar with which deficiencies result in which issues,” Marina said. “And when Samantha told me she wanted to explore other avenues, I told her that I was all for her not going the psychotropic route.”
Marina spent a lot of time talking with Samantha and working on a plan which would best suit the needs of her young client.
The first thing she recommended was for Samantha to make an appointment with her pediatrician.
“There are a lot of things that can affect someone – nutrition, hormonal imbalance, heavy metal toxicity – and I encouraged Samantha to get full care, keep talking to her doctor and get a full medical analysis.”
After a few weeks, there was a complete shift in Samantha’s attitude towards therapy. She became increasingly engaged to the point where she actually came in to the Community Partners’ offices and re-signed all of her consent forms.
“Samantha said she wasn’t with it when she did her initial intake and wanted another chance to look at them,” Marina said. “She wanted to make sure that she was an active part of the process.”
After several weeks, Samantha was able to go back to school and did so with great enthusiasm, even paying out of pocket for five AP exams.
“Samantha wants to be a doctor,” Marina explained. “When we first met, I could see that she is a self-advocate and I really wanted to pull that out in her.”
Now, Samantha’s social and academic calendars are full and she prides herself on getting up early in the mornings to exercise and take care of her body.
“It’s important to listen to your children and address their needs,” Marina said. “There is no one-size-fits-all. You just need to dig deep and learn what’s right for your child.”