Rising sixth grader, Jonathan*, waited eagerly for his first virtual group therapy session to start. He glanced at the calendar on his grandma’s wall and sighed as he read June 2020. This school year was hard. He missed his friends and mourned the unsung, epic ending of his elementary school years.
His eyes darted back to the screen and his heart rushed as he entered the Zoom session. Multiple friendly faces appeared, including two ChildSavers therapists. Everyone waved and the kids giggled. Jonathan was happy to be surrounded by other rising sixth graders and two trusted adults who wanted to learn more about his journey.
Jonathan was usually the first to start conversation, affirm others, and made a point to engage quieter kids. He wanted everyone to be heard. Jonathan was confident but more so, he was resilient.
One afternoon, the therapists broached the subject of grief. He unmuted himself and spoke candidly of the recent death of his uncle. This was not the first time he had experienced loss and he knew by the way the group comforted him that he could open up further.
The children continued to speak about their trauma as weeks passed. One member of the group bravely spoke about the abuse she endured as a young child. Jonathan subconsciously touched the scar on his forehead as he listened. His heart swelled with empathy.
When she finished speaking, Jonathan affirmed her emotions and shared his experience too. Until age six, Jonathan was physically abused by the family members he was living with. One night, an argument between the adults transpired and anger was taken out on Jonathan. If not for immediate medical attention, Jonathan would have lost his sight.
His grandmother took full custody of him after the incident and promptly connected with ChildSavers. Jonathan received therapy until he was seven and showed signs of significant progress – enough to continue treatment on medicine alone.
But he wasn’t ashamed to be back in therapy four years later. He found himself wishing the group session could last two hours, not one.
The children also engaged in important conversations surrounding the pandemic and racial injustice, focusing on fairness and understanding each other’s struggles. Both the therapists and children were proud of the trusting, tight-knit culture this group had built.
The group has since expanded and Jonathan is enrolled in both group and individual therapy. He is driven to continually improve and reminds himself that trauma does not define his worth or value. Together, Jonathan and his therapist are working on building his coping skills. Instead of externalizing big feelings in unproductive ways, he’s learning to listen to his body’s reaction to trauma and respond appropriately by verbally processing emotions and staying active.
Children thrive when they feel safe. You are cultivating spaces for children to find healing – whether that is through individual, group, family, or Immediate Response therapy.
Nearly 1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder and only 20% of children of those children receive care from a specialized mental health care provider.
Since March, we’ve seen the need for children’s mental health services spike. The pandemic has brought on feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and anxiety. This, compounded with pre-pandemic trauma and stressors, has elevated this crisis of access.
By supporting ChildSavers, you are bridging the gap for hundreds of children to receive dire mental health services during one of the most difficult years of their lives. Thank you for helping to guide children to become their healthiest, more resilient self, and for following along with Jonathan on his journey.
*Details have been altered to protect the identity of this client and their loved ones.