Friday, October 7, 2011

Keeping Students on Track One Day at a Time

October is when it all starts.  We’ve identified which students will be in each group and selected students that will best benefit from individual counseling. I’m so excited that Ryan will be joining our Newspaper Group this year!  He has been working with PwC on an individual basis for the past three years, and I’m excited he “graduated” to a small group setting. 

While Ryan seems like a sweet smiling kid now, it took three years to even get close to this point.  When I first met Ryan he was angry and disruptive in class.  He always sat on the outskirts of his classroom.  Even if his seat was already in the corner, he would make the effort to pull it further away from his other classmates.  He also had trouble socializing and was often accused of bullying other students.

It was difficult to engage him in counseling at first.  I tried a number of therapy techniques to get him to open up and finally was able to connect through “play therapy”.  Rather than speaking to me directly, Ryan used puppets to express his emotions.  Slowly his feelings came out—that he and his siblings are being raised by his grandmother, how his mother is absent in his life and his father floats in and out of the family and about his sister being abused by their father.  I could tell that Ryan wanted to be strong and protect his family but was scared.  All the anger and fear he had bottled up caused him to isolate himself in school and lash out when he felt threatened.

Ryan made TREMENDOUS strides over the past three years, especially at the end of last year.  I was a little worried when his teacher started calling me at the beginning of the school year to say he was acting up again.  As a social worker, I need to remember it’s always an up and down struggle.  We only work with the students a few hours a week and we can’t control what happens outside school.  Three months is a long time. I’m afraid some of his bad behaviors might have resurfaced, but hopefully I can get him back on track soon. I just need to remember to take one day at a time.

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