Jenn just turned 17 years old when she came to Catholic Charities’ mental health services program. Her school referred her for counseling due to her struggle with suicidal thoughts, being bullied at school, skipping and failing classes, and fighting with other students.
Catholic Charities diagnosed her with anxiety and depression and supplied her with mental health counseling. Jenn was also referred to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for psychiatric and physical health counseling. She has been working through past trauma, and has been able to learn healthier ways to cope.
Jenn has been in Catholic Charities care for over a year and a half now. Trusting her life to God through confirmation is a big part of her journey during this time. She is making much healthier choices and is stronger in her ability to advocate for herself. She is thriving at school and excited to graduate at the end of this academic year – she’s even on track to complete all of her required credits a semester early. Her counselor here stated, “I could not be more proud of this young woman and all of the work she has put in to healing herself and changing her life, despite the many obstacles that she has faced. She is amazing and inspiring!”
Creating Happy Moments
Seven-year-old Manuel overcame significant behavioral and emotional challenges through counseling with Rosa, one of 21 licensed social workers and therapists that make up Catholic Charities Mental Health Services team.
It was time for Manuel to “graduate” from therapy, and Rosa asked him to share what he was feeling.
He walked over to a poster about feelings and ran his hand over all of the feelings.
“I feel a little bit of everything right now,” Manuel confided.
Rosa shared how proud she was in the progress he made and how confident she was that he would be successful.
At the end of the session, Manuel asked Rosa to look at her computer to see how much time he spent with her in therapy. It was 37 hours. With a parting hug, the Manuel said, “Those were the happiest 37 hours of my life.”
Catholic Charities’ Early Childhood Mental Health consulting services intervened. A consultant trained in early childhood mental health met with the school director, teacher and AJ’s mother to assess the situation and develop an action plan.
The consultant identified a number of sensory issues that needed to be managed. Together, with the teacher, the consultant designed a behavior modification plan that the family supported. The goal was to reduce sensory issues that led to violent outbursts.
The plan was shared with AJ so he could learn how to better regulate his behavior in the classroom. His teacher, now more sensitive of potential triggers, developed de-escalation strategies. His mother reinforced good behavior with positive praise at home.
The plan is working. AJ has not had any incidents of aggression since being referred to the consultant.
An inpatient drug treatment center referred Carl to Catholic Charities.
The 26-year-old is trying to stay clean and manage his anxiety. But Carl lacks elf-confidence and feels controlled by his father.
“I’m a coward and a child who needs his dad to take care of him,” Carl shared through tears during a counseling session.
Over the last few months, Carl is learning through counseling how to take control of his life. He ended a toxic relationship with a girlfriend, developed a supportive relationship with his Alcoholic Anonymous sponsor, started exercising and journaling to reduce his anxiety and has had frank, adult conversations with his father.
Carl realizes his journey towards sobriety and independence has just started. But he’s committed to counseling and says he feels blessed by each new day.
Diane’s family doctor encouraged her to seek treatment for her severe anxiety and depression at Catholic Charities because her mental stress was beginning to affect her physical health.
Yet the 52-year-old was skeptical and reluctant when she visited the Catholic Charities counselor. How would this work? Do people ever get better? Questions persisted.
The counselor taught Diane ways to decrease anxiety and depression. Months later, Diane realized she was indeed feeling better than when she started counseling. Soon the skeptic began sharing her success with others, recommending the benefits of professional counseling.
Diane now looks at the big picture in how far she has come and doesn’t let the small stressers overwhelm her anymore more. She is also better at managing physical health symptoms now that her mental health has improved.
At Diane’s most recent session, her counselor recommended a plan for discharge. People do get better with counseling. Diane learned that counseling works.
To schedule a screening for anxiety or depression, call 866-635-9716 for a confidential appointment.
Preventing a Child Suicide
Jack was only eight years old when his babysitter introduced him to smoking drugs. His concerned mother brought him to Catholic Charities for counseling because she worried the babysitter’s boyfriend may have touched him inappropriately as well.
One day during a session the counselor invited Jack to play. He was fascinated with the “treasure boxes” in the playroom. One by one he explored them but he was reluctant to share his thoughts. So the counselor asked him to put something in an empty treasure box that he would like to get rid of in his life.
After several minutes, Jack called the counselor over and said, “This is what I want to get rid of – this is it!”
Curious, the counselor peeked inside the treasure box and saw two toy knives.
“What does this mean for you,” she asked.”
“When I came here the first time, I was planning to kill myself. After coming here these past weeks, I have never thought of harming myself again.”
The next week during his regular session, Jack discovered a toy knife and brought it to the counselor. “This is the last knife,” he told her.
The counselor reports that Jack is doing great and dreams of being an artist. He hopes to see his art on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum one day.
Picture of Despair Turns Bright
Elizabeth cringed when she came across her 13-year-old daughter’s drawings. The pictures were violent, dark and suggestive of self-injury.
Unsure what to do or how to approach her daughter, Elizabeth talked to one of her daughter’s teachers. The teacher referred 13-year-old Abbey immediately for mental health counseling provided at the school by Catholic Charities.
The counselor began seeing Abbey and recognized she was in danger of harming herself. So the counselor recommended treatment in a hospital for Abbey’s safety. After her release, Abbey continued counseling with Catholic Charities. She learned how to use therapy to manage her depression in a way that would not lead to her harming herself.
Now, Abbey is using art as a tool to manage her feelings as well as other techniques introduced by the counselor. Abbey also receives medical treatment by Dr. Roberto Soria, a psychiatrist on staff with Catholic Charities, to stabilize her symptoms.
It’s been two years since her mother found the pictures of despair and pain. Abbey, who just turned 15, says she’s never been happier.
Catholic Charities provides bilingual mental health counseling at Dater High School and Withrow High School in Cincinnati and across 15 schools in Butler County. The mental health services team provided 611 sessions for 62 schoolchildren in Butler County alone during the first six months of year.
Counseling Eases Bitterness, Improves a Life
Angry and disappointed with her life, Ruth knew she was capable of so much more. So she sought counseling from Catholic Charities at Citylink.
She lived in transitional housing, didn’t have a job and relied on marijuana to deal with stress and anxiety. While her parents and children are nearby, she didn’t feel like she had much social or family support. Alone and dependent on social service agencies to meet her basic needs, Ruth clung to hope.
Through hard work at and consistent counseling, Ruth’s life is changing. Support and accountability in therapy enabled Ruth to stop using substances to regulate her moods and emotions. Instead, she is dealing with the trauma she experienced on the streets as a teenager and a life marked by intense episodes of violence and abuse. Therapy shows Ruth how to confront her codependency issues and draw healthy relationship boundaries with family and friends.
Ruth’s bitterness and anxiety are decreasing now. She just completed an entrepreneurship program where she developed a product and networked with mentors and investors. She is working to get her new product to market. She’s enrolled in a certification program at a local college and plans to move out of transitional housing. Ruth attributes the changes to the months she spent in counseling. She believes in herself now. She puts more time and energy into healthier habits.
Learn more about Catholic Charities affordable and confidential counseling services.
“This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”
because he had taken a BB-gun to school. The counselor referred the family to Catholic Charities for school-based therapy that is offered to schoolchildren throughout Butler Country.
The first meeting with the therapist included a diagnostic assessment revealing Suzanne and Carl’s relationship was strained. “It was like watching a boiling pot ready to explode,” recalled the therapist.
As they talked about their relationship, Suzanne shared some of the steps she had taken to limit “bad influences” around Carl. He wasn’t allowed to leave the house, go out with friends, play sports or go to a basketball game with his stepfather.
Carl revealed that he knew his mother saw him as a “bad boy,” and that he kept his feelings from her because he didn’t think she would listen. During the counseling sessions, Carl was restless. He wouldn’t sit still and would leave his seat. This confirmed the lack of control his teachers had described.
The counselor recommended that Carl join the school’s basketball team because he needed physical activity. Eventually, Suzanne agreed. After two months of weekly therapy and playing basketball, Carl’s behavior and school grades improved. His teachers report that he stays on task in the classroom and no longer disrupts instruction.
Finally, Suzanne is happy with her son again, noticing a dramatic improvement in their relationship.
community. That changed one night last year when a fire at his apartment complex took every material possession he had earned.
Thankfully, he was not at home when the fire broke out, but the knowledge of what could have happened and the feelings of vulnerability awakened old traumas from his childhood.
Only two months later, Raphael had developed a very acute and specific phobia toward fires. He was unable to light a gas stove. He would become distressed to the point of trembling at the mere image of a flame, even a cartoon. This condition progressed until he rarely could even sleep, and when he did it was near a window with a fire extinguisher and baseball bat nearby to aid in any escape.
Unable even to work, he found it impossible to find new housing and restart his life. At his family’s urging, and five months of progressive distress, Raphael entered counseling through Catholic Charities.
Using a technique called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; our counselor helped Raphael confront not only his irrational thoughts, but the issues in his life that spurred them. At his first session, his physical reaction to images of flames was apparent. In fact he couldn’t tolerate it for more than a minute. But with time and new coping skills and relaxation techniques, he progressed to where he could handle up to 15 minutes of exposure without effect.
Over the course of treatment his mood began to change and he started to reconnect with his family and community. After 10 weeks, his condition had improved to the point he no longer had any fear of fire or ignited objects. In fact, he was back to work and fully self-sufficient once more.
Raphael made this happen because he had the support he needed right there in his community. He says the biggest mistake he made was waiting so long to engage a therapist, because it was nothing at all like he had imagined.
For more information about affordable, confidential counseling, visit www.ccswoh.org/services/counseling.
Victoriana was five years old when she saw her father gunned down in front of their home. The blood-tinged image has haunted her for 10 years. But now she is talking about this traumatic event thanks to the new bilingual mental health counseling sessions at Dater High School.
An influx of about 40 students from Central America enrolled in the west side school in recent months. Adolescence is challenging for most teens but these students come to school with extra challenges.
Many traveled weeks to arrive at the U.S. border only to be detained even longer before traveling by plane to reunite with family in Cincinnati. Most traveled alone unable to speak English.
In addition to English skills, cultural barriers must be overcome. Little things like lunch are different here. In Central America, students leave school to have their lunch of tortillas and beans with family. Adjusting to an uninterrupted school day and an American-style meal is difficult. Also, the family structure may be different. While many students have been reunited with their families here, other students have left behind mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters. These are just a few of the new stressors facing teens like Victoriana.
A number of students Patrick Reynolds-Berry sees have mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, adjustment disorders, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from trauma. Some suffered violence first hand. Every teen is different and faces unique challenges.
In Victoriana’s case, she’s terrified of being sent back to Honduras where she received death threats, and she’s getting reacquainted with a mother she hasn’t seen since her mother fled their home country after her father’s death.
“She’s had a lot of trauma and no one to talk to about it until now. The fact that she is opening up and doing so well shows how resilient she is,” Patrick says. “She’s like so many of the kids I see who to improve through education and therapy. It blows me away how strong these students are. Still, kids like Victoriana worry about being deported.”
Providing that Ray of Hope
We all know guys like David. They’re the ones we’re careful around because we never know how they’ll react. We tell ourselves they just need time to find themselves. In most cases we’re right, but with David, there was more to it.
David always had problems in school. His parents knew he was smart and worked hard when he applied himself, but as he grew into manhood those instances became harder to come by. There always was a reason: The teacher didn’t like him; The kid next to him on the bus wouldn’t stop bugging him; His boss was a jerk.
Once he’d aged out of his parents’ health coverage – and with a spotty work record that left him bordering on unemployable – David was is desperate straits. He went to a non-profit organization looking for employment help and his caseworker recognized something in him that nobody had before. And she knew there was only one resource of last resort for guys like David, so she referred him to Catholic Charities.
Your contributions make it possible for us to match clients like David with counselors who can equip them to address their problems so they can lead productive lives and contribute to our community.
David had an undiagnosed personality disorder. With some coping techniques that helped him handle his social anxiety, coupled with listening skills that taught him how to read social cues, we empowered him to take responsibility for his life.
Today he’s held the same job for more than four months. That may not seem like a long time, but for David it’s a personal record. Not only that but his supervisors give him consistently high marks for his work and his attitude. He checks in from time to time and probably never will completely leave his anxieties behind. Still, because Catholic Charities is here for him, David and all those who share his poverty of spirit can make a contribution to our community.
Healing the Mind
When Pat contacted our Mental Health Services Program in the fall of 2011, he was growing very weary of a debilitating medical condition. Several years earlier, Pat had been diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia, a progressive neurological disorder which was making speech and movement increasingly difficult. Pat sadly reported that children sometimes feared him because of his unsteady movements, and that adults occasionally expressed concern that he might have had too much to drink. Pat doesn’t drink.
During Pat’s first counseling session, he was willing to commit to weekly sessions for at least six weeks. His counselor assured him that he would see things differently soon if he made this important first step. She explained that this would give them time to conduct a thorough diagnostic assessment, to develop an individualized treatment plan, and to begin working toward an improved outlook for his future. She further explained that she would be giving him weekly homework assignments, and that the completion of these assignments would help him make progress more quickly.
Only a few months after calling our agency for help, Pat began arriving for his sessions with a bright smile on his face. He had begun to attend adult education classes at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash, and he was considering applying for a moderator’s position himself. Six months later, Pat had reconnected with friends from high school on facebook, and he had enjoyed a night of laughter and reminiscing at his 30th class reunion. “I forgot what great friends I had when I was younger,” he said. “I should have known they’d still want to be a part of my life.”
A year and a half from his first counseling appointment, Pat is volunteering as a moderator for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. He shares his knowledge and passion for classic movies, and enjoys his vastly increased social network on a regular basis. “I wouldn’t have believed this was possible a couple years ago,” said Pat. “I still have a lot to offer.”