I came to ESCAYP as a lost and troubled young woman who no longer saw the point of living. I went to my first session very nervous and wasn’t sure what to expect. But my counsellor was very friendly and put me at ease straight away. I didn’t feel embarrassed telling her things and as I began to talk things through with her, I began to realise the source of many of my issues. Although I couldn’t control that source, becoming aware of it made me realise why I was feeling the way I was and my thoughts about myself and my situation started to change for the better. I began to feel like I had control of my life. This gave me a purpose, and something to live for. I feel visiting ESCAYP was a massive turning point in my life, and if it wasn’t for their support I really don’t know where I would be today. So for this, I would like to say thank you to everyone at ESCAYP as I know this charity is a vital service for many young people to help them find their way in life.
L. was 16 when referred by her mother. She describes herself as having been “Often sad and unhappy, I didn’t enjoy things. I was stressed about school”. Her mother supplemented this description with “Not eating. Anxious a lot, not sleeping”.
L’s scores on the RCADS at the start were into the “clinical” range on both social phobia and depression, and her mother scored her well into this range on most of the sub-scales. Similarly, emotional stress scored high for both of them in the SDQ. Her counsellor picked up a range of difficulties, mainly at the “mild” level.
By the end of the eight counselling sessions, L. herself and her counsellor identified considerable improvement, although her mother still gave high RCADS scores. She describes herself now in the following way: I spend time with my family and friends. I’m a bit stressed about University, but I have learnt how to cope with this.
Her mother agrees, saying counselling made her “a lot better”: She is happier, less stressed, appears to cope with school pressure better.
D. was aged 8 when referred to ESCAYP by her mother. Her most obvious problems related to her fear of dogs, but she also found it difficult to make friends with children in her age-group, and to keep friendships going. Her mother describes her as “having a sensitive nature, loving, kind-hearted, artistic, very intelligent”, but with no common sense and clumsy.
Her counsellor identified, as particular issues, for her anger, anxiety, bullying and self-esteem, and with a moderate risk of self-harm.
During the counselling sessions, she became more confident and upbeat about life in general, and by the end of the eight sessions, was able ignore dogs she passed. Her end of counselling assessment supported this, recording no, or only mild symptoms of these problems, with no risk of self-harm. She gave a score of 10 for “How well did we do?”
However, after about a month, the positive effect of counselling appeared to be diminishing, and five months later, her mother recognises that she “is slipping back to how she was before the counselling sessions”.
C. was 12 at the start of counselling. In her own words, she “felt happy but a bit cross sometimes”. She also talks about her anger and grumpiness. Her mother describes her as having very frequent “rages”, which could last up to 2 hours, and having little insight or self-regulation. Her counsellor identified a specific issue with anger. By the end of the 8 sessions, she felt that her behaviour had improved and she had learned how to control her “crossness”. Her mother endorses this: “Her rages are a lot shorter. She has more self-regulation and calms down a lot quicker. She has stopped throwing things!!” Her counsellor also assessed her anger as being much less of a problem by the end of counselling, and all other areas with slightly raised scores at the beginning had reduced to “minimal” difficulties. The risks identified were also no longer apparent.
B. was 17 when he started counselling. Beforehand, B. describes himself as extremely shy and depressed, talking to no-one and not particularly interested in anything. He had no confidence and felt suicidal. His mother confirms that he was very withdrawn and distant, and would not tell her what was wrong. His counsellor assessed his main problems to relate to anxiety, depression and family. His teachers placed his overall difficulties SDQ score in the “abnormal” range, although he scored himself considerably lower. He found that the sessions helped him “massively”, becoming more confident and self-aware. B. was particularly motivated by the poem “There’s a hole in my sidewalk”, which he could really relate to. After 10 counselling sessions he was integrating more in school, and had rekindled his interest in athletics His mother confirms that he became more confident and not as “down”. Life at home also improved. Three months after the end of counselling, he sums up his experience in this way: The counselling had massive benefits for me. It made me feel much better about myself, which has helped me improve my situation.