Carmen was seeking mental health services due to her crippling anxiety, depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts, and recurring panic attacks. Having suffered from gang-related trauma, at the time of her intake Carmen’s symptoms were so severe that they resulted in her frequently visiting the Emergency Room due to physical complaints.
She’d not attended her high school graduation, dropped out of college, and had quit her college softball team. Also, Carmen was refusing to leave her home, failing to attend to her hygiene, and isolating herself from family and friends.
Normalizing the Struggles of Mental Illness
The WYS therapist quickly determined Carmen was having symptoms of both anxiety and depression and immediately began employing a variety of techniques to help Carmen gain progress toward overcoming her impairing symptoms. This included gradual exposure to anxious situations to help Carmen take control over them. It was also important for Carmen to learn how talking about the problem outside of herself helps to separate the difficult emotions from who she is as a person.
Another key element of Carmen’s healing was to learn about what anxiety and depression are, so that she could begin to understand that many people face these issues and that she was not alone. She learned skills like relaxation, cognitive coping, sensory coping, mindfulness, and grounding skills. These techniques were covered in her individual sessions, but also sometimes with her family present.
The WYS therapist’s strength-based approach, continual celebration of progress, and use of the therapeutic relationship were key in building Carmen’s safety, hope, and motivation throughout treatment.
Reclaiming Her Life One Day at a Time
Since starting treatment six months ago, Carmen now leaves her home regularly, attends to her hygiene, obtained a full-time job, spends time with her friends and family, and has been playing some softball again which is her centerpiece strength and main passion in life.
Carmen hasn’t experienced suicidal thoughts or panic attacks since the start of treatment, has conquered her fears of returning to the many places where she previously experienced panic. Plus, she’s making steps towards re-enrolling in college and playing softball again on a regular basis. She’ll be graduating from therapy in about 30 days.