Susan was referred to NOVA because of complex family issues affecting her schooling. She has been cared for by a friend of the family since she was an infant. Her father had been incarcerated at that time and her mother was only able to care for her brother. While the caregiver whom Susan refers to as grandma was committed to her role, she suffered from bouts of depression and had survived the suicide of her spouse. Susan was exposed to her caregiver’s vulnerable state when she copes by drinking alcohol. She also missed grandpa. The school reported that Susan was also taking her friends’ things and threatening them. Grandma would then use physical discipline on Susan.
After enrolling in NOVA, Susan responded well to the structure and coaching in the planning of her time. She learnt how to organise herself and adjusted to routines. Susan also learnt how to maintain healthy relationships and boundary issues. We also worked with her on decision making and the consideration of consequences. Her progress was phenomenal and she graduated far earlier than expected. Initially, Susan was not able to participate in parent-child sessions as she felt too exposed. Towards her graduation from the programme, she was actively participating in the sessions and able to respond to therapeutic interventions.
The school would leverage on our therapeutic relationship with Grandma to address Susan’s behaviour and complaints from other parents. Grandma responded well to the parenting and parent-child sessions. A referral was made to Trans Family Service Centre for case management and financial assistance; assessment of child protection issues; and caregiver’s long-standing issues with depression. Susan is now attending our after-school care programme and she is continuing to do well. We are still in collaboration with the FSC on her care and family situation.
Michelle was referred to NOVA for her poor academic standing and extremely poor parenting by her single mother who would physically discipline her in a harsh manner. Michelle would also at different times hide homework and refuse to complete the work especially when she faced an emotional struggle. Initial work with her mother was very difficult. We worked with the school to be the ones to address any misbehaviours so that we could help her mother reframe the situation and grow her understanding of Michelle’s unmet needs and coping.
As trust between us and Michelle’s mother developed, we were successful in averting the further use of physical discipline and Michelle’s mother demonstrated the ability to implement appropriate consequences and establish a structure and routine for her at home. Michelle’s mother had been responsive in empathising with her daughter and their relationship had improved. Michelle’s mother had also embraced the need for self-care.
Work with Michelle focused on managing hurts; assertiveness; self-esteem and decision making. She had improved in her organisational skills though she felt overwhelmed by the educational demands. Currently, we are working to help the family through the stages of finalising the divorce.