How Counseling Can Lead to Thriving | J's Story

Last updated: December 8, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. PT

Originally published: October 16, 2020, at 10:29 a.m. PT

success story

If you met Jay today, you would see a strong, empowered and self-led 21-year-old. But that hasn’t always been the case for her. It takes a lot of hard work to overcome a traumatic past. Like a lot of kids, Jay grew up as the oldest child and quickly became responsible for the care of her siblings while her own needs were neglected.  

In her young life she had experienced physical and sexual abuse in her home. Due to her traumatic experiences and the messages she received from her family growing up, she began to believe that when bad things happened it was her fault and that she deserved what she got.  

Jay developed a negative core belief that she was a burden to others and this compelled her desire to end her life. Jay came to counseling at the Y Social Impact Center at 19, suffering from debilitating anxiety with panic attacks, severe depression including on-going suicidal ideation and developmental post-traumatic stress which fueled explosive anger episodes.  

In addition to counseling, Jay was connected with the Y’s YV-Lifeset program which provided her with intensive case management, safety planning and additional emotional support. With this new support, Jay was able to complete a housing assessment at the YAS resource center which helped her move into a safe apartment and escape her abusive family relationships.  

Early in her counseling, Jay was still in frequent crisis and in the first six months she called her counselor multiple times a week in tears, and she was rushed to the hospital twice for suicidal ideation. After Jay began to establish trust with her therapist, she became willing to finally allow herself to be vulnerable and be cared for emotionally. In therapy Jay grieved the loss of her childhood and processed the trauma that she had endured. Jay learned healthier ways to relate to herself and provide the care for herself that she never received as a child. Slowly, Jay began to improve, she learned about her attachment patterns and how to create healthier relationships, she learned coping skills for emotional regulation, she learned anger management and began setting healthy boundaries. 

Today Jay is alive. Almost three years later and Jay is in a healthy relationship where violence is not tolerated, she is working a stable job while taking college courses.  

Jay has a bright future ahead and although she says she no longer “needs” counseling she continues to attend because she knows it’s a healthy way for her to practice self-care and maintain her mental health. 

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