Geoff , his name changed to protect his identity, is a 15 year old boy who witnessed severe domestic violence between his parents throughout his early years and whose mother was alcohol dependent. Geoff’s father left the family when Geoff was seven and he and his two younger siblings now live with their mother who is recently in recovery from addiction.
Geoff arrived at Young Oasis describing himself as bored and lonely, adding that he finds schoolwork difficult. Geoff told his therapist that his mother regularly tells him there is something wrong with him, that he believes that he is different to other children and ‘bad at school’. Geoff grew up caring for his younger siblings, particularly during the times when his mother was substance affected. Sometimes he wakes up panicking in the middle of the night.
It was clear during therapy how important family was to Geoff and how fierce his loyalty was towards both his mother and siblings. The trust within the therapeutic relationship developed and Geoff became increasingly open about his hopes and fears. Geoff wanted a job, a council flat and a car but he didn’t know how to get there. He spoke about not wanting anything “flash”, just what he saw other people have.
Geoff struggled academically, failing most of his mock GCSEs. He would bring his homework into sessions, take it out of his bag and just look at it in despair. The therapist helped him work with these feelings, acknowledging the difficulties he had survived in his family. Geoff talked about his relationship with his girlfriend and how he sometimes got jealous and angry. At times Geoff regressed in these sessions, playing with toy cars in the sand-tray and entering into an imaginary world.
Coming towards the ending of the therapy cycle, Geoff is more confident in how he talks about his family, he listens attentively to feedback and is able to talk and think about possibilities for finding work without falling into despair. In relation to feelings of anger, Geoff is able to link his thinking to his feelings and is less reactive when feeling provoked.
Geoff began therapy as a disempowered young man, struggling to negotiate his way through school without asking for support and without a father role-model. Four months later, he can articulate and express his feelings and, although he does not fit into the school system, has an understanding that there are many routes to success in the world.