Stories of Hope
Carlos’ behavior started rapidly deteriorating, both at home and at school. He couldn’t control his anger. He smashed walls and doors. He got in trouble at school. Caleb responded in a different way. He became anxious, withdrawn and despondent. His grades plummeted.
Their mom heard about Salesmanship Club’s therapeutic services through a friend. She was hesitant to call, but she knew she needed help. She loved her sons deeply and wished that she was able to give them everything they needed including reassurance and confidence. Yet she was having her own challenges as she transitioned from being a dependent wife to being an independent woman and single parent.
When Mrs. Silva and her sons began seeing a therapist at Salesmanship Club, it was surprisingly easy for them to start talking about what they were experiencing. They found that by dedicating time each week to discussing their situation, they drew closer to each other. They also drew closer to their church family.
Therapy also created change for each of them as individuals. Caleb started regaining his self-esteem and developing courage. He was able to speak with his father in a respectful way while explaining his frustration with their new relationship. Although this didn’t result in significant change in his dad, Caleb was able to turn the focus on to what was going right in his life. He dedicated himself to school athletics and pushed himself to new achievements. His grades improved.
Carlos learned to identify the signs of his oncoming anger and to take steps to keep it under control. He took comfort from realizing that his past didn’t need to dictate his future. He realized that his own actions – not his mom’s, his dad’s, or his brother’s - would determine his path forward. He also rededicated himself to school, sports and athletic excellence.
And their mom? She’s changed too. Therapy helped her realize that her concern for her boys had caused her to become very over-protective. As a newly-single mom, she
admitted that she was scared to give the boys any freedom. Over time, the three were able to sit down together and negotiate new rules. Mom understood that it was her job to protect her sons, but also to encourage them to develop into strong, capable young men. To do this, they needed some independence. They needed to be able to make mistakes and learn from them.
And life goes on. The Silva family understands that new challenges will likely appear in the future, but they feel better prepared to face them. They recommend family therapy for other families who feel overwhelmed by new situations, challenges and/or relationships.
Let’s talk about Gabe, (not his real name). He was the sort of boy that most teachers frankly just did not want in their classroom. One fifth grade teacher described him “an instigator” and “a real troublemaker.”
Gabe had been suspended from his school in Dallas at least once before coming to Salesmanship Club’s Therapeutic After School Program. At this program for preteens and teens, Gabe participated in lots of group activities with other youth who had also been referred to the program due to troubles at school and home.
Over the course of several weeks, Gabe received lots of information and insights about improving communication, solving problems and strengthening his self-control. He had an opportunity to put that new information into action over the course of exciting field trips in Dallas and challenging experiential activities at Salesmanship Club’s campus on Harry Hines Boulevard.
As part of the therapy sessions that his parents and siblings participated in, the entire family came together to discuss what was going on at home. Gradually, the issues that troubled this family bubbled to the surface. It wasn’t always pretty, but each difficult conversation brought this family ever closer to understanding where the hot buttons were. And each time a button got pressed, time was made to process together what had just transpired.
Gabe is on the road to success both at home and at school. The teacher who once described him as a troublemaker now has this to say:
“As a teacher who sees the direct result of Salesmanship Club’s work, I want to tell you how deeply grateful and appreciative I am of your program. I know that Gabe’s progress over the past few months is because of your work, and he is better for it. We are spending less energy on solving social conflicts and focusing more energy on his math work. He is making friends, monitoring his own behavior, and working hard to make good choices.”
We are very proud of Gabe and his entire family. Gabe has developed a maturity that will guide him well through future challenges at home and school. Gabe’s family is being supportive not just with the “Atta boy!” comments, but by also realizing that each family member’s decisions and communications impact the other.
Baby steps in one area lead to giant steps in another.