Sound of Slamming Doors Now Replaced By Peaceful Calm: How One PACT Therapist Provided Hope and Healing
Parents and Children Together (PACT) Therapists work with families to improve family functioning, teach effective parenting skills, and enhance child behavior. In this story, Megan Akinmoladun, KVC Nebraska team member and PACT Therapist, describes how she helped Johanna’s family, who was experiencing challenges with a daughter’s angry, aggressive behavior. Now, Johanna, her partner Jake, and their three children have grown to become a more stable and emotionally connected family. The names of clients in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.
Is your family struggling to manage difficult behaviors or aggression? Have you noticed your child withdrawing socially, struggling in school or feeling sad or hopeless? Learn more about the PACT program and see if you qualify for these life-changing services.
Difficult Behaviors Lead to Frustration & Stress
When I first met Johanna, she and her family were struggling to manage 10-year-old Courtney’s challenging behaviors like refusing to follow directions at home or school, acting out with physical aggression, and bullying classmates at school. Every day she would scream, slam doors, stomp her feet, physically push her mother, and throw things when she became upset. Johanna especially struggled in the mornings when she tried waking Courtney up for school. Johanna noticed aggressive behaviors in Courtney since she was three years old.
Before Megan and PACT, our household felt out of control. When my daughter acted out, we didn’t know how to parent her. Our family’s stress level stayed at an all-time high from sun up to sun down. We had more bad days than good. —Johanna
Johanna struggled with drug addiction in the past and because of this, she said she never learned how to appropriately take care of her daughter. She didn’t know how to respond to or care for Courtney’s emotional or physical needs. The family tried other therapists and programs in the past, but Johanna admits she didn’t utilize the skills they learned. She said she struggled with taking care of her own emotional needs, let alone Courtney’s.
Empowering Change & Teaching Effective Parenting Skills
The stress on her family was overwhelming, and Johanna knew she needed to do something that would help her family heal. She started working with our PACT program and that’s when they met me. As we started working together, I taught Johanna and her partner, Jake, how to implement better structure and routine in their home and encouraged them to start spending quality one-on-one time with their kids. This bonding time helped them build stronger relationships with each other and their children, especially Courtney.
I also taught them how to be consistent when implementing discipline and taking care of their own emotional needs as well as their children’s. As they practiced regulating their own emotions during stressful situations, they modeled appropriate behaviors and reactions for their children.
As I worked with Courtney, I taught her about mindfulness and how to use guided imagery to “go to her happy place.” These techniques showed her how to better control her emotions when she starts to get upset. We worked on slowing her thoughts down and thinking before she spoke. This helped her learn how to be aware of other people’s feelings and how her words and actions impacted them.
Because of PACT, We’re A Stronger Family – A Note from Johanna
Johanna wrote the following section as she reflected on how the PACT program helped her family.
When I called KVC to refer my family for PACT services, I was hopeless and struggling to see a future in which I could ever appropriately manage my daughter’s behaviors. We tried other therapists and programs in the past, but they never seemed to help. Since the life-changing services Megan provided through PACT were free of charge, it was easy to dedicate ourselves to the process. This was the first time in six years that we felt truly cared for and listened to. Today I’m so proud to say that I love spending time at home with my family!
If I ever needed to talk after hours, Megan always answered my calls or sent a text back. Within the first few weeks of working with Megan, I noticed a change in Courtney. We saw her smile return and the love for her family finally showing! Now Courtney understands mindfulness and is empathic and sensitive to other people’s feelings. She knows how to control and express her emotions in healthy ways. Courtney’s younger sister is so happy to have a big sister she can bond and have fun with! I understand how to take care of my children and know what they need from me to feel safe.
Because of PACT, we now have more good days than bad. I can’t thank KVC enough for the help and hope they’ve given us. This program changed our lives and our family for the better.—Johanna
About KVC Nebraska PACT Services
PACT is an early intervention and prevention program that provides in-home therapy, crisis intervention 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and advocacy at no cost to qualifying families. Families are paired with a caring, highly-trained therapist who provides support in the families’ homes to improve family functioning, teach effective parenting skills, and enhance child behavior. This program aims to improve child and family well-being.
This program is supported by federal funds until September 2020. After this date, we will depend on community partnerships to support us in providing these life-changing prevention services, and we need your help. If you’d like to contribute or learn more, contact Cassandra Dittmer, our Director of Family Preservation & Model Fidelity, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (402) 742-8852.