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Mom had been drinking again and 13 year old “Alex” knew it when he and his siblings piled into the car. A few moments later, a loud bang, then silence and sirens. He remembers the chaotic blur of his mother being taken into custody for driving under the influence. “I should have stopped her,” he told Talle Selhorst, his Ryther Mental Health Therapist. Even though no one was seriously hurt, his mother had been arrested and detained. His siblings were placed into the “system.” When he came to live with his father in Washington, he needed to make sense of what had happened and deal with his guilt for “letting my mom drive and letting this happen.” He got help at Ryther with Talle as she worked with him using Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). Talle thinks this evidence-based approach was ideal for “Alex” because he was willing to look inside himself to understand his thinking. He eventually opened up and gained insights into his thoughts, feelings and behaviors as he worked through the TF-CBT workbook for teens. He did a lot of journaling and art and by the end of treatment, he was ready to complete his trauma narrative.

Using the Art with Heart Chill & Spill approach, Talle asked him how he wanted to say goodbye to 2016. His response was a letter personifying trauma. Here is an excerpt:

“Dear PTSD, You ruined my year because I let you and I regret all the time I spent stressed. But I appreciate what I learned from you – I learned I can get past anything now. Thank you for teaching me.”

Next he wanted to tear it up and make it an art piece (inset) The Om symbol was included because meditation is one of his positive coping skills. Talle said, “He has come so far. He no longer blames himself and he feels lighter, happier and can be a teen again just like his friends.” To get help for a child or teen please call our intake line at 206.517.0234.


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