Holly's story

Holly is 14 years old and the eldest of four children.

She was referred to the Society as staff at school had noticed that her attitude and behaviour had recently deteriorated. Ordinarily a quiet and polite girl, she had started being rude to teachers and disruptive in lessons. This had resulted in her being excluded from classes and an increasing number of lunchtime and after school detentions.

When the school contacted her parents, it was discovered that Holly's mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer two months previously. The unexpected diagnosis and the immediate medical intervention that followed had so preoccupied her parents that they had not thought to inform the school of this development. They were grateful for the school's suggestion that Holly be given the opportunity to have access to an immediate source of professional counselling from the Society.

At our first session together it was apparent that Holly did not feel comfortable coming to see me. She presented as an angry and unhappy girl and she made it clear that she had only attended our session because she had been told to. She initially found it very difficult to accept that our contact might help her saying "it's just for nutters and saddos".

Nevertheless, with gentle encouragement, she continued attending our sessions and over time was able to express her fears and concerns for the future. Being the eldest of the children, she became very protective of her two brothers and one sister and this did cause some friction at home. We used our sessions to explore this and developed strategies together, which enabled her to manage her anger and fear more effectively. This was done in conjunction with regular contact with her parents and liaison with school staff who knew her best.

The first stage of her mother's treatment is now complete and, so far, the prognosis is good. Holly seems to have calmed down at school and at home and is more able to manage her feelings of anger and fear. The family still face a difficult road ahead but know that they can rely on the support of the school and the Society for as long as it is needed.