Student Counseling Sparks Renewed Hope


Manny* came into Juvenile Hall with a history of depression. He was falling behind in school and was socially isolated. He was also withdrawn from his family in his home life, which included his mother, two younger siblings, and his physically and emotionally abusive stepfather.

After building trust with his Acknowledge Alliance therapist, Manny opened up and shared that he lost his birth father as a young child. He spent time reminiscing about the “good old days” and mourned the loss of his father who was “everything” to him. His therapist also provided him a safe space to express his complicated feelings toward his mother. He loved her but he felt conflicted because she didn't protect him from his stepfather. 

Through the therapeutic process, Manny worked on exploring his need to be seen and valued in his family. He started to realize how his behaviors, such as skipping school, were contributing to his troubles with his mother. His therapist devoted time to listen and learn about his interests, such as animal conservation, hiking, local reptiles and amphibians, and climate change. Having these interests heard and validated was quite powerful and motivating for Manny. With genuine support, his therapist helped him identify and utilize his strengths of resilience, intelligence, compassion and kindness.    

When Manny left Juvenile Hall, he felt more confident and hopeful about the future. He was empowered to talk to his mother about his need to be an important and valued member of the family. He planned to spend meaningful time with her and his siblings, now that his stepfather was no longer living with them. He was highly motivated to attend school regularly and graduate from high school. He was excited to explore and participate in his extra-curricular interests so that he could get a job to protect animals.

Having a caring and trusted adult who listened, supported, and believed in him inspired him to heal his relationships, set goals, and reach his full potential. Our Collaborative Counseling Program helps youth like Manny experience renewed hope and a glimpse of a bright future with new possibilities.

*Student's name has been changed to protect confidentiality.