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The Center for Integrative Counseling & Psychology

Mental Health

Julie* is an elementary-school-aged child and the youngest of three. Through a partnership with The Center, Julie received counseling for eight months at Brother Bill’s Helping Hand (BBHH) after she experienced depression and feelings of loneliness after her parents’ divorce.

Julie moved in with her father after the divorce, and although he loved and cared for her, Julie was often left at home alone for long stretches of the day while her father worked.

“When I first began seeing Julie, her depression was so bad that she spent most of her days sleeping. There were days Julie would sleep under her bed, because she didn’t want others to see,” said bilingual therapist Mara Estrada-Doster, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor. “Like many children, Julie felt responsible for her mother leaving.”

“Her mother started dating someone else and Julie didn’t feel like she was enough,” continued Mara. “Julie felt that her mother picked ‘him’ and not her. We worked on learning to identify those thoughts, and understanding how her mom’s decisions didn’t define Julie’s worth.”

“Besides counseling, Julie and her father started getting groceries from BBHH,” said Mara. “We talked about eating healthier and how food affects your mood. That’s when the idea to use the kitchen at BBHH turned into a unique counseling session, because no one in the family knew how to cook.”

“Julie was able to learn to cook with the groceries she was receiving from BBHH,” said Mara. “Julie learned to use the oven, make rice and bake. She asked to learn how to make muffins, which we did. Julie said that was her favorite session.”

“Julie’s depression and low self-esteem started to improve and she mentioned feeling seen, known and cared for, not only by me, her therapist, but by the whole BBHH organization,” said Mara.

“Although neither Julie nor I could change her story or her situation, Julie learned to cope with depressive thoughts, take control of her behaviors and change beliefs she had about herself; such as feeling blame for her parents’ separation, or believing what her mother would say about her,” said Mara.

“Towards the middle of her therapy, Julie found herself doing well in school and learning to play a musical instrument,” said Mara. “Julie is working on knowing her self-worth. She’s learning that her mother’s decisions don’t define her.”

*Julie’s name was changed.