Vive Client Stories
12 year old male
When the client first began services with Vive, he had not attended school for almost a year, citing high levels of anxiety as his reason for refusing to return. The first three months of his therapeutic work with Vive were focused on building rapport and a trusting relationship with the Vive mentor. This included introducing and practicing the skills that would help him successfully navigate the return to school. Parent coaching focused on helping the family adjust to life in two households following the parents’ separation.
During the first few months of our work with the client, his avoidant behaviors sometimes increased in frequency, intensity, and duration. This resulted in a brief inpatient admission. Parents considered placing the client in treatment due to persistent school refusal and disruptive behaviors. The Vive mentors supported the family through this time. Following hospitalization, the client was able to successfully return to school with collaborative support of his Vive mentor and the school staff, who allowed him to attend a few classes a day and eventually work his way back to a full school day. Following his return to school, main areas of clinical focus have been anxiety reduction, developing healthy coping skills, increasing emotional awareness and vocabulary, and strengthening executive functioning.
As the therapeutic mentor and the client developed a stronger relationship, the client was much more willing to open up and share feelings, discuss challenges, and accept feedback. The client tends to experience sudden, intense onsets of anxiety during times of transition, change, or when he perceives that much is being asked of him (usually when there are multiple tasks asked concurrently). He tends to have social anxiety and has been noted to exhibit inappropriate social behaviors as a way to alleviate social anxiety or to receive attention in an attempt to fit in. Additionally, he seems to have difficulty identifying and expressing emotions and acts out behaviorally as a result. The client has shown reactions to times of great stress, such as when he feels that much is being asked of him, and tends to exhibit a strong “fight or flight” response. In these situations, he either has an intense emotional response, or he flees and physically locks himself in another room to avoid the situation. Over the course of the past year of experiential therapy with Vive, he has shown progress in each of these areas as he continues to work and develop new therapeutic skills. The client has been working on anxiety management and reduction. He has learned valuable skills for stress prevention and intervention. He has also made progress with rigid thinking, accepting and navigating unexpected changes, and “going with the flow”. He has received extra help with time management, organization, and other academic skills. Through his work with a tutor/study skills coach several times per week, the client has made great progress in school and finished the semester with all “A’s” and “B’s”.
The client has made significant progress in many areas as evidenced by the reduction in frequency, intensity, and duration of his outbursts. He continues to struggle with emotional regulation, anxiety management (particularly related to high-stress academic periods), and dealing with unexpected change. He requires regular academic coaching and therapeutic support to succeed academically and maintain minimum standards of behavior.
Heavy marijuana use
Prior residential treatment
Client reported that all he got from his residential program was sobriety. He did not have insight into other benefits. Initially, the therapeutic mentor working with him scheduled the sessions through the parents because he was so apathetic and would not engage. He had returned from treatment with a home contract that the parents followed closely. Despite his lack of motivation, the client was willing to show up to his sessions. All he wanted to do was go out to dinner together, so they went out for sushi. Going for dinner at the same place each time built rapport and was a “holding place” for him. For the first two months it was a slow to progress. He wasn’t responsive to texts from his mentor at the beginning.
For the parents, his mom was a bit enmeshed and used to write his papers before he went to treatment. That is part of the reason that the client was not initially responding to texts—he wasn’t used to it. In comparison, the dad was very passive. During parent coaching, they helped the parents to balance this out so that mom was engaged without micromanaging and dad was more engaged. The parent coach helped them to accept the client for who he was. The mom learned to let the client manage his own life.
Middle (3-5 months)
Three to five months in, the client began responding to his mentor’s texts and even engaged with him around scheduling. The client began actively talking more during sessions. This allowed them to get to the identity work around the marijuana use. The client’s identity was as a “pothead”. All of his friends used marijuana and he knew a lot about it. It was an intellectual endeavor for him as well. The client eventually disclosed how hard it was to not smoke marijuana and reported, “It takes 50% of my energy to not get high every day.” The client even brought this up during a family session. It was a big moment for the parents to understand how hard he was working to stay sober, as they had been giving him a hard time for lacking motivation. He signed up for the Frisbee golf team at his school, and his dad noticed that he was really trying during a game. The sessions with his mentor became more active. Instead of just getting dinner together, they went bowling, played mini-golf, rock climbed, and went swimming. The mentor saw him start to engage in life, so the goal for the sessions was to further encourage that. The client even picked up mountain biking again, which was impressive since it was among the things he used to love, but had stopped doing. The client also started to work on gaining acceptance of his depression. The client and mentor worked on what that meant in his life, and identified skills to cope with it.
When the client started thriving, he was actively engaged with his mentor, not just responding to his texts. He started dating and was talking with his mentor about questions regarding girls, relationships, and some of those more intimate details. He was expressing himself appropriately to his parents and had a stronger relationship with them. This was a dramatic difference from the withdrawn young man that started with Vive. Some of his friends got in trouble for smoking pot and he was accused. During this difficult time, he reached out to his mentor for additional support. While he still had things to work on at the end of their year together, he was functioning at a much higher level. He successfully finished a full academic year and made several friends that were part of a healthier circle.
This client still stays in contact with his mentor. He graduated from high school and went to a gap year program. Now he is in college.