At age 11, Leah was battling with an uncontrollable inner turmoil no child should have to bear. When she was referred to Dandelion Time she had poor school engagement, was struggling to form friendships and drifting further into an isolated world consumed by anxiety, fear and guilt.
Leah was born when her mother, Jodie, was 17. Jodie was a single mother with no support from a wider family. Age two, Leah began to witness escalating violence inflicted upon her mother by her new partner. Jodie went on to have two more children and remained trapped in a toxic and violent relationship until Leah was 10.
Leah was referred to Dandelion Time as she was struggling in school. It soon became clear that having been exposed to such high levels of aggression, Leah had moved into a state of constant unrest, never feeling free as a child, constantly thinking that she must be prepared to protect her mother or brothers or hide to protect herself. Not only had Leah’s experiences deeply affected her ability to relate to other children her age, they had also impacted on her relationship with her mum. The line between parent and child had become fractured.
On arrival at Dandelion Time both Leah and Jodie appeared anxious and withdrawn, never fully able to relax and accept one another’s company. Yet as their sessions progressed Jodie and Leah began to settle and rekindle their mother daughter relationship. They particularly enjoyed preparing and cooking food together. We began to see a shift as Leah began to relax into her mother’s embrace, finally being able to release herself to be the child that had been absent for so long. Leah began turning to Jodie to guide her, relying on mum to take the parental role. We could see the metaphorical weight of her past slowly lift from Leah’s shoulders.
We encouraged interaction between Leah, Jodie and Jack, one of our therapeutic staff. Leah had a keen interest in our donkeys, so out in the fields Jack began to tell Leah all about the donkeys. Very slowly as the sessions progressed Leah began to communicate with Jack voluntarily, asking him questions and even standing near him to stroke the donkeys. This positive experience gave both Leah and Jodie an alternative perspective of men, and that they need not be dictated by their past experiences.
Leah and Jodie’s time came to an end after a 12-week placement. Since leaving Dandelion Time, we have been told that Leah is doing a lot better at school and home. She is sleeping much better and therefore more able to concentrate and engage in class. Leah is also beginning to form friendships with her classmates. She still has her worries, and some days are harder than others, but she is moving forward towards the happy and healthy person she deserves to be. Jodie described her time with Leah at Dandelion Time as their ‘special time’, a time she will cherish forever. She continues to ensure that they have this time together at home, just the two of them.
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This is a composite case that is indicative of our work, names and images have been changed.
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