Isabella was angry. In her 17 years, she had witnessed domestic violence in her home many times. She was the victim of frequent abuse from her own father throughout her childhood. She would throw items at walls or people, flip tables, scream and yell at others and threaten to hurt herself or others. It was the only way she knew how to cope. She often had suicidal thoughts and had attempted suicide multiple times. She felt hopeless and had crying episodes. She had intense feelings of guilt and shame regarding her relationship with her father, who was in prison. During their therapy sessions, Isabella and her therapist Theresa were able to discuss her experiences. Together they made a "coping skills toolbox" giving her alternate ways to express her feelings. They role-played using an empty chair so she could process her feelings toward her father. During family sessions, Monica and Isabella's mother practiced communication skills by expressing praise. After several months of therapy, Isabella is now able to self-regulate her emotions, has built a solid support system and is able to use healthy coping skills when feeling angry and upset. She is finally able to move forward with recovery from memories of abuse.
Joe began having suicidal thoughts at age 14, as a result of coping with his parents' frequent domestic disputes, breaking up with his girlfriend and thinking he was fat. He lived his life in extremes: exercising excessively or binge eating. At 17, he was not eating, had difficulty sleeping, and was irritable and isolated. He had thoughts of hurting others, slitting his parents' throats or choking students at school. His thoughts had become so severe that he was hospitalized by the Center's crisis team. Upon his release, the team focused on safety planning with his parents. Once the crisis was addressed, he was transferred to outpatient services. His therapist helped the family learn to communicate more effectively, and encouraged them to spend more time together. Joe began to feel comfortable in his therapy sessions, expressing to his mother how he felt a lack of affection from her and its impact on him. His therapist used his passion for film production, utilizing movies as a learning technique, as well as journaling and poetry. He kept a log of triggers, so he would be more aware of his thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Things began to improve. He started to set goals, and actually ran in the Los Angeles marathon. He began to eat in public, something that he had difficulty with in the past. Recently, he was accepted to college where he will study film production and drama. Blessed with a knack for stand-up comedy, he has taken his life experience, including the therapy, and turned it into a comedy routine that he performs at local comedy clubs.