Bryant Skinner talks to colleague, Sara Lovell, about his work with Alaska CARES, a children’s advocacy center. During therapy, one young girl’s drawings affirm his belief that there is hope for healing. Patient permission was granted to share this story.
Bryant: “So Alaska CARES is the child advocacy center that serves the Anchorage Area, and also statewide when we have complex cases. The main services we provide are: mental health services for children, lots of follow up with families and support for the non-offending caregivers. It’s our job, not with the physical location or the decorations or the teddy bears we have sitting around to make it child friendly, it’s our job as a team to create an environment so when children walk through the door they feel welcomed. They feel like they will be listened to and believed, they feel joy. I think it’s something that is tangible for children, they’re very perceptive. A lot of these kids are coming from environments where it’s the polar opposite. It’s dysfunction, its violence, it’s um, harm to them on an ongoing basis.
We had an eight year-old little girl, I’ll call her “Janie”, that came into CAREs and disclosed being sexually abused by her neighbor. It’s memorable because she… provided information to the team that not only was she abused, she finally worked up the courage to tell the perpetrator “NO” and left the room. The really difficult part of her story is she left her little sister in the room with the perpetrator.
She started out working with our therapist and did a drawing, and it was just a scribbled drawing of all the colors she didn’t like. And she didn’t really title that but she basically said it was anger, fear frustration, hurt and guilt. About six months into therapy, she provided another drawing, which was a black drawing with an X on it, and she labeled this drawing “Guilt”. It was roughly six months of therapy and she was able to get through all these other emotions and really pinpoint the emotion that she needed to deal with, and that was guilt of leaving her sister behind to be abused by the same man that abused her. A couple months before discharge she drew this very beautiful drawing of a sun, green grass, I think there’s a couple of sheep on there, blue skies, and labeled that one “Peace”.
So it was really pretty powerful, from the beginning of the process when she came into CARES, told her story, the investigation happened and then her walking through the process of healing. To identify her emotions and deal then with the one that was really the root of what she needed to deal with to start that healing process, it was pretty powerful story of a child we’ve served at CARES.”
Sara: “So there is hope for healing, right?”
Bryant: “Yes, absolutely. We believe that 100 percent, because we’ve seen it. Yes there is absolutely hope for healing
Hear Me Now is a partnership with the Providence Institute for Human Caring and StoryCorps to record interviews with patients, family and caregivers. Storytelling and listening have proven clinical value, and are keys to whole person care, which addresses emotional, spiritual, and psychosocial comfort, as well as medical needs of patients and those who care for them.