During the summer months when school is out of session, clinical staff who regularly meet with their clients on school campuses instead meet with them at their homes, local parks, libraries or coffee shops to ensure that all clients continue to receive the help and support they need. Meeting in different places within the community provides new opportunities for the whole family to practice the skills they’ve learned in therapy with the support of their therapists nearby.
Two of our amazing clinical staff from our Compton Clinic share how empowering that can be for our families:
Mario* and his family were not able to go to a market, mall or on a family outing without him struggling. He would act out impulsively, not follow directions or rules, run away from adults, yell or scream, and sometimes lash out at his siblings.
The clinician, Cynthia Sedillo-Artiaga, MFT intern, and the Mental Health Rehabilitation Specialist (MHRS), Joaquin Magana, M.A., MFT intern, had a creative, out of the box idea to help Mario’s family have more successful outings. They decided to plan and attend a special outing together with the whole family.
Mario’s family agreed to try out the idea, and the location was decided. Cynthia and Joaquin would accompany the family to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. To prepare for the outing, the clinical team modeled and role played with his dad. They discussed the triggers of Mario’s behaviors and collaborated on specific interventions his dad could do to help Mario.
The day of the outing arrived. Before entering the museum, Cynthia and Joaquin again reviewed with Dad what they had practiced in session and discussed how to set up ground rules of acceptable and unacceptable public behavior. Dad was then able to set those ground rules with Mario and the rest of his children.
Throughout the outing, the staff coached, praised, and supported Dad. As expected Mario tested limits, but this time with the support of the staff, Dad was able to implement the intervention skills he learned from the clinical team and maintain the established rules and limits with Mario.
The family had a successful outing and enjoyed the experience so much that they decided to have another outing at the same place on their own!
Since the first successful outing, Mario has reduced his impulsive behaviors. Instead of running away, he asks to hold an adult’s hand, which is received by positive reinforcement from an adult, and when he does get upset, it lasts a shorter time period.
*Name changed to maintain confidentiality.