Nathan* is a sensitive 7-year-old boy who has found his own identity, confidence and most importantly his voice – but it wasn't always like this.
Experiencing high levels of anxiety and social difficulties at school, Nathan's mother turned to Be Centre for help. Nathan showed some signs of low self-esteem and a lack of confidence when he first started Play Therapy. Often unable to express himself and decide what to do in the Play Therapy room, he found it difficult to engage in spontaneous play and his movements were inhibited.
During the Play Therapy process, Nathan was able to relax and grow in confidence. He was able to express himself more freely and readily. As he continued to become more assured, his body movements became less constricted until during one of his sessions he began to play for the first time in a spontaneous way, expressing pure joy. These changes continued throughout the Play Therapy process as Nathan explored his sense of self.
Nathan’s mother reports these changes are reflected in his demeanour at home, where he is better able to regulate his emotions and behaviour. Nathan's teacher now describes him as a happy and engaged boy at school.
Nathan has truly benefitted from Be Centre. It has helped him to find his own identity, confidence and most importantly his voice.-
Ava, Addison and Jack’s story
Ava, Addison and Jack are three really amazing children who over the last 18months have faced some really adult sized challenges.
Jack was diagnosed, out of the blue, with acute myeloid leukaemia in May last year. After starting chemotherapy, which in Jack’s case was effective there was an urgent need for Jack to have a bone marrow transplant.
Ava and Addison proved to be identical matches, which doesn’t always happen. In fact, there is only a one in three chance. Both Ava and Addison were desperate to be the donor and help their older brother, but because of Ava’s age she got the nod. Addie was devastated!
Jack was in isolation for 6 weeks after the transplant. All up he was in hospital for about 3 months and then to and from treatment which meant the children’s mum, Kate was away from home for big chunks of the week, sleeping by Jack’s side.
You can imagine how much Jack’s diagnosis and the disruption to daily life impacted on Ava and Addison and in fact the whole family. Addie in particular went from being a confident bubbly young girl to feeling scared and insecure about Jack’s illness and her mum’s absence from her world.
Ava also had a weight of adult sized responsibilities and worries on her shoulders and was struggling with what her family were going through
One of the mum’s at Addie’s school mentioned Be Centre to Kate, as a place that could help Addie cope with all the upheaval and uncertainty around Jack’s illness.
Both Addie and Ava attended Be Centre where they were able to express themselves in the ways they needed to, without judgement, in the safe space if the Playroom.
Today Jack is a brave, inspiring superstar in the making, playing AFL and soccer again and hatching plans to be a reporter one day.
Kate said of their experience at Be Centre: “ The effect of our sons diagnosis and illness was devastating to watch, it felt the girls were the forgotten ones.
When we needed some extra support Be Centre was there with the right tools and support. Addie, who went from being a relaxed outgoing child was clingy and anxious. Ava had the responsibility of being her brother’s donor and this played out in various ways at home and at school.. The girls loved their weekly visits and developed trusting relationships with their therapists, Kati and Tjinta. After a few months Addie, easy going little girl we thought we had lost emerged and was happy again. Ava also benefitted greatly, Be Centre helped her process her emotions and she began to feel less burdened and much happier. They really helped us through a difficult time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me back my beautiful girls.”
Ben was 6yo when his mum brought him to Be Centre after referral from a local welfare service. Ben’s mum wasn’t sure whether play therapy would help but Ben refused to talk to anyone and his mum was feeling really desperate. She couldn’t afford to pay for therapy and was incredibly relieved to hear Be Centre could provide their services through their scholarship program. Ben’s mum struggled to cope with Ben’s anger, she couldn’t seem to connect with him and it scared her. She felt guilty and very worried for his future.
For much of his young life Ben had been exposed to domestic violence. He didn’t like it when his dad drank too much, sometimes his dad was fun to be with but other times he was scary. He heard his mum and dad arguing, especially at night when they thought he was asleep. Sometimes the arguing got so loud the neighbours called the police. Once Ben saw his dad with his hands around his mum’s neck. Ben was scared that one day his dad would kill his mum, or even him or his little brother. He hated seeing his mum crying and he was confused, he thought if he wasn’t so naughty maybe they wouldn’t fight so much. His dad moved out and Ben’s feelings were even more muddled up.
At home, Ben would lash out at his mum and little brother. He couldn’t regulate his big feelings and he couldn’t explain what was happening. He was clingy and didn’t want to leave his mum, sometimes his tummy hurt and he didn’t want to go to school. He was struggling with friendships and nobody invited him to their birthday parties. Ben was having difficulties learning, his teacher said he was easily distracted and it seemed like he was carrying a big heavy weight on his shoulders.
At Be Centre, Ben’s play therapist accepted him just as he was and gave him time and space to do everything at his own pace in the playroom. She recognised the signs of trauma and the difficulties Ben was having with connection with others. Gradually Ben was able to trust his play therapist and within the safety of this relationship played out his anger, fear and worries using puppets, role plays, sand play and the bop bag. Slowly but surely Ben was able to move through his anxiety and fears. He learnt that his feelings were ok and dad and mum fighting wasn’t his fault. He started to develop a sense of self which had been missing before and he began to smile, have fun and be a kid again as the weight lifted off his shoulders.
At Be Centre Ben’s mum was also supported to reconnect to Ben and understand the impact of trauma on his behaviour.
*to protect the confidentiality of individual children this is a composite story based on real events