Holistic help for Sam and his family

Teenage boy smiling at the camera during a counselling session.

Eight-year-old Sam was excluded from school because of his aggressive behaviour.

But thanks to the joined-up approach of Spurgeons involving child, family and school, his situation has significantly improved.

Sam was referred to Spurgeons counsellor Gemma*. As they played a game of Top Trumps together, he started to open up and chat about school, his likes and dislikes, his friends. Then Gemma got him to draw who he lives with and his home.

“When we looked at the drawings of his family members, I could see dad’s face looked angry, mum’s face looked worried,” says Gemma. 

We talked about the picture and he said that home is very loud, there is lots of shouting and his father will often punch both him and his siblings. He was so matter of fact, like it happens in every household.

“I suggested we go and have a chat to the Child Protection Officer (CPO). She explained the procedure to him and that she would now talk to his parents. It was important for him to have a member of staff he felt comfortable to talk to if any further incidents occurred at home.

He did not want to talk to anyone but agreed to give a member of staff that he trusted a Top Trump card as a sign that something had happened, so that this could then be followed up.”

The CPO sought advice from the safeguarding team and met with both parents. They admitted to really struggling with family life but were eager to engage in the parenting programme. “When I first spoke to Sam’s father by phone, he was initially defensive,” says Gemma. “But after a while he softened, and I could hear a father desperate for help.”

The family was referred for urgent assistance by Fegans’ parenting team. In Gemma’s subsequent sessions with Sam, it was obvious that his dad was on board and trying really hard to make things right. Sam was more settled in class and the weight seemed to have lifted from his shoulders.

Gemma says, “It seemed that Sam was following learnt behaviour from home, which was having a significant negative impact at school. Sam was unaware that dad’s aggressive behaviour was unacceptable. In his world it was ‘the norm’, so when he hit peers at school he did not understand that this behaviour was not appropriate.

Through changes at home and a new understanding of acceptable behaviour, Sam’s friendships are starting to repair and the whole family is now working on positive reactions and choices.”

About Spurgeons Children’s Counselling Services

Spurgeons counsellors work one to one with children in our centres, online and in primary and secondary schools throughout the South East. 

We also provide parenting support for families with significant challenges such as supporting those with additional needs. We deliver much of this work through five town-wide family hubs in partnership with schools and our own preschool family hubs.

Learn more about our Schools Counselling services

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