Dan at age 13
Dan had over twenty placements by the time he was placed in his current home. Dan had been in Residential Treatment Centers, Psychiatric Hospitals, and many foster and therapeutic foster homes. He had a history of violence and had inflicted significant damage on people and property. He has a variety of diagnoses; a sort of alphabet soup. Dan was in his home about six months when he began treatment. He was just being released from a psychiatric hospital because of another violent episode. After eight months of treatment, we ended therapy and Dan was adopted by his foster family. Much of the credit to Dan's healing goes to his parents who were able to stick with Dan throughout his journey.
"I have changed in a lot of ways. Some ways I have changed are, my temper, my trusting in others, my ability to handle stress, and my ability to talk when needed, my attitude towards life, and view on therapy.
"My temper has changed a lot, one way is, I do not hit in anger any more. It takes me a lot more to get me to lose my temper. I used to lose my temper easily. I even lost it over losing a card game. Or getting in trouble, I made myself get in more trouble because I did not shut up, and I ran off at the mouth. Now I can control my temper so I do not lose it and get in trouble.
"I have changed a lot in trusting others. Before now, I used to think the world was a bunch of hating and lying people that were out to get me. Then with a lot of help I was able to discover that everyone is not out to get me and be a hater. I used to not be willing to trust ANYONE. Then with a lot of help, I decided I would give trusting a shot and I did. Now I am able to trust others; also love others.
"Lots of people, including me, can see that I have changed drastically in being able to handle stress, a lot of stress. I handle it by talking to people I trust, and if I can't, I wait for the next time I can talk, sometimes I have to live with it until it relieves itself naturally. When I have to live with it I am able to do so without reacting in big ways.
"My attitude on life has changed a WHOLE LOT. I used to want to hurt myself whenever I got mad or didn't get my way because when people wouldn't give me what I wanted I felt like no one in the world cared about me and I wanted to die. I felt like no one ever understood me or even wanted to and I never talked about my feelings because I didn't think anyone would want to hear them. I never trusted anyone enough to tell them my feelings. I was afraid they would tell other people what I was feeling and I would be embarrassed.
"With a lot of help, I was able to find a new view on life and the people in my life. I feel that Dr. Art started off where I could start by talking about my outside life and how all the people in it affected my feelings on the inside. He slowly helped me to change my view on life and the people that had been in it. As he did this he helped me to look at my inside feelings and those began to change too. I started to feel better about my life. Now I feel that everything that has happened to me has happened for a good reason and someday I will be able to help others because of what I have been through. Mom says I already do that now sometimes. I feel good about myself now. I think of myself as a great person who has meaning and a purpose in this world. There are a lot of people in this world that do care about others. I know that the people I care about care about me and the people I love also love me.
"My view on therapy has also changed a LOT. I used to think therapy was a waste of time and God put therapy on earth to torture me. The only reason I thought Dr. Art was trying to treat me was because he wanted the money. I did not really think that he could help me. The only reason I kept going back was because I did not want to go back to the hospital or to a group home (although sometimes I would have preferred it). Now therapy to me is a very great thing. It helped create a whole new side of me that I could change to. Dr. Art was honest with me that therapy would not magically cure me, it would not make my past go away. Dr. Art told me that it would only help as much as I wanted it to, based on how much work I put into it. He said that therapy would, if I wanted it to, make my past easier to live with and stop blocking out my future. Now when I think of therapy, I think of the tool that gives me the ability to have a whole new way of life, that plus love and people who care enough to fight with me and for me. So, I guess therapy was one of the tools, not the only one, because Dr. Art couldn't have helped me if I still had no one who loved and wanted me. I needed both."
"The areas I still need to work on are thinking before I speak, my attitude, listening to others' ideas without judging them, and concentration. I need to work on thinking before I speak because I have hurt people by randomly speaking out before thinking about how my statement might be interpreted by others. I have hurt people by accident because I was not thinking or being considerate to other people's feelings. Sometimes I have hurt people that I love or my friends. Other people I have made not like me or think that I was mean because I gave them the wrong impression of me.
"I need to work on my attitude because my attitude can make me look rude and very ignorant. I have looked like a rude person because of the sarcasm in my voice and/or my facial expressions. Some people have said I would be a very great person if I work on my attitude and think before I speak.
"I have noticed that I have been ignoring other people's ideas or I judge them by my own standards or feelings if I do listen to them. I also hurt people's feelings by saying that their idea is stupid or not funny.
"I also need to work on not purposely instigating arguments with others. I have scared other kids and gotten into trouble at home and school because of this. I have started arguments with Mom and Dad just because I feel like having a fight and gotten into trouble. Unless I control this arguing, one of these days I am going to cause a physical fight with a peer and, win or lose, I am going to get into big trouble. So, I should just stop trying to fight and keep myself out of trouble.
"I need to start to remember stuff that I was asked to do. I feel stupid when I forget to do things. I have gotten into trouble for forgetting to do chores and homework. Sometimes I purposely forget to do stuff that I don't want to do, especially cleaning my room. I have forgotten to call people and hurt their feelings by making them feel unimportant which gives them the wrong impression because they are important to me."