Discover lessons, inspiration and hope
Every day, we witness stories of compassion and resilience where kids rise up and through the aftermath of trauma, surviving childhood challenges and the stressors of today’s life. This is the impact of our mission fueled by a compassionate and dedicated staff and a generous community of donors.
Healing finds Carlos at home
The days felt turbulent and empty for Carlos. Because of donors like you, a Washburn Center intensive in-home therapist arrived to support him and his mom. A journey that began with a series of upheavals started to mend and a child’s heart found hope and revived relationships. Light flowed into his home.
When therapy helped the adults in Carlos’ life better understand his needs, his world got more stable; he learned new skills to help him handle his emotions. Those around him noticed the 11-year-old rediscover playfulness and joy to life. The days are easier to take on knowing that relationships are repaired. He knows there are other times that he will need the skills and memories that therapy taught him. Life is falling into place.
In telling their story, Carlos and his mom Ana hope that more families will learn that relationships can grow stronger. Steep increases and ever-growing complex demands threatened the future generation before the pandemic. They’ve only intensified since.
Cooperation and hope move mom from alone to affirmed.
Parenting in today’s world can feel overwhelming even on a typical Tuesday; but when a caregiver and child are thrust into a traumatic event it becomes unimaginable to see the way through. Ellbee knows that firsthand as they reflect on the healing that’s happened over the last three years of therapeutic work with Washburn Center therapists.
“I don’t know what I would’ve done without Washburn Center – I felt so alone; so lost,” Ellbee reflects recently after they closed a chapter of healing in Washburn’s Family focused program.
The family was referred to Washburn Center from a local hospital system when little Avery was two years old and the family experienced a sudden separation, the first in their early life together.
“It affected both of us so much – for me it shattered my confidence as a parent and for her it disrupted her ability to see me as her guide – her adult,” Ellbee shares.
When they arrived at Washburn Center, their world was shaken, and they felt judged and uncertain about who could help.
“I knew what I wanted but didn’t know how to get there; the team at Washburn Center tapped into both me and Avery – our feedback loop and how one affects the other. It was amazing. They gave equal support to both of us – meeting us where we were – including coming to our apartment… we wouldn’t have been able to do the work without that.”
“We had people asking me what I valued as a parent… and what she wanted as a child. They incorporated that into the work with both of us,” Ellbee opens up. “The lack of judgement on my parenting was palpable.”
“It’s super easy in today’s world to judge parenting; so to be in that space was the opposite of anything I had experienced.
It was special and hear ‘what do you think?’ and ‘what do you want?’ It was one of the first times that I was given the right to have an opinion as a parent”
“It was an environment of cooperation and hope.“
“Reflecting back on the journey, I feel safe; my child feels safe,” a relieved Ellbee shares. “Before loud noises would startle her… now they don’t. Now, I’ll set a boundary and she’ll say “ok”. Watching her change was …. Magic… more than that… it was pure healing and compassion.”
I can now be with her in her emotions; I couldn’t do that before because I hadn’t learned it… the team at Washburn Center will teach you that… without making you feel embarrassed or ashamed. I didn’t feel alone anymore.”
“Now, I realize that these healing moments are victories (some may be little) but only I see them. Gone are the push pull moments where I could feel her wanting my support but not ready to accept it… Big feelings aren’t so scary. She can have those feelings without her body, feeling and words getting too big. She can say: “I’m really mad”. Name it, talk it out and then run off and on to her next adventure.
I see her sensitivity blooming; she sings songs with expression – sadness, happiness, all the feelings. We start our days with affirmation: I can have big feelings and I know what to do with them.
“It’s such a big deal. I’m so incredibly grateful.”
Teen takes leap of faith and finds family, trust and healing
Jake didn’t feel quite right. It was the beginning of his sophomore year of high school, and even though he had a core set of friends and extracurriculars, life was harder than ever before. Heavier.
“At first, I chalked it up to a new school year, new schedule, different teachers and coming off summer break. Stuff wasn’t a whole lot different from freshman year, but I couldn’t get myself going in the same way.”
It was bigger than a few low days here and there – Jake felt so much more tired after school, and less interested in pretty much everything. His parents noticed that he’d head to his room right away after getting home, only coming down for a few bites to eat.
Jake’s dad shared, “early last fall, we didn’t think much of it; other than wishing we’d see more of him. There was no traumatic event or signal that something happened. He seemed active in robotics club, his grades were fine, so it felt like normal teen behavior.”
Worry set in when the habit became a pattern
By November 2022, Jake had trouble holding interest in nearly every part of his day. Sadness filled him up. He escaped by going to bed earlier and earlier, until it was as soon as coming home from school. His friends at school felt his mood and energy rapidly shift, and friends online saw him log in less and less.
“It was bad. My sadness felt like a freight train I couldn’t stop – but I was sorta embarrassed, and I thought I could do it by myself or something. I didn’t want to go to my parents with it, but I was scared. I heard from a friend that my school had an actual therapist on-site, so I got a hall pass and dropped in.”
Washburn Center’s on-site School Based therapist, “R”, welcomed Jake, and saw how depression took root in the 13-year-old. Jake had taken a leap of faith – and found hope when he needed it most. While he was nervous to tell his parents that he was seeking help for his mental health, his Washburn Center therapist was able to gently guide him and offer support.
“When ‘R’ asked me to talk with my parents, I was completely freaked, but she kept pushing me that I couldn’t carry this by myself,” Jake reflected. “And honestly, they were super supportive of me when I told them. I wish I’d done it sooner. I had no clue that my mom had a history of mental health stuff too. We came up with an action plan, but mostly it was a huge relief just to not be suffering alone anymore.”
Jake learned not only that he wasn’t alone, but that he had a strong network around him every day that he walked through the doors of his school. And, while things were hard:
“It got better. It was slow, and terrible, and hard, and vulnerable, but I feel a lot better. And best of all I’m back to playing video games with my friends every night, which my parents hate but feels like huge progress for me,” Jake concluded with a laugh.
Finding hope along life’s journey
At age 16, Jon was beginning to discover more about his identity and the young adult he was becoming. He started to explore his trans identity, while working to educate his mother on pronouns, trans rights and how to navigate transphobia, homophobia and bias against sexual and gender identity.
When it became harder to manage, he struggled with depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. The demands on him to experience his own transition, face stigma and manage his mother’s reaction to his identity became overwhelming.
After a near suicide attempt, Jon’s Washburn Center crisis therapist supported him in managing multiple stressors. The therapist gave Jon’s mom a space to learn and talk, while paving the way for Jon to work on what he needed to heal. The therapist supported Jon and his mother as they navigated complex family and societal systems as he transitioned.
While his journey continues, Jon’s suicidal thoughts are less frequent, and he’s gained new skills to manage life as he lives into his full potential.
Sense of safety smooths out stress
Sophia’s mom and caregivers sought help after a particularly scary moment where Sophia ran away from her day care center. Recognizing that Sophia’s behavior was signaling something bigger, Sophia’s day care provider reached out to Washburn Center
For Sophia, this meant having the adults understand that transitions brought on big feelings that she didn’t know how to express. She often felt unsafe when she was without her mom for long stretches.
Through the help of her therapist, Sophia learned safe ways to manage her overwhelming feelings and her caregivers developed skills to make the transitions smoother. With a new day care plan in place, Sophia’s mom gained confidence that more stable days were ahead.
Worry gets a name and takes a backseat
Ten-year-old Phoebe can now put the future in perspective and manage through the worries of today using the techniques she learned from her Washburn Center therapist. That wasn’t always the case as severe anxiety created difficult days and often affected her ability to sleep and find peace even in the safety of her own room.
With the help of her therapist, Phoebe named her worry – Whirligig – because it made her feel like the world was whirling out of control. So much had changed and she was feeling life was turning upside down.
Her Washburn Center therapist helped tap into her resiliency and inherent strengths to help balance the fear and anxiety. Now, she sleeps and dreams with ease – and she’s even looking forward to her next encounter with therapy. As the very wise and mature 10-year-old was wrapping up a recent series of sessions and saying goodbye to her therapist she said, “I’ll see you again when I’m a teenager. I’ve heard that’s a really tough time. I’m probably going to need a therapist to get through that.”
Rebuilding family stability
After 11-year-old Ollie’s parents divorced, the family was split apart. Ollie’s depression was deepening and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) mounted. Ultimately, Ollie didn’t see much hope and started expressing suicidal thoughts. Ollie met a Washburn Center therapist who works with families in their home to work through intensive anxiety and challenges that affect home and school life.
The transforming therapy was rooted in healthy skills to reduce negative emotions and increase family and community support. Ollie’s mom noticed that with tools and techniques learned through therapy, they could catch early signals of struggle.
They’ve built a new foundation based on love and support of one another — reinforced with stabilizing therapeutic care through Washburn Center.