I met Amy when she was released from a young person’s psychiatric ward at the local authority offices. I had a brief case history verbally from the social and drug’s workers about her having been found overdosed in her mother’s flat.
Amy had been adopted by her Uncle when her psychiatrically ill mother had not been able to manage the parenting of her two children (Amy and I later visited Brian, her brother in an intensive adult psychiatric unit to keep the relationship and bond as a comfort however distressing).
Amy had been a good student at a strict Catholic School and had adhered to healthy and supporting boundaries within the adoptive home until the age of 14-15 when her difficulties had started to surface. Amy literally went off the rails eventually becoming a Class A using prostitute, housed and kept doped by a manipulative ‘pimp’.
When we met the only adult willing to take her back at 17 years old was her ill, illegal drug consuming mother. The flat was in complete disarray and we set about trying to make the home environment at least appear homely. We spent days and some evenings together building rapport and trust all the while using everyday occurrences as life lessons and planting healthier seeds of growth. Amy started to feel safer in the world but was drawn to the financial benefits of her previous life in comparison to what we as the state could provide. This meant that I had to work carefully around Amy’s value system (a deep part of identity) more than once remove the hassling pimp’s number from her phone and report him to the police.
The Turning Point
My consistency, obvious care and overt protective behaviours instilled a sense of hope and trust in people she had not had for a few years. (The adoptive parents would not see her and her mother encouraged the prostitution). I negotiated short visits and meets with her ‘healthier’ family and this built and built as Amy grew more and more well until they even holidayed together again.
Amy kept having flashbacks to dreadful abusive experiences of prostitution and although Amy did have a CAMHS worker (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Worker) and a Social Worker she preferred and was therefore more comfortable sharing with me. As I knew the neurobiology of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and numerous coping mechanisms and strategies to impart or proffer she slowly (as is need be) reduced the frequency of these experiences. We worked on providing numerous positive experiences to re-build some delight in life and some joy and hope started to show.
I had to represent Amy in court as she had hit someone when drunk-it was so soon after her release from hospital that it was easy to see how and why she was not yet able to manage herself so we did a lot of work around her substance misuse. She never felt patronised by me (or so she said) and knew I was on her side. We project planned around her child hood interests and she was reminded of her old self and started to mend.
We visited her brother and although a scary environment the young people remembered previous holidays and sang songs they knew together and helped each other to recover somewhat.
A New Life Emerges.
Amy had to be re-housed as her mother became more and more demanding and difficult so after securing some adult charity services for her mother Amy moved to a hostel on the other side of London. I helped prepare her for the move, explain the alternative living standards and rules, went to meetings and constantly reviewed her issues with the social worker.
Much of Amy’s care was then dealt with by the hostel and she became a Looked After Young Person and so we could reduce out time together and eventually not officially work together.
About 5 months later she called me and her mother had died and it was me she wanted to share, talk and reflect on this with.
The being there, listening, giving alternative optional but valid ways of seeing things, the nurturing the caring the attention and re-parenting all gave Amy less unstable ground to walk on. Amy is now in her own property and remains a good student at college.