In my line of work, I deal with a lot of children who have experienced trauma and domestic violence. As a result, a lot of my clients have depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Sometimes it becomes difficult for me since many of these children manifest their symptoms of depressed mood as irritability and emotional outbursts. Sometimes I receive some disrespectful or hurtful statements from them, which can lead to discouragement at times. In those moments, I pray, and I’ve learned to look past their harsh exterior and grace over their aching hearts. As I’ve continued to pursue relationship with these children, I’ve seen breakthrough happen where vulnerabilities were shared and emotions were processed.
One example of this is with my 14 year old female client who was struggling with depression. She would often refuse to meet with me or would roll her eyes during our appointment. However, I continued to pursue a relationship with her and she started to open up more and become more receptive. As we built a stronger rapport, I began to challenge my client to dig deeper and get in touch with her suppressed emotions. Although revealing the pain and hurt can be ugly, I believe my client was able to reveal these emotions with me because she knew it was a safe place. In that safe place, we were able to process her thoughts and feelings, which became a turning point for my client.
Someone once told me that family is where we could experience God’s heart and His love. Unfortunately, many of the children I work with have no parents or have parents who are often unstable and inconsistent. Although this breaks my heart, I’m glad that I could be used as a vessel to pour out God’s unconditional love towards His children who are hurting and aching.
Jinna Chung is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist at a community agency. She mainly works with children from ages 0-15 who have severe mental illnesses (ie. depression, ptsd, anxiety, etc) and provides individual and family therapeutic services to children and their families.