When Tonia first came to TFC, she was trying to regain custody of her youngest child, striving to maintain her sobriety, and experiencing severe depression. In a brief discussion about her history, Tonia’s therapist noted that she had experienced nine significant traumas before the age of 18.
Although, you wouldn’t know the impact these events had on her, as she remained detached emotionally in their retelling. Tonia was unsure whether therapy was worth her time and energy, but if it could be helpful, she wanted to find purpose and learn to deal with her anger, hurt, and loss. Tonia was skeptical though – feeling hopeless about the possibility of change.
As Tonia progressed on her therapy journey, her self-reported symptoms improved. At first, Tonia found therapy to be a space where she could vent her thoughts and feelings, when she had no one else. Then, she became receptive to strategies to help her regulate her emotions and to focus on aspects of her problems that she could control. Tonia’s commitment to the use of these strategies opened her up to recognizing and reframing her thinking, and she was able to shift her perspective to a more helpful, goal-oriented one. Over time, with the help of her therapist, Tonia was able to uncover and alter negative core beliefs about herself that perpetuated harmful ways of acting and thinking.
At the start of therapy, Tonia scored in the extreme depression range on her screening, reporting symptoms like “I am too tired to do anything,” “I feel irritated all the time,” I hate myself,” and “I feel the future is hopeless and that things cannot improve.” At the completion of her treatment, Tonia scored in the normal range.
During her final session, Tonia expressed astonishment and pride in herself because she was responsible for the growth she witnessed in herself. “I feel accomplished,” Tonia stated. “I can actually explain to somebody who I am!” and “I’m able to look at myself in the mirror and not be disgusted.” She identified herself as “a lot calmer.” All this personal growth, Tonia explained, “has not only affected my mood but their mood… my kids are happier.” As for her original goal to find her purpose, Tonia now knows with certainty that her purpose is to love and provide for her children and to utilize her story and strengths to help others. Tonia has started college classes in psychology and law, in aim of equipping herself to help others navigate the challenges she has overcome.