School-based program turns teen's life around.
Even as a young child Megan seemed a little more anxious than most. Adolescence saw these symptoms continue, and by the time Megan entered high school, she was suffering with major depression, OCD and debilitating anxiety, issues that were probably genetically inherited. Medication helped some, but not enough for Megan to fully function. It looked like high school graduation was going to be difficult, if not completely impossible. A school-based therapeutic program co-operated by EMQ FamiliesFirst would get her through it.
Megan’s mother, Susan, remembers their lives being “miserable,” and there was “lots of chaos.” Megan missed most of her freshman year as she’d go to school, feel overwhelmed with anxiety, and need to leave. Her mother remembers, “Megan would call me 10 times a day asking to come home.” Megan was also experiencing obsessive negative thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Megan says, “I wasn’t going to school at all.” According to Susan, “We were looking for some other situation for Megan, but we just hadn’t found a program that was a good fit for her needs.” Finally, when Megan was in the 10th grade, she was referred to EMQ FamiliesFirst and a school-based program co-operatively offered with the Santa Clara County Office of Education.
The school-based program serves a maximum of 16 students whose severe emotional problems affect their ability to function in a traditional high school setting. The goal of the program is to help students effectively negotiate the school experience and develop greater educational and social skills. EMQ FamiliesFirst provides therapeutic services.
“I was pretty open to it,” Megan said. “But it was an adjustment because it was such a small school. I felt a gradual improvement and as time went on, things got better and better.” With our youth-voice approach, Megan helped to create her treatment plan goals and ways to meet those goals.
Megan would meet with her clinician, Alisa, one to two times a week for individual therapy. Alisa addressed Megan’s negative thought patterns, “Her thoughts were who she was,” reports Alisa. “She didn’t have the skills to put these thoughts in their proper place, so they really controlled her life and behavior.” Since her office was on campus, Alisa was also able to keep in touch with Megan outside of their scheduled times.
Megan had a lot of problems, but what she also had was a safe, supportive family. Her mother, in particular, worked alongside the EMQ team to help Megan. At home, Megan’s treatment was family-driven, helping Susan support Megan and use coping and management skills Megan was learning at school.
Susan saw an immediate change, “Starting with the first day, Megan’s calls to me went from ten per day to only two, and then they stopped.
Because of Megan’s anxiety, she was really closed off from the rest of the world, physically and emotionally. Alisa encouraged her to participate in extra-curricular activities. She joined her church youth group. There she found acceptance and she began participating in activities.
Megan’s work with EMQ FF continued. Her attendance improved. The smaller setting allowed Megan to not only work on her anxiety and depression, but to also concentrate on her schoolwork. The goal was for her to mainstream back into her public high school, and in her senior year she did manage a split day, going to her regular high school for afternoon classes.
“I had a lot of anxiety before. I matured a lot and grew up a lot. I got better,” Megan said.
Megan really stepped out of her comfort zone when she got a job at a veterinarian’s office - not a typical teen job. Her natural intelligence, combined with all the work she and her EMQ team had done, made it possible.
In May of this year Megan graduated twice – first from the Foothill High School program and again with the rest of her graduating high school class.
“The difference with Megan is like night and day,” reports Susan of her daughter’s life now. “We’ve gone from the day when I thought she would never graduate from high school, to her reaching the milestone every parent wants. It’s exciting because we didn’t think graduation was going to be possible for her.”
Now Megan is attending a local community college. Her future looks bright, thanks to her hard work and her team at EMQ FamiliesFirst.
» Next Success Story
» How Can I Help?
Confidentiality of EMQ children and families has been preserved
through the use of models. Some stories may be composites of multiple cases.