Jayden’s story

Seven-year-old Jayden* is the second youngest of four sons. He was referred to our program by the school counsellor due to ongoing challenging behaviour in the classroom. Almost on a daily basis, Jayden displayed angry outbursts which threw the classroom into turmoil. When he wasn’t expressing his anger in a violent or aggressive way, he was unresponsive to his teacher, disengaged from the learning process, and withdrawn from his peers.

Jayden commenced Expressive Therapy with our therapists at his school in Sydney’s West. After only two sessions it emerged that Jayden’s entire family had a pathological video game addiction, with online gaming dominating all aspects of family life.

Jayden’s emotional – and at times, his physical – needs were neglected. As such, Jayden lacked the emotional security necessary for optimal mental health growth and development, leading to anxiety or impulse-control disorders, as demonstrated by his behaviour in the classroom.

It was determined that Jayden would require about 15-20 sessions on our program, however about half way through, the COVID19 lockdown measures were announced and therapy delivery had to be continued online.

It was at this time that our therapists were introduced to Jayden’s mother and younger brother Kysen who is due to commence kindergarten next year and already depicting behaviours similar to those of Jayden.

A decision was made to commence ‘dyad’ therapy with the boy’s mother and the family’s youngest child. These sessions were in addition to the therapy Jayden was already receiving.

Our therapist worked with the boys’ mother on some practical parenting strategies. We also helped provide Kysen with calming techniques and showed him creative and safe ways to express himself. These techniques were similar to the ones used in Jayden’s sessions and like his older brother, Kysen responded very well to art therapy, as opposed to the other creative modalities.

Today, the boys’ mother is better able at controlling her family’s gaming habits with her two youngest showing the most promising outcomes so far.

Jayden’s school refusal has diminished significantly and his teacher reports fewer classroom outbursts, while Kysen is on track to starting school next year.

*Not his real name