I began working at CALM in 2008 as a volunteer for the HOPE program. I became a paid employee in 2009 when I was hired as the Child Family Specialist for the SPIRIT Program in Lompoc.
Currently I am serving two roles in the Santa Maria office. I am working ½ time as a Therapist and ½ time as Program Manager for the Great Beginnings Program.
One day a young single mom came into the office with huge tears in her eyes pleading for me to help her learn to be a good mother to her 3 year old son. She shared that because of her own traumatic history, she felt awkward showing her child any kind of affection. Mom shared she had never once told her son that she loved him, never hugged him, never kissed him, or had ever cuddled him in her arms. She shared that she knew in her heart that this was not normal and was willing to do whatever it took to repair the relationship. Mom also shared that since she and her son never really bonded with each other, he had absolutely no respect for her as a parent and refused to listen to her. He had become defiant and non-compliant. He used bad language, kicked, screamed, and had tantrums when he did not his way. He was aggressive with everyone he encountered. Friends and relatives stopped inviting them over, often referred to her son as a “major brat”, and criticized her parenting skills. Mom acknowledged that her child got on her nerves every single day, she did not have any patience at all, and felt like she was always yelling. Mom stated she was overwhelmed and desperate for help. In my experience as a therapist, I knew this situation put the child at high risk for child abuse. Over the next 8 months we began working intensively on rebuilding their relationship and creating a new bond. I used Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) to teach mom ways to interact with her child that was enjoyable to both. Through this play therapy I coached mom to have fun with her child, to laugh with him, to show affection by giving a gentle touch on his shoulder as she praised her child for demonstrating appropriate behavior. Mom was also taught parenting strategies that helped her learn to set boundaries and manage behaviors in a consistent and age appropriate manner. Little by little I saw their relationship grow stronger with each passing week. Today you would never recognize that this is the same mother and child. They have a beautiful bond with each other that mom says “feels so natural, and not at all forced”. Mom is so proud that he now can follow directions without incident, and reports he is no longer aggressive and on the contrary, has very polite manners. Mom shared that even family and friends have noticed the significant change in her son. Mom says she gets compliments on how well behaved he is now, and has even received compliments on how they respect her as a mother. Mom became emotional and stated she could have never done it without the help of CALM and was grateful to me for my dedication to helping to repair her “broken family”.
If I could do one thing to make kids’ lives better, I would make sure that every child felt loved and supported. I would help to create healthy family relationships to promote overall happiness within the families we serve.
As part of the Great Beginnings 0-5 program, we offer group and individual support for moms suffering from Maternal Mood Disorders.