When the therapist from HCN’s Ma’at program started working with Brandon*, the fifth-grader was yelling at his peers, and had gotten physically aggressive with other students. Brandon’s school psychologist referred him to HCN for therapy from an Afri-centric approach. While dealing with the COVID pandemic, the family was facing economic pressure, and Brandon had lost a close family member. He was struggling to express his grief, had low self-esteem, and had stated that he wanted to kill himself.
Building a trusted relationship with the family wasn’t easy during the pandemic. During the first few sessions, Brandon used his mother’s phone for virtual therapy. Through the new Helping Hands program, HCN was able to provide Brandon with a Chromebook computer. With the improved technology, Brandon and his therapist connect more easily, have opportunities for privacy, and can build trust.
The Ma’at therapist worked closely not just with Brandon, but with his teacher, his school social worker, and his whole family. Initially, Brandon had difficulty speaking up and expressing his emotions in the presence of his mother and grandmother. After developing a rapport with the family, the Ma’at therapist was able to intervene when Brandon's mother or grandmother would interrupt, scold or speak for him. With the therapist's help, Brandon’s mother and grandmother are now comfortable with Brandon expressing himself. Each session ends with Brandon repeating positive affirmations such as, “I am loved,” “I am kind,” and “I am worthy.”
To help strengthen the relationship between Brandon and his mother, the therapist sent Brandon a ‘self-care’ box with stickers, Avenger toys and craft items that promote intimacy activities between him and his mom.
After three months of virtual work together, the therapist witnessed a transformation in the way Brandon views himself. Now six months in, Brandon’s mother and grandmother have seen a drastic improvement in his behavior, and Brandon attributes positive traits and characteristics to himself. He even took his therapist by surprise when he began saying his own affirmations about himself, like “I am courageous,” and even, “I am a great son.”
Through the Ma’at Program, Black therapists work with Black children and families to provide culturally responsive, heartfelt, behavioral health and wellness care. More than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic the Afri-centric support provided by Ma’at is uplifting families and changing lives.
Learn more and watch a video about the Ma’at program at https://www.hcnkids.org/ma-at-program.
*Names have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.