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Joe's story - coping with stress

Joe's story - coping with stress

Seven-year-old Joe was struggling in school after his parents separated and he didn’t see his dad anymore. Seeing a counsellor helped him adapt to change and talk openly about how he was feeling.

At age seven, Joe’s parents had separated, and he didn’t see his dad anymore. Joe’s uncle was a big part of his life, but he was in and out of prison.

Joe was easily distracted and struggled to sit through lessons. His behaviour was challenging for teachers, and when he felt stressed he would often run out of class, hide under a table, shout at people and throw things.

Joe was referred to one-to-one counselling but struggled to sit through his sessions. Joe’s counsellor set a clear structure and routine for when they met, with an introduction at the beginning and “check out” at the end, which helped Joe feel settled.

He played with the toys more calmly and especially liked the plastic food set. He prepared elaborate feasts each week, painstakingly arranging all the dishes only for the expected guests – his family – not to arrive.

As he gradually felt safer in this new environment, Joe began to talk more openly about his feelings.

He now engages with activities, responds in a better way to his teacher, and has made friends. He also finds it easier to adapt to change. And for the first time recently, he sat down to "eat” one of his feasts, rather than letting it go to waste.


Names in case studies may be changed to protect the identities of families and children. Photos used are for representative purposes only.