Joe's Story (1)


7-year-old Joe’s behaviour at school was violent and difficult to manage. Setting clear boundaries with his Place2Be Counsellor helped him feel safe enough to explore his complicated feelings.  

7-year-old Joe’s behaviour was difficult for his teacher to deal with. When stressed, he would often run out of class, hide under a table, shout at people and throw things.

Joe was referred to Place2Be one-to-one counselling but struggled to sit through his sessions. He was easily distracted and would dash off to the nursery in the middle of a session to see his little brother. When playing, he tended to stop part-way through and would splash paint everywhere, not caring if he made a mess.

Joe’s counsellor decided to set a clear structure for their sessions, with an introduction at the beginning and ‘check out’ at the end. Following this routine helped Joe feel safe, and he began to explore the toys in the Place2Be room more calmly, especially the plastic food set.

Joe prepared elaborate feasts each week, painstakingly arranging all the dishes only for the expected guests – his family – not to arrive. During one session, Joe admitted that he was sometimes hungry when he came in to school. Joe’s counsellor shared this with the school, who worked with his family to make sure he had enough food to eat.

As his sense of safety grew, Joe began to talk more openly about his feelings. While he was close to his family, his parents had separated and he didn’t see his dad any more, and his mum was often occupied with his younger brother. Joe’s uncle – a big part of his life – was in and out of prison.

Playing and talking in the Place2Be room have really helped Joe. He engages with activities and gets on better with his teacher. He has made friends, spoken about them in sessions and even introduced them to Place2Be. During sessions he has chosen to use bigger paint palettes to avoid making mess and regularly helps with the setting up and tidying away.

While he had struggled to keep to any routine before, Joe now adapts to change. A keen dancer, he and his counsellor rearranged one session so that he didn’t miss a music class. For the first time he recently sat down to ‘eat’ one of his feasts, rather than letting it go to waste. 


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