Michael first arrived at CCYS as a nine-year-old boy in need of counseling services. His mother explained he was getting into trouble for “talking back” at school and wanted to keep him on track. This would not be the first time Michael’s outgoing nature would get him into trouble. Over the years, Michael returned for counseling several times, working on issues ranging from anger management, healthy communication, conflict resolution, and making healthy decisions. Even at a young age, counselors noted that his playful, joking manner was a great strength that increased his resiliency. Michael developed his coping skills and learned different relaxation techniques to help him manage his emotions.
Michael’s quick wit, sharp tongue, and difficulty controlling his impulses continued to get him into trouble during his teenage years, both at school and at home. Michael had his first shelter stay at Someplace Else in 2010. He became involved in the Juvenile Justice system and was getting into fights at school. Although he is an intelligent young man, Michael began failing classes due to absences. Michael and his parents had difficulty communicating with one another; and he admitted to being disrespectful towards them. As Michael dealt with his own inner turmoil and tried to develop his own identity, he made some poor decisions that led to further involvement with the Juvenile Justice system. CCYS shelter staff and counselors worked with Michael to help him identify poor decisions he had made, and regularly reinforced his positive choices. He made progress therapeutically as he was able to acknowledge his mistakes and expressed wanting to make better choices. Over his teenage years Michael returned to the shelter several times as new crises emerged.
At age 16, family conflict and truancy remained a pressing issue for Michael. He returned to the shelter and began talking to his counselor about his future. He acknowledged the need to focus on academics in order to increase his chances of future success. Staff members noted that even on difficult days he responded positively to one on one redirection. Michael would often apologize to staff members after being disrespectful, a trait which endeared him to those working to help him. During this difficult period, Michael was able to depend on CCYS to provide consistent support and encouragement. Michael and his counselor developed a healthy therapeutic alliance where Michael was gently challenged to examine his own behaviors and identify healthy alternatives to maladaptive coping.
Michael returned to Someplace Else in the weeks prior to his 18th birthday. He requested the shelter stay himself, and was in search of support in his transition into adulthood. He completed his G.E.D. in December of 2012 and was very focused on his future. He was volunteering at a local non-profit and was already enrolled in community college. Staff and counselors assisted Michael in planning for his future, empowering him to take ownership over his choices and exploring what healthy independent living looks like. His counselor assisted him in formulating long and short term goals, including staying in school and obtaining part time employment. Michael continued to develop his coping skills and prosocial communication. His counselor also referred him to CCYS’s Street Outreach program, which can provide case management support until Michael turns 22.
During his final shelter stay Michael was often observed advocating for younger peers. Michael reached out to the more isolated youth, encouraging them to make positive choices. He acknowledged that he has “wasted time being angry” and that he wanted to “let go” of the past.
Since turning 18 Michael has gained additional part time employment. He has been saving money for school and housing, and moved in to his own apartment in October 2013. CCYS supported Michael in providing him with items for his new home. Michael plans to continue taking courses at a local community college in spring 2014. He has expressed his gratitude to CCYS for the support over the years. Despite the obstacles he has faced, Michael’s upbeat spirit and sense of humor has endured throughout. CCYS is very proud of him.