Commitment, Success, Then JOY

A Lesson From One Child’s Triumph Over Anxiety

“Joy Is the Feeling of Grinning Inside”

This quote by Melba Colgrove is a good description of how I felt today when I took note of a client’s success in therapy. Of all the topics I have to discuss, I felt it most appropriate to share a success story with you. What I hope you take from this example, is that success does come! Those who find success in the journey to self-improvement, whether they are children, teens, or adults, endure many challenges and sometimes harsh moments of self-reflection, to reach that place of “grinning inside.”

Therapy is not much different than committing to an exercise routine. In fact, they are very much the same as each are forms of self-improvement- one of the body and the other of the mind. Each require you to make a decision, a commitment for change and self-improvement. Each are more successful with the guidance from a professional. And each have both painful, challenging moments, as well as personally revealing and rewarding moments.

Joy in Her New Confidence

My success story today is about a young client. I will call her Shelly for the purpose of this post. Shelly is an elementary age child who came to me to address her severe anxiety, which was coupled with a very low self-esteem and poor self-confidence. Shelly had difficulty in her school and other activities because she would become so emotional and anxious over the tasks presented to her. In Shelly’s therapy sessions, I allowed her to direct her play and make the decisions about what she called the toys and how she played with them. In other words, I gave Shelly a safe environment to test herself and encouraged her to develop confidence in her capabilities. At first, this was so difficult for her. She wanted me to identify every toy and tell her where to go and became visibly upset when I encouraged her to decide. Shelly would also attempt puzzles and other mastery type toys, only to give up and express defeat when they became a challenge to her.

Fast forward about 9 months. In recent sessions, Shelly has come into the playroom with eagerness and excitement. She looks around the room and makes a quick decision on what she wants to play with or complete. Sometimes, she chooses more mastery toys and makes sure I watch her as she attempts the challenge over and over again until she is satisfied. Other times, she will choose an art activity in which she will decide what to paint and what colors to use (yes, she sought my approval on her colors at first!). Shelly will also choose to play with dolls or house items, such as the kitchen. I am no longer needed to name the items for her, as she will confidently tell me she is serving cake and pizza! This new self-confidence has also revealed her excellent ability to problem solve. I was so excited to observe her solve several of her own “problems” today during play by coming up with unique solutions and actively seeking items in the room that may help her with her dilemma. When she needed my help, she would appropriately ask for it. What a treat to witness!

So, if you are in therapy, have a child in therapy, or are a professional, you know that feeling like nothing you do makes a difference or that progress is moving so very slow. I’m here to remind you today that success can be possible. Please join me in this joyous feeling today as we now all know of one little girl will enjoy a fuller and healthier life!

by Mother Theresa

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.

Life is beauty, admire it.

Life is a dream, realize it.

Life is a challenge, meet it.

Life is a duty, complete it.

Life is a game, play it.

Life is a promise, fulfill it.

Life is sorrow, overcome it.

Life is a song, sing it.

Life is a struggle, accept it.

Life is a tragedy, confront it.

Life is an adventure, dare it.

Life is luck, make it.

Life is too precious, do not destroy it.

Life is life, fight for it.

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Published by

Kim Peterson, MA, LPC-S, RPT

Kim is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Clinical Supervisor, and Registered Play Therapist in Dallas, Texas.

4 thoughts on “Commitment, Success, Then JOY

  1. To take a child from such a timid state to a stae of self-confidence and inner direction is a wonderful accomplishment. And, it is heartwarming to read about. A little added note: We can all help one another feel better about ourselves as we travel through our life journey, not just therapists; look for the best in others—it’s a good start!

  2. […] No matter the industry you choose to start your career (or change your career), you are likely to experience similar feelings, but hopefully you also share the same level of passion and desire to reach your potential in your chosen field. My list below of tips for young professionals are points I find significant for a rich and successful professional journey. […]

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