Ben, Rose and Dana’s Story
Since the loss of his wife, Ben was finding Rose’s behaviour increasingly challenging. “I was struggling with the pain of my wife’s death and I turned my attention inward. I didn’t recognize that the girls were also struggling to process the pain of losing their mother,” he recalls. Ben’s girlfriend, Mavis*, began living with the family and this increased the friction between Ben and his daughters. Rose, in particular, was having difficulty and was unable to cope with the emotions she was experiencing.
After her suicide attempt, Rose was hospitalized for two weeks at St. Joseph’s Hospital. When she was discharged the psychiatrist recommended she, Ben and Dana all go to Yorktown’s walk-in. “The doctor at St. Joseph’s said that Yorktown is a really good place to go. I had never been to Yorktown but I had been to a therapist before. This was going to be different. It wasn’t just for me, it was for our family this time, and it turned out this made a big difference,” says Rose.
Beginning in June, the family came to the walk-in on a weekly basis. After five visits, they were assigned a dedicated counsellor, Maureen, for On-going Service which is typically 12 sessions. After seeing the family weekly for two months, Maureen recommended that another clinician be assigned to Dana. “I felt that Dana needed the opportunity to find her voice and this would be enhanced if she had her own counsellor,” says Maureen. Maureen continued to see Rose and Ben, sometimes together, sometimes each individually. In the fall, Dana was assigned her own counsellor, Naszrin.
In September, Ben began attending Mindful Fathering, a 14 week program dedicated to fathers who want to build their relationship with their children. The program supports fathers to better manage their anger and aggression.
It had been suggested to Ben by two separate counsellors in the walk-in, and also by Maureen and Naszrin that he participate in Mindful Fathering. “I was offended when the first counsellor at the walk-in suggested it. It is a program for abusive fathers and I didn’t take the suggestion very well. The second time, the counsellor told me that he used to facilitate Mindful Fathering. He said, ‘Trust me, this will answer so many of your questions. You will do great in this program.’ I started the program in September and it really, really changed me,” says Ben. He adds “I feel that all this pain and the roller coaster ride that I’ve been on these last 5 or 6 years is starting to make sense and I can help my kids. I can actually grow from this. This sad situation has now become somehow beautiful at the same time.”
During the time that Ben participated in Mindful Fathering, he also continued to have consultations with Maureen and Naszrin, sometimes alone
and sometimes with his daughters. “When Dad started going to Mindful Fathering we began to see the difference in him. He was paying attention and watching how we reacted to him. He would tell us, ‘I can’t control your actions but I can control how I respond, if you are doing something that I don’t like. It’s not your fault if I get angry, it’s my feelings and I have to control them for myself.’ He became much calmer,” says Dana. Rose adds, “Actually, I saw the change before he started Mindful Fathering, but I didn’t trust that it was real, at first. Therapy does help. My family has grown a lot from it. My dad has changed tremendously from it. He has become a really good dad for both of us.”
“It took me a good year and a half to fully absorb all this knowledge that I have gained; especially with Maureen and later on with Naz. I have to give huge credit to the Mindful Fathering facilitators, Rodrigo and Susan. Rodrigo really made an impression on me. What I learned from him influenced a big change. He offered me empathy and forgiveness for the same things. Thanks to all these people, I now have the tools that I didn’t have before and I continue to use them every day,” says Ben.
While attending On-going Service with Rose and Dana, Ben also attended Mindful Fathering twice, and Parenting Wisely, a parenting program designed for families who have children from ages 7 to 18 years. The family continues to utilize the skills they acquired through counselling; Yorktown’s walk-in clinic is available to them should they need support at any time, in the future.