Tariq is a 12 year old, Asian, Muslim boy who was referred to the Safe2Speak therapy project at WISH Merton by the Pastoral support team in his school following a disclosure Tariq made to both a teacher and his mother of having suicidal thoughts. Therapy sessions took place in the school and lasted over a period of 7 months.
When sessions first started he found it very difficult to express what he was feeling although he appeared willing to engage in the process. In initial sessions creative interventions were used to build and establish the therapeutic relationship. Tariq liked animals so we used animals through art as an outlet for him to express his feelings and thoughts. He would describe feelings of hopelessness and confinement, death seemed like an escape for him, and he would think about stepping out in front of a car often when things felt unbearable.
As sessions progressed Tariq became more comfortable in the therapeutic relationship and would draw his thoughts and feelings and describe them more openly. As exploration continued it became clear that his suicidal thoughts were linked directly to his living conditions as he was living in temporary housing and living in one room with his two siblings and his mother; Tariq felt like he had no space.
In the following months Tariq described the therapy sessions as a space where he could talk about how he was feeling- at this stage during therapy he no longer used art to express himself he would speak freely and openly about what was going on for him. We did some work on some unresolved grief he had from the loss of his father three years prior and drew links from the loss of his dad and what that represented to him and his present loss of the family home and this brought about a realisation for him.
Tariq and his family were re-housed five months into our work together and expressed his delight about this and was very involved in setting it up and making it home. After some exploration we found his concept of ‘home’ represented safety and stability much like what his father represented. After completing an additional wellbeing assessment it was noted that he no longer had suicidal thoughts and was feeling very hopeful about his future. Tariq has decided to end counselling now as he is feeling stable and secure.
As a result of the Safe2Speak project Tariq had a safe, consistent, containing, non-judgemental place where he could explore his grief over the loss of his father and the additional loss of his home and sense of stability and safety. Being able to offer him open ended counselling allowed him to go at his pace. Counselling became an anchor at an unstable time which allowed for deeper exploration and processing of his experiences and the overall reduction of his emotional distress and his suicide ideation ceased.
This is Tariq’s story.
This year, we want to make sure young people at WISH feel cared for this Christmas and are planning an outing and presents under the tree. But we need your help to make this happen. We would be so grateful if you could take part in our Christmas appeal, share our stories, donate if you feel able to, and help spread the word.
Please consider supporting WISH this Christmas to help other young people like Tariq.