Before receiving help from Orion Family Services, the Williams home was dark and damaged in more ways than one.
Maggie Williams had her hands full as a single working mother of boys ages 3, 7 and 10. Diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), 7-year-old Kyle experienced frequent violent outbursts. As a result, Williams was no stranger to crisis calls from the boys’ elementary school.
One look inside the family’s home, and it was easy to tell that trouble didn’t stay on school grounds. Holes lined the walls where pictures once hung, and broken furniture was evident throughout the home—a result of countless outbursts.
“My home was out of control and I felt helpless,” Williams said. “I felt powerless and exhausted, both mentally and physically. My 7-year-old spent a week in a psychiatric unit, and upon leaving, Orion entered my life-my angel without wings.”
In the past, Williams had even been referred to the popular television show “Super Nanny” for help. Five minutes after the camera crew arrived, Kyle began throwing rocks at them and they were forced to leave.
At her breaking point, she turned to Orion’s Parent Skillbuilders program. The service aims to stabilize children by working with their parents to identify and build upon parenting strengths and repair areas of concern.
“We focus on building strength and retooling to come up with more healthy and effective parenting strategies,” said Stacey Parke, clinical director of in-home and outpatient services for Orion. “Ultimately, we want to strengthen the parent-child relationship.”
When the program started, Williams was seen twice a week—once individually and again in a family session–for a total of three to four hours per week.
Initially, the Orion staff focused on building an increased sense of cohesion in the family and a stronger sense of positive regard for one another.
It was not an easy process. Williams eventually lost her job due to her frequent absences to deal with all three children.
“Though change was slow to come, we encouraged Maggie to hang in there,” Parke said. “I think she felt stronger knowing that the therapy team was going to hang in there with her no matter what."
For seven months, the family received intensive services through the in-home program. “Through accurate empathy and the understanding of Kyle’s anxiety that existed underneath his anger, Maggie helped him to be able to decrease the outbursts and aggression,” Parke said. “It was Maggie’s confidence in her ability to parent that led to an increase in cohesion and positive interactions.”
To celebrate her completion of the program, William’s primary therapist gave her a toolbox to represent the skills she had been building and implementing. She encouraged Williams to continue to focus on one tool a week.
Williams placed the toolbox in a prominent place in her home and continued to do just that. And hanging in there paid off—big time.
“When her therapy team walked through their doors six months later, it really looked like a home,” Parke said. “Pictures were once again hung and Maggie was so excited and proud. Even the kids were proud.“
A year and a half since beginning the program, the entire family can now sit at the table and enjoy dinner together. Reports from school are greatly improved, and the youngest son is no longer terrified of his older siblings. Family photos and the kids’ artwork are displayed proudly throughout the home.
“They did so much for us,” Williams said. “The violent outbursts completely stopped. Yes, there are many more things I would like to improve on, but Orion gave me the tools to bring my family out of chaos and into love.”