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CASE STUDY | Positive Futures provides full support for a young person dealing with panic attacks and anxiety

Wednesday, 5 May, 2021

CASE STUDY | Positive Futures provides full support for a young person dealing with panic attacks and anxiety

The referral

Jacob was referred to Positive Futures following a change of circumstance in the family home. He had been exposed to aggressive behaviour and a physical assault from his older sibling, which resulted in Police action and the sibling being accommodated into a residential foster placement by the Local Authority. Following this incident, Jacob was finding it difficult to manage emotionally and it was felt that they would benefit from activities outside of the family home and interventions from a local community service.

The Intervention

At the time of being referred to Positive Futures, Jacob had become very withdrawn. This was causing problems at school as he was unable to engage in lessons and avoided any interaction with his family. To help with Jacob’s anxiety and depression, which were contributing to his lack of confidence, six one-to-one sessions were agreed upon. His Targeted Support Worker helped him to set his goals, one of which was to concentrate more in his lessons, as this was a good indicator as to the level of his depression and anxiety.

When triggered negatively, Jacob’s behaviour was not aggressive or destructive, but rather he was withdrawn. This would result in him sitting still and feeling completely zoned out from the teacher. This led to him getting into trouble at school and reinforced his beliefs that he was not worth much. This feeling would exacerbate his panic disorder which only increased his withdrawn behaviour. He described these feelings as his “mind freezing”, which we found to be in line with symptoms of panic disorder.

The one-to-one sessions took place in parks and at the Positive Futures office, where Jacob had the opportunity to express himself and make sense of how he felt towards his older sibling and other family members in a safe environment full of understanding. He was able to build trust and a rapport with his Targeted Support Worker resulting in him feeling reassured about his feelings. He also received huge support from both his family and school, which had a great positive influence on his progress.

The Impact

Following Jacob’s sessions with his Targeted Support Worker, there was a significant reduction in his feelings of anxiety, from above clinical threshold in the area of panic disorder, to well below clinical threshold. This is an amazing achievement in just 6 sessions. The love and support he has received from his carers had an incredibly positive impact on his development, as it allowed for a rapid change in his perception of actual threats.

“I have completed a week without getting told off for day-dreaming.”

Jacob has also been performing well at school, sharing that he was able to focus for a full week thanks to reduced feelings of anxiety in general. At the time Jacob’s targeted support came to an end, he was learning virtually, and his carer had reported that he was participating very well. To continue building on the positive steps so far, he is now attending some Open Access Sessions at Positive Futures to help with his emotional well-being and personal development. He has even asked if his cousin can come along to the open access sessions.

Jacob has also taken the tremendous step with visiting his sibling in their residential care home. He looks forward to these visits and enjoys spending time with them without showing any symptoms of trauma.

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