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David*, a 50 something year old man, was referred to Senior Social Worker Jan Coleman for counselling and support with his mental health.

David was born with foetal alcohol syndrome – his life was set in motion well before it had begun.

David had severe trauma from childhood experiences that lasted well into his adult life. He was removed from his family, separated from his siblings, and placed in institutional care. Then moved from foster home, after foster home. The impact of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse caused him to struggle in all aspects of his life, particularly his mental health.

“When I first met David, I could see the impact his childhood had on decisions he had made as an adult, they were interconnected and bound together”, explains Jan. “For David to experience some sort of freedom from his thoughts, paranoia and anxiety, we needed to develop a team of support around David.”

Jan was able to offer an outside perspective and support David to understand how he interacted and related to the world around him.

David told Jan that he was committed to a better life. A life where he could learn to read, get his car licence and a job. Working in a client-centred way, Jan supported David to define small steps, to achieve these goals.

“David was making good progress, but it became clear that there was still one place where he was stuck”, says Jan. “David’s accommodation was a constant reminder of his past. For his mental health and safety, his immediate priority was to move, and I supported him through therapy to overcome this significant hurdle to his healing and find a safe place to live.”

As a skilled clinical social worker, Jan supports clients to overcome personal difficulties and structural barriers so that they are included and engaged, strengthening their independence and resilience in practical ways.

Jan has been integral to help David extend his network of support and practitioners to manage his ongoing mental health issues.

David and Jan have built a strong therapeutic relationship, and Jan feels truly humbled to be part of David’s world. While Jan continues to provide therapy to increase David’s capacity to live life, he now feels, more than ever, better prepared to navigate its transitions.


*name changed out of respect and privacy


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