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Jakob and family defy the odds and achieve success

January 6, 2014

When Jakob returned home after spending the weekend at a friend’s house, his mother, Carrington, said his progress was obvious.

“Jakob walked in and said, ‘I’m just glad to be back with my family,’” she said.

The family and their Youth Villages counselor marveled at one another’s work ethic and willingness to do whatever it took to restore a family on its last rung.


“We struggled with Jakob his whole life,” Carrington said. “Nothing we tried worked, and he was becoming more rebellious, more physical and more intense. We were at a loss for a solution.”

The family home had gotten out of hand. Jakob was retreating to his room to watch television for hours, and would become defiant, even physically aggressive, when asked to do something. It carried over into school. The relationship between child and parents had disintegrated. Carrington said Jakob, 15, had been a handful his entire life, and she and dad Michael were left with few options on what to do. They begrudgingly agreed to try Youth Villages’ Multisystemic Therapy program.

“We’d gone through so many programs, we were dreading another,” Michael said.

“We didn’t want to hear another person tell us what they think they know. None of them had worked before.”

Family Counselor Valerie Richman made an initial phone call to Carrington before visiting the home.

“It was different,” Carrington said. “She was very reassuring and had an energy about her I hadn’t heard before.”

Valerie began working with the family together, and after a few visits where everyone was able to express their viewpoints, the family buckled down and got to work.

Jakob and his family began communicating better, expressing themselves better and finding ways to ease the tension.

“There were significant relational issues that were causing a breakdown,” Valerie said. “The parents weren’t on the same page and Jakob was having difficulty articulating how he felt.”

Jakob, Carrington and Michael all wanted to make it work. They implemented rewards and consequences for Jakob’s behavior and began doing more things together as a family. They began expressing their care, concern and love for one another. Carrington and Michael began responding to Jakob in ways that would soothe situations instead of making them worse.

“We learned that Jakob wanted structure and discipline and he wanted to work on becoming a family too,” Carrington said. “We began to look forward to Valerie’s visits.”

Valerie visited the family three days a week, and was on call to help 24 hours a day. After Valerie earned the family’s trust, the family then earned the trust of one another.

“When they began to see the payoff and how well they were beginning to do and act toward one another, they were motivated to do more,” Valerie said. “Jakob began experiencing what a close family does day-to-day, and their affection for one another became more open.”

Jakob now gets to find out what he wants to do, whether it’s a singer or becoming a video game designer. His grandparents talk about how much better things are. He spends time with friends and enjoys doing simple family things, like running errands or buying food.

“We’ve done a lot of work,” Carrington said. “To be together and stay together, we’ve come a long way and we’re grateful for the help we received. Jakob’s in our home and we’re a family and that’s the most beautiful thing.”

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