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Saphire and mother learn to work as a team

September 25, 2015
Saphire (left), her mother, Yvonne, and sister, Zaiah

Saphire (left), her mother, Yvonne, and sister, Zaiah

Saphire, 17, and her mother, Yvonne, had given up on their relationship. They couldn’t have a simple conversation without fighting.

“When I began working with them, I begged Yvonne to give us time to see changes before deciding to put Saphire out of her home,” said Shandi Peters, Youth Villages family intervention specialist. “I also begged Saphire not to leave.”

Saphire was sad and had a temper. She lashed out when she was angry, throwing things, becoming aggressive and yelling. At age 5, she witnessed her father pass away and later experienced physical abuse. She has post traumatic stress disorder.

“Our home was a tornado before Shandi came,” Saphire said. “Not long ago, I was hospitalized after a drug overdose and Mom almost went to the hospital for her extreme anxiety.”

Yvonne and Saphire had tried numerous in-home therapy services and programs for youth with difficult behaviors. Nothing had worked. Youth Villages’ Intercept® intensive in-home program was a last resort.

“I had no energy left and I needed help,” Yvonne said. “I wanted Saphire locked up because I didn’t know how to deal with her.”

Yvonne and Saphire’s biggest hurdle was learning how to communicate with each other. When they fought, their communication broke down completely.

“Saphire would walk away from our fights, and I felt disrespected,” Yvonne said. “I thought she didn’t care about our relationship. But something clicked when Shandi explained that Saphire and I have different ways of handling our anger.”

With Shandi’s help, Yvonne learned that Saphire needed time to cool down.

“As soon as Saphire started seeing her mom make changes for her, she softened,” Shandi said. “Saphire realized they are in this together and started putting her all into their relationship.”

The Youth Villages Intercept program provides treatment to troubled children and families in their own homes. Treatment includes family therapy, mental health treatment, parenting skills education and resources for long-term support. Shandi met with the family an average of three times weekly and was on-call around the clock.

“We were full of hope after we noticed ourselves fighting less,” Yvonne said. “We took notes on each other and showed Shandi, hoping each week there would be more we could work on together.”

With Shandi’s help, Saphire and Yvonne have become a team. Saphire spends hours cleaning the house, and Yvonne never fails to thank her. They talk about their days together and joke about how often they used to fight.

“I’m really trying to use what Shandi taught us because it works,” Saphire said. “I will continue to get my life together so I can go to college and have a career. These are my dreams and I want them to come true.”

Saphire is taking extra academic credits to graduate on time while holding a part-time job. The house is calm and Yvonne is less anxious.

“Saphire is an amazing child,” Yvonne said. “She’s been through a lot, and she didn’t have to accept Shandi’s help. However, she did and our family has completely changed.”

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