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Overcoming childhood trauma through therapy

Meet the Duarte-Gregory Family

Easton, Pa.

Sandra’s father was a successful businessman in the 1980s. To outsiders, her family life appeared “perfect.” In reality, however, her father was an alcoholic and her mother was a drug addict. Because of her parents’ neglect, Sandra and her younger sister were removed from their home multiple times by child services. It was during one of those episodes that Sandra first received counseling and learned to use writing as a therapeutic tool.

Even after reaching adulthood, marrying and having a child, Sandra didn’t realize how much her childhood experiences had affected her. “I thought, because I wasn’t an addict, that even though I went through this hell, I got through it untouched,” she says.

But Sandra’s past haunted her. She began lying and cheating on her husband, and stressing out about creating a “perfect” birthday party for her daughter and other things in her personal life.

“I would create chaos and mayhem,” she says. Her marriage began to fall apart. Through counseling, she and her husband began to work through their issues. Sandra began to see patterns in her own behavior: she couldn’t finish things that she started; people didn’t trust her; every relationship was dramatic; and she would invent complex narratives in her mind.

After observing the effect her behavior had on her daughter, Sandra resolved to try individual therapy at Pinebrook Family Answers. She was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, severe anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. A psychiatrist prescribed medication and weekly therapy appointments. Eight months into treatment, Sandra has gained confidence and balance. She recently passed her last GED exam and is enrolling at Northampton Community College, where she is considering pursuing a career in social work. Her success inspired her sister to try therapy, as well.

“Mental illness is so taboo,” Sandra says. “Maybe some people are afraid of being judged, but we’re so much better off not pretending to be perfect.”

Thank your legislators for making Human Services funding a priority in the 2017-18 Pennsylvania budget.

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