I work as a foster care counselor, with the responsibility of providing guidance and counseling to children and families within the American Community in Canada. I am however attached to the Canadian Foster Families Association, which predominantly focuses on the protection of the best interest of the foster families. The organization made a deliberate commitment recently to improve the quality of treatment of the indigenous children within the Canadian Foster Care system.
This led to the dedication of several foster care counselors from within or beyond the indigenous cultures. I trained as a child counselor at the University of Toronto, Canada. Here, I took a bachelor’s degree in psychology and graduated in 2010. I later undertook a Master’s degree in Child counseling at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. I also undertook the multi-cultural competence therapist training provided by the Canadian Foster Families Association and was assigned to deal with the indigenous youth and children in the country.
Jake, one of my colleagues, who has trained as a community mental health worker and psychiatrist, introduced me to Ralph and insisted that he is “a good kid” but had experienced intolerable childhood trauma. He pointed out that despite the fact that the seventeen-year-old had portrayed difficult behavior, he had the potential to take care of his grandmother. According to the several psychological tests he administered to Ralph, he reports that the young man is high in openness and conscientiousness.
Here, the young man is schooled highly on industriousness but is relatively lower in orderliness. However, based on the fact the seventeen-year-old experienced a lot of childhood trauma with the loss of both his parents, he scored highly under the trait, of neuroticism. Jake, also suspects may be having autism spectrum disorder (ASD), something that is connected with communication problems and the fact that he is extremely low in extroversion.
Jake also reports that Ralph has an intelligence quotient score of 128, something that puts him in the 97th percentile of the intelligence distribution. This was quite impressive based on the difficulties Ralph experienced in his development. However, he is a difficult client based on the fact that he does not want to get counseling. The issue of concern is Ralph’s difficult behavior with the inclusion of his truancy, which can be connected to childhood trauma and the ASD diagnosis.
Jake had provided me with Ralph’s information pointing to the fact that he thought that the young man would benefit from my services. This is based on the fact that the incredible success of my counseling with older teenagers. On Monday, 28th March 2022, Ralph was brought to my office and instructed to feel free to express himself and learn from the therapy session. Jake also informed him that he had to be as honest as possible if he wanted the sessions to transform his life.
Introductions made by Jake in the Presence of both the Client and Counselor
Jake: Ralph, this is Dr. Will a clinical psychologist who has specialized as a foster care counselor. I can attest to the success rate of his work, having most of his clients transform their lives and get on their journey to self-actualization. Dr. Will, this is your new client, I think that he has the potential to be a very productive member of society given that he takes advantage of the opportunities that will transform his life.
Dr. Will: Thanks, Jake. Hello Ralph, am Dr. will and I would like to inform you that in this counseling process my job is not to give you instructions on how you should conduct your life but to listen and direct you as you figure out how you should fix your life. What would you like to say before we let Jake leave so that we can commence with the therapy session?
Ralph: Thanks, I’ll do my best.
[Jake leaves and the counseling session commences]
Counselor: Please tell me the story of your life. How did we get here?
Client: They say am a difficult kid, but I think that they just hate me because am poor and I lost both my parents when I was young. Honestly, I have seen them treat other kids better than they treat me. I think it is because those kids have both their parents.
Counselor: I understand, you connect the trauma you have experienced to the fact that you lost both of your parents early on in your life.
Client: They treat the other kids better. Plus am an Inuit, they do not treat us indigenous people like humans. My grandmother told me that we owned all of Canada and the US before you white people came.
Counselor: Did your grandmother teach you about the Inuit traditions?
Client: Yeah, she says that we are very different from the white people, you guys embrace the individual, while we focus on the continuity of our culture.
Counselor: Which one do you think would be more preferable?
Client: I do not care. I hate my life anyway.
Counselor: I understand that you have faced more challenges than most of the kids out there. This is definitely sad, but it could be one of the best advantages you will ever have in your life.
Client: You think? (Smiling unconsciously)
Counselor: Yeah I do. As long as you take advantage of opportunities like this therapy session. Your threshold for tolerating and overcoming adversity is definitely higher than that of the average kid. From what I can tell you are an above-average kid. You definitely have a bright future ahead.
Client: Honestly doctor, I would like to enjoy life like I see the white kids do.
Counselor: I am here to not only guarantee that but also ensure that you become a productive member of society. We can take this chance to review memorable events in your past see what lesson we can draw from that. What memories do you have of your mother?
Client: Honestly, I think that both my parents suck. My mother died of an overdose. This was actually a decade before the peak of the opioid pandemic. What kind of a loser is that? All I can remember is her being a useless human being especially after my dad committed suicide. How am I expected to be normal while my parents are acting like idiots?
Counselor: I get that your parents have caused you a lot of pain. I also understand that you are frustrated but you need to improve on your politeness. Your choice of the world will determine whether other people are comfortable listening to you.
Client: I am sorry doc I’ll try. But how is this even fair?
Counselor: It is not fair at all, but something can be done here. You can be better and help other Inuit kids fix their life despite the trauma that is embedded in the culture.
Client: Blame on the white people.
Counselor: I understand. I have over the past decade been studying the trauma of the indigenous people and I can see where you are coming from.
Client: Honestly, I think that my grandmother had tried. I hate the fact that I tormented her for years. This lady loses her son to suicide and her grandson is a violent loser.
Counselor: I do not think it is appropriate to think of yourself as a loser. Not that we want this session to be successful.
Client; Sorry doc, I mean that I should be in a position to relieve her of all the trauma she has experienced in her life.
Counselor: You mentioned you being violent. Why can’t you restrain yourself?
Client: Honestly, I do not know where that comes from. Something happens and I blackout only to later realize the consequences of my actions. I do not think am in control of some things, you know.
Counselor: Have you mastered any anger management methods?
Clients: Yeah they made me attend some anger management classes but I do not think that works. Honestly, I prefer listening to the oral traditions of the Inuit community. It keeps me in touch with my parents and calm.
Counselor: How much time have you spent on the Inuit oral traditions?
Client: Honestly, hour and hours. My grandmother used to tell me the same stories over and over and I loved these stories due to their connection with my indigenous identity. I no longer feel like an impostor in white man’s traditions.
Counselor: What’s your favorite story?
Client: I generally enjoy any story about the origin of the Inuit place names. Once am out of this foster care hell hole I’ll start a podcast that focuses on the indigenous oral traditions. I bet it will resonate with many indigenous people and people from other cultures like the White people and the African Americans. I bet we have more in common than we would like to admit. I’ll also make a lot of money do it.
Counselor: That is a very good idea. I told you that you are a very brilliant young man.
Client: You think?
Counselor: I know. But it saddens me that you refused to attend school.
Client: I hate school. They force us to do boring things. Half this knowledge I do not think is relevant in real life.
Counselor: Having read your psychiatric evaluation. I understand that you are dyslexic.
Client: Yeah I hate reading and I have the worst handwriting in the world. How am I supposed to be brilliant and I cannot even read like a normal grade one kid.
Counselor: I see that you were recently diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.
Client: Yeah and they gave me medicine that made me feel dumb. It’s called Ritalin. It has also destroyed my appetite.
Counselor: Now we are getting to the root cause of your negative experience in the school system.
Client: I love learning but I hate school.
Counselor: Have you had a negative experience with your peers in class?
Client: I hate both the educator and the other learners in school. Actually, I think they hate on me for whatever reason. I have really tried but school does not work for me.
Counselor: What is your most preferable learning method?