Dr-Trotter-WFAA-TV

BULLYING: Teen shares battle of exclusion at school

Mental bullying can be just as damaging, and even soul crushing, as physical bullying. See how one girl coped with mental manipulation at school and view Dr. Kay Trotter talking about it on the Dallas morning news program Daybreak – WFAA-TV, Channel 8.

by CYNTHIA IZAGUIRRE, Dallas WFAA-TV, Channel 8

When 13-year-old Sara McCann was in the fifth grade her mom knew something was wrong at school.

“It’s not a shove you in the locker kind of bully,” said mother Renee McCaan. “It’s a, ‘Hey, do this and if you’re not going to do this we’re going to just discard you.’”

“It’s usually like a big group of girls,” said Sara, fighting back tears. “And I feel left out sometimes, like at lunch, whenever there’s nowhere to sit and no one will go sit with me.”

For the last three years, Sara said a group of popular girls at school made it very clear she was not good enough to join them.

“Whenever they would leave me out, I would feel like a nobody,” she said. “I mean, they wouldn’t say that to me, but it was what was implied I guess.”

Sara’s mother said this type of insidious alliance amongst students perceived to be cool caused harmful effects on her daughter.

“It’s like me putting pressure on myself saying, ‘Why am I not good enough to sit with them?’” Sara said.

According to the teen, it was covert, damaging and soul crushing – a type of mind manipulation that may not be easily detected by teachers.

“In the classroom, for example, if we have a project or something and the teacher will tell us to get in groups and it will be like a group of four and I’ll usually be like the fifth one,” she said. “I don’t have any where to go.”

When asked if she wished the teacher would break the students into groups as opposed to having them do it themselves, Sara choked up.

“Yes,” she said. “So that I would have somewhere to go.”

As Sara talked, her mother also fought back tears.

“You feel that pain,” Renee said. “You do. You feel it for your own child. You kind of inject your own memories in there. You want to swoop in and save the day.”

Renee did not talk to the principal about Sara’s issues. Instead, she sought counseling for both her and her daughter.

“I could have taken her out of the school and created a very big disadvantage for her because I’m taking the opportunity away from her to learn how to navigate these pressures in life,” she said.

Through counseling, Sara learned how to set boundaries, how to navigate the pressures and she discovered a new passion in horseback riding that has given her a new-found confidence.

“It’s not those girls that I want to feel wanted by,” she said. “It’s the people that I love that I want to feel wanted by.”

E-mail izzy@wfaa.com

View Dr. Kay Trotter talking about how to cope with mental bullying on the Dallas morning news program Daybreak – WFAA-Channel 8 Video on Bullying

http://www.kaytrotter.com/wfaa-channel-8-video-on-bullying/

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group you can contact her at: Kay@KayTrotter.com, 214-499-0396, or visit her web site http://www.KayTrotter.com.

Dr Trotter also post regularly in her FaceBook fan page http://www.facebook.com/DrKaySudekumTrotter.

horse

Animal Assisted Therapy Case Study: Sam and a therapy horse named Rosie

Guest AuthorDaniella San Martin-Feeney is the Program Coordinator for Chimo Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). Chimo AAT is a non-profit initiative based in Edmonton, Canada, which facilitates the implementation of AAT programs in health and social service facilities, as well as schools.  Their focus is on mental health, and their mission is to facilitate the use of animals to help those in need.

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) in its many shapes and forms, can have such an important therapeutic benefit.  AAT can beneficial to clients with diverse goals, and it can take place in diverse settings.  Here is the first of two case studies taken from Chimo Animal Assisted Therapy’s first manual, “Improving Mental Health Through Animal-Assisted Therapy”, by Liana Urichuk with Dennis Anderson.

The first case study shows the role animals can have in helping a client draw analogies between therapy sessions and their day-to-day life.  This case study doesn’t take place in an office, but on a farm!

Case Study 1

SAM AND A THERAPY HORSE NAMED ROSIE

Sam is small for his eight years. His parents described him as a good student, outgoing with lots of friends; that was, until he moved schools last year. Since then his grades have plummeted, no friends come round for supper anymore, and Sam rarely says a word; except to beg his Mom not to make him go to school each morning. Sam refuses to talk with the school counselor, his teacher, or with the play therapist his parents took him to see. Sam’s parents are at their wit’s end. They desperately want their son back, but Sam won’t tell them what is wrong, and the only living being he seems to trust is Benji, his pet guinea pig. Seeing this connection, Sam’s parents take him to a place they’d heard about through their church; a place where they help kids through animals. This is where I meet Sam. I’m working with an Animal Assisted Therapy program in Arizona, and Sam is my newest client.

Sam stands slightly behind his Dad, looking at the ground. He looks scared. I gently explain that there are lots of animals here who would really like to meet Sam, if he wants to. Sam nods tentatively. As we explore the farm and meet first with the smaller animals, Sam starts to talk. First with the dogs and the goats, and then, very quietly, he tells me that he has a guinea pig at home called Benji, and that Benji is his best friend.

In our next session, Sam asks to see the horses. He notices Rosie, standing by herself. ‘She looks lonely’ says Sam, ‘can we bring her in?’. Once in the corral I show Sam how to do a ‘join up’ with Rosie. Sam spends time talking with Rosie and rubbing her, then gently asks her to move away from him. Through this process Rosie decides that Sam is someone to be trusted and respected, so when Sam walks around the corral Rosie follows. When Sam, with a gentle hand on her rose, asks Rosie to back away, she takes a few steps back. As he runs circles in the corral with Rosie trotting at his heel, Sam starts to laugh, and for the first time I see a glimmer of the boy his parents described: confident, happy, and in charge. Leading Rosie back to the field Sam looks me directly in the eye:

“Rosie is so big and I’m so small, but she did what I asked her to do!”

It is then that Sam starts to tell me about the kids at school, situations when he felt very small: the bullying. With Rosie’s help, Sam’s self confidence gradually returned, he talked to his parents and teacher, and together they found ways to address the bullying at their school.

Taken from: McIntosh, S. (2001, Dec.). Four legged therapists reach children in need. Synchronicity. Sue McIntosh has shared much knowledge and expertise with the Chimo Project. Her contributions are gratefully acknowledged.  As published in Improving Health Through Animal Assisted Therapy. L. Urickuk with Dennis Anderson. 2003.

Daniella’s next post on will feature a second case study that shows how a canine named Bishop set the stage for optimal healing.

Visit Daniella at Chimo Animal Assisted Therapy web page: www.chimoproject.ca.

Check our her blog at: http://chimoaat.wordpress.com/.