Kav L’Noar has the zechut to work with many troubled families and to be with them as they struggle to find a better path. Generally a family comes to us because one of their children is experiencing difficulties emotionally, behaviorally or academically. A trained therapist helps the family sort out all the issues involved and decide what would be most helpful – therapy, parental guidance, mentoring, or a combination of all. Because a family is a system, each member affects and is affected by all the others. Kav L’Noar works with the larger family system while also addressing individual needs, and thus promotes support for changes that occur within the system.
Following is an example of one family’s difficulties and how they used Kav L’Noar to help them learn to communicate in a way that was supportive of all the members. The father of this family was interviewed and his comments written down. Because those original notes were sentence fragments and often disjointed, that interview is paraphrased for a smoother flow and better understanding.
INTERVIEW WITH CLIENT’S FATHER
A few years ago, we started having trouble with our teenage daughter. Her school alerted us that she was missing classes and doing poorly academically. They felt she was reacting to excessive pressure and they encouraged us to give her space to help her feel less pressure. They also suggested that we allow her to continue her night-time trips to the downtown area, because they understood that she was involved with an organization there that looks after street kids. They thought it was a youth group, and she would be safe because adults were monitoring the activities.
At home, she was surly and stopped speaking to us at all. With time, we began to realize that her going into town was not a wholesome thing and that she was only involved with this organization because they were picking her up on the streets after she had already been hanging out. She was spending many hours unsupervised in an unhealthy environment during which time no one knew what she was doing. We recognized that our daughter was in serious trouble.
That’s when we contacted Kav L’Noar where the director encouraged us to get involved as a family. Because our daughter refused to speak with us, we were assigned one therapist and our daughter was assigned another. The therapists collaborated with each other, so they were able to keep an eye on the family as a whole. I haven’t seen this model elsewhere, and we found it to be very effective.
During the year long course of therapy, we discovered just how far down our daughter had slid already. She was not invited back to her original school where she had gone for many years, she was staying out very late at night with unsavory friends, hanging out with boys, drinking, and not observing even the basics of Torah Judaism. After a few months, she began staying out all night and we had to face that she was running away. We were panicked about what would become of her.
For our daughter, therapy quickly brought out that her school had not been a good fit for her. She was having difficulty keeping it for a long time, but hiding it. We realized that she needed another kind of school that could address her unique needs. We also felt it would be good to get her away from the negative influences on the street, so we chose a boarding school that was close enough that she could still come home for Shabbat. That meant that she was also able to continue with her therapist.
She stayed in that school most of the year. Close to the end of that year, she switched to night school and finished her bagriyot on her own, in an external program. We never would have believed that she could develop the motivation and discipline to accomplish that and are very proud of her. Now she lives at home, has a warm relationship with her family, works and is a responsible young adult.
The process took a long time and a lot of patience. Our daughter’s struggles strained all the relationships in the family, including our marriage. Therapy provided a safe place for our daughter to be heard in a nonjudgmental way and it fostered marital harmony during a time that often seemed fraught with unbearable stress. “I can’t imagine any family surviving without the guidance.”