Client Spotlight: Donovan’s Story

Anxiety disorders impact an estimated one in eight kids and teens. Left untreated, childhood anxiety can result in poor school performance, poor social functioning, and even substance abuse.

Donovan has struggled with anxiety as long as he can remember and says it has held him back from a lot of activities and social events. Even at family gatherings, he would prefer to sit off to the side and not participate. Last fall was an especially difficult time for Donovan because he started a new school where he didn’t have any friends. He felt really anxious, intimidated, and too shy to make any new friends so he became withdrawn. And, because anxiety affects working memory and gets in the way of concentration, he began falling behind in class. He couldn’t stay focused on his studies and his grades were rapidly dropping. At home, he isolated in his room and became even more withdrawn. Donovan was really struggling and didn’t feel like he could share his feelings with anyone. He was always upset and felt the only communication he had with his mother was when they were arguing.

One of Donovan’s teachers became concerned about him and recommended him to Phoenix House’s School-Based Mental Health Prevention Program. Donovan started attending weekly counseling sessions at the Phoenix House Academy and the change that has taken place over the last several months is remarkable. He has been working with his counselor, Anthony, whom he bonded with right away. Anthony shared that he also struggled with anxiety when he was Donovan’s age and that he also had to deal with changing schools and making new friends.

Donovan felt less alone and knew he could trust Anthony and share the feelings he was afraid to share with anyone else. Anthony worked to provide Donovan with the tools to help him better deal with his fears and anxieties and to take healthy risks.

Gone is the shy teen that was too anxious to make friends and socialize. Donovan now has a close group of friends in school, has joined a tennis group, and recently had a cake baking contest with some of his friends where he baked his first cake! Donovan has also had the opportunity to rediscover his passions and has embraced his creativity and loves drawing and painting:  cartoons, anime, buildings, landscapes, and portraits.

Donovan’s parents have also attended sessions with him and he is very grateful for this opportunity to really get to know them and loves to hear their stories.

Donovan recently discovered the ukulele and Anthony encouraged him to bring his ukulele with him to Phoenix House and give an impromptu performance for the staff. Donovan worked through his fear and did it! We look forward to hearing Donovan play the ukulele any time!

Anxiety can be paralyzing for kids and teens and we are so thrilled that Donovan is working to overcome his fears and share his gifts. He is artistic, smart, fun, talented and helps make the world a brighter place!