Dear Friends, A few weeks ago, Itta, a music therapist specializing in Emotional Therapy, asked to speak with me. It took great effort for her to spe

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago, Itta, a music therapist specializing in Emotional Therapy, asked to speak with me. It took great effort for her to speak calmly; I could sense the tears that threatened to bubble to the surface. “Debbie,” she began, “I know that our work at Achiya is important; that we are giving children an opportunity to grow up normally, but something happened today that made me realize just how important our work really is.”

Of course I was all ears.

“A few days ago a client was referred to me for an initial intake and consultation. The father had long hair topped with a small leather kipa and was wearing very stylish patched and bleach-stained jeans. The mother was dressed much more conservatively; it was obvious that she was trying to fit into the Haredi world. Over the course of our hour-long conversation, I learned that they were both reformed drug addicts who had absolutely no understanding of what was expected of them as parents, except that they sincerely wanted the best for their daughter, an only child. The mother was newly religious; the father was secular, and that, of course, was a point of contention between them. The parents grudgingly admitted that several years ago their daughter had been terribly abused by one of the father’s ‘friends.’ Now, at age seven, she was floundering in school, prone to temper tantrums, and a social outcast.

“To tell you the truth, I really didn’t feel like taking on such a complicated case , especially since in general we do not take clients from Tel Aviv – we have enough work to do in Bnei Brak and Elad! But the parents literally begged me to treat their daughter, explaining that everyone they spoke to recommended Achiya and insisted that I treat her.

“I accepted the challenge, and hope that I will be able to help this child find within herself the ability to become whole again. As part of the intake process, I gather information from key people in my client’s life – parents, teachers, tutors, youth leaders and so on. So this morning, I had scheduled a telephone conference with the child’s teacher, let’s call her Mrs. Kohen.

“Mrs. Kohen was extremely warm and open. I won’t go into all the details of our conversation – that, of course, is confidential – but I will say that the situation is even more complicated than my initial assessment and that in addition to my work with the girl, Achiya’s social worker will need to work with the parents. Mrs. Kohen and I spoke for over an hour. At the end of the conversation, she said, ‘Itta, I realize that this will be a challenge. But I know that you can do it. After everything you did for us, I trust you implicitly.’

“’After everything I did for you?' I had no idea what she was referring to.

“’Don’t you remember?’ she asked. ‘You saved my daughter, and our family.’ Suddenly, everything clicked and I recalled the case. Several years before, Mrs. Kohen had come to Achiya for help for her 12 year old daughter whose disruptive behavior was literally destroying the family. I spent a lot of time working with the girl, and then mediating between her and her parents. After close to year of therapy, I felt that the family was back on track, and closed the file.”

Itta’s eyes were wet. “So many children come to us for so many different types of therapies. We help them – we literally pour our souls into them - and then they leave and, except for the occasional thank you letter, we never hear from them again. We never know the end of the story. Today, I got caught a glimpse of what I’m doing here. I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotion. It’s such a privilege to be able to save a child’s life.”


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