'Tom was a strong student'
Tom was a strong student but, since he had started Year 9, his results had declined, he took less pride in his work and thought about dropping out of Science Club where he’d been thriving.
The Science Club teacher, Mr Webb, was also the school’s Wellbeing Coordinator, and he noticed how down Tom seemed. Concerned, Mr Webb asked Tom how things were going at school and at home. Tom was surprised that he suddenly felt upset and choked up. The teacher asked Tom if he would like to have a talk with Rowena, the school’s psychologist, as he thought she was good at helping students and might be free to see him that afternoon.
Tom agreed but once he went to her office he felt uneasy and unsure what the encounter would involve. He didn’t want his friends to know that he was seeing a psychologist.
Rowena gave him a big smile when he arrived, and explained that the session would be private so long as he was safe, and he immediately felt relieved. She asked him about school and home. As he talked, it felt like his problems just spilled out.
He talked about how his parents split up last year, and how much he missed his dad. He thought about how hard it was to talk with his dad now he was living with his new partner Cheree, and how annoyed he was that Cheree’s son, Alex, could spend time with his dad whenever he wanted to because he lived with them. And how when Tom and his sister visited, they felt uncomfortable.
Tom wasn’t exactly jealous, but he felt left out and let down by his father. It made no difference that his mum was there for him, he still felt pretty sad about his father.
When the bell went, Rowena asked him how he felt about their session, and he realised just how much his feelings about his dad and the break-up had been on his mind, but they’d been underneath, and he hadn’t been able to see how things with dad were affecting him. He guessed his sister might be pretty sad too: he had tried to support her because she was younger and a real daddy’s girl before his parents’ separation.
When Rowena asked him if he thought he could come for another meeting, he agreed. It felt good to get his thoughts and feelings out in the open with someone who he didn’t know but who was there for exactly the things he wanted and needed to talk about.
Maybe now he could tell mum about how he was feeling. And maybe Rowena could help him feel better about these new arrangements in his family, and maybe even help his sister too.
By Vicki, APS Psychologist