James,* a high school freshman, wasn’t doing well in classes. He had a falling out with friends and the girl he liked began dating someone else. These typical teenage issues triggered a depression in James—he began looking for ways to hurt himself and started thinking about death.

Thankfully, James’ parents found counseling at Warrenville Youth & Family Services. At their first session, the therapist tried to get to know James. The problem was that James didn’t know himself. Every time the therapist asked him a question, he would look at the floor and respond, “I don’t know.” James shared that he didn’t want to put his parents through pain but wished they would leave him alone.

Although James was going through a dark time, he told his therapist he wanted to work toward getting better. Over the course of multiple therapy sessions, he learned how to challenge the thoughts that told him he was a failure. James was able to talk with his parents and see a psychiatrist who prescribed a mild antidepressant. His therapist taught him strategies for tackling his overwhelming homework. He learned how to identify his strengths and interests and is actively trying to cultivate them.

Thanks to counseling, James is stable: He has the tools to deal with life’s frustrations and is striving to find joy in each new day.

*Name changed