Clinical Services

Finding Her Voice: One Teen’s Journey


After a long separation, *Jennifer and her mother, Karen*, were now living under the same roof. Jennifer’s mom sensed there was something different about her daughter. Rather than comfort, they felt out of touch with one another. The distance was difficult to name, but it was very real. She worried that she had lost the child she’d nurtured. They came to Children’s Institute for help—and to close a widening gap.


At CII, our motto is “Whatever it Takes” because our evidence-based services help families address a wide variety of critical needs. Our clinical and community mental health programs deal with some of the most challenging cases of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect. But even in the most challenging circumstances, with the right support, vulnerable children and families can find healing, acceptance and growth.
Sometimes the most difficult wall to tear down is the one you can’t see. Karen did not know that severe sexual and emotional abuse as a child had left Jennifer terrified and incapable of feeling safe. Trust shattered, Jennifer coped by stowing her feelings deep inside, telling no one. Over time, that load got heavier, leaving little room to think about the next moment, let alone plan a future.

When she arrived at Children’s Institute for specialized teen group therapy, she still wasn’t sure she was ready. While other girls shared their stories, Jennifer held back. Weeks passed before she finally spoke up. “When I spoke, they told me I was strong,” she says. The turning point, she explains, was “finding the words to tell my story.”

With CII’s guidance, Jennifer evolved from wallflower to a leader. Excelling in math, she plans to take advanced-placement courses to prepare for college so she can realize her new dream of becoming an engineer. The help both Jennifer and her mother found at CII has given them hope for the future. “I thought my daughter would never have a chance to move forward,” Karen says. “Now I know she can do anything she wants to do because of what she’s learned at CII.”


I’ve gained confidence because I know I’m not on this journey alone.Jennifer*
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