Case Study – Zayne aged 12

Zayne, 12, came for psychotherapy because he was anxious and he seemed to his parents to be feeling ‘low’. He said he had been “feeling sad” for the past two years and had not socialised with his friends for the past year.  In the previous month he suffered several panic attacks and was becoming more anxious about going to school.  His school attendance dropped, his sleep was disturbed to the point where he lay awake for several hours each night anticipating how tired he would be in school the next day and how awful that would feel.  He said he was confused about the way he was feeling and wanted to understand why it was happening – he could see no trigger, which also made him more worried.

The therapy focussed on working with Zayne in the sandtray (a non-invasive way of working), giving him an opportunity to express his situation using figures and miniature animals.  In this gentle way, Zayne was able to think about what had led up to him feeling low and to become aware of how he felt about himself, others and life in general.  Difficult losses from his early life were able to be expressed and worked through as he told his story, and he gained a sense of overcoming his sense of helplessness through changing the outcomes in his sandtray stories.  Further gentle exploration using creative media led Zayne to come to an awareness of his thought processes, and decisions, around stopping meeting his friends.  He began to identify an experience which had led to his feelings around school and to work this through in the sandtray.

As his relationship with his therapist developed, Zayne was able to practise giving words to his feelings, expressing what he thought and what he needed – so gaining confidence in that process.  Further work on Zayne’s self-esteem supported him to make a decision to begin taking small steps towards engaging with his friends again. He began to see others and himself in a new light.

After 20 sessions, Zayne was feeling much more positive about himself, sleeping well, no longer experiencing anxiety around school, and enjoying going out with his friends several nights a week.