OT & Jesse: Early Occupational Therapy Intervention for a Preadolescent

Jesse was a 12-year-old boy with a history of hospitalizations for mood and behavioural problems including threats to harm himself and others. He had multiple school suspensions because of aggressive behaviour as well as theft, and he stopped attending school altogether. He has committed chargeable offences and is at high risk of entering the justice system. He has made allegations of familial abuse, and his parents are separated. He does not like himself and feels unloved and unwanted by family and peers.

Jesse was highly resistant towards therapy or interventions of any kind but was very keen to take part in work-based sessions with an occupational therapist. The idea of having a job was very appealing, given his age, and it made him feel very mature. The opportunity to engage in a task that gave him some independence, responsibility, and respect was what he needed to move on with his life. As a result of work-based therapy, he learned it is important to: follow rules, take care of your appearance, communicate appropriately, be responsible, get along well with others, and to put forward your best effort. By learning to do these things, he also learned that he had skills and abilities of which he could be proud, and his self esteem grew. He also learned that he could control his environment and his life in a positive way. Jesse was able to transition into adolescence using his thirst for independence and productivity and did not become a statistic in the justice or health systems.