—Robert W. Motta, Ph.D., ABPP, director of the Doctoral Program in School-Community Psychology at Hofstra University
“I remember the first time I had to say “self-mutilation.” I was so naïve. I quickly learned all that this diagnosis entailed. It meant that my daughter and I would be at odds through her early and mid-teens. It meant late night emergency rooms and psychiatric wards. And, for me, it meant anger, guilt, sadness, failure, hopelessness, loneliness—but mostly it meant fear.
“But slowly, ever so slowly, the rain stopped, the clouds lifted, and the sun was visible. It has been four and a half years now. The sun shines; my daughter and I walk hand in hand. Don’t get me wrong. There are cloudy days. But when it rains, my daughter has an umbrella and knows how to use it. The umbrella is the key—not the weather.
“First, I had to accept my daughter’s emotional problems. Then I had to accept and believe that they were real. Then I had to make a commitment to give whatever it took, at whatever cost. But I believed in Dr. McVey. I still have a piece of her notepaper hanging on my refrigerator with the words, “This will not last forever.”
“I believed in her, in my daughter, and in myself. Every month now, without fail, we celebrate the day my daughter stopped cutting. It has been fifty-five months now. And every month is as important as the last.”
—S.S., client of author McVey-Noble
“My divorce hit both of my daughters hard. They were two and five at the time. My older daughter later reacted by being afraid of going to school and by expressing other anxiety behaviors. My younger daughter, Naomi, reacted by being the “good little girl.” When I had to travel, or when I would come home late after a nighttime presentation for my job, I'd find a paper plate pressed with lipstick-kisses on my pillow. Naomi was five then. During the summer when she was fourteen she began cutting herself.
“We tried to get help from a couple of therapists with limited success. Then, as luck—or God—would have it (I truly do believe in divine intervention), I was talking to a colleague who needed to find an alternative school for her daughter. I told her about the school my older daughter went to. She told me her daughter cut herself and gave me Dr. McVey's phone number. That's how I found help.
“Naomi saw Dr. McVey twice a week. This gave her the support and insights she needed to control the cutting. Dr. McVey encouraged Naomi to call her, even beyond office hours, when she needed her. Naomi learned how to release the pressure valve of her own feelings when they threatened to boil over. She learned to understand her feelings so that she could manage and live with them.”
—J.D., client of author McVey-Noble