Teen Counselor

By Terisa Sauveur
Texas, USA

My situation as a young teen in the early 1970’s wasn’t as commonplace as it is today. My parents were divorced and very bitter. I was sent to live with the other parent if I got out of line. I used to equate myself to a piece of furniture that my parents didn’t really have a place where it fit in, but they just couldn’t quite bring themselves to throw out. I’m sure that being in the position that I was in is hard on many teens.

At one point my mother attempted to sign a PINS (Parents In Need of Service) petition against me. The petition would have placed me in a juvenile facility. I was interviewed by the people in charge there. They told my mother that putting someone like me into a place like that simply meant that the kids would teach me far worse things than I had ever done.

In my search for a place to “fit in”, I began hanging out with the worst group of kids available in a small town. I couldn’t bring myself to do all the things they did, but they let me be a part of them anyway, and even made me feel welcome and wanted. This of course made my home life even less bearable.

One day a friend offered me a phone number for one of those Teen Hotlines. I called and made an appointment to speak to a counselor. When I arrived, Nancy asked me sit in on a group therapy session. She said I didn’t need to talk, just listen. What I heard in that session mortified me.

I knew that I didn’t fit in there either — the teens were talking about things far worse than I had ever dreamed could take place in Upstate New York. I feared I would never fit in anywhere.

After the session Nancy took me upstairs to her office and explained that she didn’t want me to go to the group sessions consistently. She just wanted me to see how bad I wasn’t. She scheduled me for weekly counseling, and we talked. I spilled, she listened. Very seldom did she actually offer me advice. She just listened as I got my life in order.

I told Nancy I was wasting her time on my petty problems when so many others had worse troubles, but she never agreed with that. She made me feel like all my problems were just as important as anyone else’s.

Where would I be today if I hadn’t had Nancy Robins to listen to me? I don’t even want to think about it. She married and moved away. I finished school, married, had children and have a very happy life. I could have so easily gone the wrong way without someone to see me through. I feel like I owe my whole life to Nancy — for seeing what I needed, and taking time for me.

Originally published as HeroicStories #274 on Jan 24, 2002

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