Overcoming emotional scars through therapy

Addicted to drugs, “Alexander’s” biological parents had been incapable of properly caring for their children. When he was three, police found him wandering the streets after his parents left him in the care of their 8-year-old daughter. Shortly after this incident, the parents lost custody and the children were placed in the system.

When Alexander was four, he and a younger sister were adopted by a couple with five other children. He immediately began to act out. Even though he doesn’t remember the violence his biological father inflicted on the family, Alexander was exhibiting similar aggressive behaviors. He would threaten his adoptive mother and attack the other kids. Unable to handle Alexander’s violent behavior, one day his adoptive mom called the police and he was placed in residential treatment.

He was in and out of different programs and treatment centers for eight years before coming to Lutherwood Residential Treatment Center in May of 2014. A program of United Way supported Lutheran Child & Family Services, Lutherwood is a licensed psychiatric treatment facility that offers secure care services for youth with severe emotional problems. Client focused therapies from highly qualified mental health therapists in conjunction with a structured living environment promote recovery and family reunification. Alexander’s first six months at Lutherwood were full of fights with other residents and staff. He would stack up furniture and threaten to throw himself to the floor.

His adoptive family traveled from southern Indiana to visit him every other week and participated in family therapy sessions. Once they had stabilized his medications, staff were able to begin to help him work through his emotional issues. He started to focus on building a relationship with his adoptive family and confessed that his confrontational behaviors were a result of being scared. Teachers at Lutherwood Academy, Lutherwood’s onsite school, discovered that Alexander was very intelligent and moved him into classes with older students where he excelled.

After thirteen months at Lutherwood and ninety days without any incident, Alexander was recently able to move into a group home setting. The plan is for him to spend a year in the group home while continuing with intensive individual and family therapy. Many of the therapists at other facilities had written him off as a lost cause. His future looked bleak for awhile and it took longer than expected, but something finally clicked.  Everyone has high hopes for him and is very proud of his progress. His adoptive family can’t wait to have Alexander back home.


Note: United Way brings together compassionate people committed to improving lives in our community. We help Central Indiana residents achieve and maintain self-sufficiency by directing resources toward four key areas of community impact – Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs. Lutheran Child & Family Services is one of over 90 United Way funded agencies working to address one or more of these priorities. Since 1937, UWCI has invested more than $15.4 million in support of their efforts to provide programs of compassionate care and counsel to enhance the dignity and quality of life for vulnerable youth and families in crisis. The agency’s current Community Fund allocation is $239,821.