Susan Gembarowski, MA, LPC, NCC
Joy House Counseling Co-Director

When you are a pre-teen, you wonder where your place is in the world. For the pre-teen whose family is ruled by a parent’s addiction, finding one’s place is superbly more difficult. These young people are often left on their own to figure it out for themselves, regarded as an afterthought by a mom who is in a state of “survival.”

Because they have learned to survive, they may appear to have it all together, but in their interior world, these older children need what every child needs: to be loved, to matter, to have their needs met, to know they are not drifting alone in an enormous, confusing universe.

At Joy House, they are anything but an afterthought!

Our counselors meet with each child individually, providing a safe place for self-expression, an opportunity to learn about their many emotions, and encouragement to practice ways of self-regulating when emotions feel big.

Young person snuggling in weighted blanket to find comfort.

This past year, a few pre-teens at Joy House discovered the calming comfort of weighted blankets, whose slight pressure is felt while holding or hugging or draping it across the shoulders. Handling a weighted blanket, these young people found a soothing means of coping with the hard business of life.

They enjoyed it SO much that, with the help of a generous donor, the Joy House counseling team was able to gift each of them with a weighted blanket of their own.

Our hope is that these young residents would use their new coping strategies—along with a renewed sense of self-worth and hopefulness in the future—so they are empowered to break the generational pattern of trauma and addiction.