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Therapist Helps Teen Live Outside The Shadow Of Her Past

(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, has...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s estimated that one in 10 children has some kind of mental health issue. That’s why WCCO-TV is starting a project on Tuesday nights that hopes to introduce you to some of the kids being helped by Washburn Center for Children in Minneapolis.

It’s one of the premiere children’s mental health centers in the country.

We start with Karynza Moore, a teenager from Hastings who’s now looking forward to college thanks to a special therapist.

For most teenagers, high school graduation is cause for celebration. For Moore, it was so much more.

“I was so happy, it was like, I proved you all wrong,” she said. “It felt really good.”

For four years, Moore had been haunted by a horrible prediction.

“When I was a freshman, there was a huge bet that went on that I would kill myself before I graduated,” she said.

Although the shocking “bet” might have sounded like teen teasing, it was rooted in reality.

“I was attempting suicide a lot,” Moore said. “I was fighting with my mom, a lot. All of the treatment just blurs.”

For most of her life, Moore has battled mental health issues, hiding problems with self-esteem, cutting, eating disorders, even suicide attempts behind a bright smile. She spent her sophomore year at Gerard Academy, a residential treatment center in Austin, Minn.

It helped. But when she returned home, there were other problems.

“It was really hard coming home. Really hard,” Moore said. “But Lindsay made it easier.”

Lindsay Miesbauer is a crisis stabilization therapist at Washburn Center for Children in south Minneapolis.

“Sometimes we’re in the homes two, three, even four days a week, working with the family,” Miesbauer said. “We work really quick, we work really fast, and we work real closely with our families and the other providers who are working with the child to get them moving toward long-term services.”

In Moore’s case, she’d gotten comfortable with the rules and structure of the treatment center. However, she was uncomfortable with the return to family life.

“She’s used to having structure, rules, a set schedule, certain meal time, certain activities,” Miesbauer said. “So coming home for kids can often be disregulating, because structure isn’t there.”

Moore said her mother’s authority was different from that of the treatment center. She could fight back at home.

“Your parents don’t put you on consequence and give you criteria,” Moore said. “I’d talk back to my mom, scream at her and call her names.”

Miesbauer stepped in to set up a crisis plan, coordinate counseling and help re-set the family structure. She drove to Hastings to see them three times a week, and, perhaps most importantly, was available on the phone at all hours.

“It was really, really helpful, because a lot of my issues come after therapy, or when I am, like, working on stuff, or really late at night when I have flashbacks or nightmares,” Moore said.

Once the situation stabilized, Miesbauer stepped away and let other counselors do their jobs. But after a year, Moore slipped back into old patterns, and Miesbauer’s phone rang again.

“She was kind of my lifeline, where I knew…when she started slipping back, we literally called her right back in,” Moore’s mother said.

In response, Miesbauer created another crisis plan, and was back at their home. She said that happens about 25 to 30 percent of the time.

“The second time around it was more about supporting her and helping her use all of the skills in her everyday life that she already had,” Miesbauer said. “I didn’t have to go back and teach her all those things.”

Moore said Miesbauer helped her find peace.

“She always was there for me,” Moore said. “She always had faith in me.”

That was more than a year ago. Moore still sees counselors, but she’s doing much better. She graduated in June and is now looking to the future, which includes college at the University of Wisconsin-Stout — to which she earned an academic scholarship.

“It feels good to know that I’m actually doing something with my life now and not letting my past define me anymore,” Moore said.

Although Washburn is located in south Minneapolis, Miesbauer helps kids in seven different counties, driving between 350 and 500 miles a week.

To learn more about the services Washburn offers, the fund drive for their new building, and see some of the other stories WCCO has done, go to WCCO.com/Washburn.

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