Client Stories

We are proud of the feedback we've received from our clients over the years for the quality of our work and our commitment. Below are a few stories/testimonials from a sampling of our clients:
Courtni Matthews
“Journey of Possibilities:The Story of Courtni Matthews”
(Enhancing Parent Skills Program)

Unplanned Life Events:Possibility through Perseverance
We all understand life events that come our way. Some expected,some not. Some planned for, others not. It gets in the way of thestability our lives crave for. When unexpected life events cometo us, it test our resiliency and tenacity. Three years ago, in May2010, a young woman, 17 years old named Courtni Matthews wascompleting her junior year in high school when she discovered shewas expecting a child. Courtni has two sisters that have completedcollege and a devoted mother, who unfortunately was battling aserious medical condition (Lupus). As a family, they understoodthat they need to refocus. The financial preparation for Courtni’scollege education had to be put on permanent hold. Instead,resources to support the new arrival and ensure that Courtni finishhigh school became the imminent priority. Making the challengeeven more pronounce, around this same time, Courtni’s mom’shealth declined making it necessary to drain their life savingsfor hospital bills, private nurse, physical therapy and householdbills. Through Courtni’s determination and perseverance and thesupport of her family, on Feb 9, 2011 she gave birth to a healthybaby boy that weighed 8lbs and 9 ounces. Courtni also stayed in high school, was able to enjoy her high school Senior Prom and her graduation ceremony with her class in June of 2011.

Help with Daily Life Struggles:
A Village of Supporters made possible through EPSP

After completing high school, Courtni struggled as a new single mother to balance her desire to be a great parent with her dreams to finish higher education. It felt like this is now out of reach for her. In July 5, 2012,through a referral by a family friend, Courtni enrolled in the (EPSP) Enhancing Parenting Skills Program with Intercultural.

The lifeline that EPSP provided for Courtni is immeasurable. It’s a village of supporters! Those in hernetwork of parents with similar struggles provided a way for sharing; Intercultural counselors guidedthrough counseling and teaching life skills; community partners (such as CHOP and PECO) extendedsupport and opportunities; invited speakers from the community lend their possibilities. As fate would have it, while Courtni was still in our program, a representative from Harcum College, came to speak with the class to offer a fantastic education opportunity.

The school was accepting applications and offering a tuition free Associates Degree. Harcum College isa two-year independent residential college founded in 1915, located on Philadelphia’s Main Line in BrynMawr, PA. Fitting to Courtni’s story, as part of the school’s philosophy, Harcum considered itself “The Collegeof Possibilities”. It was the first college in Pennsylvania authorized to grant associate degrees. Even thoughthe school is located in Bryn Mawr, the classes for this particular degree opportunity was offered in the WestPhiladelphia area, which was perfect for Courtni and her situation.

The Road Ahead: Endless Possibilities
Courtni as a dedicated participant in EPSP with excellent attendance, regular participation and active engagement in the weekly group sessions reaped the rewards of her contribution. She was a model student, willing to learn and also help others.

Through EPSP program she was able to enroll in Harcum College’s Associates Degree program and started in January 2013. She completed her first semester with outstanding grades and plans to take online classes in the summer and will register for classes in the fall of 2013.

Courtni has expressed her gratitude for the Enhancing Parenting Skills Program, stating, “This program has allowed me to become the best mother I know how to be and has allowed me to see a better future for myself and my son." Courtni’s journey shows that with theright help, everything is possible! We salute Courtni and stand behind her as she navigates the endless possibilities ahead.
Mrs. Sou
The Project AWAREE Program helps Khmer Rouge killing fields and abuse survivor navigate the road to recovery and US citizenship. 

Here is Mrs. Sou’s horrific journey.

Mrs. Sou is a 61 year old Cambodian who faced unthinkable horrors in her early years. Few survived the terrors of the Khmer Rouge killing fields, and those that did are haunted with horrible and life challenging experiences and memories.

Mrs. Sou was forced to work in a labor camp.  Not only that, but along with the imposed labor she had little food to eat.  She viewed human suffering on a daily basis.  She was separated from her husband by the regime and assumed that he had been killed. She had to deal with the horror of a son who committed suicide due to abuse from his step-father by strapping on grenades. Another son was still-born as a result of the sexual trauma she experienced from her abusive husband.   Her daughter was also physically abused by her ex-husband. Mrs. Sou’s mother died as result, she feels, of being injected with the wrong medication by a Cambodian doctor. 

Mrs. Sou blamed herself for her mother and sons’ deaths.  Mrs. Sou came to America in 2003.  She felt dreadful and depressed about not being able to protect her family members, stating “I was able to escape the jungle of the killing fields but I could not protect everybody from my abusive husband.”  Mrs. Sou’s second husband has been physically, mentally, and sexually abusive to her for the past 28 years.  She described this relationship as “28 years in hell on earth.”  It was only through her unbelievable strength and resiliency that she survives.

On the road to recovery … and US citizenship with Project AWAREE.

Mrs. Sou is currently living with her daughter and son.  She is a wonderful baker and enjoys cooking traditional Cambodian foods.

Many in the Asian community view mental health services as undesirable and unreachable due to the cultural shame and stigma associated with them.  Although she survived the Khmer Rouge killing fields, Mrs. Sou was facing difficult times based on her previous experiences and her current situation.  On initial screening, we identified significant anxiety, depression, and lack of social supports.

Mrs. Sou was referred to Project AWAREE for intervention. She was diagnosed with complex trauma, complicated grief and depression with psychotic features.

Project AWAREE provides culturally responsive approaches based on developing mental and emotional wellness through an improved understanding of family dynamics and community awareness.  Most importantly, it helps overcome language and cultural barriers to mental health and recovery.

Results with Mrs. Sou to date include:
  • Using Intercultural’s empathetic clinicians, Mrs. Sou receives therapy on a regular basis utilizing the AWAREE model of cultural sensitivity.  
  • We have been able to help Mrs. Sou, as a result of her challenging financial circumstances, with a fee waiver. 
  • We have been advocating for a medical waiver for Mrs. Sou, helping assess whether she meets the criteria for the waiver. 
  • We have been assisting Mrs. Sou’s application for US citizenship, which will help to further empower her. 
  • We provided Mrs. Sou with an audio CD in her native language with study guide materials so that she will understand and pass the citizenship exam.   
  • We have helped expedite and support an interview with an INS officer for Mrs. Sou’s US citizenship application. 
  • She became U.S citizen on May 06th, 2013. 
  • Mrs. Sou is now ready to practice meditation; we have provided her the CD in her native language to learn how to do Vipassana (meditation).  She practices meditation twice a day. 
  • Mrs. Sou agreed to be on the film project to discuss stigma regarding mental health and encourages people by using her story to motivate others why it is important to seek help.

 Comments from Mrs. Sou’s therapist

 “Mrs. Sou began treatment complaining of inability to sleep, debilitating sadness, crying every day, and severe anxiety that was manifested by heart palpitations, sweating, and racing thoughts, these effects due to her time spent in the Cambodian prison.  She had to routinely witness executions of adults and children, which was terribly traumatic.

 “The Project AWAREE model is a combination of clinical treatment and sensitivity to religious beliefs. I had to consider her feelings about Karma to help her identify at what point in her life the negative circumstances resulted. This and identifying the cycle of her symptoms were the initial phase of treatment.

 “Gradually, Mrs. Sou discovered more about her diagnoses and was able to believe that her son may have been deeply depressed, traumatized, and had low coping abilities at the time of his suicide. This allowed Ms. Sou to begin to take the blame off of herself. With the use of Buddhist principles (the five elements) and continued psycho-education, Ms.Sou understood why she became involved with her second husband and she gradually gained inner strength.

 “Ultimately, Mrs. Sou was able to understand her suffering in a different way. Her true healing began when she was able to meditate, chant, and pray for the well-being of her ex-husband, a practice used by a Buddhist who wishes to avoid negative Karma that would result by taking revenge. Instead, it is good Karma to love your enemy. Mrs. Sou found her way to the path of forgiveness and recovery.

"Mrs. Sou's continued recovery is an ideal example of the effectiveness of the Project AWAREE Model. To see this phenomenal woman today, you would have no clue that she was unable to get out of bed or leave her house just six months before.”

 
Mrs. Sou has given permission to tell her story in the hope that others can learn from her successes and can find the strengths to successfully address their emotional needs without shame.  She is a brave and courageous role model.


Meshana & Linda
When Linda Dawson brought her 9 year-old daughter Meshana back home after losing her to kinship care for
two years due to her own crack addiction, she knew the road back to a healthy relationship with her daughter
would not be easy. She just didn’t know how hard it would be.

After her transition from elementary to middle school, Meshana’s behavior and school performance began a
steady decline. She began skipping school frequently and her grades suffered. Meshana displayed her anger at
home on a regular basis and struggled to maintain a relationship with her mother. Challenged by her own
recovery and parenting duties, Linda still fought hard to keep Meshana on track and in school through daily
communication battles with her troubled daughter.

By her sophomore year in high school, Meshana had succumbed to mounting peer pressure and more poor
choices. In 10th grade she was arrested for carrying a weapon in school, and at the end of 11th grade, she was
arrested for shoplifting.

As part of her probation, Meshana was referred to Intercultural’s Functional Family Therapy Program (FFT), which she was advised to participate in along with her mother. For the next four months, Meshana and Linda would meet with FFT Therapist Jennifer Kopazna in an effort to heal their relationship, alleviate destructive behaviors, and attempt to function as a family once again. “FFT was a good fit for Meshana and Linda because it helped them to see that it was not about them individually, but about their relationship with one another, and how they could use their strengths to make changes,” recalls Jennifer. Linda’s words below summarize her impression of this intervention: “ This process helped us learn to listen to one another and hear what each one was saying. Jennifer (our therapist), had patience, empathy and the will to get us through. She was very professional and very skilled, and allowed us to be ourselves. A lot of therapy is just ‘fluff ,’ but this was the real deal. This intervention really did work.”

The transformation in Meshana, and in Meshana and Linda’s relationship as a result of FFT was remarkable to
say the least. Meshana will be graduating this June from Philadelphia High School for Business and Technology
and has made the honor roll this year. She has developed, produced and delivered a morning talk show which is
heard regularly at school. After graduation, she will attend Northampton College to study telecommunications.
Meshana’s relationship with her mother is more open and honest. Linda is currently working toward her
Bachelor’s degree in behavioral health at Drexel University, and is involved helping others through the recovery
process. Her relationship with her daughter is more open and supportive.

Jennifer reflects on the value of FFT for Linda and Meshana. “They are a very resilient family but if they hadn’t
gone through FFT, the risk factors may not have decreased and Meshana may have continued with negative
choices. FFT highlights what is great about families and takes some of the focus off of what is wrong which gives the family hope that the negative things have the potential to change and they have the tools to make it happen.”

With two college degrees on the horizon, and an improved relationship to guide them, Meshana and Linda have
a bright future ahead.
Hashiem and Robin
From the time he entered middle school Hashiem’s relationship with his mother Robin was fraught with pent up anger and frustration. This behavior showed itself in school as well through truancy, disciplinary problems and a general disrespect for authority. Hashiem’s communication style was volatile and explosive, reaching a point where his family stability was threatened. This prompted Robin to seek help.

Robin was referred to Intercultural’s FFT program and began working with FFT Therapist Diesha Fowlkes-Price.
In an effort to address the causes of Hashiem’s anger, Diesha focused on behavioral issues for both Hashiem and
Robin. She focused on specific parenting skills with Robin as well as working with Hashiem on ways to channel
his anger and become a better communicator at home and at school.

As a result, Hashiem learned to express himself in ways other than lashing out and getting mad. His explosive
behavior in school and at home was reduced and his communication style improved dramatically. Robin also
made improvements in her parenting style, setting rules and boundaries in the home, and communicating them
more effectively. She continues to work on her parenting skills.

Both Hashiem and Robin are in a better place today as a result of FFT.