by Joely Dutton
Dear Miss Everill,
I write here a summary of our initial session today for your records and ours.
You were referred for counselling when your seven year old daughter stopped speaking following a traumatic incident. During our session you provided us with the following information about your daughter, the incident and her recent behaviour.
Esme is usually a talkative girl. She's inquisitive and enjoys exploring her surroundings. Her imagination is vivid, and she creates ‘make believe’ stories about fantasy characters.
Your household consists of yourself and Esme and you get on well. You share interests and both enjoy walks outdoors. This inspires Esme's imaginings, as she tells you about fairies that she meets while you’re out, with elaborate explanations of how they live and their rituals. She describes conversations that she has with them. You've encouraged this and told her when she was younger that new fairies came to life from flowering bluebells.
During our session, you recounted for me on Esme's behalf what happened the day she stopped communicating. Esme listened to your account without reaction and continued to look towards wall posters.
You advise that the two of you were out walking in local countryside. Esme ran ahead intermittently. She explored thickets, climbed trees and balanced on lock gates and was contented that day.
Soon after entering a wooded area, Esme shouted back to you that she'd found a doll. As you caught up with her and she came into view, you saw that she held a small figure in white clothing with a blue polythene bag covering its head. It seemed old, you noticed grey arms.
In your words, the scene then rushed at you, crashed into you like a train. Just beyond Esme you saw a young woman's body hanging from a tree, with her vein-burst face lolled down towards Esme.
Neither your shouts nor you physically reached Esme in time to stop her removing the plastic bag and realising what she was actually holding.
A dog walker heard the screams and called the emergency services, who reached you in about twenty minutes.
Esme was sedated in hospital for a few days initially, and has been prescribed benzodiazepines since being discharged. She has been getting bed rest, but you've enforced daily stretches and washes.
You report that she did get up to tear down fairy posters in her room, and that you found a framed painting of bluebells from the kitchen placed instead at the back of the wardrobe in the spare room. No outdoor activity has yet taken place.
Towards the end of the session there was a small breakthrough. Esme broke her silence with a few words, although we couldn't coax a longer interaction as yet. She spoke up only to say that 'You didn't mention the bad fairy who lives in the tree. I told you she was laughing'.
I will meet with you both at our next appointment and look forward to working on this foundation.