by Eunice Escudero, MS, LMFT
My family emigrated from Chile in the 70’s. My grandparents found it challenging to navigate their new life in New York: the language, the customs, and the different cultures. Needless to say, they struggled to build a support system. Not knowing how to speak English left my grandparents at a great disadvantage. My grandfather struggled to land a decent job that paid enough to sustain a family of 5 (my grandparents and 3 daughters). My grandmother struggled with locating a church that felt “like home.” My mom was not fitting in in High School and experienced bullying. All of these stressors resulted in several concerning behaviors such as domestic violence, sexual abuse and truancy within my grandparent’s family structure.
I often wonder, if my family had access to therapeutic services that helped prevent these behaviors and involvement in systems, would it have changed the course of their lives? Perhaps my mom would have graduated high school if she had a support to guide her parents with developing skills like implementing a behavior plan and developing a stronger home to school link. Perhaps my mom would not have found marriage to be her only hope for financial stability. Perhaps she would have felt empowered enough to bravely end her relationship with my father when he battered and bruised her countless times.
Support instills hope. My grandparents eventually built their community, learned the language (Spanglish), assimilated (lost their native accent to fit in, changed their culinary diet to fit in [more rice and beans, burgers and fries, and pizza – less Chilean cazuelas, empanadas, asados and porrotos con riendas). Eventually they found hope, although it came with great sacrifice.
When I learned about Multisystemic Therapy — a community-based program that helps families manage and navigate not only their children’s challenging behaviors, but all the other systemic drivers contributing to these behaviors — I knew I had found my niche! I could finally step in and help families with similar struggles like my family navigate their system, build a community, develop better skills, and teach families that they are greater than the sum of their parts.
It is almost serendipitous that I am working in a field with such an effective community-based program, where I often feel like I am making a great impact in our Latin community. Or perhaps it was all meant to be — I’d like to believe the latter.
Thank you for letting me share my inspiration for doing the work that we do!
Eunice Escudero, MS, LMFT, is a clinical supervisor in CV’s Multisystemic Therapy program, where she partners directly with families to help them remain together.