Case Example

Mr. A had been a member of an ongoing therapy group for about two years. He was divorced and had been embroiled in multiple legal battles with his ex-wife over custody and visitation of their teenage children. Mr. A had also been fired from his job but had some funds from savings and inheritance. He would ignore taking care of some of his household needs as well as attention to his career and social life. The group, and the group leader viewed Mr. A as someone who passively, and sometimes actively, was destroying his life and all were concerned about the direction that he was taking.

Mr. B joined the group and presented with marital and career difficulties. He had many jobs over the years but would become anxious and angry if he received criticism. Yet, he also experienced heightened anxiety if he found himself to be succeeding. In either circumstance, Mr. B would quit his job and find another, which was usually less fulfilling and less financially rewarding. This behavior led to incidents of marital strife. Both Mr. A and Mr. B had experienced overtly critical fathers who were, at times, verbally abusive. They also experienced their mothers as loving yet passively demeaning.

Mr. A obtained and began working at a job that he thought would be personally rewarding. The group members were supportive and encouraging. Over time, it became clear that Mr. A was unwilling, or perhaps unable, to fulfill some of the basic job requirements and was at risk of being terminated. He spent a great deal of time working on administrative tasks with little or no attention to the more important responsibilities. Mr. A avoided changing his behavior or the perspective of his employer. The group was supportive and encouraged Mr. A to try to understand the pattern that he was enacting. Mr. B then stated: "Here's what you need to do. You're obviously avoiding being responsible about your work. You need to make a bodily effort to help yourself. I mean, stand up on your actual legs, take actual steps to walk over to your boss' office and diplomatically ask for help and feedback." To this, Mr. A responded "I've gotten that advice before and I still find it almost impossible."

Advice Giving

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