Presented Issue

A client disclosed sadly that her cat of fourteen years had suddenly passed away. Over the weeks, she had revealed that a new relationship had usurped her time with her pet, as all her available time after work had been dedicated to developing this new romance, leaving little time and attention for her animal.

This client holds a high professional position. Her job is demanding, quite often she keeps longer hours than her staff. Due to the pressure of the job and her new boyfriend, the cat was left to fend for himself, which was a deviation from the fourteen previous years as her one and only pet.

The client related that her animal had an ingrown nail that went clearly unnoticed until an infection caused her to take him to the vet. The vet assured her that the procedure of removing the nail was not

Individual Psychotherapy in the Context of a Group: An Intervention 265

dangerous, stating that she would be called as soon as he was ready to go home.

Hours later, she received the unexpected phone call that her animal had died. The vet was shocked. The client was horrified and felt responsible. She felt she had done to him what her family had done to her: a reenactment of abandonment.

When she shared her loss with the group, her affect was flat as she reported the event and circumstances leading to his death. Her inability to emote prompted an intervention. It occurred to me that she was indeed in a state of grief and remorse, feeling responsible and guilty for her cat's demise, but her defenses prohibited her from releasing the appropriate emotions. Asked if she wanted to do some work with this loss, she accepted the offer without contemplation.

Dealing With Sorrow

Dealing With Sorrow

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