Typical Responses

In a recent group of juveniles in corrective custody, typical answers included highs of "I got a letter from my mom," or lows of "My dad didn't call last night." These seemed to relate to relationships and the dilemma of intimacy versus isolation (Erickson, 1968).

Other answers such as, "I didn't sleep well," "It's my birthday and I'm locked up," or, "I'm being bullied by another kid," may have to do with consequences, of loss of freedom (choosing where or when one sleeps, how one celebrates one's birthday, and choosing one's own companions). Yet, other answers such as, "I passed a GED test," "My fiancee had a healthy baby," or, "I will be going home in thirty days," suggest one may be sensing progress in achieving meaningful goals. If you challenge the group to join you in recognizing existential material in their brags and complaints, then alert group members can add additional perspective.

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