The Hansons have come for treatment. Richard Hanson strikes you as a quiet man who holds back a lot of what is on his mind. His wife Alice seems more dynamic, perhaps dominating. She is an assistant bank manager. Their children, Doug and Max, are in their mid-teens. Doug speak confidently a with emotional resonance, whereas Max appears more cautious. The presenting problem is that in recent months Max’s grades have fallen significantly. When his parents have asked him about what might be wrong he says only, “What’s the point? I can’t do anything right anyway.” Because he previously received As & Bs, this attitude baffles his parents.
You have learned in previous sessions that Alice is very anxious about money. Richard, a lawyer hasn’t worked in more than seven months, and their nest egg is almost gone. At times, you have sensed that Alice is both very frightened about not having enough money and quite angry at Richard, who seemed to have given up looking for work after having been rejected by one firm after another.
Alice: Max received another D today. This time on a social studies project that I know he did almost no work on. I’m at the end of my rope about this. He wants to get into a good college, and if this continues, he won’t, and he’ll have no one but himself to blame.
Max: oh, mom
Alice: I’m serious. you’re digging your own grave with this behavior of yours. It would be one thing if you had always been a mediocre student — then we just accept the situation for what it would be –but you are smart kid comma and you’re ruining your record over goodness knows what trouble you refuse to talk to us about.
Max: I do too talk.
Alice: No, you don’t! What do you think we’ve been doing here? We’re here to give you whatever you need to deal with whatever is bothering you.
Doug: will you leave Max alone! Maybe the problem isn’t with him but with you.
Alice: Doug, that kind of talk doesn’t help, so kindly keep your opinions about what is wrong with me to yourself.
Doug: Oh, that’s good: I should keep my feelings to myself in a shrink’s office! Makes lots of sense, mom. You want to control everything –even my thoughts!
Alice (with agitation): I do not want to control your thoughts. It’s just that your father and I are paying a lot of money for us to be here comma and I want to use the time profitably.
[A sense of tension grows in the office. The therapist noticed that Richard remained silent but appears anxious.]
Therapist: Alice, you seem very concerned about money. It’s an important issue, I know. How do you feel today about money matters?
Alice: Of course, I’m worried. I can’t sleep over money troubles. We never seem to have enough. In fact, for all my life, even when I was a little girl, there never was enough. My father was an architect who somehow never managed to keep any clients. I’m so upset about this. History is repeating itself. I am no better off now than I was when I was young. I have never figured out how to have enough money. Ironic I work in a bank, no? My father never earned enough. Richard doesn’t earn enough. I don’t comma and now it looks like Max will follow in our illustrious footsteps. What is wrong with us?
Therapist: so you see a pattern involving your father, Richard comma and yourself. Can you tell me more about that?
Alice: oh, terrific. You’re thinking I married my father.
Therapist: I am not thinking anything yet. I was just wondering if you notice anything else about this pattern.
Alice: only that we’re all a bunch of losers.
Therapist: I notice that Richard hasn’t said anything and the boys very little. OK
1-How has the therapist contributed to maintaining a holding environment?
2-Identify and describe object relations that might characterize Alice’s intrapsychic experience.
3-Identify an example of a resistance in the dialogue.
4-How might Alice’s phrase, ” Oh, terrific. You’re thinking I married my father,” be considered a resistance rather than example of self-awareness?