Fourteen-year-old Candy, her father, and her mother are sitting with you in your office for an initial counseling session. Her father begins:
“I’m just at the end of my rope with my daughter! I’m sick and tired of what I see her doing to disrupt our family life. I’m constantly wondering what she’ll pull next in her long line of antics. She’s gone to the Colorado River with some guys who are older than she is, in outright defiance of my order not to go. She’s done any number of things she knows I disapprove of, and the result is that she’s suspended from school for three weeks or until she gets some counseling. This was the last straw that broke my back. Her getting kicked out of school was just too much. It moved me to call you, so we can get to the bottom of Candy’s problem and get her straightened out. God only knows she needs some straightening out. She’s into drugs and dating older men, and I strongly suspect that she’s been messing around. Candy knows what my values are, and she knows that what she’s doing is wrong. I just don’t know how to convince her that if she doesn’t change, she’ll come to a bad end.” Candy’s mother is rather quiet and does not list complaints against Candy. She generally agrees that Candy does seem defiant and says she does not know how to handle her. She says she becomes very upset at seeing her husband get angry and worried over the situation, and she hopes that counseling will help Candy see some of what they see. As for Candy she initially says very little other than “I guess I’ve got a problem.” She appears very withdrawn, sullen, and not too eager to open up in this situation with her parents. She is in your office mainly because she was brought by her parents.
Show how you would proceed to use the cycle of counseling as a reality therapist if Candy were your client for three sessions.
1. What are your initial reactions, thoughts, and feelings about this situation? How willing would you be to work with Candy as your primary client if she had come in simply because her father said that she needed counseling?
2. Assume that in an individual session with Candy she does open up with you, and you find out that her father’s presentation of the problems is correct. In fact, matters are worse than he imagined. Candy tells you that she had an abortion recently after a short affair with a married man in his early 30s. She also tells you that she has been experimenting with various drugs. How might you proceed in working with her if you found yourself being very concerned over where her behavior might lead her? What might you want to say to her?
3. Your central task as a reality therapist is to guide Candy toward making an honest assessment of her current behavior and to help her evaluate the results of her behavior. Show how you will attempt to do this. How will you respond if she resists looking at her own behavior, insisting that her problems stem from her demanding and moralistic father, who is driving her to rebellion?
4. What are your values regarding drug usage, sexual experimentation, abortion, accepting parental values. Might you attempt to influence her subtly to change her behavior in the way you think she should? Or do you think that you could accept her choices, providing that she made an evaluation of her behavior and decided that she did not really want to change?
5. Assume that you have a session with Candy, her father, and her mother after seeing Candy for three individual sessions. The purpose of this session is to talk about where to go from here and to make recommendations. What would you be inclined to tell the parents? What would you not tell the parents? What specific recommendations might you make?
6. The focus has been on Candy. Might you direct the focus to either or both of the parents? Might you want them to look at their actions and attitudes and to see their role in Candy’s problem? If so, how might you go about doing this in a way that would not be likely to increase their defensiveness?
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