Total session: 5 sessions over 6 weeks
The Father of a 16 year old girl brought her to see me who was experiencing relationship difficulties and after a particular bad argument at home the parents were at the point of throwing their daughter out of the family home. They were at their wits end and didn’t know how to deal with her aggressive and destructive behaviour. Previously, there had been no behaviour issues, she had been a kind, caring and affectionate girl however her behaviour changed dramatically over several months, something which was very much out of character.
The teenager wasn’t sleeping well and hadn’t been for some time. She admitted her behaviour was unacceptable but felt so angry towards her parents she didn’t know how to control her feelings or put them into a rational way of explaining. She felt her parents didn’t listen to her or understand her, one minute her parents were telling her to act more maturely and to take responsibility yet at other times restricted her freedom so much and still treated her as a young child. She felt her parents were sending mixed messages.
She loved her younger brother immensely yet had pulled away from him and took out some of her frustrations on him by shouting at him. She could see this was hurting him but didn’t know how to change her behaviours. She was unhappy but didn’t know how to break the cycle of behaviour or how to rebuild the relationship with her parents.
Whilst listening to my client explaining her family’s expectations of her (chores, babysitting her brother, college results and the interaction with her parents) I could see how she immediately began to rationally process what she was hearing herself say. She recognised that their expectations were not too bad after all and were in fact rather fair when compared with what her parents were giving her (an expensive creative arts college education).
I asked my client how she would like to deal with situations differently. Over the next few weeks whilst listening to the CD at night to help with the sleeping difficulties my client started to use different strategies and techniques in dealing with challenging family situations. My client also explained what she felt she needed from her parents to help her change her behaviour. Working as the mediator, together we were able to create a new way of dealing with previously challenging conversations or situations.
My client started to show her parents how much they meant to her, she had wanted to go to the pictures with her Mum for a while like they used to but she had become too embarrassed and afraid to ask because she had behaved so badly towards her Mum. Her Mum had no idea she wanted this time with her. She had wanted to give her Dad a hug like they always did, but he had become too stressed at work and was in his office all the time. If she approached him he would only mention the rows that had been occurring. Any form of positive communication or affection had become a big issue in this family, yet it was what each of the three of them wanted.
My client started to build bridges with the family by sending affectionate texts or leaving notes for her parents, to start with, this being an easier method than face-to-face. It was easier with the younger brother, so she spent more time with him playing games, helping him with his pets and watching TV together. Her parents saw this and started to recognise the changes which resulted in them easing off, instead of mentioning everything they felt she did wrong.
Over the next 2 sessions it became obvious the stress and pressure this teenager was experiencing. She was regularly having to audition for parts in various plays and auditioning dance routines to be accepted for her next college.
We spent time building her confidence, self-esteem and recognising her own strengths and abilities as a dancer. The behaviour issues at home just disappeared as she and her family recognised that most of the behaviour issues were the result of the pressure she was putting on herself and not wishing to let her family down, particularly as it was such an expensive college and the financial pressure it placed upon her parents.
She rebuilt the relationships with her parents, was sleeping throughout the night, was in control of her emotions and generally felt calmer and more relaxed. Her dancing had improved and she was auditioning with the confidence she used to have once more, achieving great results. Her dance tutor could see how she held herself more confidently which showed in all her dancing.
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