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|Case Studies - Page 14|
"I want to be in," Richard says to his wife. "I guess I don't react fast enough for you."
"Do you think she's so competent she doesn't need help?" I ask him. Then I say to Mary, "You hold your cards close to your body. How can you become a team?"
"I guess if I don't try so hard, and if I ask him for help."
"Will he be there, or will he run away?"
"I'll be there," Richard says assuredly. "If I was going to run away, I'd have done it a long time ago."
I say to Richard, "Sometimes Mary finds her connection to Whitney easier than her connection with you, but I think one thing has to do with the other. Whitney fills a void. To help Mary detach from Whitney without feeling alone, you'll need to bring her closer to you."
The session is coming to a close. Both Mary and Richard can now see how important it is for them to move toward each other, and what each of them has to do to close the distance between them. Before saying goodbye, I feel that it's important to invite Whitney back in so her parents can let her know what they're thinking.
I say to them, "I'd like you to explain to Whitney that her lying is part of an old story about how you're connected with each other. I'd like her to be free of the prediction that she'll be a delinquent. Can you do that without giving her the feeling that she doesn't need to be responsible?
Richard goes over to Whitney and hugs her.
Mary says, "I want to be able to trust you, and I'm going to work at that. I'm going to stop worrying and concentrate on everyday stuff, and I really will try to have more faith."
Although Richard and Mary aren't clear what exactly the changes they need to make are, the problem they're talking about is no longer just Whitney's lying. It now has something to do with relationships: the relationship of the couple with each other, and the relationship of the parents and Whitney as a family.
As in most cases when a child carries the problem, the goal of therapy focused on transferring the ownership of the symptom from the intrapsychic machinery of the child to the interpersonal drama of parents and child affecting each other. Whitney's lying was a response to her parents' overprotectiveness. Another focus of therapy was on bringing to the awareness of the mother how a traumatic past was distorting her relationship with her daughter.