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December 13, 2011

Narrative Therapy

2nd Transcript: Narrative Therapy between Helper (Alissa) and Help Seeker (Susan)

A: What is something that you’ve been struggling with lately?
S: I have this friend who I went to college with and who was my roommate that recently decided to move to Colorado and followed a boy who’s not very good to her there and to take a job that pays very little money. She has lots and lots of loans. She’s in pretty serious debt and she didn’t really think through any of her decisions. And when she was leaving was very cold and now that she’s there things are going terribly and she’s talked to me about wanting to come back and has asked if she could live with me, which I’m very hesitant to do because of how she acted before.
A: Wow! It sounds like you have a lot on your plate. That’s really tough. How has all of that which has been going on with her been affecting you?
S: It just stresses me out a lot because I worry about her and her money situation is very scary. And in the past I’ve helped her a few times with it, just trying to help her get out of a hole, but I kind of feel like she’s abused that in some ways and now she’s kind of taking advantage of the fact that she knows I have a hard time saying no to her and that’s why she feels comfortable even though she was pretty mean when she was leaving, asking me to help her out again and possibly let her live with me. So that’s a huge stress because I feel like our relationship isn’t the same, and I wouldn’t be comfortable letting her come live with me.
A: It sounds like things have probably changed because she’s been gone so long and making these decisions. You mentioned that it’s been stressing you out and causing you to worry. What does that look like? How do you act when you’re worried or stressed out?
S: It’s very hard for me to sleep. That’s probably the biggest one. I lose a lot of sleep over things that stress me out because it’s very hard for me to kind of turn my mind off at night. When I’m stressed I just constantly play over things that are happening and try to think of solutions to the problem. And I definitely lose sleep over it.
A: Sleep is important, I can see how that would not be a good thing to be losing out on sleep. So, how long has this been going on?
S: She moved at the end of August, but kind of all summer long she was kind of distancing herself when she was preparing to make this move, even though she didn’t get this job till the end of August, and the day she got it, she left. And even though she didn’t know anything about it, like she didn’t know how much she’d be making, and she didn’t plan ahead, she already kind of made up her mind to go live with this guy who is not very nice to her and has treated her poorly in the past. So that was, you know, in the summer, and then she started distancing herself and just kind of pushing people who were important to her away. And so it’s been going on awhile and now that she is really far away, I don’t really feel as bad about our friendship anymore. It’s just easier to forget about it and let it go.
A: It sounds like this has been going on for quite awhile if it was happening even before she left during the summer. During that whole time when she was being distant and after she moved, have there been times when your relationship has been good and you’ve felt positive about your friendship?
S: Not really. I feel like the times she’s called me are when she was feeling lonely and felt like she didn’t really have anybody, you know living in a new place, so she doesn’t really have any friends. So when she calls and is friendly and acts like nothing’s wrong, that just kind of tells me that things aren’t really going well for her and she needs somebody that she knows she can count on but because of how she treated me before she left, I really don’t feel good about her. I don’t feel we have a normal conversation anymore. I try to make it normal, but I feel differently about the entire situation.
A: That makes sense. How would you like your relationship with her to be different? If you could have a miracle happen, and you wake up tomorrow and your relationship is exactly as you would like it, what would that look like?
S: I don’t know. It’s hard to kind of picture that because of how she acted. I’d like for her to be able to call and have a talk and share things that are going on in our lives and such, but not have me feel weird about it and think I’m being used again. But because of everything that’s happened, I don’t think I could actually feel that way. I’d like to stay friends and be able to call her when something’s wrong and have her be able to call me when something’s wrong, but because I’ve felt kind of used before, I don’t see how that could happen.
A: Right. I’d like to kind of challenge you to describe a time since she’s moved away that you’ve talked and haven’t felt used.
S: I can’t really think of a time. She sometimes calls or texts me when something funny has happened or something reminds her of me and things like that, so I guess that’s ok and those are nice things. But generally she calls because she’s upset about something and something has gone terribly wrong again and she needs help.
A: Tell me about one of those times when she’s called you and said something that’s positive.
S: She just called me and said she made it through the first stage of the teach for American process, and so she just jumped through one hoop and has other things to do, but she did call with good news.
A: How do those conversations with her differ from the ones in which she’s kind of using you?
S: Yeah, they’re different. I think that when she calls with something good like that, which doesn’t happen very often, but when she does, she kind of tells me her good news and then she’s more, it’s more likely that she’ll ask me about me. And how things are going with me if things are going good with her, and she’s in a good mood. But when it’s the opposite, then she mostly just kind of talks about her and her problems.
A: Right now if we were looking at a scale from one to ten and one was that you’re relationship was absolutely horrible and ten would be that you have the perfect relationship with her, where would you fall right now?
S: Probably a three.
A: If we wanted to make that three in to a four, not making huge strides and going to a ten, but if we wanted to turn this into a four, what do you think would have to happen for it to become a four?
S: I’d really like to hear her admit that she’s messed up and made some mistakes and didn’t treat her friends as well as she should have when she was leaving.
A: Have you talked to her about that at all since she’s been gone?
S: She has talked a couple times about how she thinks it might have been a mistake to move out there, which is sort of nice to hear, but she hasn’t said anything about how she’s acted. And she still continues to act defiant if any one of my friends tries to talk to her about her actions and the things she did and said to people. So, I feel like she’s sort of made those steps, but the thing that hurts the most is the way she treated everybody.
A: It sounds to me like it’s really her actions that are causing you to feel a lot of stress and worry and lose sleep over it. And when I asked what you would like to be different, you said that you wanted her to admit that this was a mistake and was wrong, but that’s really looking at something that you want her to do. What is something you can do to kind of feel better about the situation and to improve the situation?
S: I mean, I could bring up how I feel and let her know what’s going on in my mind and how this causes me stress. I guess what worries me about that is that she’s going to completely block me out because she’s very stubborn and her way is usually the right way, and if she doesn’t see that she’s treated people poorly, then she’s not going to listen to anything that I have to say.

Moves:

Effective Move: “It’s very hard for me to sleep”. She externalizes who emotion by stating how it effects her behavior.
Ineffective Move: “And even though she didn’t know anything about it, like she didn’t know how much she’d be making, and she didn’t plan ahead, she already kind of made up her mind to go live with this guy who is not very nice to her and has treated her poorly in the past.” This question causes her to problem saturate and go deeper into the problem instead of continuing in a goal-directed manner.
Ineffective Move: “Not really. I feel like the times she’s called me are when she was feeling lonely and felt like she didn’t really have anybody, you know living in a new place, so she doesn’t really have any friends”. I was trying to find an exception, but since I used a closed question, she said no instead of finding an exception.
Effective Move” “they’re different…she kind of tells me her good news…it’s more likely that she’ll ask me about me”. She finds an exception and start to notice the positive aspects of the relationship.
Ineffective Move: “And she still continues to act defiant if any one of my friends tries to talk to her about her actions and the things she did and said to people.” I used a closed question and got a closed answer. She shuts down and doesn’t move towards a goal.
Effective Move: “I could bring up how I feel and let her know what’s going on in my mind and how this causes me stress.” She recognizes that she can’t change her friend, but she can do something to improve her relationship.

Posted by desolada at December 13, 2011 10:08 AM

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