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Introducing an Alternate Relationship With a Problem

Video Type: In Practice

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  • Summary

Noah is a 30-year old graduate student, married to Joanne with a 3-year old daughter, Samantha. His life is currently very hectic and he has been struggling with the pace of things. He has been concerned about his mood lately, saying he feels “down” much of the time. In one session, he reports distress about an incident that happened a few days ago. He was in a small town and met another young man, who, upon learning that Noah was Jewish, asked “How come you’re not in the ovens?" Noah and David have met a handful of times about the issue they have called “the racing” (to capture the sense of the constant pressure he’s been feeling to keep up with his responsibilities). Noah has taken some initiatives to engage in self-care activities and that has been effective for him; however, to his surprise he is now grappling with a feeling of guilt for doing this. What are the two key ways that Noah has attempted to deal with the guilt? What does David do to help him articulate these? How does David work with these two examples to provide a rationale for proposing an alternate approach to dealing with the guilt? What does he do to ensure Noah exercises a choice in contemplating this alternative? What aspects of the counselor’s practice might you have done similarly/differently? There are various ways to deal with challenges, and sometimes when one (or more) are not working, it’s worth entertaining an alternate approach. Here Noah has tried talking himself out of his guilt to no avail. He has also tried shutting it out, but this has only provoked it, leading him to feel restless. David carefully reiterates Noah’s own account of how these approaches have not been helpful to him before introducing a third option—a shift in his relationship with the problem. Until now Noah has been “doing battle with” the guilt. David wonders aloud about what it might be like to be present to the guilt rather than trying to vanquish it.

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