Use your The Skilled Helper text to read the following:
Possibilities for the Future-Unit 7 D1
Use your exercise manual to read and complete Case Studies 1, 2, 3, and 4, as featured in Exercise 10.3, “Brainstorming Possibilities for a Better Future,” pages 129–131.
Use the required readings from The Skilled Helper text to support your responses to the cases.
EXERCISE 10.3: BRAINSTORM POSSIBILITIES FOR A BETTER FUTURE
This exercise focuses on a number of cases, many of which you have seen before. Now you are asked to put yourself in each person’s shoes and brainstorm possibilities for a better future. What would things look like if they looked better? If you were this person, what are some of the things you would want instead of what you’ve got?
Case 1. Tim was a bright, personable young man. During college, he was hospitalized after taking a drug overdose during a bout of depression. He spent six months as an inpatient. He was assigned to “milieu therapy,” an amorphous mixture of work and recreation designed more to keep patients busy than to help them grapple with their problems and engage in constructive change. He was given drugs for his depression, seen occasionally by a psychiatrist, and assigned to a therapy group that proved to be quite aimless. After leaving the hospital, his confidence shattered, he left college and got involved with a variety of low-paying, part-time jobs. He finally finished college by going to night school, but he avoided full-time jobs for fear of being asked about his past. Buried inside him was the thought, “I have this terrible secret that I have to keep from everyone.” A friend talked him into taking a college-sponsored communication skills course one summer. The psychologist running the program, noting Tim’s rather substantial natural talents together with his self-effacing ways, remarked to him one day, “I wonder what kind of ambitions you have.” In an instant, Tim realized that he had buried all thoughts of ambition. After all, he didn’t “deserve” to be ambitious. Tim, instinctively trusting the program director, divulged the “terrible secret” about his hospitalization for the first time.
Jot down a range of possibilities for a better future.
Case 2. A nun, 44 years old, a member of a counselor training group, has been talking about her dissatisfaction with her present job. Although a nurse, she is presently teaching in a primary school because, she says, of the “urgent needs” of that school. When pressed, she refers briefly to a history of job dissatisfaction. In the group, she has shown herself to be an active, intelligent, and caring woman who tends to speak and act in self-effacing ways. She mentions how obedience has been stressed throughout her years in the religious order. She does mention, however, that things have been “letting up a bit” in recent years. The younger sisters don’t seem to be as preoccupied with obedience as she is. She says: “The reason I’m talking about my job is that I don’t want to become a counselor and then discover it’s another job I’m dissatisfied with. It would be unfair to the people I’d be working with and unfair to my religious order, which is paying for my education. Of course, I have no iron-clad assurance that I’ll be put in a job that will enable me to use my counselor training.”
A range of possibilities for a better future.
Case 3. Marcus, 47 years old, is a successful businessman whose life is in fairly good order. However, Yves, his younger brother, is struggling financially. His credit card debt is enormous. For Marcus, the problem is how to extend a helping hand to his younger brother without robbing him of his self-responsibility. He explains his dilemma to a colleague at work, “Yves is very sensitive to this older brother-younger brother stuff. Anyway, he has it in his head that I see him as incompetent and any help I offer is seen through that filter. I suppose that I’ll always be the successful big brother and he will always be the inept little brother. It’s not that way really but … What I can’t do is let our past history force me to stand off to the side with my hands in my pockets and do nothing when I know I could be of some help. I’m not sure what kind of help would make sense.”
A range of possibilities for a better future.
Case 4. This man, now 64 years old, retired early from work when he was 62. He and his wife wanted to take full advantage of the “golden” years. But his wife died a year after he retired. At the urging of friends, he has finally come to a counselor. He has been exploring some of the problems his retirement has created for him. His two married sons live with their families in other cities. In the counseling sessions, he has been dealing somewhat repetitiously with the theme of loss. He says: “I seldom see the kids. I enjoy them and their families a lot when they do come. I get along real well with their wives. But now that my wife is gone… (pause) … and since I’ve stopped working … (pause) … I seem to just ramble around the house aimlessly, which is not like me at all. I suppose I should get rid of the house, but it’s filled with a lot of memories—bittersweet memories now. There were a lot of good years here.”
A range of possibilities for a better future.
Egan, G. & Reese, R. J. (2019). Exercises in helping skills: A manual to accompany the skilled helper (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage.
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