Reading case studies gives a better understanding of how therapy works by providing concrete examples of therapeutic experiences. Through these descriptions one can learn about the kinds of problems that bring children/adults to treatment, how they are addressed, and the kinds of gains that can be expected from therapy.
Margo came to psychotherapy anxious and always wanting to win, whether for herself or the attention of others. Deep down she was afraid of experiencing any emotional pain, be it frustration, losing, anger, or sadness. Psychotherapy provided Margo with a safe environment where she could come to acknowledge and accept her feelings more, and in the process become more assertive and less dependent upon validation from others.
Suzanne came for help in her mid-twenties. She has been an excellent student and very athletic all through her school years, including college. She was coached to strive for perfection in all of her endeavors. Always being told what to do, she never explored options or listened to her own voice. Psychotherapy helped her to rely less on “should thinking” and gave her the opportunity to explore options without critical voices from herself or the outside world. Over time she became more self-confident and pursued successfully a passion in music, which was never encouraged in the home despite her considerable talent.
Henry came to the session with a long face and was very distraught about his academic struggles as a college freshman. Testing showed that he had the basic capacities to learn, which he never acknowledged in himself, as he was a “comparative” learner. Everyone else around him was smarter and in his black and white thinking, he was “dumb”. Hearing from a professional that he was far from dumb bolstered his self-confidence and he put more effort into his studies, including advocating on his behalf in school. Henry’s grades improved and he is having a successful year in school.
Eddie was a very fearful and angry child, and understandably so in light of early emotional losses in his life. He was very guarded in the sessions, but over time in a non-judgmental atmosphere and with patience to allow him to express himself in his own time, he let his guard down more. As he more accepting of his anger, many of his fears diminished, especially a fear of sleeping alone when at night much of his unexpressed anger surfaced as angry thoughts.