Treatment example 4

A 17-year-old boy came in with his mother. He was large and clumsy looking and had learning disabilities which had been accurately diagnosed. His parents had made a great effort to purchase certain machines he needed to get around his limitations, mainly with respect to working around his poor fine motor skills, that affected his ability to read, write and communicate his ideas. Although he was proficient at making use of all the facilities he had at his disposal, he was unable to organize himself in school, and was getting near failing marks.

As per normal DOLF procedure, I saw the mother and son together for the first half hour, then the boy on his own for 4 more sessions. He came to the third session with his father, which gave me the opportunity to observe their interaction. The young man told me his mother was very supportive, but that his father was always critical of him, and made no effort to hide the fact that he expected him to perform as well as his younger sister in school, who was always at the top of her grade. On interviewing the mother, she seemed very concerned about her son, reasonably understanding and accepting of his disabilities, although she was not too encouraging. In the session with the father, whom I interviewed for about 15 minutes, he expressed his disappointment that his son could not keep up with his school work, even though teachers and parents had expended a great deal of time and effort in trying to bring him up to par.

I gleaned that this was a very education focused family, and that succeeding in school was an important goal for this young man. Pondering the PLG/ALG split, I formed the opinion that the mother was the Prime Love Giver in this case because, while she seemed to be annoyed with her son, out of the two parents, she seemed to be the more approachable one. However, I also felt she had few emotional resources to offer her son, except that she was trying very hard to accommodate his physical needs, given his limitations. At the same time in my mind, I judged this lad to be of about average intellectual ability. He seemed sincere and for me, quite likable in that I felt he was making a valiant effort to succeed. He was apparently spending a great deal of time in his room trying to get a handle on his subjects, but quite frustrated and unable to achieve much.

Since I felt that the mother’s emotional contribution was not substantial, and the father was obviously quite negative, and since the boy was of a good age to communicate verbally, I decided mainly to work with the boy himself. In this vein, I kept track of his subjects and demonstrated my genuine interest in his school work and his progress. I made sure to encourage his good points, and look for new areas where he could excel. After some gentle encouragement, he mentioned he was very good at basketball, and continuing, said he was playing much better these days, expressing he believed he was favored as a prospect for the school basketball team. He proudly announced that this might partly be due to his large stature, but that he was spending more time in the gym in hopes of being chosen. He felt he could overcome his clumsiness in time, and was making some positive social contacts through the team. Treatment ended when he seemed to be developing some confidence and a better self impression. His mother reported he was doing better in his school work, tackling each of his subjects little by little, and generally feeling better about the outlook for his future.