How angry feelings can change

A client comes to see his counsellor for the first time. He carefully tells her his story which includes the fact that he is an only child whose father disappeared when he was two years old. Neither his mother nor other relatives will tell him what happened. At the end of the session he says, very deliberately, 'I don't want to talk about my mother'.

It becomes evident that he is frightened to talk about his mother because he fears that the counsellor may try find out about his angry feelings towards his one remaining close relative. However, he is angry with everyone in his life; his friends, his colleagues at work and last but not least his counsellor. He feels that his anger has driven everyone else away and he now only has his mother left.

Whenever his counsellor makes a mild remark such as, 'that must have been a difficult moment for you', he says 'I think that's a really stupid thing to say'! 

Gradually however, things start to change. The client realises that despite his rudeness his counsellor is still there. She hasn't retaliated but simply carried on sitting quietly and listening carefully. In due course he starts to talk about his mother whom he loves very much. He is a very caring and helpful son to her. His anger at the silence of his family does not go away but it becomes a manageable part of his ordinary daily life, not something which threatens to consume his entire existence.

Eventually, for the first time in his life, with much hesitation but also with much support from his counsellor, he is able enter into a long-term relationship.

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