Gemma - A client at Highbury Counselling Centre
Gemma, a 29-year-old woman working in sales, suffered huge amounts of anxiety at work and found herself unable to constructively challenge any of her colleagues in the work place. This left her una-ble to say no, to feel constantly overwhelmed by work and to, as a result, undertake destructive self-harming behaviours such as overeating and smoking.
Over time, as Gemma and her therapist got to know each other better, the therapist was able to ob-serve and point out specific instances where Gemma tended to keep the content of their sessions at a superficial level. By having this pointed out in a non-accusatory way, together they were able to explore why she did this and her fears about what the therapist might think or say if she revealed her true feelings.
Gemma was also inclined to miss every other session and to lose her invoices resulting in delayed payment to the therapist. Again, the therapist was able to explore with Gemma why this was occur-ring. Gemma was able to acknowledge previously unconscious difficulties with demands being put upon her and these being attempts to wrest control back from the therapist.
Through exploring her relationships in therapy, Gemma and her therapist were able to identify a pat-tern of needing to please others and traced this back to her childhood. Greater awareness of this need and why it was there allowed Gemma to begin to find ways to relate to her colleagues and her partner in a more constructive way and in a way that allowed her to set her own boundaries where necessary. Simultaneously, she became less anxious about work and, as a result, her self-destructive behaviours (mostly a way of self-soothing her anxiety) greatly decreased.
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