Its good when client teaches you a new way to do therapy
Today I was doing some goodbye work. A mid 30s woman was suffering due to not letting mother go in her psyche. So I did the usual things in such circumstances. Two chair with mother ,and the woman was to express her resentments and appreciations as is customary in goodbye work. She voices to mother what she appreciated about her and her life and then she expresses the resentments towards mother. She got stuck on the resentments as people sometimes do when they are too understanding as shown in the diagram below.
Her Free Child resents or is angry at mother because of various things mother did or did not do (Didn’t listen to her, was too aloof, was critical, smacked her and so on). All children feel this towards parents about some things no matter what the parents were like.
However in this case the woman would not express the resentments because she was too understanding. As a grown woman now she understands why mother did what she did. She lost her mother at age 6 and had a hard upbringing. Her understanding of mother (NP) stopped her FC from expressing the resentments and hence the goodbye process faltered at this point.
So I tried a few tricks to get around it but none were working and then she came up with the answer. She stated, “What I could say is how I wished she was”. I told her to proceed and she did.
“I wish you had not been so sick all the time, I wish you were not so depressed, I wish you had listened when I needed help,....”
The idea of expressing resentments was too confrontational, too direct and too adversarial for her. She knew she did have a mother who did try her hardest at child rearing but did suffer from her own emotional demons which caused problems with her child rearing.
Whereas expressing the FC dissatisfactions in terms of, “I wish you had been....” was less confrontational and therefore becomes more palatable for a person who has difficulty accessing FC anger at a parent.
Now I know to do goodbye work as expressing either:
Appreciations and resentments
Appreciations and wishes.
We all have those childlike wishes
And of course this has wider therapeutic implications for any client who is too understanding of a parent (or anyone else for that matter) and hence represses the expression of their FC wants in other therapeutic situations as well.
A good lesson my client taught me.