The reaction of his cohorts when he announced his second haunted client in their first class this semester was both predictable and appreciated. The “dude”, “Oh, Eric”, the groans, and the snickering indicated recognition for his position and the clear awkwardness of the situation. At the same time, Eric couldn’t help noticing a sense of gleefulness—a new level of anticipation in his classmates. There was no way around the fact that his peers, while tremendously empathic for his feelings, eagerly awaited the latest story. So, on that hot afternoon in the first class of the fall semester, Eric described Greg’s case.
“What makes this difficult for me, beyond the obvious subject matter,” Eric reported after providing an overview of the first session, “is the discrete nature of the problem. I mean, the presenting complaint is that he sees dead kids. Nothing pathological beyond that really stands out.”
“That could be enough,” Alex jumped in.
“Well, yeah, but…”
“What about the anxiety?” Karissa asked.
“Well, okay. He reports being fearful of seeing the ghosts, but that hasn’t stopped him from visiting his father or spending time with his friends. Although, I get the impression he doesn’t have a huge number of friends, and he has no problem being alone. In fact, he may prefer it. I don’t feel comfortable saying he is socially withdrawn or isolated.”
“All right, let’s pause for a second,” Doctor Solano said. “Instead of saying what it isn’t, what do you know? How would you like to conceptualize the client?”
“I’ll cast the specifics in terms of affect, cognitions, and behavior, and then follow up with context and history.” Eric considered his reply and continued. “His reported feelings seem to be mostly confusion and fear. Although, the latter is specific to seeing the dead kids. There is probably some residual anger toward his parents over the breakup, and I have the feeling there is no love lost toward Dad’s girlfriend. He doesn’t dislike her. It’s just he has no use of her.”
“So, that may count as dislike. He is just masking it, maybe,” Doctor Solano added.
“True. Neither Greg nor his mother reports severe behavioral problems. There’s typical adolescent arguing, sibling fights, and so on, but no drug use or conduct issues per se. Grades are normal. He is a swimmer so is involved with team sports, and is clearly physically active. He also has great social skills. He opened up to me, and his facial expressions and comments were quite animated. I mean, he was fun to talk to.”
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