The Case of Jessica
Jessica is a married, mother of one son. Throughout her adult life, she has suffered from mood swings, physiological issues, such as depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Currently, she is struggling in her marriage, describing her relationship as “business-like” and facing conflict related to a potential decision to return to work after staying at home with her son for the past five years. Living on the opposite coast from her parents and younger sister, she also feels a disconnect in her relationship with her sister, though they do talk regularly. Jessica has experienced several significant traumas in her life, including surviving a near-fatal car accident as a senior in high school and losing her younger brother in a car accident just a couple of years later. She has attempted therapy in the past and is currently on anti-anxiety medication. The following presents possible theoretical orientations through which Jessica’s case and intervention strategies can be explored, specially Adlerian and Existential therapies.
Adlerian Theory: An Individual Psychology Approach
With a nod to a psychodynamic approach that recognizes the influence of past events—and more importantly, how those events are interpreted—Adlerian theory postulates that most problems are social in nature, with the dynamic among the family being one of the most influential of all the social systems (Corey, 2013). Among the many potential contributing factors to Jessica’s issues, unresolved issues and the resulting dynamic she has with nearly every person close to her including her sister, parents, deceased brother, and husband, stands out as a common theme. The following observations further support the case that an Adlerian perspective could be an...
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...each time Jessica has begun counseling in the past, she would end the therapeutic relationship prematurely after beginning a new romantic relationship. This is a pattern that would continue for some time, suggesting Jessica’s motivation was to feel accepted; each time she made a social connection and found a new partner, she would feel better, therefore terminating counseling before fully addressing her core issues. It could be for similar reasons why Jessica is also hesitant to return to work, as it seems she has finally found a social group of like-minded stay-at-home moms with whom she connects and feels a sense of belonging and acceptance. Making a change and returning to the workforce would change her identity, thereby disrupting her role in the stay-at-home mom 's group and forcing her to find a new community in which she finds that same feeling of belonging.
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