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The individualized educational plan (IEP) for Steve indicated that he was learning disabled, but did not specify the extent of his disability. Steve had an IEP for four years and each had indicated a counseling requirement. Upon conception the objective of counseling sessions was to provide Steve with someone to talk to because as per the IEP, Steve was voluntarily isolating himself from social interactions. Matters became awry last school year, when Steve presented with increasingly low attendance and constant arguments when he was present at school. As in Wood and Hollis (2000), “Not only are initial goals modified as treatment proceeds, but also others problems emerge; clients raise these problems for discussion, thus broadening the scope of treatment” (p. 327).
During assessment I met with Steve, his mother, and the attendance counselor to assess the problem with attendance and discuss ways to encourage coming to school regularly. As the meeting concluded, a goal for increased attendance was set, in order for Steve to improve his academic grades. Throughout our initial meetings, Steve was closed off. Steve refused to express reasons for the issues at school. Brandell (2010) stated, “Adolescents often demonstrate resistance before and during the course of therapy because of their wish of autonomy and their fear that the therapist- an agency of the parents- will attempt to transform them…” (p. 141). This manifestation of refusal to mandated treatment in the preliminary stages of my work with Steve provided an opportunity to actively involve him in addressing the issue within a ‘safe enough space’. However, it became evident that Steve did not want to discuss poor attendance and behavioral issues because it caused him great dis...

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... helping the student, the clinician is better able to establish the therapeutic alliance.
Steve and I explored his feelings about having an IEP and in turn receiving special education courses. Throughout our sessions, Steve became visibly upset, often times expressing dislike towards other kids in special education. Furthermore, Steve was adamant about not needing “slower” classes than other high school students. In Brandell (2010), “A confrontation of resistance should be offered in the spirit of analytic inquiry, with the clear intent to engage the client’s curiosity and self-observation” (p. 248). In a relational working alliance, I challenged Steve in attempt to promote self-awareness. Awareness of the defenses he was embracing in order to deal with the stigma attached to special education labeling, defenses that were interfering with his academic success.
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