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The setting in exercise 3.6 is a counselor’s office. Although the setting is not explicitly stated, it is implied in several different ways. The content of what Acantha is talking about is highly personal and is unlikely to be disclosed in a casual or public setting. In the last sentence of the exercise, she states that she would like to speak a friend, or even better, to speak with an objective counselor. Her words combined with the content of her story indicate that she is meeting in a private counselor’s office to discuss what happened. Whenever a counselor is meeting with a client, the information that is shared is protected by law, and the counselor cannot disclose that information with other parties unless there is an imminent threat to the client’s wellbeing or the safety of other people (Lustgarten, 2015). In Acantha’s case, she is not making threats of harm to herself or other people, and as a result, the entire interaction in the counselling office should be kept private and should not be disclosed with other people.
The client is a 22 year old female college student. Her parents came to America from Ireland when she was young. Despite being of Irish heritage, she has had little trouble in assimilating to American culture in the United States. Acantha’s cultural heritage does not play a major role in the situation in question. She has a healthy group of friends that she regularly hangs out with. She also is part of several different social clubs and study groups at her university. Acantha describes how she has been doing well in college. Her grades are staying up, and she is maintaining a healthy balance between her studies and her social life. However, her grades have begun to slip slightly since the incident in question happened. She describes how she sometimes loses focus during her classes and has memories of what could have happened that night. She only remembers a small portion of the entire night as a result of the amount of alcohol that she consumed.
Several different psychological theories are related to the issue that the client is facing. Although Acantha was too drunk to remember exactly what happened, it does not make the experience any less damaging from a psychological perspective. She intended to have a few drinks with some friends, and ended up waking up in a guy’s room without memory of what had happened. One relevant theory is the cognitive behavioral model. The cognitive behavioral model is based on the premise that people are a product of the environment in which they place themselves (Gamez-Guadix, 2014). According to that theory, the initial environment in which Acantha found herself was the problem. There is nothing wrong with going to a college football game. However, it is possible that the group of friends in attendance at the game posed a problem. They potentially could have each had their own past stories of binge drinking and waking up in situations that were similar to the one that Acantha found herself in. The dialogue could be started by asking Acantha which friends she chose to attend the game with. Were they close friends that truly cared about her well-being, or were they merely acquaintances that she had only spent a limited amount of time with in the past? The environment that someone finds themselves in can often have a major influence on behavior. If everyone else is drinking heavily at a game or party, then Acantha may feel more pressure to become drunk herself.
Another relevant theory to Acantha’s situation is psychodynamic psychotherapy. The theory is based on the concept that people sometimes suppress their emotions and use avoidance in order to stay away from unpleasant thoughts or feelings (Rubin et al., 2016). The theory is based on the unconscious mind and how it relates to a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In the case study, it is possible that Acantha is dealing with some subconscious issues, and was using alcohol as a way of coping with the things she was going through. A counselor could probe deeper into the issue and ask questions about the frequency of Acantha’s drinking, and whether or not she has any major negative memories from her past. Traumatic events or family issues could potentially be pushing Acantha to increase her alcohol consumption as a coping method. The psychodynamic approach would focus on uncovering any hidden issues and addressing them in order to help Acantha live a healthier and happier life.
As a female, I can relate to some aspects of what Acantha went through. I have a few memories of my own in which I ended up consuming more alcohol than I had planned to. It is much easier to plan how much I am going to drink when I am sober than it is to try to refuse drinks once I have already started drinking. Although I cannot remember any situations in which I blacked out and woke up in a stranger’s bed, it is possible that some of my past experiences were not too far removed from such a situation. In addition, being a female allows me to relate to Acantha. Since the incident in question happened with a male, Acantha may be embarrassed or more reserved about sharing the details of the situation with a male counselor.
Me: Hi Acantha, thanks for sharing your story with me today. I am sorry to hear what happened to you, it definitely sounds traumatic.
Acantha: Yeah, it was. I have not talked to anyone about it since it happened, and I cannot help but feel embarrassed about it.
Me: I understand. Although I have not been through an identical situation, I have my fair share of embarrassing stories of times when I drank more than I intended to. Tell me more about how the night started out.
Acantha: It started when one of my classmates told me about a party that they were having before the football game. She told me there would be drinking games like beer pong and such, and that afterwards we would go to the football game while buzzed.
Me: So these were not your close friends, and were just classmates that you had seen in passing from time to time?
Me: At the pregame party, were they encouraging you to keep drinking, even when it seemed like you had already had enough?
Acantha: Yeah, everyone at the party seemed like they could tolerate much more alcohol than me, and so they were joking around about my cup being full. I eventually finished all of it, which is probably what contributed to me being so intoxicated.
Me: Do you think that it would have gone differently if some of your best friends were there to keep an eye on you and make sure you were not too drunk?
Acantha: That is a good point. My friends and I always make sure to monitor if one of us is getting too drunk. I will keep that in mind for future.
Me: I am sorry that this happened, but do not blame yourself or feel embarrassed. It sounds like the environment that you were in contributed to the incident that happened. Do you feel anger at the guy who put you in this situation?
Acantha: I feel more embarrassed than angry. I don’t know how it went down that night, but I will keep in mind everything that you have told me for future parties that I choose to attend.
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