Our Stories Matter by Melody Allen, 2009 MA Counseling Psychology
As a therapist, I engage with clients from all walks of life. No two stories are the same.
The overall client assessment defines the explicit or implicit longing problem or complaint in
need of treatment. The process involves addressing the vision through various lenses. In
alignment it is realized there is a spiritual, emotional and social component that must be
unraveled. Therefore, therapeutic orientation allows one to incorporate various modalities:
• Family of origin (Hellinger family constellations as it relates to familial bonds, birth
order, parental relationships, trauma repetition, victim-perpetrator family dynamics,
• Energetic Field disruption (referring to the chakra system and how energy blocks relate
and distort how energy flows in the human body)
• Motivational interviewing perspectives (this method speaks to readiness: how ready is a
client to acquire and require the results of their therapeutic work)
• Unconscious thought patterns and faulty belief systems (This can be addressed by
studying a client’s narrative as well as using hypnotherapy to uncover some unconscious
and subconscious thoughts. These thoughts can then be analyzed post-trance state and
integrated into the person’s story.)
Stories evolve as the analysand and the therapist sit in dialogue as to, “How the process of
inquiry can help?”
Stories continue to capture the human psyche throughout time.
These stories, some true and some not, evoke imagination, fantasy, intrigue, and visual
awareness. They transport us to the reality of the storyteller. From that end the context is
meshed to the storyteller’s experience with the projections of the audience that mends into
meaning and understanding.
This week I had a father-son session. There had been a rupture in their noted close relationship.
Over several sessions the father called his son an idiot, and other choice words in one, and then
angrily threw a wad of paper at him in another. In both cases, the father acted out of his
frustration with his son’s perceived lack of motivation and poor thinking skills. He directed his
aggression and rage towards his son. The son was startled by his father’s reactions and started to
withdraw and retreated to his mom for refuge.
This teenage son with a cherub-like, sensitive constitution is deeply in tune with his emotions.
Though his dad’s actions were undefined and surprising it helped the son identify possible
reasons for his parents’ divorce – an anger flaw on the part of his father.
The father was worried about how he could assure himself and his son that these behaviors
would not happen again. Although he defended himself saying, ” it only happened twice, he
appeared to realize that even once was too much. Employing the various modalities at my
disposal, I continued the session. As the session expanded, we spoke mostly about how the teen’s
grandfather was a rager towards the young man’s two uncles. The father recalled being the
favored son and showered with praise. From an archetypal perspective, he was the “golden
child”. This pattern of praise or rebuke on the part of the grandfather could play into the idea
that compliance and sameness generate fatherly love and acceptance, while being different and
noncompliant earned fatherly disdain and rejection. We narrowed the father’s behavior down to
shadow elements like narcissistic abuse, perfectionism, rigidity, and psychopathy.
As the son struggled to identify the source of his frustration – how he wanted to be treated, he
shared other revealing stories. The teen spoke about an ex-girlfriend with whom he went on a
road trip. Before the trip the girlfriend was being rude, dismissive and mean to him. He decided
that her behavior was related to something she was experiencing and agreed to accompany her
and her mother anyway. On the return ride home, his girlfriend sat in the front seat and he in the
back. She texted him that she wanted to break up. He teared up, but was embarrassed to cry in
the mom’s presence.
He has a new girlfriend now and says he likes her for her character. She is consistently kind with
actions and words towards him which is one of his core values. Narcissists are often drawn to the
nurturing of an empath. While an empath can feel wanted and needed, empaths can also feel
unseen, drained and under-valued in relationship with the narcissists self- absorption. The son
was able to transform his relationship with himself and therefore his relationship with females
and his father to be more reflexive of how he wants to be treated.
Over time, being a resilient, resourceful person, the son was able to draw conclusions from the
relationships he had experienced, which led to possible solutions. For example, the family stories
that described the traumas faced by his father during his formative years allowed him to reason
that these challenges could inform the dad’s present parenting behaviors. The son was able to
find the courage to forgive his father and find compassion.
I too was raised by a narcissistic father. This case and many others in my practice not only teach
me about prevalent family issues, but they also show me where I can still learn and evolve in my
own healing. Jung would call this synchronicity. I find it intriguing that spirit has found unique
ways to force me into my own healing and give me clues of where I still need to work. I find this
a welcomed challenge. It is my belief that the therapeutic treatment room is so filled with
imaginal experience: “one moment the student is the teacher and in another the reverse”. This
knowing humbles me to the mysterious quality of the work we do as depth psychologists.