In Treatment -- Sophie, week 4

If this is Wednesday, it must be Sophie. And remember, at the end of the hour last week, Paul called Sophie's mother.

Sophie comes in looking quite different saying she was at a party the night before and stayed all night and then walked to her session. She tells Paul she had never drunk so much. And alludes to something with a boy there. Her casts are gone as is the neck brace.

She lies on the couch and looks almost as if she were going to go to sleep. She has taken off her red platform shoes, which she says she bought because of him, because he had called her mother who took her shopping. She talks about her mother, how she hates that she is a gymnast, which Sophie says is because she thinks it will stunt her physical development, especially her breasts. She talks about running away to the gym, but that she cannot get rid of her mother no matter where she goes. Paul suggests that she runs away in order to get and hold her mother's attention.

Paul asks about the shoes, says they remind him of Dorothy's shoes. That Dorothy found she could go home any time she wanted, with or without the shoes.

In an angry outburst, Sophie shows how angry she is that he called her mother. That Sy is also acting protectively and making her practice with the 10 yr olds. She talks about dissociating from her body when she would not eat when she was younger and that she had found how to do it now on the beam. She stands on the back of the couch to demonstrate to Paul, who is quite concerned about safety. She explains what she did and her delight that she had in succeeding in landing just right.

She quickly changes -- puts her head down and says she doesn't feel well. Paul expresses concern. She says softly, "Stop, Sophie." Paul urges her to tell him what is happening.

She starts to tell about one of the gymnasts taking her to his room, and that she felt nothing. And that he had told her she acts like someone who has been sexually abused. Then she couldn't stop thinking about it, seeing terrible images of everything disintegrating. She was afraid to sleep because the terrible images would come again. And images of the accident. She left for the bus stop and sat on the bench, thinking about Sy's child Dana. And she remembered she couldn't breathe, that just before the accident she couldn't breathe. But she does not want to go further into the memory. It was Sy's bike and the seat hurt her, she said. She came to the wide curve and a car almost hit her and it seemed to her that the road was attacking her and she wanted it, she wanted to hear a huge boom and then nothing. And she cries and says she tried to kill herself.

Paul sits next to her and reassures her that she is not , as she thinks, a freak. 

As soon as the white car passed she knew she would have an accident and she made it happen. She was hit and she felt free and strong. She said she thought she had finally killed him, but when he asks who, she cries that she doesn't know. She goes into the bathroom and leans over the toilet as if to vomit but doesn't. Then she looks into the mirror. And opens the medicine cabinet and takes one of the bottles of pills. Pal asks if she is okay. She opens the bottle and pours out the pills. We don't know when she comes out if she has taken them or not. She says she is going home. Paul says they have more time but she says know. She tells him that he is like the Wizard of Oz except he doesn't know anything and he is always behind the curtain. She is slurring words -- she took them. She falls onto the floor.

Why oh why does Paul keep prescription meds in a bathroom accessible to his patients? In the words of Dr. Phil, what was he thinking??! Yes, we know that he has some of his personal things there because he has been sleeping in his office, but still, it is irresponsible for him to leave prescription meds in a place accessible to patients. I wanted to yell at him for that. And now he must deal with the consequences.

I spoke with a another therapist who doesn't find it so odd that patients get up during sessions to use the bathroom -- this person also has a home office with a bathroom off it just for patient use. So maybe it's just me. My husband rather wryly noted that he wouldn't use time he was paying for to go to the bathroom and would wait instead -- he is so practical!

Back to Sophie -- she is heartbreaking and I suspect we all ache for her as her story slowly rolls out and she finally says she tried to kill herself. And she is so very fragile. Paul did not respond very well, I thought, to he anger about his contact with her mother. Perhaps because of his concern about her fragile state But he does not pursue it wit her and does not get much closer to understanding how she learned of it, what her mother told her, or what she wishes he had done instead. Working with a minor is tricky this way because the teenager needs to feel she can trust the therapist to hold her confidence while the therapist has to be mindful of his responsibility to keep the parents apprised of potentially harmful situations. There is almost no way to negotiate this kind of problem without running into difficulty.

There s also much to explore about the shoes with the high platform heels, and what they are about for a gymnast who uses her feet to maintain a secure position. She calls them Barbie shoes -- what does that mean to her? How does she see Barbie and what it means to her to wear Barbie shoes. So much in this session.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.