A young lady is having severe difficulties due to her family environment and restrictions in movements due to spread of cases in her locality. She has strong urges to run away to another city and stay in the city and stay in the company of a close friend. Despite trying I am not able to help her think pros and cons as she gets very overwhelmed and agitated. I think I am not able to help her and have suggested other sources of help/referral. But she is insisting that I continue to have sessions and calls me repeatedly due to feeling distressed. I am feeling stuck, anxious and helpless. What can I do?
I think your anxieties as a counsellor may be partly stemming from a belief that you need to give her the solution and that she should accept the solution. I think you should leave the task of solving the problem to her and only highlight that there would be consequences to her choice and discuss what may be the possible consequences of making different choices. It is understandable that for many individuals who have difficulties within the family, the lockdown or quarantine or any other reason which forces them to spend more time, can increase the conflicts and unpleasantness within the family. Your expression of empathy on this may be helpful. At the same time, you may want to communicate that the difficulties one may have to face by going away to a not so familiar environment again may result in new challenges. Though the unknown situations seem less threatening, once she starts living there she may find the difficulties surfacing. In addition, in the context of the pandemic, staying with family would be important for two reasons: help of family is required in case of infection and it will reduce the risk of exposure as well. Hence, under the present circumstances, it would be best to guide her to learn to avoid initiating difficult interactions/topics/triggers with her family while simultaneously learning to tolerate and cope with emotions. Mindfulness strategies may be of relevance here for learning to be with the emotions without reacting to them. Most importantly, the client may be helped to understand that taking major decisions purely under the influence of emotions may not be useful. In case the decision of moving away from family is a well thought of decision, the implementation of the same should be done in a planned and slow manner keeping various perspectives in mind.
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