After speaking with Mr. Todd and Mr. Reggie I have concluded that they would be great candidates for couples counseling. Taking away the fact that they are the same sex, I do not feel that it should affect the outcome of the services that will be provided for the couple listed above. I am very proud of Mr. Todd and Mr. Reggie for coming in to seek counseling as a couple. That within its self speaks volumes to the commitment of their relationship and love for one another. I advised both parties involved about the necessity for counseling. Letting them know that most couples come in to seek help when they feel that this is the last result before breaking up. It’s difficult to move forward in a relationship when anger and resentment have built up to such a degree that there are few conflict-free areas of discussion. Seeing a professional to help you talk to each other so you are not disagreeing on the smallest of things and arguing over the same situations with no resolutions, can be a very good idea.
I assured them that we would do all in our power to make sure that we set some realistic goals at the ending of each session. We went on to talk and I gathered some information that I felt was interesting and important. I feel that I would like at some point to speak with each Mr. Todd and Mr. Reggie on an individual session. I will determine that as we move further into the sessions and gather if they would like to have a session where they are able to speak with me one on one. I have devised a plan that would help them with the extended family issues that they both are undergoing, also some information on anger and domestic violence, as well as some communication skill building exercises that they a can work on with each other as well as for their personal gain.
Going over their family issues I felt held a lot more value in their lives and if could be addresses would help remove some of the stress and anxiety they both undergo on a day to day basis. We talked about the effect that they felt the roles of the absent extended families where causing in their relationship. I did ask questions such as “Are you families aware that you are an interracial couple?”, “Is that a reason that you have limited or no contact?”, “What was the reaction of your family when you told them that you were gay?”, “Where your families there for you while incarcerated?”, “How was your relationship with your family before telling you were gay?” , “Was you and your family closer before you went to prison?” They each answered honestly about the feelings they had incurred during the past few years of their lives. We talked about a support system outside of each other and their families. They both agreed the lack of family support had a negative impact on their relationship, and have not been able to fully accept it. I informed that their families’ acceptance of their relation would take time, and should be viewed as a process.
They would have to make some tough choices to whether or not to continue to try and have their family in their lives are work solely on their relationship. They will have to some type of understanding on their extended family situations. Not dealing with it can be unhealthy and they will need to ask which relationship is most important to them at this time. I did advise until their families where ready to come to terms with their relationship, they should look into starting a family of friends and others who understand their relationship. This could consist of friends who are straight and homosexual. I handed them some fliers to some local coming out groups that meet in there are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I felt it would be a great way to give them another outlet to network amongst individuals who have been through are going through what they are currently going through. I handed out pamphlets on domestic violence to each Mr. Todd and Mr. Reggie.
I felt we needed to address the issues of anger and physical threats or actions toward one another. I did also advise them that they I would have to report any physical violence that I am made aware of. To help alive them of the stress they both made out contracts of good faith agreements that they would walk away and respect the others space if a conversation was turning violent and they felt it may result in a physical altercation. We all shook on it and dug deeper into why they felt they needed to result to physical or verbal violence. They were informed of the domestic violence statics in relationships that end in death. Both men agreed that that is not what they wanted for one another. They were encouraged to do some research on domestic violence which they both where highly surprised by what they had found. We also started anger management skills for the both of them. I had them make a rule poster to place in their homes to remind them of the session.
We went over 10 steps that would help them both with managing their anger. I did inform them that it would not come over night and they would have to make conscious decisions to apply these skills once they leave the session. Taking time to cool off before addressing why you are angry would be the first stop. Then calmly once you have gathered all your thoughts letting the person or your partner know why you were angry. I noticed how in shape Reggie was and advised maybe exercising or doing something that brings joy and peace to them. Think before you speak was a very good one. That way they did not say things they truly did not mean. Once you say something you cannot take it back so you must watch what you say. Next try and come up with a solution to help you not from becoming so angered by an action or comment.
That could be just walking away or making a joke to ease the tension. Use the “I” statement and not the “You” statements. Once you have talked about it, let it go. Do not keep it bottled up inside you and have resentment for the person. Again make a joke or say something off the wall when you feel that it may be heading towards you becoming angered. That could be let’s just get some ice cream and talk about this later, to you see that squirrel fly by on the balloon? Just something that will lighten the mood and redirect you both to important situation at hand. Maybe making a relaxation area or technique that you can do, that helps calm you down. That could be reading a book, going to see a movie, shopping, cleaning, or writing. Lastly when all else fails and you don’t know what to do. Seek help before something bad happens. After a few sessions I was to hear that they had implemented these practices and things had started looking better for them.
Those anger management exercises lead into working on their communication with each other. Reggie may have been more physically dominating, but Todd was more verbally dominating. I noticed that Todd would over talk Reggie in sessions, and I didn’t think he meant to do it on purpose. Todd was unaware of it and did not fully understand that it would cause Reggie to feel in adequate therefore Reggie would lash out with violence because he felt his voice and opinions where not heard or valued. Todd was amazed that something so small could be so powerful. We began working on listening to each other. Really hearing what the other was saying and validating each other’s opinions and values. The way that had been raised played a large part in the way they communicated with each other. Being open and honest with each other would help them go along way as well with communicating. It would bring them closer with each other.
Also paying attention to the nonverbal cues that they give off when feeling frustrated. Staying focused on what they are talking about at the time. Not talking about something that happened in the past or what could happen. Just stay focused on the subject at hand and make sure to settle that issue. Try to not get so emotional when talking about subjects that are important. Look at the whole picture and not just how you feel about the subject. Know when to just throw your hands up and walk away from the discussion if you feel that it is not going the way you want it to go. You do not always have to be right, and it gives your partner the comfort that you are willing to compromise in tough situations. Again make jokes or just go in for a big kiss. That always helps and lets your partner know they are more important to you. Again that brings down the tension in the conversation and gives you both a chance to rethink things over.
Never know that kiss may just make them forget what was being said and you can go for some ice cream. Lastly remember communicating is more than talking, it is also actions. Maybe leaving notes or gifts, or just signs that you are thinking of each other always helps. It could be as small as taking out the trash with our being asked to as large as a vacation to a beach resort. No matter how big or small the gesture your partner will appreciate it. After these sessions with Mr. Todd and Mr. Reggie I have seen growth. I am happy to report that Reggie’s back home with Todd. They both have found jobs and are currently making their apartment cozier and entertainment friendly. They continue to go out and meet people in there are who accept them for them. They have a network of support and are also helping out with recently released inmates who are also gay and going through some of the same obstacles that faced. Todd’s mother has actually came and visited him and Reggie.
Todd stated that it will take her some time to get used to but she is giving some more support. Unfortunately Reggie’s sisters had not come around but we were able to help Reggie get some closure of his mom’s death. He continues to seek therapy for the loss and he is doing a wonderful progress. He did admit dealing with his family issue and the death of his mom have helped his anger issues and he is able to calm himself down very easily now. Todd and Reggie are listening to each other and communicating with each other very well. They still have a ways to go, but in the short time they have started practicing the techniques they have made excellent strides towards approving. Todd listens more to Reggie rather than over talking him. It doesn’t matter who you are the same fundamentals of love are all the same. We start from our personal backgrounds and to the way we communicate with each other. Todd and Reggie are all of us in some sort of way. Being gay or straight we all have the same problems. With the correct education and help and support we can all over come any obstacle that is placed before us.
Grohol, J. (2009). 9 Steps to Better Communication Today. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/04/14/9-steps-to-better-communication-today/
Mayo Clinic.com (1998-2013). Anger Management: 10 tips to tame your Temper Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/anger-management/MH00102
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Topic: Case Study Tod and Reggie
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