Some people will come at life decidedly from the position of being effect. They will be involved in relationships and work situations that they are certain are harming them, but that they feel they can't do anything about. They will have addictive relations to people and situations around them. They have to have that which is harming them, or they must do that which harms them. That is what is called Co-Dependence.
We might specifically take that up as a module if the person is very aware of it and it is the major area to handle, and the simple awareness of it doesn't make much difference for her.
1. Effect -
Elicit ways that the person thinks or feels she is effect. The idea is to approach it in a manner that makes sense to her and to pace her. When we get a chance we will move effect towards cause and negativity towards positivity. However, don't do it too soon. If a person has a very solid pattern of being effect or co-dependent, it often needs to be recognized and validated as such. That is, she might not go along with any clever little positive reframes before you have thoroughly understood and acknowledged that she is doing really poorly and there is nothing she can do about it. So, take it easy and grant the client that attention. You can ask in various ways to try to approximate the way she looks at it. Don't overdo this, it is only to get into rapport.
"Is somebody out to get you?"
"Have you been unlucky?"
"Did somebody stop you from succeeding?"
"Has anybody screwed up your life?"
"Are there hidden influences in your life?"
"Are you mysteriously failing?"
"Does something seem to keep you down?"
"How has your upbringing affected you?
"Did you get too few opportunities?
"Is somebody sabotaging you?
2. Good & Bad People #
Have the client note during the week which people she interacts with in her life who make her feel good and which make her feel bad. She should carry around a notebook with her or something like that. When ever she finds herself feeling limited or put down or depressed in somebody's presence, she should write down who it is and the circumstances. Also when she feels uplifted and in a good mood in somebody's presence, she should note down who it was and the circumstances. This exercise first of all gets her into the frame of mind that there are specific reasons for feeling bad or limited, it isn't just a general thing. She can look for specifically what it is. Even if she doesn't find a whole lot, looking for it is the start of positive change. If she does find something, we will examine it further. What is the difference between the people or situations where she feels good and the ones where she feels bad? Isolate what is going on. Do any necessary processing on what comes up. Or, as a short term solution, discuss how she can organize her life to minimize the negativity. Like, avoid a certain person, or avoid being in certain situations.
3. More Cause -
Dialogue to establish something, anything, that the person can be cause over, at least a little bit, in the area(s) where she has been effect. The idea is to set a direction. If she can just succeed in controlling a tiny element of the situation into the tiniest glimpse of a positive direction, that is great. We don't expect to have it all evaporate instantly. Get the person out of any idea that it is all or nothing. Create a small positive change in anything, by getting her to do something a little differently in life. Not just a mental change at this point, but something she will do differently. Like, maybe just one thing she can say differently the next time she has an argument with her boyfriend. Or, one thing she can do to avoid a confrontation with the boss. And then, deflate any idea of that "it all doesn't matter" because everything isn't changed. Reframe such ideas. Big changes are accomplished a little at a time. It is the direction that counts. Traveling in a positive direction is what will work. And it is the direction of cause we are after, the direction of taking charge and actually changing conditions.
4. Secondary Gains -
Get the person to find something positive in the negative situations she is involved in. Help her with any kind of reframes or silly suggestions you can think of. Move the situation from black/white, good/bad towards gradients and mixes. No situation is totally bad, or totally good for that matter. Get her to find something good in the bad situation, or if necessary to demonstrate the point, to find something bad in the ideal, positive dreams she has. Like, "if just bla, bla, bla, then EVERYTHING would be PERFECT". Don't leave her with black and white thinking like that. So, get her to look at how she is actually getting something out of the situations that she labels totally bad. Like, OK, Joe is beating her, but at least he pays the rent. Not having to worry about the rent is a positive thing. But it is part of an overall package that has some serious problems associated with it. But she should start differentiating what is useful and what isn't.
5. Negative Feelings -
Address feelings involved in the current effect situation. Track them back to (past) incidents that can be re-experienced. The advantage of doing that is that we get the issue out of the present environment where it might seem unsolvable. It might be easier to sort out a childhood situation than dealing with something now she is sure she can't deal with. But if we get the limiting feelings changed, then the situation now WILL change.
6. Problems -
Deal with the current situation as a problem and free it up in various ways. Compare it with other problems, find out what makes it a problem etc.
"Can you think of a bigger problem?"
"Can you think of a smaller problem?"
"Can you think of a similar problem?"
"What are the opposing forces that make this a problem?"
"What part of the problem has something to do with you?"
"How have you tried to solve that problem?"
"What would ___ be a solution to?"
"Who would have a problem like that?"
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