“Hello, Fred. Welcome back,” Dr. Smelt says as she ushers Fred into her office.  

“Thanks for seeing me so quickly. I’m surprised you work on Black Friday. Does that mean the session is half price?”  

Dr. Smelt laughs, “Actually, I find that this time of year is especially busy. And I hate to shop in crowds. So, Fred, last time I saw you was several months ago. You cancelled your last appointment and then didn’t make any further ones. What happened?” 

Fred inquires, “I guess I’m curious if you turned me into the judge for skipping out.” 

Dr. Smelt replies, “No, Fred. I don’t really do that. I wait until the judge contacts me and then I respond. He hasn’t done that yet. So, what I’ll tell him depends pretty much on what you do at this point. Let’s go back to my question. What happened that made you decide to stop coming to therapy and what happened that made you decide to come back today?” 

“After our last session, I thought I was doing better. Much better, in fact. I realized that much of my anger came from my alcoholic father. I went home and talked it over with my wife. We had a really great discussion. She seemed to understand and agree with what I’d put together about my issues. Frankly, I thought I could manage on my own. And I did for a while. I thought things were going great. And then my wife, out of the blue, tells me she wants a separation. Can you believe that? I finally get my anger under great control and she drops that bomb on me. I can’t tell you how pissed off I was!” 

“Wow. That must have come as quite a shock. Was there a fight or argument that led to her decision? Had she said she was unhappy about anything?” 

Fred pauses and acknowledges, “Well, she had said she wants to lose weight which she very much needs to do. I know a lot about nutrition and so I laid out a complete game plan for her. She wasn’t following it very well and I told her so, but I didn’t scream or anything. Really, she doesn’t have a lot of self-control when it comes to food. I was just being helpful.” 

“So, is this the first time you’ve helped her on this weight issue?” 

Fred jumps in, “Oh no, this issue has gone on for years. In fact, we were talking about this problem before we even got married almost fifteen years ago. She complains; I help; things fall apart. But in the past, I would yell and scream. I didn’t do that this time. What does she want? I just pointed out what she’s doing wrong. If she’d simply follow my easy plan, she’d lose weight. No doubt about it. It’s like she’s getting mad at me for trying to support her.” 

Dr. Smelt nods, “So, this issue has a rich history with the two of you. Has all of your advice actually managed to help her with the problem?”

“Hard to say. She’s lost a little weight a few times, but it never sticks. It’s almost like the more I help, the worse she does. But this is crazy. She says she wants a divorce because I want to control what she eats and when she eats it. I didn’t even jump all over her this time!” 

“So, I’m wondering what you’re really wanting now, Fred. Are you wanting to return to treatment? If so, for anger management? Or, help with your relationship? Are you thinking there’s a connection between the two like I do?” 

“Connection? Between my anger and my marriage? I didn’t even get angry this time. I’m not sure I like what you’re implying.” 

Dr. Smelt suggests, “Fred, I’d like you to ask yourself what you’re feeling right now. You’re definitely not yelling or screaming. But what are you feeling?” 

“Honestly, I’m not angry or anything. OK, maybe a little irritated. I thought you’d be more understanding and be on my side. Maybe you’re annoyed with me for cancelling my last therapy session a couple months ago.”

 “I’m glad you’re able to say that you feel irritated. You certainly are doing better with not raising your voice. At the same time, irritability and anger often go together. I noticed that after you admitted you were irritable, you suggested that I was unhappy with you and maybe not even on your side. Is it possible that you’re feeling a bit angry with me?” 

Fred takes a deep breath, “I hate to admit it, but maybe so. Like I said, I want you to be on my side. I’m not sure you are.” 

“Fred, ultimately, I’m totally on your side. I’m here to help you live the life you want to live. Sometimes, that means I have to point out a few uncomfortable issues and help you confront the obstacles that keep you from getting what you want. Does that make sense to you?”

 “Well, OK. I get it. I guess that’s the work we have to do, right?”

“Yes, Fred, it is. Welcome back. Next time I think we should explore the issue of your marriage and how subtle anger may be tripping you up. Deal?” 


 Photo Credit:  





In Therapy Session 4.75: Fred
Frustration with Chevrolet