Monday, August 12, 2013


Case Study – A Success Story Of A Weak Woman  - Successfully Transformed  By Using Family Reconstruction.

Sally’s was married and lived in a dysfunctional family system totally opposite to her well to do maternal family. Her maternal family’s upbringing places strong emphasis on maintaining the mix of Confucian and traditional Chinese family values. Many times, she was crashed by her husband or his family members and had to rebuild herself constantly in order to survive the marriage.  Her resistance against the marriage falters because she was ingrained the traditional belief that it is also her duty to place the honour of her own family first before herself. 

Her husband coming from a totally dysfunctional family, with irresponsible parents, they couldn’t give him any sense of security or belonging. His father gambles very heavily leaving the mother to run a small family business and assume the control of the family. In short, they offered little in his upbringing but imbued into him the negative traits of both of his parents. Even when he is married, he still lives his wilful spendthrift and irresponsible life, constantly finding himself with heavy credit card debts. He is very chauvinistic and temperamental with little tolerance for criticism. When things go wrong, he would put the blame on others especially his wife and never on himself even when he is the source of the problem or committed the act.

Though her husband was way much older than she was when they got married, he still displays his love for the single’s lifestyle. His irresponsible attitude prompted by his mother and his family members left Sally to fend on her own with nearly zero financial support from him. Even when she was pregnant with her child, he could even quit his job for the sake of his friend, leaving her with no financial support leading up to her delivery. Due to the lack of care for her pregnancy, the child she gave birth to grew up sickly requiring constant medical attention. Her child being her motivation to survive, she had to set up her own business to maintain her upkeep and pay for her child’s enormous medical bills that was to come.

As far as it goes, her husband’s mother taught him to control everything of Sally, financially and emotionally. When Sally’s husband was part of the business, he controls literally everything and her survival falls literally on her capacity and talent to manage her business well. Sally is a very hardworking lady, she work until 12 midnight every day and need to look after her child at the same time, because she cannot afford a maid. When she had to send her sickly child for treatment, she had to pay for all the medical bills with her own savings. All he would do was to spend it on entertaining his friends, drinking and partying on a very regular basis. Each time the company goes into the red, she had to struggle to rebuild the firm back into the black. 

When she tried to turn to her maternal family for support, all she encountered was a wall of resistance and they would cast the blame on her. Her own naïve-ness was also her undoing as well, though she was clear what he was doing, the family system (family shame and reputation) of hers stifle her ability to react. So in the eyes of others, her presence with him gave him the excuse to portray that there was nothing wrong with Sally’s family and allowed her to be singled out as the one at fault. It became hard for anyone to believe her the predicament that she was in. Even her own family members would put the blame on her for the failure of her own marriage. They would go as far as to threaten to outcast her if she sought for a divorce from the marriage. No one wants to rock the boat, even though she knows it was illogical for her to stay on in the marriage, the same illogical and cruel “family beliefs” and “family values” trapped her within. 

Sally’s life took the turn for the worst when she wanted to have some autonomy and authority, especially to have some emergency cash funds for the child and herself because all the funds was totally under her husband absolute control. Every time, Sally must ask for cash for even the smallest request. Instead of giving her some control over her own life, her husband crashed her business by transferring both clientele and funds out from the company into another company he has established, leaving her with a bigger bank loan and huge liabilities taken out against her name. It traumatized her very badly, and yet through this ordeal, she had to rebuild but this time round, it took the slowest to regain her footing back into the business and longest to recover from. The reconstructed business managed to survive very successfully.

In trying to sabotage Sally, her husband started to influence their child with his undesirable habits – the lack of a sense of security and belonging. He influenced their child to become rebellious and wilful like himself. He would indulge the child with the sense of freedom, often quoting “Freedom (to be with best buddies) is the most important thing in life, without freedom I would rather die”. The wrong parenting style drove a nail into the relationship between Sally and her child. The clash of parenting style made her child lived separately from her and influenced the child to ignore her advice or guidance. No matter how badly her child would have treated her, she would try to reconnect with her child. Actually, her child was another very important reason that she didn’t pursue a divorce. Knowing that a broken family could cause a lot of emotional scarring, she held herself back. She would give the child everything to enjoy, on her businesses trips abroad, from sleeping in luxury suites to eating out at Michelin starred restaurants, she vowed only to give her child the best. 

In all, these are some of Sally’s struggles, what would be lengthy to write would be the entire reconstruction process. But she would reconstruct herself each time when she was down. Each time she becomes more congruent with herself and recognizes what key family values to maintain and what to abandon. Her ability to maintain some level of clarity probably saved her. She was able to overcome them due to her immense ability to forgive. Forgiveness has given her the ability to become a better person and she strives to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is important to her ability to help her move on in her life leading to her own self-actualization.

Treatment Plan

When I started out on Sally’s case, it seems to be quite complicated with many issues compounded together. It took time to sort out her issues and prioritize her treatment by developing an understanding of the issues involved. 

I began with working on her perceptions of family systems knowing fully well she has to be able to externalize her suppressed emotional states. She learned to process her feelings and expectations. At the same undergo some remodelling of her cognitive and behaviour processes. 
To strengthen her inner self, I need to work into her inner resources enabling her to find the strength necessary to rebuild her business and her self-image. Slowly her self-confidence improved and she began to exhibit her ability for self-recognition, self-value and more importantly, self-acceptance and self-appreciation. As she becomes more congruent with herself, she can then exhibit strength of character and demonstrates her new found self-fulfilment.

This is critical for not just the rebuilding of herself, but also for her ability to show forgiveness and compassion. With such qualities, I am  able to work on her acquiring new passion for life  and to deal with  her unfinished business before making any drastic decision. This is where family reconstruction is about her ability to deal with the wrong views and correct those views to enable her to end the suffering and gain some level of happiness and peace, even if those people who affected her badly are still around her!


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