Case Studies

Case study #1

A client arrived in my office and presented herself in a very business-like manner.  No crisis, no tears and apparently in control.  She described her problem very clearly and concisely.  Her dilemma – she was struggling to decide whether to stay in her 16-year marriage or end it.

This challenge was not new for her.  Although there was no abuse, trauma or infidelity, she had not been happy in the marriage for numerous years.  The relationship that was no longer satisfying and the instances of frustration, stress and unhappiness were becoming more frequent.

In non-psychological terminology, we refer to this as “sitting on the fence”.  Ready to leave in bad times but willing to stay in good times.  The challenge to make decisions and create change is when the good and bad times shift from 50/50 to higher differentials like 40 good/60 bad, 30 good/70 bad and so on.  The challenge is even more difficult when good times, as infrequent as they may be, offer optimism and glimmers of a better past.  Those few and far in between good times provide enough optimism and leaving does not happen.

We worked together over 7 sessions.  She did great work in session and even better homework in between sessions to assess her situation and measure her relationship from many angles – mental, emotional, financial and spiritual.  Her ability to define and measure key concepts like happiness, balance and boundaries were instrumental in helping her make a decision that had confidence and comfort.

She decided to create change by ending the marriage.  Together we put together an action plan and simple steps to help her do this well and strategically.  My role during this change was not to tell her what to but instead to provide support, perspective and a neutral, unbiased ear to bounce ideas and create priorities and clarity.  It was important for her to manage the change, control her emotions and create solid messaging and communication strategies.  Today she is happy, content and fulfilled.  She spent one year “on herself” to become independent and then started dating.  She is in a new relationship and her kids are good with the change because she is enjoying life to the fullest.


Case study #2:

A man attended his first session and described his issue as workplace stress. After many questions and conversation, we discovered that his work stress was to due to a bad boss, being bullied by a co-worker, excessive amounts of overtime requests and unattainable targets that kept being changed on him.  These problems had been going on for close to 2 years and he was now at his breaking point after receiving a bad assessment he thought was inaccurate.

Upon further discovery and diagnosis, it was evident the client was suffering from depression.  After he saw his family physician, he was ordered 3 months medical leave.  During this time, we worked together and attacked each issue so there was clarity, understanding and strategies for coping as well as creating change.  His doctor and I coordinated the treatment of his depression and arranged for community resources for education and group support.

This man was able to return to work after 8 weeks.  Once we created a strategy for his return, we put together communication steps to help him return with less anxiety and stress because he was concerned what his coworkers would think or what they might say.  His new ability to set and enforce boundaries, be assertive and say “no” was impressive.  He now manages his reactions to a bad boss, stands up to the bully and works within parameters that contribute to his success and good health.  He has had two good reviews at work and says he feels great being back in the driver’s seat of life.  He keeps a close eye out for depressive symptoms but is certain his health and wellness program is doing a great job to stave off further and future problems. He is now equipped to identify and address those symptoms before they become issues.


Case study #3:

A client arrived in my office for the first time and sobbed heavily for 10 minutes before she could catch her breath to say hello.  Her troubles were not new.  They had been going on for so long and without a break that it was just too much for her.  In the last 4 ½ years she had a long list of challenges – her mother passed away, her only child moved overseas for school, her husband was diagnosed with cancer, her father went into a care home and to top it all off, her 14 year old dog died a few days prior.  Enough!!

She thought she had been managing most of this well but since the dog died, she has not been able to control her emotions, get anything done or see her dad in the home.  She had a look of fear on her face when she asked me three questions: “what is wrong with me?”, “am I going crazy?” and “can you fix this?”

We spent time exploring each traumatic event on its own and how she coped when each occurred as well as how it felt at present.  We discovered that she is a thinker by nature and is able to cognitively work through challenges very rationally and methodically.  This allows her to cope and function but does not address her emotional needs, functioning or self-care.  After many years and issues the emotionality of it all accumulated and caught up to her – a full blown melt down that immobilized her and sent her into a state of shut down.

Once I explained the complexities of the grieving process, her current problems made sense to her and reassured her she was not going crazy.  From there we focused on strategies to manage her thoughts and emotions for a more balanced approach and a more consistent state of well-being.  She now had the tools to grieve and cope and we identified her symptoms to allow for future early detection of imbalance.

Today this woman is doing well – she takes care of herself by attending swimming exercise groups and craft classes with friends.  She takes care of her husband and attends a support group for caregivers once a month.  She regularly videoconferences with her son and sees her dad in the home weekly for lunch.  She is planning a trip to see her son and then visit extended family on her mother’s side.


Case study #4:

A couple entered my office and sat on opposite sides of the room, made little eye contact and eagerly signed the required confidentiality form.  When I inquired about the reason why they were attending counselling, the fireworks started.  One accused the other of having an affair, lying and not following through on promises.  An accidental discovery had uncovered many deep and inappropriate e-mail and text conversations with a co-worker.  The response from the accused was to deny the allegations and explain this as work requirements.

The couple was obviously at an impasse because they could not even agree on the issue.  They had been together 4 years, had a 2 year old child with another one on the way.  With this baby arriving in 2 months, they were in a hurry for a fix.

Both wanted to stay in the marriage but were unsure how to get over the discovery and denial.  We spent many sessions together exploring individual needs, family requirements, trust, respect, honesty as well as expectations.  The couple had different emotional and sexual needs that were never discussed much less negotiated.  After both individual and couple sessions, the pair made great strides to re-establish trust, define guidelines and methods for safe and honest communication.

It took a while but they learned how to separate their relationship from parenting and get clear on needs versus wants.  Both report understanding each other better, increased awareness of the other’s needs and expectations as well as a renewed spark.  Date nights are regular events, communication is more comfortable and family time is now relaxed and enjoyable.