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On the last track, we discussed the various motivations that shop-aholics have for compulsive spending. These motivations included: substituting for love and affection; gender-related motivations; and thrill seeking.
On this track, we will examine techniques to incorporate a shop-aholic partner into their therapy. These techniques include: destroying inhibitive myths; hoarding questionnaire; supportive detachment; and increasing affection.
#1 - Destroying Inhibitive Myths
Jean, age 54, was the wife of compulsive spender, Mike. Over their 27 year long marriage, Jean had abided Mike’s many indulgences such as eating out several nights a week, expensive food and wine, and the acquiring of timeshares the couple could not reasonably afford. It wasn’t until Mike had spent the entirety of his daughter’s college fund that Jean urged him to go to counseling. Jean stated, “I thought I could balance out our relationship. I never bought new clothes, I kept getting promoted, and I would save thousands by bulk shopping and using coupons. I thought I could make enough money so we wouldn’t have to suffer.”
I explained to Jean, “Whenever you saved extra money, you only gave your husband a larger pool from which to extract money. Instead of addressing the issues underlying Mike’s compulsive spending, you unintentionally encouraged it. Although your intentions were well-meaning, they in fact did not benefit your husband at all.” Think about your Jean. Is he or she harboring myths that rationalize his or her passive roles? How would you address this client?
#2 - Hoarding Questionnaire
After she finished taking the questionnaire, Jean had answered all questions with either an “often” or “sometimes.” Do you think a “Hoarding Questionnaire” will be able to convince your client they have a contradicting spending personality?
#3 - Supportive Detachment
I explained to Jean, “There’s a real danger that if you become too closely involved with Mike’s struggle, you’ll try to take over the fight yourself, preventing your husband from developing the strength he needs in order to heal. However, you all can be involved, supportive and healing without having to race to the rescue. It may be difficult at first, but you must steel yourself to be able to witness an occasional slip or stumble in your partner’s struggle to heal without feeling it’s a personal defeat or a slap in your face.” Think of your Jean. How would you explain the concept of supportive detachment to him or her?
#4 - Increasing Affection
I explained to Hugh, “Shopping will never be able to meet Bonnie’s needs. I know that you feel it is her responsibility to overcome her own problems, but as her husband, don’t you want to help her at least? You can do this by expressing your own love for her without buying her gifts. For example you could share your feelings and thoughts with each other, or cuddle every evening.”
A few weeks later, Hugh had developed his own routine for expressing affection. Hugh stated, “Whenever Bonnie comes home, I give her a foot massage. Before we go to bed every night, we tell each other about our days, how we felt, and we give each other feedback. Last Friday, I cooked a candlelit dinner and our son spent the night at his grandma’s. I think Bonnie’s really enjoying it. She’s been taking an active part in physically expressing her love.” Think of your Hugh. How could he or she increase his or her affection towards the compulsive spending partner?
On this track, we discussed techniques to incorporate a shop-aholic partner into their therapy. These techniques included: destroying inhibitive myths; hoarding questionnaire; supportive detachment; and increasing affection.
On the next track, we will examine reactions that occur when clients are confronted with their compulsive spending. These reactions include: shame; gender-related reactions; and defensiveness.
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