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On the last 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 this track, we will examine reactions that occur when clients are confronted with their compulsive spending. These reactions include: shame; gender-related reactions; and defensiveness.
Reaction #1 - Shame
I stated to Jack, “The paradox of shame is that you can only heal yourself of shame by holding it up to the light—first by facing the truth yourself and then by finding the courage to share it with others, so you can see that you really won’t lose their respect or their acceptance.” Think about your Jack. How would you explain to him or her the concept of shame?
Technique: Acceptance Statement
A few sessions later, Jack had read to Penny his statement. He read his statement aloud to me, “My name is Jack, and I am a compulsive gambler. I want to break this habit and get myself back on track for my girlfriend Penny.” Think of your Jack. Would an Acceptance Statement benefit him or her?
Reaction #2 - Gender-Related Reactions
Male clients, on the other hand, become increasingly defensive. When most male clients are confronted by their incompetence, they blame someone close to them or extenuating circumstances. Kyle confronted his wife, Jill, age 26, about her compulsive spending. He stated, “I’m working at an armpit of a job because I can’t afford to quit, and you go out and spend forty dollars on a new bedspread!” Jill stated, “Honey, I’ve been trying hard to be careful and not buy anything we don’t need, but this was such a great deal. Never mind, you’re right! You work hard for our money, and I guess I just wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry.”
I pointed out to Jill that she had just inverted her defensiveness onto herself. I stated to Jill, “By placing blame onto yourself instead of accepting responsibility, you will increase the feelings of shame you’re experiencing now.” Think of your Jill. Is he or she inverting blame on his or herself?
Reaction #3 - Defensiveness
Sidney stated, “I’m not the only one with problems, you know. He is always nagging me about being more responsible. I am responsible! When he makes me feel bad about myself, I have to go buy myself a treat. I’ll change when he does!” I stated, “Sidney, I want you to think carefully about whether or not Phil’s demands are really that unreasonable. Would you still need to buy things even without Phil’s own spending personality? Think back to your years before you met Phil. Did you have a tendency to want things?” Sidney stated, “I guess I was always a bit of a big spender. But he makes me feel ashamed!” I stated to Sidney, “You must be willing to acknowledge that you have more to answer for if the conflicts between you two are to be resolved.”
Think of your Sidney. How would you address his or her defensiveness?
On this track, we discussed reactions that occur when clients are confronted with their compulsive spending. These reactions included: shame; gender-related reactions; and defensiveness.
On the next track, we will examine clients who compulsively spend for malicious reasons. These reasons include: deliberate lying; cheating; and revenge spending.
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