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"But I have such a Great Catch!" Treating Abusive Controlling Relationships
Abusive Relationships continuing education counselor CEUs

Section 12
Track #12 - Effective Tools for Treating 'The Good Outweighs the Bad'
& 'Fighting Fire with Fire'

CEU Question 12 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Couples
Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, MFT CEUs

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In the last track, we discussed the four rationalized responses of Communication Magic, Hiding Pain, He Doesn't Mean It, and I'm Too Sensitive.

On this track... as I discuss five additional rationalized responses, think of a client you are currently treating and assess if any of the accompanying interventions would be appropriate for your next session.

Rationalizations 5-6

Rationalization #5: The Good Outweighs the Bad
The fifth rationalization to stay in an abusive relationship in addition to Communication Magic, Hiding Pain, Jokes that Aren't Funny and I Am Too Sensitive is The Good Outweighs the Bad. As you know, your clients may feel that if they express their true feelings to their Great Catch they may feel they are "blaming him." Speaking out against the abuse goes against a victim's natural instincts. Barbara, a 44-year-old retail manager, told me about her husband Charles. Barbara stated "He was on my case all the time about my appearance or what I said. He'd yell at me that he didn't find me attractive or that I was stupid, but I tried to look on the positive side.

Charles was a good, steady worker and brought home good money. He loved his job, and he would take me out to dinner to celebrate his new accomplishments at work. I saw that Charles could treat me well, he was capable of it. I thought I would just have to smooth over the rough spots and concentrate on the good times and everything would seem okay."

Barbara justified Charles's controlling abusive behavior by weighing the good against the bad and choosing not to say anything to him. This is actually the basis or cornerstone of the "Great Catch" concept. She claimed, "He provided me with a roof over my head, so I took responsibility for everything else as a way to avoid seeing that Charles was constantly criticizing my appearance to stay one-up in the relationship."

Barbara agreed to attend a psychodrama group held by a colleague. The group was attended by three other women who had also experienced controlling, abusive relationships. Group members performed the roles of Charles as well as taking the roles of "negative self-talk" and "old messages from her parents." This gave Barbara an opportunity to act out, as well as see her inner feelings acted out, and to realize the positives in her relationship with Charles truly did not outweigh the negatives. Even though Barbara is still with Charles, the frequency and intensity of her rationalizations have decreased.

After attending several sessions of the psychodrama group, Barbara felt she wanted to hold Charles accountable for his behavior. The psychodrama group help Barbara to see the pain Charles caused and the effect her own lack of assertiveness.

Rationalization #6:
Fighting Fire with Fire
The sixth rationalization to stay in an abusive relationship in addition to The Good Outweighs the Bad is Fighting Fire with Fire. Deborah, a 34-year-old physical trainer, rationalized Eric's anger by stating. "I just get as angry at him, so I guess its tit for tat." Deborah finally got so frustrated with her husband and stated that, "If Eric yelled, I yelled. If he called me names, I called him names right back. Another time I gave his favorite clothes to Goodwill. But I started to feel bad about myself. Eric said I had serious problems managing my temper. I realized for the first time, he said something horrible about me that I felt was true."

After several sessions I explored with Deborah the fact that, "All you can do is set limits on your own behavior, not Eric's."

I explained to Deborah that, although Eric's verbal abuse provokes her actions, she decides how she acts. Deborah began to realize she is responsible for her response. Here's a technique I used to drive home to Deborah the point that effective confrontations require respect, tact, and patience. And, no external motivation can alter Eric's behavior.

Technique for Social Work CEUs, Psychology CEUs, Psychologist CEUs, Counselor CEUs, Addiction Counselor CEUs, and MFT CEUs

Transactional Analysis - 3 Communication Styles
Deborah seemed to be most receptive to transactional analysis. As you know, TA was developed by Eric Berne. A reproducible TA worksheet is found in the Manual that accompanies this Course. Here's how I introduced classic TA to Deborah. "One way to look at communication is to look at it from the point of view of three styles: the Parent, the Adult, and the Child.

1. The Parent style of communication includes words and behaviors that are critical, domineering, judgmental, demanding, and demeaning. The parent style of communication can also be, caring, supportive, and compassionate.

2. The Adult style of communication includes words and behaviors that are, specific, factual, inquisitive, confident, and informative.

3. In the Child style of communication, children often fight fire with fire. Children have yet to develop the communication skills of an adult. The child style of communication includes words and behaviors that are creative, impulsive, fun-loving, self-centered, rebellious, and aggressive.

I explained each of the three styles have a place in your relationship with Eric. However, after some role playing, it became clear to Deborah that she had been communicating with Eric in the Child style, being emotional, impulsive, rebellious, and aggressive.

Do you have a client you are currently treating that may benefit for the TA worksheets found in the Course Manual to explore their Child style of communication in rationalizing, "I am fighting fire with fire"?

Unhealthy and Abusive Relationships

- Unhealthy and Abusive Relationships. (n.d.). Grade 12 Active Healthy Lifestyles, 229-234. Retrieved from https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/physhlth/frame_found_gr12/rm/module_e_lesson_3.pdf

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 12
If your client is trying to fight fire with fire, when communicating with his or her great catch, what style of communication are they using? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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