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Section 4
Interpersonal Confrontation

CEU Question 4 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Addictions CEU Courses
Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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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.

3 Reactions of Clients Confronted with their Compulsive Spending

Reaction #1 - Shame
The first reaction is shame.  Clients who have not been confronted about their behaviors may have already experienced some amount of shame.  However, those clients who are in denial to themselves won’t feel the same amount of shame until their actions are brought to light.  Jack, age 31, was confronted by his girlfriend Penny about his gambling debts.  Since then, Jack still has not been able to come to grips with his gambling problem.  He stated, "When Penny told me that she knew about my debts, I think I went into a minor depression.  I felt so lethargic, almost dead.  I couldn’t admit to myself that I had a problem, but I wasn’t denying it either.  I guess I was ignoring it, because I was so ashamed of my weakness." 

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
To help Jack come to terms with his compulsive spending, I asked him to write an Acceptance Statement.  I told Jack to write a statement in which he stated his name, his problem, his goals to accomplish and his motivations for accomplishing these goals I then asked him to tell his statement to his girlfriend Penny.  I explained to Jack, "Though it may sound humiliating and indeed makes you feel very vulnerable, there’s an element of surrender that brings relief—relief from endlessly trying to hide from your imperfections." 

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
The second type of reactions are gender-related reactions.  Although both genders are equally likely to become compulsive spenders, I have found that each gender reacts differently when confronted.  Female clients tend to be immediately overwhelmed by feelings of shame, guilt, and rejection which they may either turn on themselves or invert into an explosive backlash against the partner they feel is persecuting them. 

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
In addition to shame and gender-related reactions, the third reaction is defensiveness.  As we discussed earlier, this is a more common reaction among male clients who have difficulty coming face to face with their faults.  However, that does not exclude women from becoming defensive as well.  Sidney, age 29, became extremely defensive when her husband Phil confronted her about her compulsive spending.  During our sessions, Sidney would try and shift the blame onto her more stable husband Phil. 

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.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Allom, V., Mullan, B. A., Monds, L., Orbell, S., Hamilton, K., Rebar, A. L., & Hagger, M. S. (2018). Reflective and impulsive processes underlying saving behavior and the additional roles of self-control and habit. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, 11(3), 135–146.

Czopp, A. M., Monteith, M. J., & Mark, A. Y. (2006). Standing up for a change: Reducing bias through interpersonal confrontation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(5), 784–803.

Kenyon, K. M., & Eaton, W. O. (2015). Age at child obsessive-compulsive disorder onset and its relation to gender, symptom severity, and family functioning. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 3(1), 150–158.

Niedermoser, D. W., Petitjean, S., Schweinfurth, N., Wirz, L., Ankli, V., Schilling, H., Zueger, C., Meyer, M., Poespodihardjo, R., Wiesbeck, G., & Walter, M. (2021). Shopping addiction: A brief review. Practice Innovations, 6(3), 199–207.

Tolin, D. F., Wootton, B. M., Levy, H. C., Hallion, L. S., Worden, B. L., Diefenbach, G. J., Jaccard, J., & Stevens, M. C. (2019). Efficacy and mediators of a group cognitive–behavioral therapy for hoarding disorder: A randomized trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 87(7), 590–602.

Shechtman, Z., & Yanov, H. (2001). Interpretives (confrontation, interpretation, and feedback) in preadolescent counseling groups. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 5(2), 124–135.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 4
What are three reactions that can occur when clients are confronted with their compulsive spending? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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