You Are The Therapist

Sometimes it’s easier to start to understand how to manage difficult situations by thinking about those not involving you. This is because you are not feeling so emotional about them, so it’s easier to step back a bit.

Let’s meet the Chang family and work out how they can manage Ella’s difficult behaviour.

Ella Chang grew up in a loving family with three younger sisters. Things were going well up until she was 19 when she was sacked from her job at the supermarket.

Her Mum and Dad hadn’t realised anything was wrong until they went into the store to complain to the manager about giving her the sack. They found out that she had often got up from her till and walked out of the store without warning and, when told off for this, had shouted at her supervisor.

Mum and Dad tried to get to the bottom of the problem but Ella would only talk about some grand ideas she had to start her own business and go on ‘Dragon’s Den’. Things got bad when she started to complain that other people were stealing her ideas for a new kind of hovercraft and she started ringing the police several times a day. Eventually Mum and Dad persuaded the GP that something was wrong and he got the Early Intervention Team to call.

Ella has been taking medication for about 18 months now and gets on well with her Care Coordinator. They go out to the shopping centre for coffee every week and an employment worker is helping Ella build a CV and look for work. In private, however, Mum and Dad are struggling. Ella often stays out late at night without telling them where she is. She often causes a fuss by insisting that she needs to ring the police or the supermarket she was sacked from. This seems to happen more when Mum and Dad are trying to get the other girls ready for school, cook a meal or go out to see relatives. Mum sometimes has to take the phone off her or lock it in a drawer.

Ella seems to cause lots of arguments, demanding that she choose which channels to watch on TV in the evening even though she is often at home all day. She plays loud music after midnight when other people are trying to sleep. She argues with the other girls about whose turn it is to use the computer. She has been so mean to them that Mum and Dad are wary about leaving the youngest girl, who is only seven, alone with her.

Mum and Dad used to argue about the problems but now don’t talk about them much. Mum can’t bring herself to discuss things with Ella, she’s too angry. Dad has repeatedly told Ella that if she continues to behave like this she’ll have to go to live with her aunt.