How did his supervisor’s response impact him and possibly trigger his “soft spots”?

Jason is a 24-year-old addictions counselor who recently graduated from a masters program. He is single, lives alone, and has few close friends. He has little contact with his parents or siblings. Although he is not in recovery himself, he grew up in a very physically and emotionally violent family. He has never been in therapy to examine any of the issues stemming from his chaotic childhood. He is heterosexual and has come across a woman at his workplace who is a few years older than he, divorced, “pleasingly flirtatious” with him, and quick to anger. She is his clinical supervisor, and she wears low-cut tops that show her cleavage in supervision sessions, making a point to lean over when asking him to take on additional work responsibilities. When he began his job 3 months ago, he was very excited about it being his first job and making more money than he ever had in his life. However, he has recently realized that he is very tired after his long days at work, is finding himself resentful of his supervisor asking him to take on extra responsibilities and extra hours at the agency, and is irritable with his clients when they ask him for assistance. He has recently wondered whether he should stay in his job. When he brought his concerns to his supervisor recently, she became very angry and highly confrontational. She told him he was lucky to find a job right after graduating, and he should simply accept his job responsibilities without question. Jason left the meeting quite shaken. He had a difficult time sleeping the next week and focusing on his clinical work with his clients.

1. What is Jason’s history of emotional pain that may make him vulnerable to system abuse?

2. How does his relationship with his supervisor fit the criteria of a chance encounter?

3. How does his life fit Cushman’s model of an empty self?

4. Is he being abused at his workplace, and if so, how?

5. What was his supervisor’s critical authority response?

6. How did his supervisor’s response impact him and possibly trigger his “soft spots”?

7. Would you recommend that he stay or leave? Whichever option you choose for him, what specific suggestions would you have for him on the path chosen?

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