Family Therapy

Case Study

Monty aged 16 was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance at a party. He found his feelings about the assault hard to manage and his family struggled to know the best way to support him but also to understand their own responses to what had happened.

Monty's mum believed it would be best if Monty could tell her how he was feeling and to maybe let himself cry. Monty did not feel this would be helpful to him and in fact felt that if he did start to cry or to talk to his mum he would never be able to stop. Monty used alcohol to try to push down his feelings when they came up but wanted to stop doing this as he could see it was only making things worse. Monty's relationship with his father used to be close but since the sexual assault they had found it difficult to find that closeness. They had stopped going out together to do fun things like they used to.

Monty and his mother were arguing a lot and sometimes dad was involved with this too. Monty's older brother, 23, felt that he had become the gatekeeper in the family, taking on the role of referee when arguments became heated. He felt unable to move out and live with his girlfriend as he feared that the rest of the family might not manage without him there to keep the peace.

Monty, his mum, dad and older brother attended 4 sessions of Family Therapy. Monty and his mum were able to spend time understanding each others ideas about how best to manage the difficult feelings they both had. Through using the safe emotional space provided they practiced being able to communicate openly and honestly about what worked best for them. In the process the level of anxiety for both was reduced.

Monty and his dad made a conscious decision to try and plan doing fun things together again. As the family gradually adjusted to new styles of communicating and understanding each other, Monty's brother began to feel he could move out from the family home and that he was not needed in the role of referee any more.