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Psych Ward: Wiccan and Hulkling

The Young Avengers couple works to communicate better with one another.

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By Tim Stevens

Theodore Altman—who has asked this writer to call him Teddy—and William Kaplan—who prefers Billy—are males who present as somewhere between adolescence and young adulthood. They are currently both involved in a romantic relationship as well as teammates in the Young Avengers; Altman is the shape shifting Hulkling and Kaplan is the magic wielder known as Wiccan. Additionally, following the unexpected murder of Altman’s mother, he has moved in with the Kaplans. To be clear, however, Altman has his own bedroom and while he and Kaplan do technically “live together,” they assert that Kaplan’s parents have created and maintained a clear set of rules regarding “romantic” behaviors.

The clients have experienced more than their fair share of tragedy over the past few years. In addition to Altman’s mother being slain in front of him, they have had to confront the death of teammate and friend Cassandra Lang—also known as Stature—the subsequent unraveling of that incarnation of the Young Avengers, and several combat situations.

Events, up until very recently, moved so quickly that both confess they have had very little time to address or process their own emotions. With the ending of the Young Avengers, both found large amounts of heretofore undiscovered downtime and their emotions “catching up to them.” Altman finally had to acknowledge the death of his mother, but felt the need to suffer on his own because he found Kaplan to be increasingly emotionally distant and isolating.

Kaplan, on the other hand, was struggling with what he described as “incredible” guilt for the death of Lang, an event he believes would not have happened if not for his actions and his disappointment that his reunions with his biological parents, Wanda Maximoff—the Scarlet Witch—and Victor Shade—the Vision—did not go as well as he had hoped. When he then discovered that, despite their promise to give up their costumed identities, Altman was going out on patrol he became angry and felt betrayed. Altman countered that he had gone out, in part, because he was unable to find emotional support from Kaplan.

When a confrontation occurred over, ostensibly, the crime fighting, both clients said that they were able to express their feelings and did feel heard. They are, however, frustrated that their communication was stifled until they reacted in anger. Both would like to be able to express their feelings more honestly and in the moment, not just when they become too emotional to hold them back any longer. Additionally, they are concerned about how to react appropriately to each other’s concerns. In particular, Kaplan confessed that his solution to Altman’s grief about his mother’s death—which both clients declined to describe—was probably ill-advised and excessive. Both wish to be supportive and empathetic, but both also wish to be able to maintain and support their own perspectives in matters.

Overall, the clients are developmentally normal, if not advanced, in terms of their emotional maturity. The amount of tragedy they have been the victims of, while certainly influential, has not derailed the process of growing up for either party. However, they are also excellent candidates for therapy. In addition to the emotions they are wrestling with, they are thoughtful, open to input from others, capable of insight, and clearly strongly committed to one another.

Billy Kaplan and Teddy Altman are scheduled for a follow-up appointment April 24 with Doctors Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Please review file YOUNG AVENGERS #4 for session notes.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Practicum Trainee who currently provides therapy and outreach at a state university.

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