By Tim Stevens
Henry "Hank" Pym is an adult male in above average physical condition. While hygienic, his appearance could be best described as unkempt. The client has a genius level intellect, but a tendency to not acknowledge or point out how it pales in comparison to the intelligence of some of his peers. His clothes were wrinkled and ill-matched and it was clear that he had shaved or slept particularly well as of late. His posture is often stooped and his voice reveals an emotional and physical exhaustion.
In session, the client seemed often distracted or lost, taking several beats to answer even simple questions and at times needed things repeated as he admitted that his focus was difficult to maintain. When he was not distracted, he was often wildly emotional, swinging between angry outbursts, directed mostly at the alien race
known as the Skrulls and at former teammate and S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Tony Stark; and crying jags related to the time he had missed while imprisoned by the Skrull and the demise of his ex-wife Janet Van Dyne, who was also the founding Avenger known as the Wasp.
Pym's erratic manner should not be viewed as therapy-avoiding or therapy-destroying behavior as he is the one who sought out these sessions. Instead, it is clear they are the actions of an emotionally overwhelmed man who has lived most of his life out of touch with his emotions and does not trust himself to express them properly. Thus, he holds them in as long as possible until they overwhelm him and he acts out in embarrassing, dangerous, or unhelpful ways. Thankfully, at this time, his outbursts have not been hazardous to himself or others.
It should be noted that Pym has an extensive history with the writer, both forced and by choice. Events that have previously led to his prior treatments consist of: feelings of inferiority in relation to his fellow heroes; marital difficulties, including a regrettable incident of domestic abuse that, while singular, is given unnecessary amounts of attention by both the client and others around him; guilt over the creation of the evil robot Ultron; feelings of failure
following being expelled from the Avengers; the failure of his romantic reconciliations with Janet; and fallout from a high profile manipulation by the then believed dead villain called Egghead. Please review Pym's file for more detailed explanations of these events.
While these events inform the writer's current counseling approach, it should be known these will not be the focus and every effort will be made to steer Pym away from reliving these past incidents yet again. The client's ex-wife's untimely death and his kidnapping are the identified target behaviors.
If, in the course of therapy, it becomes clear that the client cannot move beyond his past, the writer will deal with that scenario at that time. Until then, however, the target events are the only concern. However, it should be noted that, eventually, the writer would like to begin some extensive trauma work with the client so as to finally put those events in their proper, healthy context. Too often before therapy has ceased the moment the client "felt better" and the symptoms were only dealt with, not the root cause.
As the client has shown, in the past, to find group counseling very helpful, it is recommended to him by this writer that he begin to attend a grief group once a week and a PTSD group that is specifically for survivors of abduction and hostage situations once a week. On his treatment plan, this has been established as personal goals #1 and #2.
Personal goal #3, the healthy expression of negative emotions, has been agreed upon by the client and the writer as well. For this, the writer will be teaching Pym some emotion regulation skills from Dialectical Behavior Therapy, especially focusing on naming emotions properly. Additionally, because Pym is very much oriented around ideas of perfection (and his ongoing failure to achieve that goal), therapy will include a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy approach, teaching Pym to avoid "shoulds" and "musts" which inevitably lead to feelings of inadequacy.
Henry Pym's next appointment is scheduled for January 14 with Doctors Dan Slott and Khoi Pham. Any and all information on that session can be found in file MIGHTY AVENGERS #21.
Tim Stevens is a Mental Health Supervisor currently pursuing his Psy D who has worked with individuals dealing with PTSD.
For more on the history of Hank Pym, visit Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
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