By Tim Stevens
Chris Powell is a male in late adolescence/ early adulthood. He appears to be average and appropriate in appearance and attire. He presents as brash initially, but as the sessions have progressed, this manner has revealed itself to be largely a defensive front to hide his insecurities. The client's speech patterns are typical for someone of his age, education level, and socioeconomic status.
The client's motivation for seeking out therapy came from behaviors that he recognized as erratic while in his costumed identity of Darkhawk. At times, he has found himself to be perfectly in control of his emotions and reactions, but at others he has felt irrationally angry and prone to violent behaviors that make him feel ashamed and guilty afterwards, as well as a little afraid. He also worries that his current
position at PEGASUS will be in danger if he cannot get these emotions and outbursts under control. This is troubling to him not only because the job allows him to provide for himself and his family, but also because he views it as a chance to prove himself again to a super hero community that views him as a "D-list loser".
Prior to seeking out our clinic, the Powell has been part of the West Coast support group for super powered individuals labeled "the Loners" by the press. While it has helped him develop a healthy support network to discuss the events of his life that led him to becoming a costumed hero and keeps him coming back to it despite setbacks, he has found it inadequate to deal with his current difficulties as Darkhawk.
While the writer has no reason to believe that Powell has PTSD, he has had a fairly difficult life, both in and out of costume. This has often manifested itself as a sense of hyper-responsibility which has caused guilt and shame when he is unable to meet his own standards, particularly as it relates to fulfilling the male caregiver role in his family since the disappearance of his father just before Powell began his career as a costumed hero. At this time, this work is
being done because of the writer's hypothesis that the client has problems in all aspects of his life processing and presenting emotions appropriately and that only in costume has it become extreme enough for him to notice.
While the client is not entirely onboard with this interpretation, he has agreed to at least explore the possibility that the writer is correct. As such, four goals have been agreed to. The first of these is that Powell will begin to do weekly "diary cards" to bring to session. These cards will track extreme emotions (guilt, fear, anger, depression), physical sensations and desires to harm others and hopefully give both the writer and the client insight on how often these feelings come up, what is happening when they do, and how the client is dealing with them in the moment. Thus far, Powell has brought in the cards, but they are often incomplete as he has not yet integrated them into his day-to-day routine.
Personal goal #2 is that Powell should better exercise self-care by taking one day a week (preferably the same day every week, at least for now) to not engage in costumed activities or to provide caretaking to his family. He can go out with friends, spend time with himself doing an activity he enjoys, or simply "be lazy." With initially resistant to this idea, the client has been fulfilling the past three weeks and reports that he has found himself feeling significantly less stressed.
Personal goal #3 is to practice mindfulness of emotion or experiencing emotions as a wave. In this exercise, the client is encouraged to not judge his emotions and to do nothing to either push them down or amplify them. He reports some success with this.
Using opposite action is the client's final goal and, understandably, the one he is having the most difficulty with. In opposite action, individuals are taught to act the opposite of the emotions they are experiencing if the emotions become too intense for them to deal with in a logical manner. For instance, if you are feeling afraid of an activity that you would enjoy or would be helpful for you, you engage in that activity again and again. Similarly, if you are so angry with someone you fear you may hurt them, you instead avoid them or "kill them with kindness". According
to Powell, with the exception of attending therapy, he has not been able to go through with opposite action yet.
While the writer does not believe it to be the cause, staff is also outsourcing to an expert on mystical and technological objects to ensure that the client's amulet is not a sort of organic catalyst for psychosis. Until those results are received, therapy will continue as if the amulet is not the cause of Powell's psychological issues.
Chris Powell's next appointment will be with Doctors C.B. Cebulski and Harvey Tolibao on February 4. All information on that session can be found in file WAR OF KINGS: DARKHAWK #1.
Tim Stevens is a Mental Health Supervisor currently pursuing his Psy D who has experience in dealing with individuals who have difficulty with healthy, appropriate expression of emotion.
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