By Tim Stevens
The following is an excerpted transcript of a group assessment session with Slingshot (Yo-Yo Rodriguez), Sebastian Druid (The Druid), Stonewall (Jerry Bledsoe), Hellfire (J.T. James), and Quake (Daisy Johnson) with Tim Stevens, MA, facilitating. Per agreements signed by all parties, their commanding officer Nick Fury was able to observe them through a two-way mirror. It came to the writer’s attention later that what they were signing had not been fully explained to the clients and they were unaware that they would be observed. However, the session was done in good faith with the expectation that the agreements had been signed with full knowledge of their contents. The writer had no part in the deception nor benefitted from it in any way.
Phobos (Alexander Aaron) did not attend the session as he was a minor and his guardian could not be reached to sign the proper paperwork prior to the start.
TIM STEVENS: Before we begin, does anyone have any questions about why all of you are here today?
HELLFIRE: Will there be lessons?
TS: I’m sorry?
QUAKE: Could you please take this serio—
HF (interrupting): Oh, I am. I’m very serious. See, Doc…is it okay if I call you Doc?
TS: It’s not ideal.
HF: Right. Another rule. Anyway, the eye-patch is always teaching us lessons that we have to memorize. And I just want to know if that’s the case because if so I want to be prepared for that.
TS: I see. Well, J.T., this really is not that kind of thing. I am here to help you guys, yes, but my goals and methods are very different. There are no tests or rote repetition that you need to be worried about.
HF (putting his hand behind his head and sliding down in his chair): Cool. Cool.
TS: If that’s all then, I think we should get started. Maybe we could start with you Daisy, given your role as the field leader?
Q: That’s fine.
TS: I’d just like to know why you are on the team. Why commit to it?
Q: It’s simple. I believe in Fury. He’s done so much for me. For this country. How could I not stand with him?
HF: ‘Cause the old man’s an overbearing jac—
STONEWALL: Can we skip this part? Where you complain about him again?
HF: Look, you guys want to ignore the fact that “Coach” is a—
SW (interrupting): Nobody’s ignoring anything. You accepted the invite, same as the rest of us. So maybe you should shut up occasionally, same as the rest of us.
TS: I’m just going to step in here a moment. I can appreciate that the Colonel inspires a lot of feelings in you guys, but I want to keep the focus on you all as much as possible. We are not here to debate Fury’s merits or lack thereof. Sebastian, how about you? Why are you here?
THE DRUID: Umm…well…I guess my dad is the reason. He was an Avenger, Doctor Druid. So, I’m second generation super guy.
HF: With your build?
TD (continuing without acknowledging HF): And he…died. Nobody really remembers him. So I wanted to honor him and follow in his footsteps, I guess.
TS: I understand you are not alone in that. It seems almost everyone here has some connection to a past hero or villain. Isn’t that right? Like you Jerry? Maybe you can tell us about—
SW (interrupting, refusing to make eye contact): Not happening.
TS: That’s okay. No one here should feel forced to do or say anything until they are comfortable. I know some of you do not want to be here, but I assure you that you will not be compelled to speak if you do not want to. That said, Yo-Yo, we still have not heard from you. Would you feel comfortable sharing with the group?
SLINGSHOT: You kidding me? Of course. Look, I’m fast. Really fast. And I love it. So, when a rugged older man with an eye patch shows up at my door and tells me I get to be fast and save my country? Why would I not want to do that?
TS: Is that really all there was to it?
SS (visibly uncomfortable for a moment before re-gathering): Yup, that’s it.
TS: I only ask because from what I read it was a considerably more diffic—
SS (speaking over him quickly): Not at all. He asked, I answered, and it’s been running fast ever since.
TS: So…you are happy to be here and happy with what you had to go through to get here?
SS (refusing eye contact): Oh, definitely. Easy and fun.
TS: Ok, then. Anything that you have had to sacrifice to get here that you did not necessarily intend to? Any regrets with that?
TD: I used to be able to eat without people questioning my choices.
SS: Oh, come on, Sebastian. I don’t mean to be a pain; I’m just trying to look out for you.
TS: Do you feel that way, Sebastian? That she’s trying to protect or help you?
TD: Well…sure. But it’s still not something I was expecting or enjoy.
TS: Uh-huh. And Yo-Yo, can you hear him on that?
SS: I…can. But…I just worry.
HF (dismissive laugh): Not worth worrying about it in this line of duty. We should focus more on the important stuff.
TS: Like what, J.T.?
HF: Well, the women, for one.
Q: I swear to—
HF (hands up in defense): Or men, too. You know, whatever you like. I’ve got needs, you know. And everyone else here does too. Except maybe Fury. He’s keeping us locked up all the time though so I cannot…see to these things. I mean, I’m a badass warrior now. I fight terrorists. I could clean up! Instead I’m stuck in a base all day and the coolest person there is a 12 year old who’s apparently the God of Fear.
TS: That was…enlightening. In any case, the reason I ask about this is often what we miss is what causes problems in the team dynamic. It might breed resentment in teammates, as in your case Sebastian, or instruct bad choices that leave you or the team vulnerable, as in your case J.T. So I don’t ask to make you guys think about the negatives, just to identify in advance what the points are. Because if we don’t, the enemy can and will take advantage of them. Sometimes, your weaknesses may even lead you to betray the team.
SS (almost to herself, tearing up slightly): No. Never. Not even a choice.
HF (taking quicker and louder than before): Yeah, what Yo-Yo said. No way. None of us would do that. You are out of line even suggesting it!
TS: I can…appreciate you standing up for your teammates. I think that’s good. But please understand that, in doing what you do, betrayal, willing or by coercion, is always a possibility, always a danger. If we do not at least look at it, I’m not doing all I can to ensure your mental fitness and safety going forward.
Grumbling of assent.
TS: Ok. I think we may have gotten as far as we are going to get today. For next session, I want you to really look at and think about where your pressure points are and we will discuss them in the group. If everyone knows, everyone can look out for each other. And often, by simply acknowledging these areas, we are less likely to be manipulated because of them.
For further information on this Caterpillar team, please review file SECRET WARRIORS #28 by Doctors Jonathan Hickman and Alessandro Vitti, available on July 27.Psy D Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Practicum Trainee at a Federal Correctional Institute and a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant.