Paula, an educated economist on her way to getting an MBA, suffers from panic attacks and agoraphobia. She works under high stress situations and has had some personal problems at work that have catapulted her into an unbearable state. She has had persons in her immediate family who have suffered heart failure, and this has led to her fear of succumbing to a similar illness. Her humanistic intervention will entail familiarizing her with her problem and with the possible causes in order to give her an understanding of how it might be solved in a holistic manner.
Therefore, self-efficacy measures will be used to determine the extent to which she sees herself capable of returning to a normal daily routine. Intervention will also include regular therapeutic sessions that include the charting of important milestones in her achievements. Baseline and post-intervention measures will be compared to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. Humanistic Therapy Theories Applied to Case Assessment The general aims of the humanistic approach to therapy include a dedication to improving the personal growth of the client (Arons, 1995; Edwards, 1990; Serlin, 1999).
It also is interested in increasing the level of self esteem the client possesses, and desires to help clients expand their potential as human beings. Humanistic therapy is a holistic approach to psychological intervention that is concerned with improving the condition of the human being on more than just the physical level. It is focused on the individual’s self concept, and emphasizes that people are at liberty to select the behaviours that they perform.
They are not at the mercy of pre-set behavioural tendencies or impulses; rather, they are free to take in the stimulating data from the circumstances surrounding them, process that data, and then make decisions based on the analysis of the situation. Therefore, the research and intervention of the humanistic therapist entails more qualitative than quantitative data, and this information is brought to bear upon the problem through the unique insight it provides into the situations being faced by the subject (1999).
According to the humanistic view of therapy, Paula possesses innate strength and ability to directly control several aspects of the situation she now faces (Edwards, 1990; Serlin, 1999). A main problem is that she has experienced several family tragedies that may put her at genetic risk for the problems she imagines she faces. However, since heart and breathing problems are also related to stress and other lifestyle factors, Paula does have a good chance of exerting her own power over the situation (1990; 1999).
She admits that she works very hard at her job—too hard. This is something that she has the ability to change simply by requesting fewer hours at work. In fact, the prospect of taking on the extra work necessary to complete an MBA is probably a factor that led to the current state of her problem. However, she later admits that her panic attacks often occur just before a stressful event—and the taking on of new challenges afforded by an MBA may be considered just such a stressful event.
Paula’s belief that her colleagues might consider her incompetent is in direct conflict with the fact that she has been deliberately given financial support by her employers in the pursuance of the MBA. She should be able to consider this as convincing evidence that she, in fact, is not laughed at or despised by her colleagues—but, rather, respected by them (Aron, 1995; Serlin & Shane, 1999). She is also in direct control of her actions (if not her feelings) during stressful situations and has the ability to make conscious decisions regarding them (Edwards, 1990; Serlin, 1999).
She can, therefore, train herself to drive more often than she does and to do so without the constant presence of her mother. As she has convinced herself not to commit suicide, she also has the ability to convince herself to go back to work. In addition, Paula also has control over where she lives, and has the ability to remove to her own living quarters—especially since she has a good job that would allow her ample resources to pay for her own flat. Main Points Presenting Problem Paula continually gets the feeling that she is having a heart attack and dizzy spells.
She gets into situations where her heartbeat increases rapidly and she experiences shortness of breath. Not only does she experience these seemingly somatic problems, but she also displays psychological disturbance as she, at time, feels the world is ending. She has gone to several doctors, including cardiologists, who have examined her using state-of-the-art equipment and found nothing wrong with her. Pre-disposing Factors Paula does possess a family history of heart disease that is relevant to her case because she continually feels that she gets heart palpitations and suffers shortness of breath.
She does not seem to present any predisposing psychological factors, however (Forchuk, 2001; Holmes, 2003). She mentions that she has no family history of the disease (McGuffin, 1995). Precipitating Factors The direct cause of Paula’s current problem appears to be the extreme circumstances at her workplace that cause her to become overworked and unable to take time out to interact socially with persons other than her mother. Specifically, the panic attack she had at work caused her problem to escalate to the point it has now reached.
Perpetuating Problems The closeness between Paula and her mother has caused her to rely far too much on the maternal privileges granted her. Because her mother is willing to take on many of Paula’s duties, it makes it easier for her to succumb more and more to the dictates of her psychological problem. Her dislike for driving is made easier because her mother drives for her, and her fear of being on her own affect her life adversely because she is able to continue living with her mother (Holmes, 2003).
Protective Factors Paula’s family (mother) is a source of strength to her—even though the mother may need to be trained how to use that strength positively (Holmes, 2003). Paula also demonstrates that she too can be a source of strength, as she demonstrates rationality in her persistent seeking for professional help. Furthermore, her ability to make the firm decision not to kill herself even though she wanted to shows that she possesses the strength of mind that will help her get over her problem.